Alabama looks poised for a fine deer hunt this year, with the deer herd healthy and stable.
“Overall, deer herds throughout the state are doing well,” said Chris Cook, deer studies project leader with Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. “Hunters in much of Alabama saw fewer deer during last hunting season, but a lot of the decline in sightings was due to the abundance of acorns throughout the state last fall.”
Lots of acorns on the ground kept deer feeding in the woods versus traveling out in the open in search of forage.
Actually, Alabama’s harvest has been down for several years, but not because of fewer deer.
“Most of the decline in the harvest is a result of the three-buck season limit enacted prior to the 2007-08 season,” says Cook. “Prior to that, hunters could shoot one antlered buck a day with no season limit.”
Does came into this spring’s fawning in good shape, and quality deer forage was in good supply statewide as the Spring began, so Cook expects a solid fawn crop for this year. Yet as the spring went on, dry conditions took hold across Alabama. May and June were especially dry, and Cook notes that deer forage began to suffer.
A couple weeks of wet weather during July, though, seemed to turn things around, with vegetation greening back up. That should help deer, providing good forage into the late summer and early fall.
Alabama’s Blackbelt Region has historically produced the biggest bucks in the state. This 20-county area, stretching from east to west across the middle of the state, is famed for its rich, black earth and is a major agricultural area. So antler growth benefits from the great soil nutrients as well as the abundant food sources. One of these counties, Pike County, was also were a bow hunter took the state record in 2005, a monster buck that scored 190 inches!
The Southern Regional Report**
It looks like this will be another strong season for southeastern deer hunters, with deer herds in good to very good condition. Deer populations are stable to slightly growing, and all states expected a strong fawn crop this year. The central south (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas) saw drought expand over the region as summer went forward. However, this part of the country did receive substantial spring and early-summer rains, which generated a good deal of forage, so deer went into the summer in pretty good condition.
Top Trophy Zones
AR: Arkansas and Chicot counties.
FL: Alachua, Gadsden, and Jefferson counties.
LA: Avoyelles, Concordia, and East Feliciana parishes.
MS: Delta counties like Bolivar, Tallahatchie, and Yazoo are well represented in the record books. Outside of the Delta, Adams County has produced trophy bucks for the past 50 years, including the current state typical record, a 10-pointer killed in 2010 that netted an amazing 184 6⁄8.
OK: Osage and Coal counties. The latter is developing a reputation as a big-buck county, and that was only enhanced last year when 13-year-old Kelsey McKay shot a 200 7⁄8-inch monster non-typical. It is the largest buck ever taken in Coal, a county well represented in the state record books for both typical and non-typical whitetails.
SC: Orangeburg, Aiken, Fairfield, and Colleton counties.
TN: Cumberland and Van Buren counties, and the Tennessee sections of the U.S. Army’s Fort Campbell Military Installation.
TX: Irion, Kennedy, Maverick, Tom Green, and Webb counties.