Thursday, September 17, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

When a change in the weather and the opening of a hunting season coincide, it can be a beautiful day for those of us who love the outdoors.

Such was the case last weekend for the opening of the dove season in the north zone, which encompasses most of the state.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Alabama’s goose hunters and youth waterfowl hunters will get increased opportunities for the 2015-2016 seasons, but Mother Nature will again determine if those opportunities are realized.

Although Alabama is not particularly known for its goose hunting, waterfowl hunters occasionally have the opportunity to add honkers to the bag. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

The state budget impasse in the Legislature in Montgomery could soon have far-reaching impacts on those who love and enjoy the abundant natural resources Alabama has to offer.

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr. and the directors of the four divisions – State Parks, Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Marine Resources and State Lands – have taken that message across the state in the past week to highlight those impacts if proposed cuts to the DCNR budget become reality.

At the third stop on that tour at Spanish Fort’s 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center on Tuesday, Commissioner Guy implored the public to become involved in the process.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Alabama Marine Resources Director Chris Blankenship has a point to make, but the audience he needs to reach is not on the Alabama Gulf Coast.

Alabama’s saltwater anglers are well aware of the red snapper story, so Blankenship reached out to what is known as the Washington (D.C.) bubble, where outside information has a hard time gaining attention.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Fire is your friend if you’re managing land for a variety of reasons, especially for wildlife habitat, according to Andy Baril of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES). Controlled fire, that is.

Baril, a regional extension agent in ACES’ Forestry, Wildlife and Natural Resources Division, was at the Buckmasters Expo in Montgomery over the weekend, and I asked him what hunters and wildlife managers can do right away to enhance their land with hunting seasons on the horizon.

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

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