50-Yard Public Road Hunting Restriction in Alabama
For those navigating the hunting landscape of Alabama, it's critical to be aware of a key safety regulation: the 50-yard restriction from any public road. Hunting or firing a centerfire rifle, a shotgun loaded with slugs or shot sizes larger than number four, or a muzzleloading rifle of .40 caliber or greater within 50 yards from the right-of-way of a public road, highway, or railroad is strictly prohibited. This regulation is particularly pertinent for deer hunters, as it is illegal to target or attempt to harvest a deer within this designated 50-yard safety buffer using the specified weapons or ammunition. By adhering to this rule, hunters contribute to the safety of the public and maintain responsible hunting practices.
Mandatory Hunter Education Requirements for Alabama License Holders
Alabama mandates that individuals born on or after August 1, 1977, who are 16 years of age or older, must complete a state-approved hunter education course to qualify for a hunting license. There are notable exceptions to this rule, including APOST certified law enforcement officers working within the state, active duty U.S. Military personnel, and Alabama residents who are active members of the AL National Guard.
Prospective hunters have two options for fulfilling their hunter education requirement: attending an in-person class or opting for the online course format. All hunter education students must be at least ten years old.
Additionally, new hunters born post-August 1, 1977 who haven't yet completed their hunter education can still experience hunting through the "Supervision Required" license. This special license mandates that the holder is actively supervised by a fully licensed adult hunter. The supervising hunter must be at least 21 years old, and the apprentice must remain within normal speaking distance, not exceeding 30 feet, from their mentor at all times. Importantly, the supervising adult cannot themselves be a "Supervision Required" licensee.
For further details and a catalog of available classes, hunters can visit
Outdoor Alabama, where comprehensive information about the state's hunter education program is provided.
The Term "Hunting" Under Alabama Law
The definition of hunting within Alabama's legal framework is expansive, encompassing a variety of activities beyond the physical act of capturing or killing wildlife. Hunting is officially recognized as any action that involves pursuing, shooting, killing, capturing, or trapping wild animals and birds. Additionally, lesser-known actions such as disturbing, harrying, worrying, or employing any device—whether it leads to a catch or not—that is intended for the taking of wild fauna are also considered forms of hunting. This definition extends to cover all assistance provided to other individuals in their efforts to take or attempt to take wildlife. Essentially, any engagement with wild animals or birds with the intent to take them is deemed hunting, as per Alabama's extensive description.
Essential Land Permission for Game Hunting
Alabama strictly enforces that written consent is a legal necessity for anyone seeking to hunt, trap, or capture wildlife on private property. One must carry this written permission from the landowner or the individual who has authority over the land while engaging in any activity that may disturb or take wild game. The only exceptions to this rule are if you are in the direct company of the landowner or have been welcomed as a guest by them. Without such permissions, any such activities are deemed illegal and can result in significant legal consequences.
Types of Hunting Land Designations in Alabama
Alabama categorizes potential hunting territories into two main types to aid hunters in identifying where they can legally pursue game:
Private Owned and Leased Land:
This consists of property that is under private ownership or lease agreements and is not available for public hunting activities.
Open Permit-Public Land: This includes:
Government-owned properties that are designated as open for hunting to the public.
Land outside of Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) that is made accessible for public hunting, which may or may not involve a fee.
- Lands under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service.
- Properties owned by lumber or utility companies.
These open lands may be available to hunters through various permitting approaches, such as:
- Free permits
- Fee-based permits
- No permit required (open access)
Established Hours for Legal Hunting in Alabama
In Alabama, the lawful time frame for hunting resident game birds and animals, including deer, aligns with daylight hours. These hours are strictly defined as starting 30 minutes prior to the official sunrise and ending 30 minutes after the official sunset. Specific times for hunting migratory game birds and waterfowl vary according to rules set for each species. Moreover, game animals have designated open seasons when they may be legally hunted during daylight hours exclusively; however, exceptions apply to certain species such as fox, raccoon, opossum, feral swine, coyote, bullfrog, pig frog, and alligator, which may be hunted in their respective seasons under different provisions.
Hunter Orange Requirement For Hunting
During dates and in areas open by regulation to gun deer season, including youth deer season and muzzleloader deer season, all persons hunting any wildlife species, except foxes, raccoons, and opossums during legal nighttime hours or turkey or migratory birds (including crows), 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.
Recognized Game Animals in Alabama
In the state of Alabama, specific species are officially classified as game animals for regulated hunting. These animals include:
- Eastern cottontail rabbit
- Swamp rabbit
- Mountain lion (cougar)
- Red wolf
- Feral swine (wild hog)
For guidelines on species that are protected and not subject to hunting, refer to the section on Protected Species.
List of Game Birds Recognized by Alabama State Law
Alabama designates certain avian species as game birds which are lawful to hunt within regulated seasons and limits. These game birds fall into two categories:
- Bobwhite quail
- Ruffed grouse
- Wild turkey
- Wild duck
- Wild goose
- Clapper rail
- King rail
- Virginia rail
- White-winged dove
- Common snipe
- Mourning dove
- Sandhill crane
Whether planning a hunt for resident birds or following the migratory patterns of seasonal species, these are the game birds officially recognized for hunting pursuits in Alabama.
Alabama's Protected Wildlife Species
Under state law in Alabama, the majority of bird species are safeguarded, with specific exceptions made for House Sparrows, crows, collared doves, starlings, and blackbirds (excluding the rusty blackbird). Game birds and game animals are subject to regulated seasons and may only be legally harvested during these designated times. Currently, Alabama does not provide an open season for the hunting of bear, mountain lion (cougar), or ruffed grouse. Additional protections are extended to other wildlife under the nongame species regulation 222-2-.92.
Designated Furbearers in Alabama
In Alabama, a specific list of wildlife species is categorized as furbearing due to their valued fur coats. The following species are legally recognized as furbearers:
- Striped skunk
- Feral swine
Archery Laws and Regulations
Hunting with bows in Alabama is restricted to the use of legal bows, which include longbows, recurve bows, compound bows, or crossbows. Longbows, recurve bows, and compound bows are required to have a minimum peak tension of 30 pounds, while crossbows must have a minimum peak tension of 85 pounds. Arrows used must feature a broadhead with two sharpened edges and a minimum cutting diameter of 7/8 inches. Moreover, bow attachments that project visible light are strictly prohibited unless the hunter has the appropriate license.
Running Dogs Laws and Regulations
Regarding the use of dogs for hunting, deer may be pursued with canines during the closed season from October 1 to the opening of the gun deer season in locales where dog deer hunting seasons are established. Squirrel and rabbit can be chased by licensed hunters during the closed season, provided no firearms are used.
Sale of Game
The sale of game birds and animals is generally illegal in Alabama. This ban extends to any part of such creatures, with the exception of lawfully obtained deer hides, hooves, and squirrel skins, hides, and tails. Finished goods such as gloves, shoes, clothing, jewelry, tanned deer hides, and similar items are permissible for sale. There are also exceptions for certain species that are classified as both game animals and furbearing animals.
Hunters and trappers targeting these species must comply with state regulations governing the harvesting of furbearers.
Prohibition on Importing Live Deer and Elk to Protect Alabama's Deer Herd
In an effort to fortify Alabama against the assault of diseases that could ravage the local deer population, the importation of any live members of the deer family (Cervidae), such as deer, elk, caribou, moose, and related species, is strictly prohibited. Alabama's legislation reflects the gravity of this issue, endorsing a maximum penalty of $5,000 for each offense to deter illegal transport of live Cervidae within the state. Immediate reporting to GAMEWATCH at (800) 272-4263 is urged upon witnessing any such transportation.
Furthermore, the import of deer or elk carcasses from other states or territories of the U.S. is also banned unless stringent conditions are met—such as deboning of all meat and thorough cleaning of any antlers attached to a skull plate from spinal cord and brain tissue.
This stringent approach toward importation is undergirded by the significance of Alabama's deer herd, notably the white-tailed deer, considered the state's most cherished game animal for its recreational and economic value. The inherent risk of disease transmission that accompanies the relocation of deer—including bacteria, viruses, and parasites like worms and ticks—is substantial. Underscoring this are recent nationwide outbreaks of chronic wasting disease (CWD) and bovine tuberculosis, illustrating the necessity for such a ban. As Alabama joins other states in forbidding the importation of deer, it builds a stronger safeguard for its wildlife resources, ensuring the well-being and sustainability of its prized deer herd.
Importance of Reporting Migratory Bird Band Recoveries
The management of migratory bird populations hinges on the collection of reliable data regarding their movements, hunting pressures, survival rates, and environmental interactions. Each recovery report of a banded bird is pivotal in amassing essential information. Hunters and bird watchers are urged to report any banded bird encounters by visiting www.reportband.gov, contributing to the vital research necessary for informed wildlife management strategies.
Accessing Alabama's Wildlife Management Areas for Hunting
Alabama's Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division oversees 35 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) to facilitate public access for hunting. Individuals interested in hunting within these WMAs are urged to consult the Wildlife Management Area map, the Alabama Game, Fish, Furbearers, and Other Wildlife Regulation Book, or the online portal at Outdoor Alabama. These resources provide detailed information on hunting dates and specific rules applicable to these designated areas. Hunters are reminded that possessing the correct hunting licenses and management area permits is required before participating in any hunting activities within WMAs.
Moreover, for those intending to hunt deer, turkey, or waterfowl within WMAs, acquisition of the wildlife management area license is mandatory. Users of shooting ranges located in WMAs must likewise hold either a current hunting license, a management area license, or a wildlife heritage license (the latter for residents only). Locations and further details are available on the corresponding map.
Exploring Special Opportunity Areas (SOAs) for Limited Quota Hunts in Alabama
Alabama's Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division administers 13 Special Opportunity Areas (SOAs), which offer a unique public land hunting experience via a limited quota system determined by a random computerized draw. Successful applicants in these draws gain the exclusive privilege, along with their guests, to hunt in a specific unit of an SOA for a duration of two (2) to four (4) days.
For details on the SOAs, the hunts they offer, and instructions for registration, enthusiasts should visit Outdoor Alabama. On the Hunting page, look for the Special Opportunity Area link to discover more about these selective and managed hunting experiences.
Hunting Provisions in Alabama for the Physically Disabled
Alabama dedicates certain zones exclusively for hunters with physical disabilities. These designated areas permit deer hunting on specified dates throughout the gun deer season. Hunters wishing to use these areas are required to have a valid hunting license, a certificate of qualification, and must arrange their hunting dates beforehand. For applications and comprehensive details on these designated zones, contact the Wildlife Section, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources at 64 N. Union St., Suite 584, Montgomery, AL 36104, or call (334) 242-3469.
Youth Special Hunts in Alabama
Exclusive hunting opportunities are available for youth under sixteen years old in Alabama. The special deer hunt is scheduled for the Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday just before the opening of the regular gun season. Every youth participant or youth hunting party with a maximum of two youths must be accompanied by a non-hunting, properly- adult aged 21 or older, or by the youth's parent, and both the youth and the accompanying adult must wear hunter orange.
Additionally, the chance for youth to hunt turkey is offered on the Saturday and Sunday leading up to the regular spring season opening days. The same rules apply as for the youth deer hunt, although hunter orange is not mandatory while hunting turkey.
Furthermore, a statewide special youth waterfowl hunt is available, and those interested in any of these special youth hunts should reach out to the Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division’s Wildlife Section at (334) 242-3469 for detailed information, as well as refer to the Alabama Waterfowl Hunting Guide for rules and regulations.
Youth Dove Hunts in Alabama
Exclusive youth dove hunts are available across various fields in Alabama on selected Saturday afternoons starting from the opening date. To participate, an adult aged 21 or older or the youth's parent must accompany youths under 16 years old. These hunts are specifically structured to encourage youth involvement and promote mentorship by accompanying adults.
Information about the different hunts can be obtained by contacting the nearest district office (refer to Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries District Offices) or by visiting Outdoor Alabama.
Public Shooting Ranges and Archery Parks in Alabama
The Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division manages 12 public shooting ranges, offering shooting opportunities from 25 to 100 yards. Additionally, the Division operates 20 archery parks, featuring stationary targets ranging from 5 to 50 yards. Most of these parks also include a 12-foot shooting platform for bowhunters to practice elevated shooting.
These facilities were constructed using revenue generated from the sale of hunting licenses, firearms, and ammunition. Residents aged 16 to 64 utilizing a Division shooting range or archery park are required to have a valid Alabama wildlife heritage license, hunting or freshwater fishing license, or a wildlife management area license. Non-residents over 16 years of age using these facilities should possess a valid Alabama non-resident hunting license or wildlife management area license.
To find exact locations, please refer to the map, or for further information, contact the Hunter Education Office at (334) 242-3620.
Ensuring Safety in Treestand Use
The cause of hunting injuries in Alabama is falling from treestands. Wearing a full body harness can significantly reduce or prevent injuries resulting from treestand accidents. In line with Alabama regulations, all hunters using a treestand in Wildlife Management Areas are now required to wear a full body harness.
In addition, it is recommended to utilize a pull-up rope to bring equipment from the ground to the treestand. It is crucial to avoid carrying a gun, bow, or other equipment while ascending or descending a tree. Always ensure that guns are unloaded when pulling them up to the treestand. The use of portable treestands is highly encouraged, and erecting permanent stands should only be done with landowner permission.
Enhancing Deer Management: The Alabama Cooperative Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP)
The Alabama Cooperative Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) has been operational since 1984, providing valuable support to individuals seeking to enhance deer management on their properties. With over 100 landownerships and hunting clubs covering more than 200,000 acres enrolled as DMAP cooperators, trained wildlife biologists work closely with these individuals to develop deer management plans and harvest strategies. This program also involves Conservation Enforcement Officers who assist with the legal aspects.
Cooperators actively gather biological information from deer harvested on their lands each year. The collected data undergoes analysis, resulting in a comprehensive status report and tailored deer management recommendations provided to each cooperator before the subsequent hunting season. For further details, individuals can contact the nearest Wildlife Section district office (Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries District Offices).
The Forever Wild Program: Preserving Alabama's Natural Heritage
In November 1992, Alabama voters adopted the Forever Wild Program, dedicating a portion of the interest earned on profits from the sale of offshore natural gas to set aside land for permanent state ownership. The goal is to acquire land from willing sellers at no taxpayer cost for the public's use in hunting, fishing, camping, outdoor recreation, natural resource protection, and preservation of unique sites.
To ensure transparency and prioritization, the 15-member Forever Wild Board reviews all nominated tracts for purchase and establishes a priority purchase authorization. This program addresses the needs of Alabama citizens by steadily building a public land base and providing natural resource protection and management for hunters, hikers, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.
For additional details, individuals can contact the Lands Division at (334) 242-3484 (refer to Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries District Offices).
Nurturing Alabama's Nongame Wildlife
For over 35 years, the Nongame Wildlife Program has been dedicated to conserving the nongame animals of Alabama, which encompasses animals that are not typically hunted, caught, or trapped. With the state being home to over 900 nongame vertebrate species and thousands of invertebrates such as butterflies, crayfish, mussels, and snails, the program faces a significant conservation challenge.
Unique to this program is its independent funding, as it does not receive any state general funds. Instead, the Nongame Wildlife Program is sustained through the nongame checkoff on state tax returns, direct donations, and contributions from hunting license and wildlife heritage license fees.