50 YARD RESTRICTION FROM A PUBLIC ROAD
You may not hunt or discharge a firearm within 50 yards of the right-of-way of any public road, highway, or railroad with a centerfire rifle, a shotgun using slugs or shot larger than number four (4) shot or a muzzle loading rifle .40 caliber or larger. This law significantly impacts deer hunters. It is illegal to take any action to harvest a deer within the 50 yard restricted area with a weapon or shot listed above. The law was passed by the State Legislature to address safety issues.
The Wildlife Heritage Act of 2007 passed by the Legislature has provided a mentor provision for hunter education. Now, hunting license buyers have the option to hunt under the “supervision required” status in lieu of passing the hunter education course. Hunters under supervision MUST be under normal voice control, not to exceed 30 feet away from a properly licensed hunter 21 years of age or older. Under no circumstance shall the supervising person be the holder of a “supervision required” license.
Successfully completing an approved hunter education course is mandatory for all non-supervised hunting license buyers born on or after August 1, 1977, except APOST certified law enforcement officers employed in the state, active duty U.S. Military personnel and Alabama residents who are active members of the AL National Guard. Alabama is one of 49 states which has a mandatory hunter education program. The course is a minimum of 10 hours of instruction in addition to an examination. The course includes hunter responsibility, wildlife laws, wildlife management and identification, firearms safety, archery, muzzleloading, basic survival and first aid. Goals of the hunter education program include increasing awareness of the importance of hunter-landowner relations, hunter behavior, reducing accident rates and increasing knowledge of basic wildlife management concepts and wildlife laws. This course is also available on CD-ROM and the internet at www.outdooralabama.com.
Hunting includes pursuing, shooting, killing, capturing and trapping wild animals, wild birds, and all lesser acts, such as disturbing, harrying or worrying, or placing, setting, drawing or using any device used to take wild animals, wild birds, whether they result in taking or not, and includes every act of assistance to any person in taking or attempting to take wild animals or wild birds.
HUNTING PERMISSION REQUIREMENT
It is illegal to hunt, trap, capture, injure, kill or destroy any wild game on another person’s land without having in possession the written permission of the landowner or person in control of such land, unless accompanied by the landowner or unless a guest of the landowner.
Land is divided into two categories:
- Private owned and leased land is defined as that which is not open to the general public.
- Open permit-public land is defined as governmentally owned land open for public hunting and/or lands made available to the public on an individual basis whether for a fee or not. Examples of such lands would be National Forest Lands and lands owned by lumber or utility companies available for use by hunters either through free permits, fee permits or no permit requirement.
LEGAL HUNTING HOURS
Legal hunting hours for game birds during open season are daylight hours only (except hunting hours for mourning dove). Other migratory game birds and waterfowl are as specified for each species. Game animals may be hunted in open season during daylight hours only, except fox, feral swine, bobcat and coyote may be hunted at night with lights and dogs only, and raccoon and opossum may be hunted at night with dogs, lights and .22 caliber rimfire firearm or shotgun with No. 6 or smaller shot during open season with written permission from the landowner. Certain restrictions apply for running dogs during spring turkey season.
HUNTER ORANGE REQUIREMENT FOR HUNTING
All persons hunting any wildlife species (except turkey and migratory birds and while hunting legally designated species during legal nighttime hours) during dates and in areas open by regulation to gun deer season, including youth deer season and muzzleloader deer season, are required to wear an outer garment above the waist with a minimum of 144 square inches of hunter orange or either a full-size hunter orange hat or cap. Hunters are not required to wear hunter orange when hunting from a stand elevated twelve (12) feet or more from the ground, when hunting in an enclosed box stand, when traveling in an enclosed vehicle, or when traveling on foot no more than twenty (20) feet directly between an operating enclosed vehicle and a stand where the hunter is exempt from the hunter orange requirement. The hunter orange must be worn when traveling on foot between an operating enclosed vehicle and exempt stand when the distance is more than a direct distance of twenty (20) feet. A small logo and/or printing is permitted on the front of hunter orange caps; otherwise, hunter orange must be of solid color and visible from any angle. Only hunter orange, commonly called blaze orange or ten-mile cloth, etc., is legal. The various shades of red, as well as camo-orange, are not legal.
Refer to the Alabama Waterfowl Hunting Guide and the Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Regulation Book, as well as federal regulations, for details on waterfowl hunting requirements and seasons. A September teal and goose season has been scheduled. See seasons and bag limits section for information.
To properly manage migratory birds, biologists must know migration patterns, harvest and survival rates, and ecological processes. Reporting banded bird recoveries will help provide the needed information. All band reports are very important. Call (800) 327-BAND (2263) to report a recovery or online www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/homepage/call800.htm. Your help will greatly benefit migratory birds.
The following are designated as game animals in Alabama: bear, beaver, coyote, deer, fox, opossum, wild rabbit, raccoon, squirrel, nutria, mountain lion (cougar), red wolf, groundhog, bobcat and feral swine (wild hog). See Protected Species below.
The following are designated as game birds in Alabama:
- Resident species: bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse, wild turkey;
- Migratory species: wild duck, wild goose, brant, rail, sora, coot, common snipe, woodcock, mourning dove, purple gallinule, common moorhen and merganser.
All birds except English sparrows, crows, starlings and blackbirds (except rusty) are protected by state law. Game birds and game animals may only be taken during open season for hunting. There is no open season in Alabama for bear, mountain lion (cougar) and ruffed grouse. Other wildlife species are protected by the nongame species regulation.
Alabama’s Hunting & Fishing Trail for People with Physical Disabilities
Alabama has a statewide network of hunting, fishing, and shooting sites for people with physical disabilities. There are no requirements to preregister to use the fishing and shooting facilities but those using the hunting sites (see below) must be approved in advance including certification that they meet disability guidelines. Users must be properly licensed and abide by all laws and regulations. Call (334) 242-3469 for additional information.
The following are designated as furbearing animals in Alabama: beaver, bobcat, fox, mink, muskrat, nutria, opossum, otter, raccoon, skunk and coyote.
ARCHERY EQUIPMENT USED FOR HUNTING DEER & TURKEY
Longbows, including recurve and compound bows, legal for hunting deer and turkey, must have minimum tension (draw weight) of 35 pounds. Maximum allowable draw reduction (let-off) is 90 percent at full draw. Arrows must be 20-inch minimum length and equipped with a sharpened broadhead. Broadheads must have a minimum weight of 100 grains. The minimum cutting diameter for any broadhead shall be ⅞ inch. Expandable broadheads shall have a minimum ⅞-inch cutting diameter after expansion of the broadhead. The minimum thickness for fixed blade broadheads shall be .015 inch, and the minimum thickness for expandable broadheads shall be .025 inch.
Crossbows (not legal for turkey) must have a minimum peak tension of 100 lbs. and must have a working safety. Arrows or bolts must be a minimum of 14 inches in length. Lighted pin sights are legal. Laser sights, attachments and light sources to project a beam forward of the bow are illegal for hunting.
Sights with magnification are prohibited on all bows except scopes may be used on crossbows.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREAS
The Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division manages 37 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) to provide public hunting opportunities. Consult the Management Area Season Leaflet and the Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Regulation Book or www.outdooralabama.com for hunting dates and regulations governing hunting on these areas. A valid permit must be in possession prior to carrying a firearm or bow and arrow on any Wildlife Management Area. Before hunting, hunters are required to have proper hunting licenses and management area permits.
In addition, WMA hunters must also possess the management area license. Shooting range users on WMAs are required to have a valid hunting license, management area license or wildlife heritage license (residents only). For locations, see map.
DESIGNATED AREAS FOR PHYSICALLY DISABLED HUNTERS
Specific areas are reserved primarily for use by physically disabled hunters. These areas are open to deer hunting on designated days during gun deer season. To hunt these areas, hunters must possess proper hunting license, certificate of qualification and reserve hunting dates in advance. Application forms and information on these designated areas are available from the Wildlife Section, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, 64 N. Union St., Suite 584, Montgomery, AL 36104, (334) 242-3469.
SPECIAL YOUTH HUNTS
Youth who have not yet reached their sixteenth birthday have the opportunity to participate in special hunts. The special deer hunt is scheduled for the Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday before the opening of gun season. Each youth must be accompanied by a non-hunting, properly-licensed adult 25 years of age or older, or the parent of the youth, and wear hunter orange (adult must also).
The opportunity for youth to hunt turkey is offered the Saturday and Sunday prior to the regular spring season opening days. The same regulations apply as for the youth deer hunt, except hunter orange does not have to be worn while hunting turkey.
A special youth waterfowl hunt is offered statewide. The Alabama Waterfowl Hunting Guide should be referred to for rules and regulations.
Those interested in any of these special youth hunts should contact the Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division’s Wildlife Section at (334) 242-3469 for more details.
YOUTH DOVE HUNTS
Fields located throughout Alabama will offer exclusive youth dove hunts on selected Saturday afternoons beginning on the opening date. To participate, an adult (25 years of age or older or the youth’s parent) must be accompanied by youth(s) less than 16 years old. These hunts are designed to maximize youth participation and foster mentoring by the adults. Information advertising the various hunts will be posted locally or you may call the nearest district office for information.
The Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division recognizes the increased need for public facilities where individuals can safely discharge firearms. The Division operates and maintains shooting ranges open to the public on Barbour, Black Warrior, William R. Ireland, Sr.-Cahaba River, Choccolocco, Coosa, Freedom Hills, Sam R. Murphy, Oakmulgee, Swan Creek, James D. Martin-Skyline, and Upper Delta Wildlife Management Areas, Etowah Public Shooting Range (Gadsden) and Marengo Public Shooting Range (Linden). Most ranges offer shooting opportunities from 25 to 100 yards. Ranges are constructed with revenue from the sale of hunting licenses, ammunition and matching Federal Aid Funds and are utilized by recreational shooters, competitive shooters, hunters and other shooting enthusiasts.
Follow all firearms safety and handling rules while utilizing public shooting ranges. For more information on shooting ranges, please call the area wildlife biologist or the Hunter Education Office at (334) 242-3620. A WMA License, hunting license, or wildlife heritage license is required to use the shooting ranges.
ALWAYS WEAR A FULL BODY HARNESS
Falling from treestands is the leading cause of injuries to hunters in Alabama. Injuries from treestand accidents could be minimized or prevented by wearing a full body harness. Alabama regulations now require all hunters utilizing a treestand on wildlife management areas to wear a full body harness.
Always use a pull-up rope to pull equipment from the ground to your treestand. Never carry a gun, bow, or other equipment while climbing up or down a tree. Always pull guns up to your treestand unloaded. The use of portable treestands is highly recommended. Never erect permanent stands without landowner permission.
SALE OF GAME BIRDS & GAME ANIMALS
It is illegal in Alabama to sell any game bird or game animal or any part of the animal, except lawfully taken deer hides, deer hooves and squirrel skins, hides and tails. Finished product items such as gloves, shoes, clothing, jewelry, tanned deer hides and similar products may be sold. Exceptions also apply to certain animals classified as both game animal and furbearing animal.
Live deer and elk may not be imported into Alabama.
It is illegal to import any live member of the deer family (Cervidae) including deer, elk, caribou, moose, etc. This is our best defense against diseases that could devastate Alabama’s deer herd. Recognizing the serious threat that the illegal transportation of live Cervidae into Alabama poses, the Alabama legislature increased the maximum fine for each violation to $5000. Should you become aware of any live deer being transported within Alabama, it is important to notify the Division immediately. You may call the Game Watch number at (800) 272-4263.
Alabama’s deer herd is an extremely important segment of our wildlife resources. The white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal from both a recreational and economic viewpoint. This herd, through proper management, has the potential to produce high quality deer. It is extremely important that this herd receives protection from sources that could cause harm. This is one reason it is illegal to import deer from outside Alabama. Any time a deer is moved, all its bacteria, viruses, diseases and parasites such as worms and ticks go along. Provisions such as “health certificates” do not ensure that animals are disease free. Diseases of concern to our deer populations are unlikely to move into Alabama unless they come here with infected deer. This risk of disease transmission to our native herd is too great. Recent outbreaks of both chronic wasting disease, commonly referred to as CWD, and bovine tuberculosis in other parts of the country demonstrate the wisdom of that ban. Many other states have recently banned or are in the process of banning the importation of deer.
DEER MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
The Alabama Cooperative Deer Management Assistance Program (DMP) was developed in 1984 to assist those who wish to intensify deer management on their lands. Over 140 landownerships and hunting clubs covering more than 356,000 acres are enrolled as DMP cooperators. Wildlife biologists are assigned to help cooperators develop deer management plans and harvest strategies. Conservation Enforcement Officers assist with legal aspects of the program. Cooperators collect biological information from deer taken on their lands each year. Analysis of the data results in a status report and deer management recommendations which are provided to each cooperator before the following hunting season. A fee is charged for participation in this program. For more information, contact the nearest Wildlife Section district office.
FOREVER WILD PROGRAM
The Forever Wild Program was adopted by Alabama voters in November, 1992, to set aside land for permanent state ownership using a portion of the interest earned on profits from the sale of offshore natural gas. The land, to be used for hunting, fishing, camping, outdoor recreation, natural resource protection and research and preservation of unique sites, will be acquired from willing sellers at no taxpayer cost and will belong to you, the public.
The 15-member Forever Wild Board reviews all nominated tracts for purchase and establishes a priority purchase authorization. The Forever Wild Program will allow a steady acquisition effort to build a public land base to meet the needs of Alabama citizens and provide natural resource protection and management to accommodate hunters, hikers, campers and other outdoor recreationists. For further information, contact the Lands Division at (334) 242-3484.
NONGAME WILDLIFE PROGRAM
Since 1984, the Nongame Wildlife Program has been charged with the conservation of the nongame animals of this state—animals that are neither caught, hunted nor trapped. With over 900 nongame vertebrate species of animals native to this state, as well as thousands more invertebrates such as butterflies, crayfish, mussels and snails, this is a formidable task indeed. Funding for the Nongame Wildlife Program does not include any state general funds—not a penny of taxpayer dollars. Conservationists support the program through the nongame checkoff on state tax returns, direct donations, and from hunting license and wildlife heritage license fees.