Thursday, August 13, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Judging by the number of record fish caught in the past year and a half, it appears Alabama’s saltwater fishing is doing just fine.

Ten records were established in 2014, and five more have been established in 2015 with several months left to fish.

One of the most impressive fish that made the record book was a snowy grouper caught by Tyler Kennedy of Mobile in 2014. That fish weighed 68 pounds, 9 ounces. The world record is 70 pounds, 7 ounces.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Like humans this time of year, just about all God’s critters are looking for some shade, even those that give a good many people the shivers.

Despite being cold-blooded animals, snakes don’t like to get too hot in the summertime, and you may find a variety of reptiles seeking shelter from the hot summer sun.

A buddy of mine was concerned about finding a snake, which may or may not have been a cottonmouth, near his house recently.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Tucked inconspicuously among the rolling hills and back roads of rural Talladega County sits a modern marvel.

No, I’m not talking about the legendary Talladega Superspeedway, which dominates the conversation when the county name is mentioned.

I’m talking about a new facility just south of the Superspeedway that will leave any visitor stunned by its grandeur and size.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Identifying different shark species can be difficult even for an avid offshore angler. Even fisheries biologists sometimes have to take a closer look to determine a certain species. In the case of the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo (ADSFR), the largest fishing event in the world, shark identification usually had to happen after the fish hit the weigh dock. In previous rodeos, several sharks, including species that didn’t qualify, died in the process.

No more. Thanks to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, the 82nd annual rodeo will be the first to have a Shark Catch-And-Release category that will keep the sharks from being landed and give anglers a shot at a guaranteed $10,000 payout.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Rays of sunshine filter down through the opening in the canopy to the quarter-acre plot in DeSoto State Park, just what the plants on the ground need to maintain one of the most rare flora species around – the mountain green pitcher plant.

Pitcher plant bogs are quite a spectacular sight in south Alabama, where growing conditions are much more favorable. What makes the pitcher plant bog in DeSoto so

Thursday, June 11, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Whether the 2015 alligator season in Alabama can create the excitement of the record-setting 2014 season is anybody’s guess.

What is certain is that Alabama hunters will have plenty of opportunities for to search for a big alligator in multiple areas in Alabama.

The main change for the 2015 season is that Lake Eufaula has been separated from the Southeast Zone and will have its own regulations.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

 

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Chris Sherrill of Orange Beach, Ala., has a new mantra for anglers on the Alabama Gulf Coast – “Wait, don’t throw that back.”

Sherrill, the head chef and co-owner of Flora-Bama Yacht Club, which is across the road from the famous watering hole, is on a quest to get anglers who catch a wide variety of saltwater fish to keep several species that were once considered inedible.

Some of the species that Sherrill and his sous chef, Haikel Harris, have developed new methods of preparing include stingray, gafftopsail catfish and ladyfish.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Marine scientists on the Alabama Gulf Coast who work with marine mammals were beaming last week as the ribbon was cut on the new Marine Mammal Center at Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

In the past, when stranded marine mammals were studied and necropsied, it was done under tents that were pitched to keep the scientists out of the blazing sun but offered little relief from the heat and insects attracted to the decomposing animals.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

When the scuba-diving community considered a destination in the past, Alabama was not a location that popped up regularly.

Those who love diving along the state’s Gulf Coast hope that is rapidly changing with the latest effort to bring a new awareness of the diving opportunities in Alabama state waters and a little farther offshore.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

As tragic as the storm-ravaged 2015 Dauphin Island Race was, it possibly could have been worse if not for a rapid action by a team of emergency responders.

Alabama Marine Resources Director Chris Blankenship was handing out awards for the Dauphin Island Gumbo Cookoff  at the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo site, where many of the sailors congregate after they’ve finished the sailboat race, when he spotted the ominous clouds and felt the extremely strong winds.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

There are two upcoming dates that anyone with an interest in freshwater fly fishing should mark on the calendar.

The first is May 4, which is the full moon. Actually, don’t focus on May 4 alone but several days before and after the full moon will be prime times for panfish in Alabama. Bluegill bream will be in a spawning mood around the full moon, and it’s a perfect time to plop a popping bug on or near one of the beds.

In fact, that’s about the only fly fishing I did until I was well into my adulthood. When the bream bedded around the full moon, I’d grab my father’s old Wright & McGill fly rod

Thursday, April 16, 2015
By DAVID RAINER
 
Hank Mosley is convinced divine intervention is the only reason he survived a turkey hunting trip recently in Wilcox County.
 
The 27-year-old, known as Big Hank, said he normally has a hunting partner, most often his brother, Sam. But this day Sam had to go to Demopolis, and Hank was all by himself, hunting land near Pebble Hill that a friend, Johnny Webb, had given him permission to hunt.
 
“It started out like a regular turkey hunting day,” Hank said. “I didn’t hear anything at daylight. The turkeys gobbled late. I heard two turkeys. One gobbled several times, and the other one didn’t gobble but once. I walked toward the one that was gobbling good, but then he ended up stopping.
Thursday, April 9, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

For the past two years, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division has adjusted its regulations to try to empower landowners and lease holders in their battle against the scourge of feral hogs.

One of the reasons the feral hog population is widespread across Alabama is the illegal transportation and release of live feral swine. The law for many years reduced feral hogs to personal possession once the animals were caught, but that regulation was changed last year to take out the personal possession clause and require that all feral hogs must be killed before being transported.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Several dog deer hunters made the long drive from Baldwin County to Lake Guntersville State Park last weekend for the second Alabama Conservation Advisory Board (CAB) meeting and were surprised by what transpired.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

If you’ve been lucky enough to take a wild turkey in Alabama in the last 40 years or so, you might want to thank Fred Pringle. In some areas, successful deer hunters should thank Fred Pringle as well.

The reason Pringle deserves appreciation is that he may have interacted with the ancestors of those turkeys and deer.

As manager of the Fred T. Stimpson Wildlife Sanctuary on the Tombigbee River south of Jackson, Ala., for the last 40-something years, Pringle has almost certainly been

Thursday, March 19, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

A rarity and a rookie shared the spotlight this week at the Alabama Governor’s One-Shot Turkey Hunt, which was headquartered in Montgomery.

The rookie was Ken Attaway of Academy Sports + Outdoors, who had never bagged a turkey. It was one particular feature of the turkey that guide Mike Brunson called to within 20 yards of Attaway that had all the turkey hunters, guides and landowners shaking their heads in awe.

After Attaway successfully capped the hunt with a perfect shot, the measuring tape came out and to their amazement, the turkey’s beard measured a whopping 12 9/16 inches.

Friday, March 6, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Unlike the previous two years, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division recommended few changes for the 2015-2016 hunting seasons and bag limits to the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board last weekend in Montgomery.

Conservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr. also used the Advisory Board meeting to compliment the work of the Marine Resources Division and Director Chris Blankenship in regards to the Red Snapper Reporting System, which showed a considerable discrepancy in the red snapper catch estimated by NOAA Fisheries. Alabama’s reporting system estimated 455,000 pounds of snapper were taken last year, while NOAA Fisheries’ estimate was 1.2 million pounds.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Montgomery is a special place for Evergreen’s Eddie Salter, known in the hunting community as the “Turkey Man.” That made it easy for Salter and David Harrell to pick a place for the inaugural Turkey Man Expo, which was held last weekend at the Montgomery Convention Center.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Hank Williams Jr. is not the only one with a family tradition in Alabama. Count Chuck Sykes and his dad, Willie, among those with a lengthy family history in certain activities, but this one involves the great outdoors.

Chuck was only 6 years old when he started heading to a certain deer stand on a 4-acre food plot with his father. He observed for a few years as Willie harvested

Thursday, February 12, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Unlike most victims, Chuck Sykes knows exactly when a deer tick bit him that led to a six-month journey through pain, suffering and frustration.

“I was bitten on July 30,” said Sykes, Director of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. “I knew I’d been bitten. I was looking at some potential rabbit research projects with the dean of Wildlife and Forestry at Auburn University. On the way home, I felt a tick bite me behind my knee. I pulled over to the side of the road and got him off.”

As a lifelong outdoorsman, Sykes said the tick bite didn’t raise any unusual concerns because of previous encounters with the blacklegged tick (aka deer tick).

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