Gun season starts

Published 1:53 am Saturday, November 21, 2009

Today is the day deer hunters throughout the South have been waiting for – the start of gun season.

Justin Monk, wildlife biologist with Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said Friday he expects this year’s deer crop to vary throughout the county.

“Today is the official start of gun season, and it runs through Jan. 31,” Monk said. “From the looks of things and the results of last weekend’s youth hunt on the Blue Springs Management Area, it seems like it’s going to be a good year for deer.

“Deer population varies throughout the county,” he said. “It really depends on how good of a hunter that person is. Some say they think the population is disappearing; others say they’re seeing more deer than ever before. It has a lot to do with timber harvest in the area. Deer move around a lot, go to different areas seeking food and shelter.’

Monk said 16 youth participated in last weekend’s management area youth hunt and three bucks were killed.

“So, that was pretty good ratio for the day,” he said. “The first two, which were killed in the morning, were rack bucks. The third, which was spike, was killed that afternoon. They ranged in size from a 155-pound, 8-point to a 135-pound, 7-point.”

Monk, who also carries law enforcement authority, reminded hunters that conservation officers will be out in full force and that all hunters are required to be properly licensed.

Cost for an Alabama hunting license is $24. Bag limits are as follows:

Antlered bucks: Statewide, one per day. White-tailed buck, three during all combined seasons, and one must have at least four points on one side.

Unantlered deer, except fawns: Statewide, two per day.

“We want this year to be a safe and enjoyable hunting season,” Monk said. “Hunters should be properly outfitted with their hunter orange. Keep guns unloaded when in the vehicle and on the roads, and please don’t block roads. Stay off unmarked roads. Be a safe and cautious hunter.”

In addition to a state license, those wishing to hunt in the management area are required to purchase a $16 management license. Gates open at 5 a.m., Monk said.

For those in Covington County who prefer to hunt using dogs, Dec. 9-10 and Dec. 26-27 have been designated as dog hunting weekends.

Hunters aren’t the only ones excited to see the beginning of this year’s hunting season.

David Morris at Stokes Sporting Goods said he expects business to pick up quickly after today.

“Things have been a little slow compared to years past,” Morris said. “It’s great that the holidays are coming up, so things are going to pick up quick. Most people have already been out bow hunting and black powder hunting, but starting today…I bet it’s going to get really busy here and in the woods.”

Shannon Bush of Red Level is one of those hunters. He said he has already killed one buck this season with his bow and is excited about gun season.

“I have to work this weekend, but you can bet as soon as I can, I’m getting out there,” Bush said. “I’ve got the bullets I need and am looking for the time. Hopefully around Thanksgiving I can get out there.”