Story by JOYANNA LOVE
A variety of hunting seasons are available in Chilton County during November and December.
These include squirrel, rabbit, possum, raccoon, duck, dove, bobwhite quail and deer seasons.
The most popular by far is deer season.
Alabama Wildlife and Fisheries Senior Officer Clint Tyus said this year the season for bow deer hunting started Oct. 14, but the season for deer hunting with a gun does not start until Nov. 18. Gun deer hunting season ends Feb. 10.
“A bow is more challenging because you have to get in there closer to shoot,” Tyus said.
Senior Officer Shannon Calfee said the season for deer hunting with a gun always begins the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Tyus and Calfee are the game wardens for Chilton County and enforce all of the hunting laws.
Safety needs to be a major concern for hunters, especially those just starting out.
“Hunters are required to wear hunter orange during times of gun deer season,” Calfee said.
The bright colored clothing makes the hunter visible to other hunters and decreases the chances of him getting shot accidentally.
“Deer are colorblind,” Calfee said. “They don’t know if it is hunter or blaze orange or any other color.”
The game wardens stressed that hunters need to know their target and what is behind it before they pull the trigger.
For those using a deer stand, a safety harness is highly recommended.
“A lot of the accidents we see are because they aren’t wearing a safety harness or restraint,” Tyus said.
He said it is also easier to begin as a deer hunter in an open field then in the forest because the deer are easier to see. However, the larger bucks are found in the woods.
“Safety cannot be preached enough,” Calfee said. “Don’t put your finger on the trigger until it’s time to shoot. Know your target.”
It is illegal to use bait to attract a deer within 100 feet of a hunter on private land in Alabama. Tyus said any bait cannot be within the line of site of the hunter. Bait of any form is illegal on public land.
“In Chilton County, we have public hunting land … its south of Maplesville, and its 24,000 acres,” Tyus said.
This land is a part of the Talladega National Forest. The game wardens said the forest is well used, so hunters should plan on getting there early to get a good spot.
Additional restrictions prohibit hunting spotted fawns and require one of the bucks have antlers
at least an inch long on one said, Tyus said.
There are limits on how many of each animal can be hunted each year.
The limit for deer is three bucks a year and one doe a day on private land.
“If hunting in the Talladega National Forest, you are only allowed to kill unantlered deer, either sex, on Dec. 15 to Jan. 1,” Tyus said.
ATVs and fixed tree stands are prohibited in the National Forest.
Every deer hunter is required to keep a harvest record, including recording the kill and reporting to the state.
“Before they move the animal, they have to write it down on this piece of paper (an official log available through the department), or if you have the Outdoor Alabama app on your phone you can record it that way,” Tyus said.
Those who record using paper and pen have 48 hours to report harvesting a deer or turkey on outdooralabama.com or by calling 1-800-888-7690.
“If you have the app and you record it that way, then as soon as you get (cell phone) service, it will send it,” Tyus said.
Calfee said the website is also a good resource for any questions residents may have about hunting or fishing.
While Chilton County does have a wild turkey season, it is limited to March 15 to April 30, taking fresh wild turkey off the menu for local Thanksgiving dinners.
Duck, however, is an option. Tyus said the local duck season begins Nov. 24.
Dove season starts Dec. 8 and runs until Jan. 15.
Raccoon is a hunting season growing in interest in Chilton County.
“All types of dog hunting is growing,” Calfee said.
Hunting using a dog is permitted for raccoon, squirrel and rabbit hunting, but is not permitted when hunting deer in Chilton County, according to Tyus.
Raccoon and possum can be hunted all year long.
Quail season starts on Nov. 4. However, Tyus said there are not many of the wild birds in Chilton County.
Calfee said this is due to predators and lack of habitat.
“Everybody used to have a garden behind their house and these animals feed on the dried seed … the habitat, I guess you could say, has been depleted a little bit,” Calfee said.
Tyus said coyotes and fire ants have also likely contributed to the decline of wild birds.
The annual cost for a hunting license for all kinds of game is $26.60. Tyus said a hunting license is not required for a person to hunt on their own land. A hunter education course, which can be completed online, is required to receive a hunting license. (Those born before Aug. 1, 1977 are exempt from this requirement.) Applications for a hunting license can be found at outdooralabama.com, the Probate Office and some retailers. Lifetime licenses and temporary license for those who will only be in the area a few days are also available through outdooralabama.com and the Chilton County Probate Office.
An annual hunting license is good from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31. So, if someone got one in November or December 2017, it would be good until Aug. 31, 2018.