By VICTORIA DEE
Special to Atmore News
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Deer season is in full swing, and with it comes camouflage, bright hunter orange and many excited hunters. Before someone heads out into the woods, they must first know their state’s hunting requirements and laws. Also, while it is one of the most popular winter-time activities in the South, it can also be one of the most dangerous. Hunting is also an activity where many people utilize camps and other people’s land. Because of this, it is also crucial to be both safe and courteous throughout the season.
State hunting requirements
“It is important to understand the license requirements for the state you are hunting in,” said Bence Carter, an Alabama Extension forestry, wildlife and natural resources regional agent.
Alabama hunters can visit the Alabama Department of Conservation of Natural Resources (ADCNR) website, www.OutdoorAlabama.com, to read all the guidelines and requirements for the state.
Carter said the ADCNR magazine, Hunting and Fishing Digest, is also a source for this information.
“Alabama has a game check and harvest record requirement for certain species, such as whitetail deer,” he said. “Registering your deer on the ADCNR game check system provides critical information to state biologists making wildlife management decisions.”
It is also important to remember that all hunters at and over the age of 10 must participate in a hunter safety course hosted by ADCNR.
There are a multitude of things hunters must remember to stay safe in this sport. The first, and arguably most well-known rule, is to wear hunter orange while in the woods. This may be in the form of a cap or vest, as long as it has at least 144 square inches of the bright color and is visible from all sides. While hunters in tree stands more than 12 feet from the ground are not required to wear orange in the stand, they must wear it when traveling to and from the stand.
When using a tree stand, it is important to use a safety harness to prevent injury from falling. Also, a good rule of thumb is to treat firearms like they are loaded at all times. Always point them in a safe direction, and only shoot when you are absolutely positive it is on a target.
Great hunters always remember to be courteous to the wildlife, land and to other hunters around them.
Carter emphasizes that hunters should only take shots at a reasonable range, where they can quickly and effectively ensure a clean kill. The ethical treatment of wildlife is an important facet of being a courteous hunter.
Also, no matter what land they are on, hunters need to make sure they are being respectful of it. They should remember to pick up any trash they might have brought in and to leave the land in just as good or better shape than they found it.
“Whether you are hunting private or public land, consideration of other hunters is also important,” Carter said. “If you see a vehicle or sign that someone is in or near your intended location, move somewhere else.”
For more information on hunter safety and courtesy this deer season, visit www.aces.edu, www.OutdoorAlabama.com or contact your county Extension office.
Victoria Dee is an agent with Alabama Cooperative Extension System.