Alabama: 2011 Whitetail Forecast

Alabama: 2011 Whitetail Forecast
(Terry Owens photo)

With 1.5 million deer and about 500,000 killed each year, Alabama absolutely is a major deer state. It does have some big deer, but those stats tell the tale: It's about numbers.

Chris Cook, deer studies project leader, said, "Historically we're probably more recognized as a numbers state, but in some areas [the deer management] philosophy has definitely changed. Lots of clubs and landowners are managing for better quality now."

He explained that "most of our state is privately owned, so [deer quality] is really dependent on people who hunt a property and what their philosophy is." Because of that, Alabama is producing some nice bucks along with its ample any-deer opportunity.

Deer Population: Cook's "best guess" is 1.5 million to 1.75 million, which he said "might be on the high end."


Economic Impact of Deer Hunting: $1.5 billion


Best Areas


Numbers

Cook: "Typically the areas with the highest deer numbers are in the southern third of the state, but you're liable to find areas where there's high deer density anywhere in the state."

Quality


The biggest deer "tend to come from the central band across the state and also the northwest quarter. A lot of high-end bucks have been coming from those areas, but you could see a really good deer come from anywhere."

Current Status of the Deer Population: 1-5 scale with 1 being poor and 5 being optimal

Cook pegged Alabama at a 4 this year. "Based primarily on numbers from our mail survey, which is how we generate our estimated deer harvest, the last three years have been a little bit below what historically have been good years," he said. "So coming into this year, I'd say we're probably a 4 in most areas – some bucks made it through [last season so] there's probably a little bit better age structure in the buck population in a lot of areas.


"This season has the potential to be a bit better than average – but I've been saying that for the last two years and it hasn't worked out. There have always been mitigating circumstances, like weather."

Status 5 Years From Now

Cook also said a 4 here. "This is the fifth year that we've implemented a season limit on bucks. In the past it was one per day, but this is the fifth year of a three antlered bucks season limit. Based on our mail survey, hunters are shooting fewer bucks, so more bucks are moving into older age classes. In terms of quality, things should be picking up."

Biggest Factors Over the Next 5 Years

Cook has two concerns: hunter pressure and development. The former has two parts, one of which is hunters pushing to extend the deer season into February in some parts of the state. "That potentially could undo some of the progress we've made in those areas," he said. "It's more pressure on bucks when they're most susceptible."

The other part is that his agency is getting pressure to legalize baiting. "That potentially could have some impact on hunter success as well as management of our deer herd," Cook said.

Although development has slowed a bit in Alabama because of the economy, it's still a concern. "There still are a lot of conflicts with deer in urban-suburban transition areas," he said, "so that of course is something we're going to continue to have to address. We're trying to figure out how to resolve those issues, hopefully through the use of legal hunting."

Any Doom and Gloom?

To the question of whether he can foresee any areas of his state having a large population decline or crash at some point, it's no surprise given Alabama's huge herd that Cook said no.

"In some areas of the state we've seen deer numbers get down to a healthier level, and we have issues that will of course always influence deer populations, like changes in land use and deer habitat, cover types, predation. But in general I don't see any area where a crash or drastic decline is inevitable. On the other hand I could be completely wrong [laughs]."

Recommended for You

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications. News

Game & Fish Magazine Names New Editorial Director

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

Adam Heggenstaller takes over after 14 years with NRA Publications.

Try these tips to improve your wild boar hunting skill set. Hogs

Quick Tips: How to Spot and Stalk a Hog

Ian Nance - May 28, 2019

Try these tips to improve your wild boar hunting skill set.

It must be time for summer fishing because records are falling everywhere. Records

State Records Reported in Maryland, Michigan

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

It must be time for summer fishing because records are falling everywhere.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

With the company's heavy involvement in initiatives like Kick the Plastic and Captains for Clean Water campaigns, Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead all about the sunglass maker's unwavering commitment to help the freshwater and saltwater environment.

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

In the booth of one of fishing's all-time great reel makers, Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead and Andrew Wheeler of Pure Fishing discuss one of the brand new baitcasting reels from Abu Garcia being released at ICAST 2019.

Berkley

Berkley's Surge Shad

Major League Fishing pro Scott Suggs has relied on the Berkley Surge Shad lure concept for years, using similar designs to capture MLF titles and a $1 million dollar FLW Forrest Cup win. With new features in the Surge Shad, Suggs tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead that even he can find success out on the water!

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Here are the 10 most common reel performance problems and how to fix them. Reels

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common reel performance problems and how to fix them.

          From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find Bass

7 Best Bets For New Jersey Largemouth Bass

October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll...

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

See More Stories

More Stories

A father and daughter with their dogs on a dry ground mountain lion hunt get more than they bargain Stories

Arizona Mountain Lion Hunt Turns Into Dangerous Jaguar Encounter

Aaron Decker - November 30, 2011

A father and daughter with their dogs on a dry ground mountain lion hunt get more than they...

We Coyote hunters spend a lot of time ringing the dog's dinner bell when we call. But we are Stories

Call Our Complex Coyotes

Brad Fitzpatrick - July 13, 2017

We Coyote hunters spend a lot of time ringing the dog's dinner bell when we call. But we are

Behind the Badge is a regular series of perspective stories by Oklahoma game warden Carlos Gomez. In this article, Gomez recounts his experiences from his first nighttime poaching bust. Stories

Behind the Badge: A Warden's First Night-Poaching Bust

Game & Fish Online Staff - July 30, 2018

Behind the Badge is a regular series of perspective stories by Oklahoma game warden Carlos...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×