September 22, 2011
 
By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

As the bulk of the 2011-2012 hunting season in Alabama approaches, hopefully all the dove hunters in the north zone had safe hunts. Obviously, a safe hunt is the main goal of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF), which has fostered great strides in reducing the number of hunting-related accidents afield.

Unfortunately, the 2010-2011 hunting season provided a tragic reminder of the importance of every aspect of safety when hunters pursue game in our great outdoors.

March 29, 2012
 
By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
 
Although my fishing buddies are no longer with us, each time I pass by or fish Little Lagoon in Gulf Shores I remember the day Mike Young and Mike Miceli took me on my first fishing trip in the lagoon back in mid 90s.

Young and Miceli were veterans of fishing the lagoon, which is known somewhat as a “feast or famine” fishing spot. Little Lagoon is a half-mile-wide body of brackish water in Gulf Shores separated by about a half-mile beach from the Gulf of Mexico. Little Lagoon Pass is a small outlet to the Gulf, the lagoon’s lifeline to water flow and water quality.

June 27, 2013

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Understanding what constitutes legal dove hunting should be easier this fall after the Alabama Cooperative Extension System published new planting guidelines for Alabama.

In previous years, the state had been divided into three zones with three sets of acceptable planting dates for top-sown wheat. The new recommendations eliminate the zones and set the acceptable dates for top-sowing wheat as August 1 through November 30.

By DAVID RAINER

They came from all over the country, dressed in wet suits, chest waders, hip boots and knee boots and bailed off into Mobile Bay. They emerged covered in enough mud to make a rambunctious 5-year-old boy envious.

But this mud fest was not about play. It was serious business. This was the opening step in a five-year journey to restore habitat in coastal Alabama.

December 13, 2012

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
 
 
A week or so ago, a friend sent me a picture of the feeder he has on his property in Baldwin County. He’s sent me photos before, but they had always contained a nice buck or two. This photo was different. The feeder was totally surrounded by feral hogs.

Other landowners, hunters and farmers are experiencing the same anxiety as the feral hog problem continues to spread throughout Alabama and the nation. Feral hogs are now found in 45 states with no abatement in sight.

January 24, 2013

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Meredith Boutwell’s run of good luck ended when Mother Nature decided to provide the absolutely worst kind of day for deer hunting during the recent Becoming an Outdoors-Woman hunt at the M. Barnett Lawley Forever Wild Field Trial Area near Greensboro.

Boutwell’s good luck started when she was picked as a replacement hunter for one of the dozen ladies who were chosen through a draw to be able to hunt the former State Cattle Ranch land.

Last year, I served as guide for Jane Ellis in what turned out to be a memorable hunt on a perfect day for hunting deer.

October 31, 2013

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

When my daughter asked where I’d been as I walked in the door late the other night, I responded, “Lionfish workshop.”

“That’s the fish that’s poisonous, right?” she asked.

“Nope, the lionfish is venomous, not poisonous,” I said.

Judging from the puzzled look on her face, I needed to explain that lionfish have venomous spines but the fish’s flesh is perfectly edible, in fact, delicious and not poisonous.

June 12, 2014

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Sometimes surprises come in big packages, some 10 feet and longer.

While visiting old friends last weekend at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic (MGCBC) in Biloxi, a steady stream of boats was backing down to the weigh dock with huge fish.

With 53 boats from all over the Gulf Coast participating, the top boats would usually be spread out among the five Gulf states, but this MGCBC was an exception. Basically, boats from Alabama ruled.

The top two blue marlin were landed by Alabama boats, which also had the winning yellowfin tuna, the third-place wahoo and swept the top three spots in the dolphin category.

By DAVID RAINER 

Chris Jaworowski has witnessed first-hand how a feral hog situation can get out of hand in a hurry.

Jaworowski, Area Wildlife Biologist for the Lowndes Wildlife Management Area (WMA), saw two feral hogs when he started his career at Lowndes in 1997. The next year, he saw between 50 and 60 hogs.

“By the third year, they had pretty much taken over a 5,000-acre tract,” Jaworowski said of the 11,124-acre WMA in central Alabama. “Supposedly, our hogs came from an intentional release by a neighboring landowner in the early 1990s. Those 10 hogs have multiplied exponentially.”

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Although the outdoors had been a great part of his life, at age 47, Henri Billiot had never even heard a wild turkey gobble, much less hunted one. In fact, it took a disaster of epic proportions to provide the impetus for the Louisiana native to join in the grand tradition of the spring turkey season in Alabama – a storm called Katrina that left him with practically nothing.

Billiot lived in Saint Bernard Parish just outside New Orleans when Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama. Saint Bernard Parish was among the hardest hit areas and basically remains uninhabited.

November 8, 2012

By DAVID RAINER

By DAVID RAINER

Trout fishing on the Sipsey Fork below Lewis Smith Dam continued to take center stage at the latest Alabama Conservation Advisory Board meeting in Gadsden, although the board did not take any action on the conflict between user groups. The board did vote to approve the use of telescopic sights on crossbows.

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

September 13, 2012
 
By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Lamar Harrison and his son-in-law, Mike Eubanks, had a successful hunt on the opening day of the mourning dove season in Alabama’s North Zone last weekend, and they didn’t fire a shot.

For the past 10 years or so, the pair has played host to a growing number of guests on their farm near Orrville, Ala., and the fertile soil of the Alabama Black Belt that nurtures just about any sort of row crops. The soybeans, corn, grain sorghum and millet provide excellent forage for all sorts of wildlife, including a considerable flock of doves for the opening hunt during many of the previous years.

By DAVID RAINER
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

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