Dog Deer Hunters Furious About Alabama Proposal That Would Cut Days

The Alabama Conservation Advisory Board will hold its second scheduled meeting of 2013 on March 9.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will be at Liberty Park Middle School in Vestavia Hills south of Birmingham. The meeting will take place in the school auditorium/gym.

BigBuck1Registration for those wishing to address the board will be from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. The meeting will begin promptly at 9 a.m.

Two hot topics sure to be discussed are the recent proposal to create a southwest zone for deer hunting in February and mandatory check-in of deer and turkey harvests. The proposal to create the zone includes a prohibition of hunters who use dogs during the February time period, which has generated an enormous backlash from the Alabama Dog Hunters Association and other dog deer hunters.

Reports are making the rounds that dog hunters will caravan to the meeting in several buses to express their displeasure with the proposal. Dog deer hunting is allowed in Alabama, although restricted and in some counties prohibited. It is primarily done in less populated areas of southern and west-central Alabama and on some national forest lands. Despite the long tradition, the practice has been a hot point of contention in the last 20 years or more.

Alabama Conservation Commissioner Gunter Guy Jr. has said for now, the proposed zone and prohibition on dog deer hunting in February won’t change.

Additionally, the proposed zone in some or all of 10 southwest counties has drawn the ire of hunters in southeast Alabama who want a similar February time frame to hunt deer. They, like the southeast hunters, say much of the peak rutting activity in their southeast counties takes place after the traditional Jan. 31 closure and they want the same later dates.

Two companion bills in the state Legislature would extend Alabama’s deer season statewide through the end of February. State Conservation officials have been discussing these bills with legislators, along with a bill that would legalize hunting deer over bait, with restrictions.

The Advisory Board could vote to approve the Southwest Zone proposal, since it was discussed at the board’s meeting three weeks ago. With such an outcry from hunters, however, it may be tabled again until the final board meeting in May so board members and state officials can get more feedback.

The Conservation Advisory Board assists in formulating policies for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, examines all rules and regulations, and makes recommendations for their change or amendment. This includes hunting seasons and bag limits.

The board is comprised of 10 residents of Alabama appointed by the governor for alternating terms of six years. Dan Moultrie of Verbena currently serves as chairman. Additional Conservation Advisory Board members include Austin Ainsworth of Guntersville, Grady Hartzog of Eufaula, Bill Hatley of Gulf Shores, T.J. Bunn of Tuscaloosa, Raymond Jones Jr. of Huntsville, Jeff Martin of Pell City, Joseph Dobbs Jr. of Bessemer, Dr. Bob Shipp of Mobile, and Dr. Warren Strickland of Huntsville.

The three ex-officio members of the Conservation Advisory Board include Gov. Robert Bentley, Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan, and Alabama Cooperative Extension System Director Dr. Gary Lemme. ADCNR Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr. serves as the ex-officio secretary of the Board.

— Some information in this report is from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources