Morgan County

 By
Jeff Smith
November 06, 2000

The Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division has a bad misconception of the proper deer management strategy for Morgan County. In 1996, the Wildlife Division listed Morgan County as having a deer population density in the 16-30 deer per square mile range. This year the Wildlife Division has Morgan County in the 15 or less deer per square mile range. In Morgan County our deer population has been on a steady decrease since 1996, however the Wildlife Division has gone from zero "Hunter's Choice" days to eight "Hunter's Choice" days along with currently allowing two antlerless deer per day. According to the Wildlife Division's map, the majority of Morgan County is in the lowest 10% of deer population density in the state. I thought the charter of the Wildlife Division's "Hunter's Choice" was to control overpopulation problems. We are not overpopulated! Our herd is one of the lowest in the state.

Why do they continue to increase the antlerless deer harvest in Morgan County?

I have posed this question to them and they have not responded, however when they do I expect they will respond in one of two ways:

1) "It's on private land only and the land owner can set the harvest regulations."

Land ownership in North Alabama is unlike South Alabama. That will work if someone has a large block of thousands of acres but most of the land in North Alabama is not that large. We own 2000 acres in Morgan County and the largest block is 600 acres. A friend of mine owns 4000 acres and they are in the same boat. Every Tom, Dick and Harry who owns 3 acres has someone hunting on it. We can further restrict our land to not harvest does however the land lines are crawling with hunters who will shoot anything that moves. One landowner has eight acres and two houses on it. The entire property is mowed with a lawn mower and the last several years he gave five or six hunters permission to hunt "his" property. They built permanent stands on the property line with all intension of shooting deer on our land. The only place they could legally shoot a deer is in the guys yard after the deer had walked past their stand. This is not an isolated case just one of many.

2) "The buck:doe ratio needed adjusting."

I disagree with this reasoning. I've hunted on land where the ratio was 1:2 and 1:30. There's a major difference! Our herd is so small in Morgan County that a 1:2 ratio would mean somewhere along the lines of 2 bucks and 4 does per square mile. That’s 6 deer on 640 acres - not much fun there. Reminds me of a guided hunt gone wrong in Georgia one year - spend the afternoon watching the wheat grow, birds sing and the sunset. That's great if it's what your after, but not much fun if you enjoy watching deer.

If you were the CEO of a major corporation and every year you gave employee bonuses and dividends to stockholders when the company was losing money what would happen? That's whats happening in Morgan County with the Wildlife Division. Unlike the CEO of a corporation - the Wildlife Division has no one to answer to. Our deer herd is already as low as anywhere in the state yet they continue to hand out more and more "Hunter's Choice" days.

Because of respect for the deer I refuse to carry this out, however if the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division is adamant that they are correct in their management plan - with the amount of time I spend hunting and knowledge of the local deer herd - I could really put a dent in the herd in our area. They give me 8 days with a rifle, 2 weeks with a muzzleloader and 3.5 months with a bow at 2 does per day - I could harvest well over half the does in the area per season. Two or three seasons of this and there would not be a huntable herd in that entire area. That's not bragging its just a fact and sadly it would not take that many deer to accomplish the task. Is this what they are after? Is this their grand plan of deer management?

Let me state I am not against antlerless deer harvest. I am a member of a club in South Alabama that is overpopulated with deer and am for a heavier doe harvest than is currently in place. From a deer management standpoint, it just does not make sense to continue to increase the doe harvest on a underpopulated deer herd.

I believe that an increase in "Hunter's Choice" days would not be nearly as significant in South Alabama as it is here in the North. I don't know of one single hunting club in North Alabama that is in the Deer Management Program, however all the clubs I am familiar with in South Alabama is part of it. They have a set number of antlerless tags and for years have harvested antlerless deer throughout the entire deer season. Give South Alabama 2 days or 75 days of "Hunter's Choice" and it will not make that much difference, however give North Alabama 75 days and you can make North Alabama deer an endangered species in one season.

Here is an interesting fact:

Year

Bow Harvest

1999

39,000

1995

45,000

1994

45,200

These are the only 3 years listed for Alabama

The Bow harvest has been steadily down for the state since 1994, however the Wildlife Division has been preaching that our deer population is exploding. To back this up they need harvest numbers to increase every year. How is this accomplished? Allow hunters to shoot more deer with a rifle - any deer - just get those numbers up, because it makes them look good. "Hay look at us we are the Alabama Wildlife Division and we are doing a great job - hunters are harvesting more deer today than years past."

If the Wildlife Division continues for the next five years as they have for the last five:

Baiting will be legal in Alabama.
Crossbows will be legal for all hunters and used during bow season.
With the exception of Jackson County the entire Northern 1/4 of the state will not have a huntable deer herd.

It's time for the sportsman in this area to stand up and let our voice be heard. Don't let them destroy the most valuable natural resource we have just to get your quota.

Send the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division an email and express your views..
Link to their email address:

http://www.dcnr.state.al.us/agfd/email.html

Link to the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division map of the Alabama deer population densities:

http://www.dcnr.state.al.us/agfd/deerden.html


Hit Counter