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Alabama’s Hunting Heritage

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Are YOU doing your part to protect and ensure the future of Alabama’s hunting heritage?

Most hunters long to share hunting experiences with their young daughters and sons. However, nationwide data indicates only 25 percent of youth from hunting households are active participants in our country’s rich hunting heritage. Over the past 25 years, the total number of hunters has dropped significantly. Nationally, hunter recruitment is highly important but seems to be occurring at a much lower rate than needed to sustain hunter numbers!

A report from a nationally recognized research firm indicates it is much easier to make a lifelong hunter from a youngster who grows up in a hunting environment. They have been exposed to our hunting heritage, have a social support network that is hunter friendly, and usually have the means and equipment to become a hunter if properly introduced. The following phrase is something to live by: “Take your kids hunting, instead of hunting for your kids.”

The Time to Act is Now!

Statistics indicate the time to welcome more young hunters is now, while there are large numbers of parents who actively hunt and can introduce their young sons, daughters or other youth to hunting. Alabama has taken great strides during the past 10–20 years to make hunting more attractive and accessible to young outdoor enthusiasts. In fact, the Families Afield initiative ( ranks Alabama as one of the least restrictive states as far as opportunities for youth recruitment.

First, our licensing structure does not require a youth under the age of 16 to purchase a hunting license. The Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries believes the decision to allow a youth to hunt should be decided by a parent. After all, who knows best as to when a child is mature enough to act responsibly with a firearm. Youth aged 7–12 are highly impressionable and enjoy spending time in the outdoors if properly introduced by an adult mentor. Young hunters in the presence of adult mentors are among the safest people in the woods!

Hunter education is not mandatory until young hunters turn 16 and buy their first hunting license. Even then, they can be exempted from the hunter education requirement if they are under the direct supervision and normal voice control of a properly licensed adult hunter. The “supervision required” license allows a licensed adult hunter to introduce anybody of license buying age to hunting without having to complete hunter education. All they need is an invite from you!

We have begun programs to make firearms safety and archery activities much more visible to the general public. Public shooting ranges are operated on nine wildlife management areas (WMA) and two more ranges, Marengo and Etowah, are operated in partnership with county governments. The National Archery in the Schools Program is now taught in 220 schools statewide. Approximately 30,000 school aged kids participated in this program during the 2010–2011 school year. Four community archery parks have been built in Athens, Cullman, Demopolis, and Dothan. A fifth is under construction in Ozark at the Ed Lisenby Public Lake. These cities along with agencies or organizations in Birmingham, Decatur, Eufaula, Lincoln, Prattville, and Tallassee have purchased basic archery equipment and have or will begin teaching archery as part of parks and recreation type programs. We encourage you and a guest (son, daughter, wife, friend, etc.) to visit a shooting range or community archery park near you!

The Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries has established many youth hunting opportunities to allow mentors to introduce newcomers to our hunting heritage. There are days set aside for statewide youth only hunting for deer, turkeys, and ducks. Many WMAs also have youth hunting opportunities for deer, turkeys, and ducks. The highly successful youth dove hunts are generally scheduled during the first two weekends of the dove seasons in the north and south zones. Please share your outdoor hunting experiences with a youth hunter and begin to create a lifetime of memories this fall!

Where Do We Go From Here?

Alabama’s decline in hunting license sales is not as dramatic as many other states. The Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries is highly dependent on license buying hunters to provide the revenue that allows us to manage, protect, conserve, and enhance the wildlife resources of Alabama for the sustainable benefit of the people of Alabama. Without your continued support and action, Alabama’s wildlife resources may suffer and attitudes of the non-hunting public may change to include sentiment in which hunting is no longer viewed as a viable recreational activity. For this reason, all hunters must take it upon themselves to pass on our hunting heritage to their sons, daughters, and others to ensure that our rich hunting heritage continues!

Families Afield

Families Afield 2011.pdf


  • Since Families Afield Launched in 2004, 30 states have changed laws and regulations to create additional hunting opportunities for youths.
  • 598,532 New Hunters! 30 states have passed legislation lowering barriers to hunting since Families Afield was launched in 2004. 24 of those states are able to report current numbers of apprentice hunting licenses sold.

Photo courtesy of Darrin Hill

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