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Alabama’s #1 Outdoors Monthly



(Collared Deer)

The Art OF

Decoying Doves

Shoot Instinctively


Topwater Topwater


for Doves

Cajun CAST




2 | 800-597-6828 | SEPTEMBER 2016

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FEATURES: Volume 20, Issue 6 | September 2016


Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Alan White

Alabama Sportsman Shoots Collared Deer

Executive Editor John N. Felsher

By Tommy Youngblood And John E. Phillips


Shoot Instinctively to Take More Doves


Decoying Doves

John N. Felsher

by John E. Phillips

Creative Director Christine LaGrassa Office Manager Paula Boyse Circulation Shelia Floyd

Contributing Freelance Writers: Chris Blankenship Austin Delano J. Wayne Fears John N. Felsher Alex Granpere N. Gunter Guy, Jr. Craig Haney Charles Johnson Ed Mashburn Doug Max

Greg McCain Denise Phillips John E. Phillips Corky Pugh Larry Mcdowell Chuck Sykes Mike Thompson David Thornton Jim Barta Garry Bowers

Great Days Outdoors (USPS 17228; ISSN 1556-0147) is published monthly at 36220 St. Hwy. 59 Stapleton, Ala. 36578. Subscription rate is $24 for one-year, $37 for two-years, and $49 for three-years. Periodicals Postage Paid at Stapleton, Ala. and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Great Days Outdoors P.O. Box 396 Stapleton, Ala. 36578-0396. SUBSCRIBERS: All subscriptions begin the first issue for the month following receipt of payment, if payment received by the 15th. Great Days Outdoors assumes no responsibility for delivery after magazines are mailed. All delivery complaints should be addressed to your local postmaster.

Contact GDOM: EDITORIAL | ADVERTISING | SUBSCRIPTIONS | 1-800-597-6828 | (F) 251-937-0637 36220 St. Hwy. 59 Stapleton, Ala. 36578 @ Great Days Outdoors Magazine All rights reserved. Reproduction of contents is strictly prohibited without permission from Great Days Outdoors Magazine.

On the cover:

The autumn sunsets in Alabama casts a familiar light over the landscape which anxious sportsmen recognize as a signal that hunting seasons will open soon.



by John N. Felsher

by Brandon Bland

Cajun Cast and Blast

Fall on Top

Dove photo by M.L. Atwater and Jon Kohler

7 32 36 39 42 44 46 49 51 52 56 58 60 64 68 70 72 73 74

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Outdoor Happenings by John N. Felsher Hook & Bullet News by John N. Felsher From the Commissioner Alabama State Parks Enhances Trails, Attractions by N. Gunter Guy, Jr. The Gun Rack: Benelli Vinci by Craig Haney Hunting Heritage: A Place to Hunt by Corky Pugh Our Alabama Waters: Tailgate with Alabama Seafood This Year by Chris Blankenship From the Director: Mandatory Game Check by Chuck Sykes Wildlife Management: Getting Time for Fall Planting by Austin Delano Latest & Best New Products by John E. Phillips Camphouse Kitchen by Denise Phillips Pier and Shore Fishing Forecast: End of Summer Fishing Bonanza by David Thornton Alabama Coastal Fishing Outlook by Mike Thompson Alabama Lakes Fishing Outlook by Alex Granpere Charts Pensacola Motorsports Trophy Room Realtree Kids Corner Classifieds Fishing Tips by Capt. David Hare A Great Day Outdoors by Wayne Fears



TEXT HERE + /- acres ClarkePROPERTY County, AL - 240

PROPERTY TEXT Montgomery County, ALHERE - 200 +/- acres

Near Jackson with furnished Lodge, guest Camp, 11 acre Lake with Pier, 8 Food Plots, Mature Timber, and 520 acre hunting lease. Perimeter completely fenced. A rare find for south Alabama.

Alabama Listings COUNTY

Autauga Autauga Autauga Autauga Autauga Baldwin Baldwin Baldwin Baldwin Baldwin Barbour Barbour Barbour Barbour Barbour Bibb Bibb Blount Bullock Bullock


162 75 41 45 152 492 16.5 184 181 98 243 215 202 295 168 267 10 41.4 38.6 15

Bullock Butler Butler Calhoun Calhoun Calhoun Calhoun Calhoun Chambers Chilton Chilton Chilton Chilton Chilton Chilton Choctaw Choctaw Choctaw Choctaw Choctaw

41.4 77 71 89.3 95 233 27.6 40.6 285 50 66 46 77 71 22 130 48 40 1635 192


Clarke Clarke Clarke Clarke Clarke Clarke Clay Cleburne Coffee Conecuh Crenshaw Crenshaw Cullman Cullman Cullman Cullman Dale Dallas Dallas Dallas


354 489 220 81 526 141 24 250 570 41 80 55 320 133.9 10 100 40 4744 110 60

Dallas Dallas DeKalb Elmore Elmore Elmore Elmore Elmore Elmore Elmore Escambia Escambia Fayette Fayette Fayette Fayette Fayette Geneva Geneva Geneva

130 600 120 73.6 50 29 37 40 17 127 671.6 76 13 69.5 85 232 109 131 117 115


Greene Hale Hale Hale Hale Hale Henry Jefferson Jefferson Jefferson Jefferson Jefferson Lamar Lamar Lamar Lamar Lee Lee Lowndes Lowndes

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35 53 507 67 1.02 96 20 23 40 25 950 25 69 26 725 584 124.9 233 1181 400

Lowndes Lowndes Lowndes Macon Macon Macon Macon Marengo Marengo Mobile Mobile Mobile Mobile Mobile Monroe Monroe Monroe Monroe Monroe Montgomery

388.4 1013 567 1000 771 471 300 83 158 320 140 170 260 1800 790 147 129 46 66 50



Montgomery Montgomery Montgomery Montgomery Perry Perry Perry Perry Perry Pickens Pickens Pickens Pickens Pike Pike Pike Pike Russell Russell Russell

18.7 33.5 200 333 80 597 341 256 200 457 128 578 513 352.8 85.4 10.7 67.4 711.3 1403 692.3

Shelby Shelby Shelby Shelby Shelby Sumter Talladega Talladega Talladega Talladega Talladega Tallapoosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa

100 37 40.6 205 10 95 160 30 70 406 2088 46 153 5


Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Washington Washington Washington Washington Washington Wilcox Wilcox Wilcox Wilcox Wilcox Winston


21 9.5 427 2438 520 180 28.5 55 382 903 400 401 33.23 196



SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 5

Alabama Hunting Seasons 2016-17


9/1-30 Goose Season: Statewide. Limit 5 dark geese, 5 light geese. See 9/10-25 Rail and Gallinule Season: Statewide. Limit 15 per day. See

11/5-2/28 Quail Season: Statewide. Limit 8 per day. See

11/26-1/18 Rail and Gallinule Season: Statewide. Limit 15 per day. See

11/12-1/15 Dove Season: South Zone. Limit 15 per day. See

12/3-1/29 Duck Season: Statewide. Limit 6 ducks, 5 mergansers, 15 coots per day. See www.

11/12-2/26 Snipe Season: Statewide. Limit 8 per day. See

9/10-25 Teal Season: Statewide. Limit 6 per day. See 9/10-10/30 Dove Season: North Zone. Limit 15 per day. See 9/15-3/5 Rabbit Season: Statewide. Limit 8 per day. See 9/15-3/5 Squirrel Season: Statewide. Limit 8 per day. See 9/17-25 Dove Season: South Zone. Limit 15 per day. See 10/8-23 Dove Season: South Zone. Limit 15 per day. See 10/15-2/10 Archery Deer Season: See www. for zone boundaries and special regulations

12/3-1/29 Goose Season: Statewide. Limit 5 dark geese, 5 light geese. See

11/14-18 Muzzleloader Deer Season: See www. for zone boundaries and special regulations

12/8-1/15 Dove Season: North Zone. Limit 15 per day. See

11/19 Youth Waterfowl Day: Statewide. See www.

12/16-1/29 Woodcock Season: Statewide. Limit 3 per day. See

11/19-30 Turkey Season: Clarke, Clay, Covington, Monroe, Randolph and Talladega counties. See www.

12/17-1/1 Turkey Season: Clarke, Clay, Covington, Monroe, Randolph and Talladega counties. See www.

11/19-2/10 Deer Season: See www. for zone boundaries and special regulations

3/15-4/30 Turkey Season: See www. for zone boundaries and special regulations

11/25-26 Duck Season: Statewide. Limit 6 ducks, 5 mergansers, 15 coots per day. See www.

4/1-30 Turkey Season: See www.outdooralabama. com for zone boundaries and special regulations

11/25-26 Goose Season: Statewide. Limit 5 dark geese, 5 light geese. See

4/22-26 Turkey Season: See www.outdooralabama. com for zone boundaries and special regulations

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John N. Felsher

Alan White

Outdoors Writer Photographer

Publisher/Editor Great Days Outdoors Magazine

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Outdoor Happenings 8/31 Alabama Licenses: All Alabama hunting and fishing licenses for the 2015-2016 season expire at midnight. See 9/1-30 Goose Season: Statewide. Limit 5 dark geese,5 light geese. See

FREE LISTING SEND YOUR EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT TO US! E-mail to: At least 6 weeks before event.

9/17 Charity Bass Tournament: The Delta Rendezvous, Live Oak Landing (Stockton, Ala). $2,500 first place—paying 20 places (based on 100 boats). For more info visit www. of Facebook at the Delta Rendezvous or call 251-379-6390.

9/2-3 5th annual Mobile Big Game Fishing Club Outboard Shootout: Mobile Big Game Fishing Club, Mobile, Ala. For more info see

9/17 National Bass Fishing Trail GeorgiaAlabama District Tournament: Lake Eufaula, Florence Landing. For more info call Blaine Souerwine at 706-494-0699 or see

9/2-5 49th annual Mobile Big Game Fishing Club Labor Day Invitational: Mobile Big Game Fishing Club, Mobile, Ala. For more info see

9/17 National Bass Fishing Trail Guntersville District Tournament: Lake Guntersville, Waterfront Bay. For more info call Jack Morris at 256-9754094 or see

9/5 Happy Labor Day!

9/17-18 Ram Truck Open Series Alabama South Division Bass Tournament: Lake Eufaula, Lakepoint Resort Park Landing. For more info call Billy Benedetti at 256-230-5632 or see

9/8 Alabama Coon Hunters Kennel Club Hunt: Scottsboro, Ala. For more info call Kyle Shelton at 256-647-3694. 9/10 Causeway Blow-Out Charity Inshore Tournament: Bluegill Restaurant, Mobile Causeway. 80-percent cash payout. Benefits Alabama Hunger Relief. For more info call 251-423-1857 or see 9/10 Rodbenders Bass Club Tournament: Lake Eufaula, Lakepoint Resort Park Landing. For more info call Eddie Champion at 404-626-9805 or see 9/10-25 Rail and Gallinule Season: Statewide. Limit 15 per day. See 9/10-25 Teal Season: Statewide. Limit 6 per day. See 9/10-10/30 Dove Season: North Zone. Limit 15 per day. See for zone boundaries and other special regulations 9/15-3/5 Rabbit Season: Statewide. Limit 8 per day. See 9/15-3/5 Squirrel Season: Statewide. Limit 8 per day. See 9/17-25 Dove Season: South Zone. Limit 15 per day. See for zone boundaries and other special regulations


9/24 National Hunting and Fishing Day. On line, see 9/24 Dixie Bass Trail Classic: Live Oak Landing, Stockton, Ala. For more info call Ernie Rachel at 251-599-3727 or Scott Dobbins at 251-759-8019. On line, see 9/24 Weeks Bay Foundation Kids Fishing Day: For more info call the Weeks Bay Foundation at 251-990-5004 or see 9/24 National Bass Fishing Trail Alabama North District Tournament: Lake Guntersville, Waterfront Park. For more info call Donnie Story at 256-7773428 or see 10/1 Charity Bass Tournament: The Delta Rendezvous Classic Bass Championship, Live Oak Landing (Stockton, Ala). $2,500 first place—paying 20 places (based on 100 boats). For more info visit of Facebook at the Delta Rendezvous or call 251-379-6390. 10/1-2 Ram Truck Open Series Alabama North Division Bass Tournament: Lake Guntersville, Lake Guntersville State Park. For more info call Kristin Malott at 256-771-3709 or see

10/5-8 Alabama Coastal BirdFest: For more info call the Weeks Bay Foundation at 251-990-5004 or see 10/8 National Bass Fishing Trail Guntersville District Tournament: Lake Guntersville, Waterfront Bay. For more info call Jack Morris at 256-9754094 or see 10/8 National Bass Fishing Trail Alabama North District Tournament: Lake Wheeler, Ingalls Harbor. For more info call Donnie Story at 256-777-3428 or see 10/8-23 Dove Season: South Zone. Limit 15 per day. See for zone boundaries and other special regulations 10/14-15 Alabama Coon Hunters Kennel Club Hunt: Scottsboro, Ala. For more info call Kyle Shelton at 256-647-3694. 10/15-2/10 Archery Deer Season: See www. for zone boundaries and special regulations 10/15 Alabama Coastal Fisherman’s Association Mutt Burke & Bill Midgette Causeway Classic Combo Marsh Madness: Mobile, Ala. For more send an email to On line see 10/15 National Bass Fishing Trail GeorgiaAlabama District Tournament: West Point Lake, Southern Landing. For more info call Blaine Souerwine at 706-494-0699 or see

MARK YOUR CALENDAR FOR: 11/12-1/15 Dove Season: South Zone. Limit 15 per day. See for zone boundaries and other special regulations 11/19-2/10 Deer Season: See www. for zone boundaries and special regulations 11/25-26 Duck Season: Statewide. Limit 6 ducks, 5 mergansers, 15 coots per day. See www. SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 7

If you take a deer with a brown collar like this, please call the number on the tag and report it so a wildlife specialist can have the collar refurbished and placed on another deer. (Photo credit Kevyn Wiskirchen and Todd Jacobsen.)

Alabama Alabama

Sportsman Sportsman

Collared Collared Deer Deer

What would you do if you shot a collared deer on public lands? That’s exactly what happened to Tommy Youngblood of Homewood, Ala. Here’s his story:


Hunters Can Learn Abundant Information From Collared Deer

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In my lifetime, I’ve belonged to five or six hunting clubs, with the price to belong generally ranging from $500 to $1,200 per year. I also enjoy going out-of-state on a big-game hunt every few years. After my first big-game western hunt, I decided I couldn’t take those dream hunts and pay local hunting club dues too. When not taking a major trip, I thought my best alternative was to hunt public lands in Alabama.

Picking a WMA I went online to to research when the bucks went into the rut on each wildlife management area. I decided to hunt the Bankhead National Forest and the Black Warrior WMA in Winston and Lawrence counties. The first morning I hunted this area I saw a bobcat, five does and a lot of deer sign, but no bucks. I had an either-sex permit. I had used the permit with the map of the Black Warrior WMA on it to go to Google Earth and pull up the topography of the


Tommy Youngblood shot this nice 8-point buck with a brown collar at Oakmulgee WMA. In this photo, the collar is barely visible.

area. I compared that terrain to the roads, access points and property boundaries. I looked for natural funnels, draws, streams and other features. Then, I got satellite imagery of that WMA from Google Earth and identified clear-cuts, hardwoods, mixed hardwood and pine forests and other features. I found hills and hollows, edges between pine plantations, open hardwoods and some thicket areas that could provide bedding cover for deer. Before the season, I put boots on the ground to investigate the places where I thought the deer were most likely to be. I discovered that the most deer sign was in the thick cover and the edges. Although I didn’t take a buck on that first hunt, I’d seen other animals, so I felt my research had paid off. I made one more trip to the Black Warrior WMA.

Shooting a Radio Collared Deer When I didn’t see any deer on that trip, I went to Oakmulgee WMA in Bibb, Hale, Perry and Tuscaloosa counties. It had a high success rate, based on the number of days a hunter required to take a buck. It also produced quality animals and was only an hour or so from home. I used the same scouting procedure I had done at the Black Warrior WMA. From my maps, I located a spot with hills, a hollow, a creek and pine plantations that opened up into mixed hardwoods. At the first place I planned to hunt, I found two trucks already parked there. I went to my second site and, fortunately, never saw another hunter there. From scouting, I knew that deer trails led in and out of the spot where I’d planned to take a stand and had seen abundant

deer sign. I put my tree stand up about 6:30 a.m. about 15 feet off the ground. I’d only been in my stand for about 90 minutes when I saw some does come out of a pine plantation and walk down a hillside. They moved into and out of thick cover. Eventually, they walked into an open draw at the bottom of the hill. I watched the does feed for a few seconds, but thought they might be close to a place where they could smell my scent. Then, I spotted a buck moving from the pines with his nose close to the ground, smelling where the does had been. The buck came off the hillside and went through the same thick cover where the does had walked. The does looked back in the direction of the buck, but kept feeding and heading to the spot where I feared they’d smell my scent. I knew they’d alert, break, run and take the buck with them.

Deer Down on the Ground Once the 8-point buck came out of the thick cover about 70 yards in front of me, I took the shot. The buck jumped, ran about 30 yards, stopped and then went into thick cover. I stayed in my tree stand for another 45 minutes before walking to the place where I’d shot the buck. I didn’t see any blood, but I am colorblind. I walked in the direction the buck had run and found him. The buck had a collar around his neck that appeared to be brown. Due to my color blindness, I was afraid the collar was bright red. Then I saw it was a radio collar. I thought I was in trouble and perhaps had shot a buck I wasn’t supposed to shoot. I’d never seen a deer with a collar on his neck before. I took out my cell phone and called the number for the Game Watch Line at 1-800-272-4263. SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 9

Alabama Sportsman Shoots Collared Deer I was transferred to a lady in the office that oversaw Oakmulgee WMA. When I explained to her what had happened, told her I didn’t know what to do and wondered aloud if a biologist or game warden needed to come see the deer where it lay. The lady answered, “Mr. Youngblood, you’re not in trouble. Go ahead and field dress the animal. Then, take the buck to the check station.” When I arrived at the check station, I told the officers there the same story. At first, they had looks on their faces as if they weren’t happy I had shot this collared deer. They came to my truck, looked at the deer in the back of the truck and said, “This isn’t one of our orange-colored radio collars that we’re using for a study being conducted here at Oakmulgee. This deer’s brown collar is from a different study. We’re really glad you harvested this buck.” They removed the collar off the deer and the jawbone out of my buck. They also took ticks and other samples off my deer. Then, they put the collar and all the samples they’d taken from the deer in a bag to send to Auburn University. I don’t know for certain, but I have the impression that this buck was caught and collared when he was very young, maybe even a fawn. I didn’t learn any more information about the collared buck that I had shot. However, the officials at the check station asked me to fill out two pages of information and also make a note that I was colorblind.

Learning From This Hunt Studying maps available from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and from Google Earth allowed me to learn the public lands I wanted to hunt very effectively. Being able to see roads, hills, valleys, creeks and different types of terrain that intersect to create natural funnels from the map was helpful. Looking at satellite photos enabled me to determine the type of vegetation and the kinds of trees and other terrain features that helped me narrow down potential hunting spots. Scouting on the ground confirmed that the thick cover areas and their edges seemed to be where I found the most deer activity. Doing my homework improved my chances of seeing and harvesting deer. Contacting the Game Watch people in Montgomery filled me in on what to do after shooting a collared deer. On the hunt where I took the collared deer, I learned of the research studies being conducted by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources through Auburn University to help us learn more about the deer we hunt.

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Researching Alabama Collared Deer BY JOHN E. PHILLIPS After learning of Youngblood’s experience harvesting a collared deer, Great Days Outdoors magazine wanted to know why the deer had on a brown collar, who put it there, what information the researchers hoped to learn by collaring the deer and whether any other research studies were taking place. We contacted Chris Smith, assistant chief of the Wildlife Section for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. According to Smith, Alabama researchers currently use two different collar types to study deer in the state – brown collars and orange ones. The brown collars are to study a deer’s mortality, survival and movement. The orange collars are to study fawn recruitment. A third study that involves the deer’s DNA. “We have deer wearing collars in Marengo, Pickens, Tuscaloosa, Bibb and Barbour counties, as well as some deer near Oakmulgee and Barbour WMAs,” Smith reports.

The Brown Collar Study The brown collars have radio-tracking devices on them to learn about deer mortality, deer ages and survival. Since 2013, state researchers put brown collars on many deer so they can track them. The state did several articles from 2013 until 2015 that explained that if a hunter encountered a deer with a brown collar, he or she could legally harvest that animal. All the collars have information on them that explains who to call to report the deer’s harvest. Once the collar is turned in, it will be refurbished and then redeployed on another deer to continue this study.

The Orange Collar Study The orange collars are GPS collars with a battery life of about 300 days. This study focuses on learning deer-

A research student at Auburn University attaches a collar to a tranquilized deer for the research study. (Photo credit Kevyn Wiskirchen and Todd Jacobsen.)

movement patterns. “We ask the hunters not to harvest deer with orange collars,” Smith says. “However, we don’t have any regulation that prevents a hunter from taking a deer with an orange collar, but the longer the deer survives, the more information we learn from it. These studies are funded though the Pittman-Robertson Act and we work with Auburn University. Currently, Auburn is housing all the data and gives us an annual report of what they’ve learned from these studies. The state has to submit reports with our grant forms each year.” By the orange collars providing information to scientists on deer movement patterns, the biologists hope to learn what may cause deer to move at various times of the year. From this study, biologists have already learned that some deer stay in a very small area during certain times of the year. At other times, deer may travel two miles or more away from their core areas, perhaps due to a specific food source becoming abundant. Then, a deer may return to its core area. Researchers go into the deer’s core areas and the places where they move to learn what habitat changes or foods are available to cause that movement. This study helps landowners and hunting clubs to enhance or restore a certain type of habitat to make specific land more appealing to deer.

The DNA Study “For years, we’ve been doing studies on fetal deer to try and determine age of conception, so that we can better predict the rut in different parts of the state,” Smith explains. “Over the last three to four years, the amount of data we’ve collected from all over the state is phenomenal. Once the information is available, a

hunter can determine when the rut will be in an area.” “Also by using the DNA testing, we can determine the origin of the deer in that part of the state. Many deer in Alabama were stocked from a herd in Clarke County, but we also had deer restocked from Georgia, North Carolina and Michigan. Even today, the deer used for stocking from south Alabama have a late January to early February rut. The deer restocked from North Carolina or Michigan rut from Thanksgiving to early December. Alabama may have traded turkeys to Michigan in return for deer. “To complicate the rut even more, we’ve learned that deer from bordering states like Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi will migrate across state lines and may have yet another different rut period,” Smith says. “The Chattahoochee River Valley is a classic example of deer migrating across state lines. DNA studies have shown that some deer have a late December rut along the Chattahoochee River. We can assume these deer have migrated into our state. So, within Barbour WMA and the counties around there, we have some deer with a late January and early February rut. When the deer that have migrated from Georgia breed with those deer, the resulting deer may have an entirely different rutting period. So, the DNA study has helped us with ideas on the rut.” Because of the various rut times in Alabama, hunters who understand when the rut starts, and when the rut ends in different areas of the state, can possibly hunt rutting bucks during the entire deer season by changing locations. For instance, the deer in the Bankhead National Forest have a very early rut and the deer in south Alabama rut all the way through February. SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 11

ShoottoInstinctively Take More Doves


At the end of the day, a good dove hunt will see many hunters taking their limits.


You can improve your dove hunting success by learning from shooting experts

The best dove hunters I’ve interviewed agree that you need to use proper shells, learn to shoot doves better and solve your dove hunting problems to have more success hunting this year.

Disengage Your Brain To aim at doves, determine lead, estimate range and distance to shoot accurately, the hunter must shoot instinctively. One of the biggest problems a hunter has in a dove field is trying to think of where to put the bead on his or her shotgun. Hopefully, when a hunter squeezes the trigger, that sportsman will have a good pattern into which the doves fly. However, you’ll never shoot a shotgun successfully if you try to go through mental gymnastics to determine lead and swing. Most shooting instructors try to get dove hunters to disengage their brains and not think about the lead, how fast the dove is flying and where to aim. Here are some examples of doing things instinctively. Arnold Palmer, one of the greatest golfers of all time, doesn’t pick up his club and aim it at the ball. A baseball pitcher doesn’t aim the ball before releasing it. If you’re playing centerfield, you don’t aim your glove at the incoming

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ball. A baseball player doesn’t aim the bat at the ball when the pitcher releases the pitch. In football, the quarterback doesn’t aim the ball at the receiver. Rather, players instinctively moves to accomplish their tasks. The same is true of most sports. In dove shooting, erase the notion of aiming the shotgun. Instead, trust your body mechanics, just like a professional athlete. When a dove is riding the wind at breakneck speed to an unknown distance, trust your instincts, like a quarterback throwing a football. To complete a pass, the quarterback looks at the receiver, concentrates and focuses on that receiver and then depends on his body mechanics to throw the football where the receiver can catch it. That quarterback doesn’t look at the wide receiver breaking across the middle of the field and say, “Okay, he’s about 30 yards away and probably moving at 25 mph, so I’ll need to lead him about four to five feet and throw to that particular spot where he should be when the ball gets there.” A quarterback who attempts to go through that many calculations will get sacked before releasing the football. If you try to make that many calculations with a flying dove, by the time you decide to aim, that swift bird will be out of range. Therefore, to be a good wing shot, whether shooting sporting clays, doves, quail or waterfowl, learn to shoot instinctively.

USE the Best Shotshells for Doves A quarterback has to depend on a football to reach the receiver when he throws it. This quarterback won’t buy a rubber football or the cheapest one available to use in a big game. He’ll pick the best football, one in which he has the most confidence because of its proven performance record. The same is true when considering shotshells to use for dove hunting. Accuracy with a shotshell is accomplished by the pattern the shotshell delivers. The best way to get the most uniform pattern is to shoot a shell with a uniform wad. When hunting live game, you want to have as dense a shot pattern as possible and still have the knockdown power necessary to effectively bring down game. High-powered target loads designed for delivering those types of patterns to clay targets will be much more effective than the hunting dove loads you can buy. If you’re shooting an over-and-under or a side-by-side shotgun, most expert dove hunters recommend using 3 1/4 drams of powder and 1 1/8 ounces of shot. The recoil from the automatic shotgun will take some of the recoil out of the shell. To shoot a 12-gauge automatic, they suggest using 3/4 ounces of shot. Many prefer Number 7.5 shot size because they feel it has more knockdown power than a Number 8. Most successful dove hunters like target loads constructed for skeet or clay shooting because they’re generally built better, deliver more exact patterns and enable hunters to take more doves than the inexpensive loads with the picture of a dove on the box.

Practice Shooting Better

Here are some suggestions for shooting better.

Start moving the gun in the direction the dove is moving once you see it coming and made the decision to shoot it. If the dove comes straight at you, begin moving the gun straight up. If the dove flies from left to right, start moving your gun from left to right. Keep the shotgun away from your face until you’re ready to pull the trigger. Most shooters will bring their shotguns to their faces and then shoot. Instead, keep both eyes focused on the dove and then pull the trigger. Your body has the ability to make all the calculations and put that gun where it should be. Use proper form when pulling the trigger so the dove will fall. Make correct calculations and have proper form the same way a baseball player can swing the bat and hit the ball or a quarterback can throw a football into a spot no bigger than a pie plate 30 yards downfield and expect the receiver to catch it. Practice and get instruction, regardless of the sport. The more you practice, and the better instruction you receive, the more proficient you become, whether playing baseball, football or shooting doves. If you practice wrong, you’ll never shoot right, but if you practice correctly and shoot clay targets often, you’ll be able to shoot correctly more often and take more doves.

The mourning dove is not only the most-sought-after target in September, but also a bird that pulls family and friends together to eat good food, shoot a lot of shells and hopefully take a limit of these birds.

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Shoot Instinctively to Take More Doves

The Biggest Problem for Dove Hunters The biggest problem when shooting doves is trying to look at two things at once – the dove and the barrel of the gun. Instead, only look at the dove. Looking at the barrel and the dove while trying to focus on two different objects in motion at the same time is difficult for the brain to handle. One instructor gave this example. When driving down the road, people don’t look at the front end of the vehicle and the road at the same time. Drivers only look at the road. When you look at the road, your body makes the needed adjustments to steer the car in the direction you want to go. When racecar drivers speed down the track at more than 100 miles an hour, they look where they want to go at that speed and drive instinctively. The driver isn’t trying to tell the different parts of his or her body what to do to make the car go to the right place. The driver’s brain operates all the body parts instinctively from what he or she learned in practice. The driver isn’t slouched down in the seat. He or she is sitting in the same position every time to drive that racecar. Shooting correctly and accurately operates the same way. Most dove hunters try to overthink their shots and haven’t learned to trust their instincts to shoot accurately. If you learn the right form and practice the correct way, you’ll consistently shoot accurately and instinctively.

Use Good Fundamentals for Accurate Shooting Good fundamentals include:

Don’t be afraid to move your feet to get your body in position to take an accurate shot. If your body is not in the right position, there’s no way you can shoot accurately. Move the gun with your torso, not with your arms. If you watch baseball players swing bats, they don’t swing with their arms. They move their entire bodies to get their bats to the correct place at the right time to connect with the ball. When shooting doves, your entire torso has to move to get the gun barrel to where it needs to be to shoot accurately. You have to move your shoulders as well as your hands and arms. Hard-focus on the target, whether it’s a quail, dove or a clay target. Look at that target as hard as you can to see as much of that target as possible for as long as you can. If I throw a baseball to you, you won’t be looking at the glove. You’ll be looking at the ball and then move your glove to intercept the ball.

Learn from a Shooting Instructor A shooting instructor will teach a dove hunter how to mount the gun correctly, to see the sight plane of the gun, to move his shoulders with the target and to get his instincts into his shooting and trust those instincts to make accurate shots. If you decide to learn how to shoot better and take some instruction, you’ll be surprised at how much better you can shoot. 14 | 800-597-6828 | SEPTEMBER 2016

Six Tips for Your

Dove Set-Ups Here are six tips for a successful dove set-up.

// ONE Have a game warden check the field before the hunt if possible. Also check your gun, before you go into the field, and make sure it only holds three shells, so as not to violate the law. Before the hunt, make sure no one has baited the field where you’ll hunt and that it complies with all state and federal laws.

// TWO Scout the field before the hunt. Doves create pathways in the sky – certain routes most doves will fly coming into and leaving a field. By scouting before the hunt, you’ll learn where the doves like to enter and leave the field and can pinpoint places where you want to set-up your stand. Look for loafing trees too where doves fly to and light in to observe the field before they commit to entering the field. Search for a watering hole – a pond, a puddle or a creek somewhere near the field where doves can get water.

// THREE Bet on decoys. The first time I took a MOJO spinning-wing dove decoy into the field, people acted as though I’d dressed in funny clothing and wore a big red nose and pancake makeup because of all the joking, the laughing and the lighthearted verbal jabs I got from friends and other hunters. Then when the other hunters saw how flying doves made sharp turns and dove for my spinning-wing dove decoy, the joking ended abruptly. Clip-on plastic dove decoys in trees also can increase the number of birds that will come to the loafing trees near water or close to a green field. Often a hunter will hang his decoys high in trees by attaching fishing line to a rod and reel, casting the decoy high in the tree and reeling the decoy to where he wants it to sit.

// FOUR Use cover. I’ve seen dove hunters march straight out to the middle of a field, kneel-down or sit on a dove stool and quickly and easily take their limits. However, I’ve found that carrying or creating some type of blind or backing-up under the shade of a nearby tree enables me to get more and closer shots, than if I sit out in the open where doves can spot me. I wear camouflaged clothing too.

Shoot Instinctively to Take More Doves

// FIVE Hunt the obvious spots. If you’re dove hunting out of town or don’t have an opportunity to scout the field before a hunt, identify the hunter who’s taken the most doves. Walk to his stand after he’s already taken his limit of doves and plans to leave the field. Ask if you can hunt the same stand where he’s hunted. I’ve never had anyone tell me no.


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// SIX Don’t go cheap. The don’t-go-cheap rule applies to two aspects of dove hunting. Don’t buy the cheapest shotgun shells you can find, and don’t go on the cheapest dove hunt available. Charity dove shoots usually pay-off in more dove opportunities, since the landowner and the charity promoting the hunt want to raise as much money as possible from the shoot not only that year, but also in years to come. The members of the charity will go out of their way to make sure you enjoy a legal hunt with plenty of doves available for the hunters. They’ll also help every hunter reach a location with the greatest odds for taking a limit of doves. Apply these tips to your dove shoot this year to increase your odds for success often by more than 100 percent. Wear safety glasses and sunscreen, take plenty of water with you, and don’t forget the snacks. To learn more about hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ eBooks and print books at, or go to

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Betsy Chance waits for more doves to come into range while hiding near a haystack in a field. She was hunting at Quail Valley Lodge near Faunsdale, Ala. (Photo by John N. Felsher)

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Decoying Techniques Help Bring These Magnificent Gamebirds Into Range

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Looking to hit just the right spot, Wayne Pope picked up an old pushbuttoned spin-casting rod and reel outfit and tossed his artificial attractant where he wanted to put it. The large lifelike plastic creature sailed over what looked like a powerline and dangled from it. Ordinarily, such an act would greatly irritate most anglers, usually followed by loud words unfit to print in a family magazine. However, Wayne wasn’t fishing for bass, redfish, trout or crappie, although he was doing some “perching.” In fact, he wasn’t fishing for anything with fins and intentionally tossed this artificial critter over lines strung between two tall poles to lure something else. He was “fishing” for mourning doves. Doves frequently sit on powerlines overlooking fields or watering areas. Birds expect to see human activity near the ground, but they don’t usually see anything belonging to hunters so

high up on powerlines. That’s normally where they would expect to spot their cooing cousins. After using his fishing tackle to reach the high line, Pope reeled the plastic dove up to the simulated powerline on property controlled by Quail Valley Lodge. “We put up poles on some of our properties and stretch a wire between them,” explained Vandy Collins, owner of Quail Valley Lodge near Faunsdale, Ala. “We call them ‘suicide lines’ because doves come to them so much. The wires are not connected to anything so they are safe. No power runs through them. They are just to simulate powerlines and give doves a place to land.” People can also place dove decoys with this technique over tree branches or other places where the gamebirds might land, but NEVER ATTEMPT THIS WITH LIVE WIRES. Reel the decoy all the way up to the wire or branch. A little movement works

HUNTING wonders, but hunters don’t want to see a decoy swinging like a pendulum in a stiff breeze. “Doves commit when they see that decoy on the wire,” Collins advised. “At a distance, it looks like a dove sitting on a wire. When doves see that decoy on that wire, they just come right to it. Some people might put eight to 10 decoys on the line between the poles. That will simulate a lot of doves on the wire. When the wind blows, the doves on the wire move a little and that makes them look alive.” When hunting with several people, sportsmen might want to set up along a fencerow, treeline or other place that can offer some concealment. Place shooters about 30 yards on either side of the decoys and slightly in front of them so birds must fly past the hunters to get to the decoys. Whenever possible sit with the winds coming from behind. Dove hunters might even want to add a mechanical decoy to the mix. For nearly two decades, waterfowl hunters used decoys equipped with small motors that spin wings to create realistic

them because they think they are going to get an easy meal.” With or without birds on wires, Alabama dove hunters can use spinningwing decoys to bring birds into range. The decoys simulate birds landing or taking off. Like aircraft, birds always take off and land into the wind. Therefore, always place spinningwing decoys facing into wind. Like the decoys on the wires, doves think they found some feathered company and head toward them. “When the wing starts spinning at a certain speed, it creates a strobe effect that looks like wings flapping,” said Mike Morgan with MOJO Outdoors. “Birds can see the flash from quite a ways off. Doves often stay in groups because there’s safety in numbers. If

“When the wing starts spinning at a certain speed, it creates a strobe effect that looks like wings flapping." -- Mike Morgan, MOJO Outdoors

movement in a spread. Some decoys actually incorporate shaped wings that spin naturally in a breeze. The spinning wings give off flashes that simulate wings flapping. Birds can spot this flash from long distances. Dove hunters can also use these techniques to bring their favorite gamebirds closer. “All gregarious birds with white under their wings are attracted to that flash,” expounded Terry D. Denmon, president and chief executive officer with MOJO Outdoors, makers of many decoy products. “Birds can see that flash for miles. That’s how they find other birds. Many different bird species are attracted to that flash. Spinning wing decoys attract predatory birds that think they are attacking live birds. They’ll swoop down right on

they see birds moving in one area, they figure that’s a safe place to go.” Many people place spinning-wing decoys directly in front of them. Birds do swoop down on them, but sometimes, shots actually come too close and too low. In addition, birds heading directly toward a spinner might also spot people hiding behind it. Birds could flare before coming into range. Instead, force doves to focus their attention elsewhere rather than looking toward hiding hunters. “When I go hunting, the first thing I do is scout around looking for birds,” Morgan recommended. “I watch to see if they are flying in any particular way or a direction. If they are just going around anywhere, I’ll find an area with my back to the sun, which is one of

A MOJO Voodoo Dove spinning wing decoy helps bring in the mourning doves. The spinning wings give off flash that simulates flapping wings. Birds can see them from a long ways off. (Photo by John N. Felsher)

the best camouflages around. Put the spinning decoy where you want to shoot birds. I’m left-handed so I shoot better on a right-to-left shot. I’ll put a spinning-wing decoy at about a 45-degree angle about 20 to 25 yards to my left so the birds must fly right in front of me to get to the decoy.” Most spinning wing decoys come with about a 3-foot tall pole that people can stick in the ground. A MOJO Dove Tree resembles a miniature power pole. In the center sits a spinning-wing decoy. Sportsmen can attach four to six static dove decoys on the crossbar. The entire contraption sits about eight to 10 feet off the ground so it can attract birds from longer distances. Mechanical decoys can make doves look in that direction from a great distance, but sportsmen may need additional help to finish the job. Place a few static decoys in a rough circle around the spinner to simulate birds feeding. Add a few more static decoys placed in strategic positions along a fencerow, low brush or treeline. Place static decoys as high off the ground as possible. “Spinning-wing decoys have always been about attracting birds from a distance that would otherwise never see the spread, but not finishing birds up close,” Denmon said. “I like to use the MOJO Dove Tree with a spinner and four statics on it like they are sitting on a wire. I usually add about a dozen SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 17

Decoying Doves

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in that cover, but they can still find seeds on the bare ground under that canopy.” Although sportsmen traditionally hunt doves in the afternoon, the birds normally feed right at first light. After feeding for about 60 to 90 minutes, the birds look for a place to rest. For a morning hunt, try to locate where birds want to feed. To avoid disturbing them, arrive early enough to set up all the decoys before the doves start flying, just like in duck hunting. By about an hour after sunrise, doves start looking for a “nooning” place. They might stay there several hours throughout the middle of the day unless something spooks them. In the “nooning” place, birds look for wires or high tree branches good for perching and observing. Usually, such a place gives them safety from predators while alM . .L. lowing them to look out over the landscape for long es Atw iat c ate o s distances. s r a nd Jon Kohler & A “Most doves won’t water themselves in the morning right after they feed,” Collins explained. “They water themselves in the afternoon and before they go to roost. In the afternoon, they’ll feed from about 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., depending upon the weather. Then, they go to find water and a place to roost. People really have about two to three hours in the afternoon to shoot doves, generally from about 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.” Doves need water every day, so watering holes make great places to hunt in the Using a fishing rod, Wayne afternoon. The birds usually go to water just before dark, but seldom go directly to it Pope reels a dove decoy and start drinking. When approaching a watering hole, which could be just a puddle up to a non-working wire in a gravelly tire rut, they normally fly high into a tree or sit on a wire to look simulating powerlines at Quail Valley Lodge near around for predators or other danger. Sportsmen making an afternoon hunt might Faunsdale, Ala. Doves want to place a spinner and some static decoys on a gravel bank near water. Place a frequently sit on powerlines. They see the decoy high few more static decoys on tree or bush branches overlooking the watering hole. on the wire and come to it. “Doves go to water about an hour before dark,” Collins said. “Before they go to the (Photo by John N. Felsher) water, they’ll fly up into a tree near a waterhole and sit there a long time. They love static decoys around the spinning-wing to land up in a tree, a wire or something where they have a good vantage point and decoy in about a 10- to 15-yard circle look around for a while before dropping down to water. They’ll do that when they like they are feeding. If I’m sitting on a go into feeding areas as well.” fencerow or treeline, I’ll scatter a few Among the most common and popular gamebirds in North America, particularly up and down the line.” the South, doves can provide fantastic sport. Extremely swift and agile fliers, doves Small birds like doves typically feed can exceed 55 miles per hour. With twisting, erratic flight patterns, these gamebirds on bare ground where they can easily provide extremely challenging sport, but good decoying techniques might bring find seeds. Since they swallow seeds them in closer and slow them down enough for a great day of shooting this fall. whole and can’t chew them, they must also swallow small pebbles or grit to help break up hard seeds. Therefore, alIn both zones, the Important 2016-17 Alabama ways place decoys on bare ground when limit is 15 mourning Contact Information Dove Season Dates trying to simulate feeding birds. or white-winged “When feeding, a dove likes widedoves per day. MOJO Outdoors South Zone open bare ground and big clean fields,” Sportsmen may 866-216-6656 Sept. 17-25 Collins advised. “I plant corn and also shoot Eurasian Oct. 8-23 sunflowers in different strips around a collared doves Nov. 12-Jan. 15, 2017 field and leave some areas with clean anytime without limit. dirt. Doves love standing sunflowers For more information North Zone with bare ground under them because and specific zone Sept. 10-Oct. 30 they can get away from hawks and other boundaries, see Dec. 8--Jan. 15, 2017 birds of prey. Raptors are terrible on doves. If doves get down under those sunflowers, they feel a little more secure : By

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A retriever rushes out to fetch a bird as Daniel Felsher downs a blue-winged teal while hunting a flooded crop field.

September Teal Hunting and Afternoon Trophy Trout Fishing



Executive Editor John N. Felsher is the executive editor of Great Days Outdoors magazine and a professional writer and photographer. He also co-hosts with Alan White, owner and publisher of Great Days Outdoors magazine Alabama’s Great Days Outdoors Radio Show, a weekly syndicated show that goes out to multiple stations in Alabama every Saturday.

nseen wings whistled over our heads as we waited in the warm, humid pit sunk into a levee in this rice field southeast of Lake Charles, La. Moments later, we heard something splashing into the pothole. As the sun began to brighten the eastern horizon, we counted 16 “decoys,” although we only placed 12 on the water earlier that morning and some were making wakes! “Time,” my friend whispered a few minutes later. “It’s shooting hours. Let’s get’em!” Another hunting season had begun on this magnificent September morn. Blue-winged teal migrate much earlier than other ducks, sometimes arriving on the Gulf Coast by late August. Consequently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows some states to hold September teal seasons to increase the harvest of this underutilized species. Teal habitually fly low over the grass tops and can materialize on a pond

20 | 800-597-6828 | SEPTEMBER 2016

swimming among the decoys without anyone seeing them arrive. Some of the best teal hunting in the nation occurs in the marshes and rice fields of southwest Louisiana where the Mississippi and Central flyways converge. In most years, Louisiana leads the nation for duck harvests, usually accounting for about 15 to 17 percent of the national total. During the regular season, Cameron Parish alone at the extreme southwestern corner of the state frequently accounts for more ducks in the bag than the entire Atlantic Flyway. In the middle of this waterfowl paradise, Erik Rue operates Calcasieu Charter Service, a full-service lodge situated on Calcasieu Lake south of Lake Charles. He hunts 14 pit blinds scattered over nearly 5,000 acres of flooded rice fields and fallow fields in Jeff Davis, Cameron and Calcasieu parishes. “People usually come in the afternoon

THE TRAVELIN’ SPORTSMAN before the hunt,” Rue said. “They hang out at the lodge until we feed them some old-fashioned Southern cuisine or Cajun favorites like seafood, shrimp and grits or wild game topped off with fantastic desserts. After a good night’s rest, we awaken our guests the next morning to the smell of hot coffee brewing. We feed everyone a full breakfast of eggs, biscuits and sausages before the hunt. We hunt until about 10 a.m., and then return to the lodge for hot gumbo.” Of course, hunters mostly kill bluewinged teal during the September season with an occasional green-wing in the mix. However, during the regular waterfowl season, Rue’s clients could kill eight or nine different species in a morning. Besides teal, they usually kill gadwalls, pintails, wigeons, mallards and other species. The hunters frequently kill specklebelly or snow geese and ducks from the same blind. Rue hunts very close to Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge, which stretches over about 35,000 acres of impounded fresh and tidal brackish marshes. The refuge allows public hunting on designated days by permit during the September and later waterfowl seasons. The 16,000-acre Lacassine Pool, a shallow impounded marsh in the middle of the refuge, commonly produces double-digit largemouth bass and other species. Anglers can fish the pool from midMarch into October. On the other side of Calcasieu Estuary, Sabine NWR spreads across 125,000 acres of marshes between Calcasieu Lake and Sabine Lake on the Louisiana-Texas line. One of the best public waterfowl hunting spots in the nation, Sabine NWR allows hunting on designated days on about 34,000 acres of marshes, natural ponds and impoundments. The largest coastal marsh refuge on the Gulf of Mexico, Sabine can attract several hundred thousand ducks, plus some snow, blue, Ross and specklebelly geese, each winter. During the regular season, gadwalls typically account for about 40 percent of the harvest followed by green-winged teal and wigeons, but sportsmen might shoot almost

any type of waterfowl found in the southern Mississippi or Central flyways. Occasionally, sportsmen bag colorful cinnamon teal, black-bellied or fulvous whistling ducks.

Jen Carroll admires a redfish she caught on a topwater bait while fishing with Capt. Erik Rue of Calcasieu Charter Service at Calcasieu Lake south of Lake Charles, La.

Many people who visit Rue’s lodge or other area outfitters opt for the castand-blast experience, hunting waterfowl in the morning and catching fish in the afternoon. Known locally as Big Lake, Calcasieu Lake measures 12 miles long by nine miles wide and covers 52,700 acres of the Calcasieu Estuary. The Calcasieu Ship Channel, a widened and straightened version of the old Calcasieu River, connects the estuary to the Gulf of Mexico. One of the top trophy trout destinations in the nation, Calcasieu Lake routinely gives up trout in the 5- to 8-pound range with an occasional 9- to 11-pounder. The estuary produced three of the top 10 all-tackle trout caught in Louisiana and the state record speck caught on a fly. The lake and surrounding marshes also produce excellent catches of other species. “One of our most popular packages is the cast and blast,” Rue advised.

“Calcasieu Lake is one of the most prolific estuaries on the Gulf Coast. Speckled trout, redfish and flounder are the most common species we target, but we might catch many other fish species such as black drum, white trout, tripletail, Spanish mackerel, sheepshead and other species.” While fishing, keep an eye out for Pinky, the only known entirely pink bottlenose dolphin in the world. Rue first photographed Pinky in 2007 (see www. Pinky may appear anywhere in the Calcasieu Estuary, but typically hangs out in the southern part of the Calcasieu Ship Channel where she likes to play in the bow waves of large ships running between the Gulf of Mexico and the port of Lake Charles. When not hunting or fishing, area visitors can hike the nature trails on Sabine NWR or drive the picturesque Pintail Wildlife Drive on Lacassine. While in the area, drive the scenic Creole Nature Trail, a designated All-American Road that loops through the southwestern Louisiana marshes and fields.


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Denny Brauer, a former Bassmaster Classic champion, fishes the Tennessee River system in the fall. (Photo by John N. Felsher)

W shifting their focus towards hunting.

hen the days begin to get shorter and colder, most outdoorsmen start


Spring often gets the reputation for the best time of the year to fish with bass being active while preparing to spawn. Spring can offer some excellent fishing, but autumn offers some of the best topwater bass fishing all year. In this article, I will share some of my favorite techniques to catch big bass on the surface in the fall. During the fall, several factors collide. Fish that have been out in deeper water start moving shallow as they prepare for the colder months ahead. These fish moving into the shallows compete for food with bass that remained shallow all year long. In addition, bass not only must compete with other bass, but an entire food chain trying to prepare for the approaching weather changes. This truly makes the water a “fisheat-fish” type of world. When approaching a body of water during the fall, keep a few things in mind. One of the first things to consider is the natural prey for that body of water. Shad live in just about every public fishery throughout the Southeast. With that in mind, it’s important to know what type of shad inhabits a particular body of water so you can match your bait to the shad you want to imitate. Just because waters have shad for bass to eat, that doesn’t mean other topwater baits won’t work just as well or better than something imitating a shad. Waters like the Mobile-Tensaw Delta have shad, but anglers can enjoy excellent action by fishing with topwater frogs and rats. These bait types typically work best in swampier areas or places with an abundance of vegetation, whether submerged grass or lily pads floating on top.

Hot Surface Action for Cooling Days

Many Topwater Temptations In the fall of 2015, a lot of tournament anglers in the South Alabama Fall Collegiate Series depended on the early topwater bite to produce some of their largest 24 | 800-597-6828 | SEPTEMBER 2016

FRESHWATER fish. This worked well for both largemouth and spotted bass. Some anglers in the tournament placed their faith in a variety of “walk-the-dog” topwater baits, buzzbaits, frogs and even some propbaits. These baits proved to be the correct baits to land some nice fish. Some anglers fished these baits just long enough to secure their limit while others held their faith in these lures well past what most anglers consider the typical morning topwater bite period. Bait placement for the later topwater bite proved to be crucial. Once you have sized up the lake, river or wherever you’re fishing and you have some intel as to what type of prey you need to imitate, you must locate the fish! During the fall, largemouth bass tend to bunch up because of one key component – bait. Some fish will always be loners, but most of the time where you catch one bass there will be another one very close if not in the same spot. This is when it begins to get fun. A good graph can be an essential tool for locating bait, but it is not the only sure way to know you’re in the correct spot. Simply take a moment and observe your surroundings. Sometimes, observation can prove to be one of the best things you can do. Look for disturbances on top of the water or birds congregated in a particular area as giveaways for where to find active fish. If anything, this time of year is beautiful and you’ve gotten a glimpse of some of the beauty that Mother

Nature has to offer. A favorite bait of mine for fall topwater fishing is a Strike King Sexy Dawg Jr. About the only modification I do to this bait is that I upsize the treble hooks to the next size. The oversized hooks tend to give me a better hookup ratio when fish are aggressive. This bait has a great action across the top of the water and produces a great sound. The weight is evenly distributed and is excellent for casting long distances. Casting distance can come in handy for schooling fish so that you do not spook them. While they are very active and focused on eating, schoolies will disappear just as quickly as they showed up.

Getting the Equipment Right Most people belief that topwater baits should always be thrown on monofilament line, but this is where I have changed my setups. I like to throw “walk-the-dog” type baits on braided line. I use these baits for more of a search bait. The braided line has no stretch, which is great for a long distance hookset. It’s also still buoyant enough to float. The rod is probably the most crucial aspect of this bait. I prefer to use a 7-foot, 2-inch medium action Myakka rod from Sixgill Fishing Products. With that rod, I use a 7:0.1 gear ratio Crius reel from the same company. This can really help you cover water quickly.



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The next bait that I really like to use in the fall is the softplastic Ribbit Frog from Stanley Jigs. This bait is somewhat a combination from the best of both worlds. Many anglers like to use a buzzbait. However, I feel this bait can be much more productive and has a little more versatility. Rigged weedless, a Ribbit Frog has very similar action to a buzzbait. An advantage of this bait over a traditional buzzbait, it can be skipped under docks and low hanging tree limbs. This technique just takes practice and some fine-tuning of the equipment. When fishing this type of bait, I prefer a 7-foot, 3-inch Myakka medium-heavy action rod. This gives me some great castability with the backbone to handle large fish and just enough softness in the tip to allow for some premature hooksets. Let’s face it. We all swing too early sometimes when bass are hitting topwater baits. I spool a Sixgill Hyperion reel with 65-pound test braided line so I have very little worry of line breakage.

Prop on Top One bait anglers don’t usually see many people fishing these days is a propbait. The one in particular that I favor the most is a Smithwick Devil’s Horse. This is a large topwater bait with small propellers on each end. If fished properly, it can produce some big bites. Anglers can choose from many other propbaits on the market as well. Typically, most of them have a single propeller on the back. I personally like to work these baits a bit slower. The rhythm that I use is just a series of slow methodical movements. With the tip of the rod, I move the bait just enough to get the blade to turn and put a small disturbance on top of the water. Propbaits and popper type baits are about the only topwater baits that I still use with monofilament. Typically, I use 14- to 17-pound test line. Monofilament line is crucial for a couple of reasons. One reason is because you want to have some stretch on the hookset. Another reason is that the monofilament provides enough flotation that it does not affect the action of the bait. Fluorocarbon line tends to make these baits dive a bit, negatively affecting the bait. Braided line can be troublesome with it constantly getting tangled in the blades of propbaits. However, I do use pretty much the same setup with propbaits that I use for “walk-the-dog” type baits with the exception of the different line.

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One last thing to keep in mind when fishing topwater baits, anglers won’t always catch the fish. Sometimes, you may only get some reaction strikes. An important thing that I have learned is to always keep a soft-plastic bait handy. Typically, I will keep a 5-inch BK Swimbait, which is a soft-plastic minnow type bait from Netbait, rigged on a 1/8- to 3/16-ounce weighted hook. This allows me enough weight to cast it to the desired location, but it is light enough that the bait will

Fall on Top

slowly sink. If you’re having a lot of reaction strikes and no hookups this will usually entice them into thinking this is the baitfish they just wounded. Some key factors that play into this approach are water temperature and cloud coverage. With the right water temperature and cloud coverage, it is possible to catch fish on topwater baits all day long. Some anglers will get discouraged with fluctuations in air temperature. While I feel that air temperature can play a small part of whether or not bass will bite on top, I don’t feel that is the determining factor. Just last year on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, we faced a cold front with blistering cold winds and air temperatures in the 40s. However, the only bait we could catch fish on was a Devil’s Horse. My rule of thumb is to give topwater fishing a try as long as the water temperature stays above 55 degrees. While many people argue that bass will not bite topwater baits in water temperature below 60 degrees, I have consistently done well with water as cold as 54 degrees. You just have to alter your presentation a bit. While anglers might use many different topwater lures, these baits have proven to be successful for me throughout the years. Some of the baits I have mentioned may be unfamiliar to you, but hopefully, you can put together a fall topwater pattern for yourself from the tips in this article. We each have our own fishing styles. If you can incorporate some topwater fishing in your arsenal, it might be just the ticket you need to land some trophy bass this fall.

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Hot Tactics for Fall Bass BY CHARLES JOHNSON


As Water Cools, Bass Action Heats Up At This Time of Year Turning the calendar page over to September can bring a sense of relief, especially for bass anglers. The hot, “dog days” of summer are behind us. Anticipation of cool mornings and mild days stirs our desire to head out to the lake. The sweltering heat has subsided and fishing moves back to the top of the angler’s list. Bass too welcome the relief of cooler temperatures. They make their transition back toward shallow water haunts in search of food. Heavy feeding is on their lists in making ready body fat reserves for the upcoming winter. From the north to the south, Cotton State bass are becoming more active. Weather plays an important role in fall bass activity. Cold fronts can trigger rain and falling temperatures. The rain also cools the water and adds oxygen. Baitfish like shad and blueback herring begin to move and the bass aren’t far behind. Knowing where to look and the proper lures to throw can help an angler quickly fill out a limit of fall bass.

Locate the Baitfish First One of the first things fall bass anglers must look for on any lake is baitfish. These silvery, slender little fish ball up in giant schools on most lakes around the state. They move in huge packs feeding and growing over the fall months. For a majority of lakes across Bama, shad are the primary type of baitfish. Gizzard and threadfin shad are the most common species and make up a large portion of the diet of bass. Some lakes, like Smith Lake near Jasper, have blueback herring along with shad. “Start your search around the middle section of a major creek,” mentions Tracy Beall, a fishing guide from Eufaula, Ala. “Shad will use the creek channels as travel routes to shallow flats and the bass will be close by.” As the water temperature begins to cool, shad will often swim just beneath the surface, Beall explains. The bass will follow the large balls of baitfish and attack the shad when the time is right. Anglers lucky enough to be in the right spot will witness the explosive action of the bass and shad battle. 28 | 800-597-6828 | SEPTEMBER 2016

Spinnerbaits and crankbaits are the go-to lures for catching fall bass.

FRESHWATER Mouths of creeks, ditches and other channels that intersect the main tributaries are great locations to search for fall bass. Inside breaks create a current ebb and the shad will sometimes congregate there. Also, sharp changes in depth along the channel ledges are prime areas for bass to hide out. “Depending on the lake, water temp and sky condition bass will generally be around 4 to 10 feet deep,” Beall comments. “Bright days will have them a little deeper and on cloudy days they will move up shallow.”

Cover, Cover, Cover Bass are cover oriented. At any time of year, anglers can find bass hiding around cover. The autumn season is no different. However, bass are more willing to chase after food during the fall. Thus, anglers don’t have to fish their lures right in the heart of the cover. “Flooded brush or timber, boat docks, riprap and underwater rock piles are top spots to find fall bass,” advises B.A.S.S. Elite Tour pro Matt Herren of Ashville, Ala. “Don’t overlook main lake cover and structure.” Herren comments that once the water temperature gets back down around the 72-degree Fahrenheit range bass become more active and ready to eat. They will use whatever cover is available to ambush their prey. Another type of cover some anglers may overlook in the fall is grass or weeds. On some lakes, the grass can still be very prolific and continue to grow. Herren advises anglers to fish grass edges near open water. Also, any submerged grass flats about a foot under the surface is another top spot for fall bass. “I like to make a long cast and retrieve a spinnerbait fairly fast over the top of the grass,” Herren mentions. “You can change the speed of the lure to see how fast the bass prefer it.”

Narrow the Lure Choices With bass sometimes in a feeding frenzy, anglers can get caught up in fishing many different lures. Beall mentions a couple of old standbys that catch plenty bass in the fall. He says don’t try to over think the lure selection for fall bass. “Shallow- to medium-diving crankbaits are a good starting point,” Beall advises. “Choose a color and size that closely resembles the baitfish in your area.” Beall comments that crankbaits are good search baits for locating schools of bass. The lures are easy to cast and can cover plenty of water. Later in the year, shad will take on a hint of chartreuse or yellow around their tails. Crankbait colors in white, silver or sexy shad are prime choices for fall anglers. Anglers may want to keep a couple different sizes, colors and lure styles rigged and ready on the deck. Beall mentions that anglers will want to cast toward cover from different angles and make retrieves from various directions. A medium-fast retrieve should garner a reaction strike from a bass. Herren agrees on the reaction strike scenario, but he prefers a spinnerbait for fall bass action. A tandem willow-leaf bait is Herron’s go-to bait for fall bass. This style spinnerbait allows for long casts and easy retrieves. The blades simulate schooling shad activity.

“The spinnerbait closely resembles both threadfin and gizzard shad,” Herren mentions. “I prefer white blades and a white skirt for my fall spinnerbait.” According to Herren, a spinnerbait is versatile for fall fishing. It can be fished at varying speeds and depths throughout the water column. Herren believes spinnerbaits don’t receive as much attention as some other lures, but he regards blade baits as still one of the top lures for fall bass. Herren advises the most critical part of selecting a spinnerbait is matching the size of the lure to the size of the baitfish. He says this can vary from lake to lake and even on the same lake from one end to the other. Anglers will benefit if they take the time to study the baitfish size in the area where they are fishing. “If the bass are active I will fish the spinnerbait as fast as I can retrieve it,” Herren comments. “I’ll keep the bait just under the surface.” While the high-speed retrieve does produce Match your lure size with some strikes, Herren the size of the baitfish in your fishing area. will often opt for an erratic retrieve. He will vary the speed and use a stop-and-go technique as well. When fishing over grass, he stops the bait and allows it to flutter down in the vegetation. Herren mentioned about bass being around cover during the fall. He likes to make the spinnerbait bump something on the retrieve. He says to bump a log, stick, rock or pier piling to draw that reaction strike from a bass. As the water continues to cool, Herron will slow down his retrieval speed on the spinnerbait in late autumn. Spinnerbait sizes for Herron will range from 1/8- to 1/2-ounce. He fishes them on a Kistler rod with an Ardent reel with a 7.3:1 gear ratio. His reel is spooled with Gamma fluorocarbon line ranging from 12- to 20- pound test depending on lure size and depth. For crankbait fishing, Beall also likes fluorocarbon line in the 14- to 20-pound-test range. He likes the lighter weight line for smaller lures in open water. When fishing around cover, he will step up to the heavier line. Beall mentions that anglers will lose some action and depth range with the heavy line. Fall is the time when anglers and bass become active again. Cooler temperatures will have the bass on the move and anglers in pursuit. Tie on your favorite lure, make a cast and hold on for a great day outdoors. SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 29

Fear is Nothing to be Afraid of BY GARRY BOWERS


ear is not necessarily a bad thing. I have a theory that the accumulative effects of fear build character and since outdoorsmen are more likely to encounter danger than other people, we are emotionally stronger, intellectually wiser and more physically intrepid than your average citizen. I myself have so many fears as to be almost superhuman. I am deathly afraid of snakes, regardless of size or species. I am afraid of unmarked electrified fences, rusty tree stands, cross-eyed firearms instructors, deranged pigs and any ammo that I have personally reloaded. I am afraid of being deep in the woods and meeting two men with straw hats, shotguns and five teeth between them who say, “Hey, boy. Anybody know yore out heah?” Computer programmers who don’t own a car and live in a high-rise apartment are not likely to run across any of these things. Philosophically, then, if my theory is correct, we hunters and fishermen are better qualified to meet life’s challenges, and, simply put, are better people than anyone else.

Never Take Fear Lightly Still, we should never take fear lightly. It is a complex, multi-faceted and awesome thing, and I don’t use the word “awesome” in the vernacular of today’s youth. They use that adjective to describe everything from haircuts to clothes to music. “Awesome” actually means “full of wonder.” Come to think of it though, some of their haircuts, clothes and music do make me wonder. I learned at a young age that personal, abject terror is not the only aspect of fear. Understanding its nuances, I was able to fully appreciate the humor of fear in others, and the fact that even that can come back to bite you in the butt. Case in point. A half-dozen or so of us preteen kids in my neighborhood used to sneak onto the back nine of a local golf course and fish the water hazards there. It was usually pretty good fishing, but

we sometimes had to contend with the guardian of the country club, Willie the Groundskeeper. He was a terrifying old man who often carried a gnarled Scottish walking stick. If he were strolling on foot down the fairways, he would spot us, yell, wield the stick above his head like a sword and give chase while we scattered to the four winds. One particular afternoon, he was almost upon us before we realized it and

“I opted for the low growl. It took him several milliseconds to react.” we broke like a covey of quail. I chose to run toward a storage shed by Number 9 tee box. There I hid in the front corner of the structure and held my breath, expecting him to enter any second and beat me to death. To my surprise, Ducky Jones, 30 seconds behind me, but apparently having an amount of strategic intelligence equal to my own, decided to hide in the same shed. Unfortunately for Ducky, he lacked the forethought to look where he was going and backed into the corner I already occupied. My initial fear now turned to anticipation. To make it even more enjoyable, he was creeping ever so slowly backward, keeping an eye out the door for Willie. I had time to consider many sadistic possibilities. Touch him on the shoulder? Snatch his cap off? Grab him and say “Gotcha!” I opted for the low growl. It took him several milliseconds to react. First, he inhaled so much air that I thought the entire structure would implode. Then, almost in slow motion, his arms began to flail and his feet began to dance, but he didn’t go anywhere or even look back. Obviously, he did not want to see what was about to eat him and he didn’t want to flee and provoke an attack. He just sort of hung there, as if in midair, like

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a gigantic, psychotic puppet with limbs jerking helplessly. I was gleeful. It was awesome! The resounding screech I expected never came. He just kept inhaling and then all movement ceased and he collapsed in a little pile. He was completely still. And he smelled bad. Now, fear once again turned its ugly head to me. My mind raced. “Mr. Jones, he was running from Willie the Groundskeeper. He must have died from exhaustion.” Or, “Honest, Mrs. Jones. I think there were rabid bats in that shed.” Or, “It must have been fumes from the fertilizer, Your Honor.” Fortunately, Ducky regained consciousness and beat the crap out of me. Boy, was I relieved.

Life Changing Fears Fear can literally change your life. It likely changed my family tree. I once took my fiancée’s father, a Baptist minister, out on the lake to bass fish. We were easing down a tree-lined bank with the trolling motor when my crankbait got hung up on an overhanging limb. I pulled the boat up under the tree and reached up to get it loose. Remember, I told you I was afraid of snakes? Guess what fell on my shoulder! I said, in my head, rather loudly, “Gosh darn mammy slappin’ son of a gun!” But that’s not what came out of my mouth. After the snake had departed and I stopped shaking, I looked at my future father-in-law. He sat perfectly still and slack-jawed, staring at me with huge evangelical eyes. He didn’t say a word. Didn’t have to. His expression said it all. “You vile, disgusting, profane son of Satan! You will never marry my daughter!” Turns out, he was right. Oh well, stuff happens.

Fear Can Be Your Friend There is another configuration of fear that I learned in my mid-teens. Fear can

HUMOR be your friend. I was at that awkward age when boys really like girls, but are scared to death of them. I was at the final weigh-in of a bass tournament where several family members were in contention to win. My brother Marvin was there also. He was several years my senior and the bane of adolescents everywhere. He happened to be with his girlfriend and her drop-dead gorgeous younger sister. He walked up out of nowhere and said nothing, but “Garry, this is Starr,” wheeled around, girlfriend on his arm, and walked away, chuckling. I had always thought my parents adopted him from a troupe of circus clowns. Starr said, “Hi.” I said, “Bliffet.” She said, “Pardon?” I said, “Bliffet. Mitch boggling frammer docklet.” She said, “Oh, I just love foreign languages.” I said, “Minnow loggem.” She said, “Wanna go get a hot dog?” I said, “Clatcher.” I never did find out who won the tournament. It was a wonderful evening. It even ended with a “goodnight marfal.”

The Positive Power of Fear There is another positive power of fear that should never be underestimated, especially if you have no shame. Have you ever started to make an overhead cast and your thumb slipped off of the spool enough to let the lure drop behind you, but you

carried through with the cast anyway and the lure ended up in the back of your head? I have. It’s painful. But I do not fear pain. As a lifelong klutz, pain is my constant companion. I do fear needles. So as much as I am appreciative of the guy who stopped me in the parking lot and suggested that I let him cut the line so I wouldn’t have to carry my rod and reel into the building, I am equally angry that he said I would probably have to get a tetanus shot. By the time I got to the waiting room, my knees were noticeably quaking and uncontrollable trembling overtook my hands and arms. Such was the severity of my shaking that the little bell by the nurses’ station began to tinkle lightly. I don’t think people even noticed the crankbait hanging from my scalp, but they noticed my distress. The more I tried to dismiss the thought of a shot, the more my face turned the color of, oh, I don’t know, the cloroxed handkerchief with which I was mopping my brow. A 90-yearold lady, a guy with both legs in casts and a pregnant woman got up to offer me their seats. Of course, I should have graciously declined their offers, but the old lady looked like she was in pretty good shape. Fear is nothing to be afraid of. Embrace it. It will never let you down. As an added incentive, you might consider the philosophy some hold that God will judge you on the amount of mirth you have provided Him. If that’s true, I have a free pass.

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John Cox of DeBary, Fla., raises the Forrest Wood Cup as the new champion of the Walmart FLW Tour professional bass fishing circuit. (Photo courtesy of Walmart FLW Tour)

Cox wins Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Wheeler John Cox of DeBary, Fla., became the new champion of the Walmart FLW Tour professional bass fishing circuit by winning the Forrest Wood Cup in the tournament held Aug. 4-7 at Lake Wheeler near Decatur, Ala. Cox led wire-to-wire for the victory with a 4-day tournament limit of 20 bass weighing 54 pounds, 13 ounces. He bested his competition by more than four pounds. For the victory, Cox won $300,000 in cash. He won the championship by fishing in the back of Cotaco Creek seven miles off the main channel of the Tennessee River. Cox said that it would take him more than 40 minutes each day to work his boat to the back of the creek. Along the way, he plowed over logs and timber to reach his honey hole. “I didn’t think that one spot had enough fish in it to win, but it did,” remarked Cox, who notched his third career FLW Tour win. “I’ve tried to get back in places like that in other Forrest Wood Cups to win and it just didn’t work out, but this lake has so many of those little log-infested creeks. I knew this would be a great opportunity to make it work and it did.” Cox caught most of his fish on a black- or bluegill-colored Jackall Iobee Frog. He also caught a few fish on a 1/4-ounce white buzzbait and a soft-plastic jerkbait. “The fish were definitely chomping the frog,” Cox revealed. “I was skipping it as far as I could under the trees into the shade.” Michael Neal of Dayton, Tenn. placed second with a 20bass limit weighing 50 pounds, 10 ounces. Todd Auten of Lake Wylie, S.C. followed with 17 bass going 50 pounds, five ounces. Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C. finished fourth with 20 bass for 49 pounds, six ounces, just ahead of Jeremy Lawyer of Sarcoxie, Mo. with 19 bass for 49 pounds, five ounces. For complete results, see 32 | 800-597-6828 | SEPTEMBER 2016

Chris Blankenship (Center) receives the inaugural Fisheries Conservationist of the Year Award. Presenting the award from left are Horace Horn, Angus Cooper III, Susan Comensky and Conservation Commissioner N. Gunter Guy Jr. (Photo courtesy of Alabama Wildlife Federation)

Blankenship receives inaugural Fisheries Conservationist of the Year award Chris Blankenship won the inaugural Fisheries Conservationist of the Year award during the Alabama Wildlife Federation Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards banquet held in Prattville. Blankenship has been the director of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Marine Resources Division since 2011. During his tenure, the division significantly increased available marine habitat. In addition, Blankenship addressed Congress numerous times to discuss the Alabama red snapper fishery and what it means to the state economy and anglers. Each month, he writes the “Our Alabama Waters” column for this magazine. “I’m excited to receive the AWF Fisheries Conservationist of the Year award,” Blankenship said. “I’m so proud of the work many people do to enhance the outdoors in Alabama. I’m honored to receive one of those coveted statues. It’s a heavy lift to try to do anything in Congress or make changes in the federal government policies, but I think we’re making good strides. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished on red snapper.” In other awards, Alabama Senator Richard Shelby won the Legislative Conservationist of the Year award for inserting language in the Congressional Omnibus Appropriations bill that extended Alabama coastal waters boundary from three miles to nine miles for fisheries management. Dr. David Thrasher of Montgomery was named AWF Conservationist of the Year. Thrasher, a pulmonary and critical care physician, is an AWF past president and current vice president of the Alabama Conservation and Natural Resources Foundation. The Judicial Conservationist of the Year award went to Justice Jim Main of Montgomery for his

THE HOOK AND BULLET NEWS work to resolve issues regarding oil and gas royalties and the prevention of proposed closings of the Blakeley and Saint Stephens parks. James “Big Daddy” Lawler of Camden won the Conservation Communicator of the Year award for his radio program, “The Gettin’ Outdoors Radio Network.” Doyle Keasel of Auburn won the Conservation Educator of the Year title. Dr. Pat O’Neil of Tuscaloosa, deputy director of the Geological Survey of Alabama, won the Water Conservationist of the Year. Jimmy Bullock, senior vice president of forest sustainability at Resource Management Services in Birmingham, won the Forest Conservationist of the Year. Luis “Wicho” Hechavarria Jr. of Orrville received the Wildlife Conservationist of the Year award for his wildlife conservation efforts on nine tracts of land in Dallas County. Greg Gilliland of Munford, recipient of the Conservation Enforcement Officer of the Year award, has served as an officer with the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division in Talladega County since 2003. Mike O’Neal won the Hunter Safety Instructor of the Year tile. Air Conservationist of the Year award went to the GeorgiaPacific Naheola Plant in Choctaw County. The Land Conservationist of the Year went to Blythe Cotton Company, a family farming operation in Town Creek. For more details, see

Harders Recognized as Conservation Employee of the Year The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources named Fred Harders, the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division assistant director, as its 2016 Division Employee of the Year. Harders was also named Employee of the Year Runner-up for the State of Alabama by the State Personnel Department. Harders began his 40-year career with ADCNR as a fisheries biologist at the Eastaboga Fish Hatchery. After several different supervisory positions, including Fisheries Section Chief, he was promoted to assistant director in March 2000. “Fred always makes time to talk with concerned or confused citizens who need his expertise,” said Chuck Sykes, WFF Division director. “He is able to provide information quickly to legislators and others we work with as well. Fred is always smiling, always positive and always helpful. His knowledge of the division’s inner workings is irreplaceable and that has enabled the division to function smoothly.”

Roland Cooper State Park to Reopen Closed by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in 2015 because of financial reasons, Roland Cooper State Park on the shore of Dannelly Reservoir in Camden will reopen to the public this fall. State Park officials say Recreation Resource Management has been selected to come in and manage the property. Roland Cooper was one of five state parks to close due to budget constraints in 2015. Since then, Bladon Springs, Florala and Paul M. Grist state parks have reopened under agreements with local municipalities. The Roland Cooper site is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and leased to the Alabama State Parks Division. Roland Cooper State Park features camping, cabins, pavilions, fishing and boating. For more information about the park, visit (Photo courtesy of the Alabama State Parks Division)

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SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 33

Hook and Bullet News

Duck Numbers Remain Steady for Fall Flight

A Labrador retriever fetches a drake mallard. Mallard numbers remain above average this year. (Photo by John N. Felsher)

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Based on surveys conducted in May and June by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service, duck numbers remain statistically similar to estimates from 2015. Total duck populations were estimated at 48.4 million breeding ducks in the traditional survey area. The estimate came in slightly below the 49.5 million birds estimated in 2015, but still 38 percent above the 1955-2015 long-term average. Conditions observed across the U.S. and Canadian survey areas during the 2016 breeding population survey were generally poorer than last year. “In light of the dry conditions that were observed across much of the northern breeding grounds during the survey period, it is reassuring to see that the breeding population counts were little changed from last year,” said Scott Yaich, Ducks Unlimited chief scientist. “What’s not reflected in the report is that there was fairly significant improvement in habitat conditions after the surveys were completed.” The projected fall flights of mallards, the most numerous duck species, came in at 11.79 million birds, up slightly from the 11.64 million reported in 2015. Mallard numbers remain about 51 percent above the long-term average. Gadwalls, one of the more important species along the Gulf Coast, dropped from 3.83 million in 2015 to 3.71 million this year, but remain 90 percent above average. Wigeon made the biggest statistical jump from 3.03 million in 2015 to 3.41 million in 2016 an increase of 14 percent. Green-winged teal increased five percent from 4.08 million in 2015 to 4.27 million this year and remain 104 percent above average. Blue-winged teal, the second most populous bird surveyed, decreased the most statistically, a drop of 22 percent. The population estimate went from 8.54 million in 2015 to 6.69 million this year, but remains 34 percent above average. For more information, see

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Hook and Bullet News

Teen Catches a Golden Piebald Tarpon

Under the guidance of her father, a young shooter tries shooting sporting clays. Many communities across the nation hold special sporting events to commemorate National Hunting and Fishing Day. (Photo by John N. Felsher)

National Hunting and Fishing Day Set The 2016 National Hunting and Fishing Day will be held on Sept. 24, a day set aside for sportsmen to celebrate conservation. Ira Joffe, owner of Joffe’s Gun Shop in Upper Darby, Pa., was one of the first people to advocate creating a day to honor conservation. In 1970, Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond Shafer adopted Joffe’s idea and created “Outdoor Sportsman’s Day” in his state. In June 1971, Congress passed Joint Resolution 117 authorizing National Hunting and Fishing Day on the fourth Saturday of every September. President Richard Nixon signed the bill in 1972, but the tradition actually goes back more than a century. Led by sportsman President Theodore Roosevelt, early conservationists called for the first laws restricting the commercial slaughter of wildlife in the early 20th century. A movement began to recognize that hunters and anglers were the earliest and most vocal supporters of conservation and scientific wildlife management. “I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in insuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations,” Nixon said upon signing the bill into law.

When it comes to sheer odds, catching a golden piebald tarpon is about as rare as it gets, but catching one that weighs more than 100 pounds? That’s what 16-year-old Will Chapman, 16, beams as he admires the golden piebald tarpon he Will Chapman caught off the Florida Panhandle. (Photo courtesy of Outdoors Hub) did while fishing in the Florida panhandle with Capt. Patrick Dineen of Flyliner Charters ( who runs out of the Fort Walton area. Biologists use the word “piebald” to describe fish and animals with similar color mutations. Piebald tarpon with the unique silver-gold coloration of Chapman’s catch are rarely seen and even more rarely caught. A similar tarpon was caught off Anna Maria Island, Florida, in 2014. Veteran anglers may go their whole careers without seeing a piebald tarpon, but for Chapman, it was his very first catch of the species. The young angler was fishing with his father, Mark Chapman. “We did not realize the fish was different until halfway through the 20-minute fight,” Mark Chapman said. “Will said the fish looked like a giant koi. It was absolutely beautiful once he got him near the boat. The tips of his pectoral fins were lit up bright blue similar to a pelagic.” The crew estimated that the fish probably weighed more than 100 pounds. They kept it alongside the boat for photos and then released it. People can watch a video of the catch at

Oak Mountain State Parks Offers Bowhunting Opportunities

“Alabama Autumn Moon” at Oak Mountain State Park. Photo by Alby Headrick via flickr.

Bowhunters may harvest deer within Oak Mountain State Park near Birmingham to help control the deer population. Archers can hunt the 9,940-acre park on weekdays from Nov. 1, 2016, through Jan. 31, 2017. Hunting will also be allowed on the last three weekends on January. Surveys conducted between 1999 and 2003 concluded that the Oak Mountain deer herd was causing serious damage to wildflowers, trees and shrubs. That also negatively affected populations of small mammals and nesting birds. After consulting with state wildlife biologists, regulated archery hunts were established in 2004 to control the Oak Mountain State Park deer herd. Oak Mountain State Park will remain open during the hunts. All established park rules and regulations still apply. The park will be divided into 11 zones with each zone accommodating four to five hunters on a first-come, first-serve basis. Last season, bowhunters arrowed 45 deer including 36 bucks in the park. SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 35



Alabama State Parks

Enhances Trails, Attractions Parks Will Have Designated Crew to Focus on Trails System

by N. Gunter Guy, Jr. Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (ADCNR)


he Alabama State Parks staff and volunteers are committed to helping park visitors make the most of the recreational opportunities available at our 21 parks across the state. From ziplining atop one of the most scenic mountains in north Alabama to hiking the Hugh Branyon Backcountry Trail in coastal Alabama, the goal of the State Parks staff is to add value for park events and park visitors. One of the main initiatives is to enhance an activity that appeals to all park visitors – walking or hiking the numerous trails. DeSoto State Park Superintendent Ken Thomas was selected as the State Parks Trails Coordinator by State Parks Director Greg Lein. Thomas’s task will be to inventory existing trails and determine trail users’ interests. He will assemble a trail construction and maintenance crew to manage park trails and coordinate with existing clubs and volunteers to help with projects. Of course, such a project is going to take funding, so Thomas and State Parks staff will pursue

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grants wherever possible.

Take Advantage of Trails Thomas, who has been in the State Parks system for 27 years, knows that visitors to our State Parks system are more likely to take advantage of the trail system than any other amenity. Research shows that more than 100 million Americans, age 6 and up, have used trail systems for hiking, trail running and mountain biking in the past three years. That usage shows no signs of abating in the near future. Thomas will recruit volunteers from a variety of clubs and user groups who can take the trail system to the next level with the aid of a State Parks crew dedicated to the trail network. At DeSoto, Thomas and Park Naturalist Brittney Hughes have utilized volunteer groups for years to maintain the unique vegetation that grows on Lookout Mountain. A new way to contribute to the maintenance and enhancement of the State Parks trail system is to purchase a $25 annual “Dirt Pass.” The

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AUTAUGA COUNTY 130+/- ACRES - Scenic beautiful open land with mature hardwoods overlooking a 5 acre lake. Seller may divide to 15+/- acres. This property is just 1.3 miles from Autauga Academy and less than 10 minutes from downtown Prattville. $5000/ac BALDWIN COUNTY 48+/- ACRES – Suarez Point is located directly on Perdido Bay w/access to the Gulf Of Mexico via Perdido Pass is a 10 mile boat ride from Suarez Point & Pensacola Pass is an 18 mi. boat ride. $1,900,000 BARBOUR COUNTY REDUCED!! 454+/- ACRES - Great timber investment/rec. tract w/70 acres of 2 year old longleaf & 105 acres to be sprayed & planted this year. $1350/acre                BIBB COUNTY 691+/- ACRES – This land is adjoining the Tannehill Historic Ironworks State Park in Tuscaloosa & Bibb Counties, a premier legacy property, a once in a generation offering. $4500/acre BLOUNT COUNTY 229+/- ACRES – timberland with frontage of two county roads; creek running thru property; convenient to Arab, Guntersville, Birmingham or Huntsville. $1850/ac BUTLER COUNTY 104+/- ACRES - excellent hunting land w/paved road frontage on CR 5 just 1/2 mile South of Hwy 10. Two existing food plots and more!! $1750/ac CHAMBERS COUNTY 800+/- ACRES – Pines & hardwood bottoms on the finest soil in Chambers Co. Super deer & turkey hunting, loaded w/wood ducks! $1800/ac CHEROKEE COUNTY 111 +/- ACRES - The timber was cut 20 years ago and has natural regrowth of pines & hardwoods. There is farm potential on this property. $1600/ac CHILTON COUNTY 229+/- ACRES - Excellent deer, turkey, and dove hunting w/2 homes, a great internal road system, creek & hardwood bottoms. $625,000 COOSA COUNTY 80+/- ACRES – Property is split by Co. Rd. w/northern parcel is roughly 33 acres (estimate) w/a creek running through it! South parcel is @ 47 acres w/15-18 year old once-thinned pine $1813/acre 509+/- ACRES - Goodwater area, this one has it all: Big pine saw timber, nice log home, beautiful bass lake, big hardwood bottoms with many spring-fed creeks. Bountiful deer and turkey. Easy to get to from US Hwy 280, less than 10 minutes. A solid buy that you’ll be proud of.  $2250/ac                                                            COVINGTON COUNTY 179+/- ACRES – Nice timber/recreational tract. Feagin Creek runs thru tract for nice year round water source. This tract would work great for a rural homesite, timber investment or hunting property $2510/acre CRENSHAW COUNTY 360+/- ACRES w/home - Rolling hills w/ hardwoods, & pine timber thinned 3 yrs ago. Good internal road system, stream, food plots & deer & turkey. $560,000             DALLAS COUNTY 730+/- ACRES –Fantastic diversity overall w/open pasture land, rolling timber ridges, hardwood bottoms Gurth Swamp w/100ac open pasture. $1506/acre ESCAMBIA COUNTY 192+/- ACRES - Nice property with country road frontage with high visibility on Interstate 65 at Exit 69. This tract can be divided & lays nicely.  $3575/ac ETOWAH COUNTY 55+/- ACRES - Turnkey cattle or horse mini-farm. The property consists of 55 +/acres, with open fenced and cross fenced pasture w/2700 sq. ft. home. $329,900

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From the Commissioner “Dirt Pass” bracelets, which will be sold at park and campground offices, will support trail users’ access to the entire State Parks trail system. As well as developing a maintenance plan for existing trails, Thomas will work on development of new trails that include equestrian and Off Highway Vehicle trails in select locations. Although the new initiative will improve and expand the trail system, State Parks visitors can take advantage of the existing 285-plus miles of trails highlighted on the State Parks system’s website at

Zipping Along For those who prefer a little adrenaline rush in your outdoors adventures, State Parks opened a zipline canopy tour and ecotours earlier this year at Lake Guntersville State Park, located atop picturesque Taylor Mountain. State Parks has partnered with Historic Banning Mills and American Adventure Park Systems to build and operate the Lake Guntersville Zipline and Aerial Adventure Park. Historic Banning Mills won a competitive bid to join the concessionaires throughout the Alabama State Parks system that pay to construct, maintain and operate attractions at parks. No taxpayer money or funds from Alabama State Parks are being used in the construction of these ecotourism attractions and aerial adventures. Director Lein witnessed the successful Hummingbird Ziplines operation at the Gulf Adventure Center in Gulf State Park in Gulf

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Shores and Orange Beach. Lein said he expects the new aerial attraction at Lake Guntersville State Park to be just as successful as the one that gives users a bird’s eye view of the diverse coastal habitat at Gulf State Park. Lake Guntersville’s ecotours will open in three phases. The first phase, which opened in May, has numerous elements between 20 and 75 feet high. Ziplines from 75 to 400 feet in length will be complemented by up to five wooden suspension bridges. The designers of the ecotours will leave final plans flexible to ensure the construction will have a minimal impact on the natural environment.

More Good News More good news for the State Parks system is the Alabama Legislature passed a budget earlier this spring that levelfunded the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The Legislature also provided a way for Alabama citizens to provide input on the value of the Alabama State Parks system to the public. An amendment to the state constitution will be on the ballot in November that protects State Parks funding. A “yes” vote by the majority of Alabama voters will provide consistent funding so that State Parks can ensure that facilities and recreational opportunities continue to improve and provide the outdoors experiences the public deserves. On behalf of the many dedicated State Parks employees and volunteers, thank you for your support.


The Benelli Vinci is an innovative, lightweight shotgun for sportsmen with many unique features.

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Company Offers an Excellent Handling Shotgun with Many Innovative Features “That’s just an ugly gun!” I said to myself after seeing the Benelli Vinci when it was introduced a few years ago. It just did not appeal to me from an aesthetic point of view. I prefer traditional wooden stocks on shotguns and rifles, particularly those with pretty wood. That being said, I do own a number of synthetic-stocked firearms. Besides the innovative stock, the Vinci offers a number of performance enhancing features.

IN-LINE INERTIA DRIVEN SYSTEM Benelli’s In-Line Inertia Driven system cycles the action based on the recoil of the first shell fired. The modular In-Line Inertia Driven system features a shorter bolt with a rotating bolt head that operates on a single axis. A key feature of this innovative design is reduced recoil, which allows fast follow-up shots on game or clays. The modularity of the design allows for fast and easy assembly and disassembly. This simple system has only three primary parts: bolt body,

inertia spring and rotating bolt head. The system never needs adjusting whether you use light field loads for dove or magnum loads for turkey or ducks. It is also a cleaner system than gas systems. Gas, smoke and burnt powder stay in the barrel and residue is not channeled into the mechanism of the gun. Because it is cleaner than gas-operated guns, cleaning the Vinci takes less time. The Vinci operating system is strong due to the steel locking lugs that lock the bolt head into the barrel with a steel-to-steel fit. The system locks even tighter during firing. With no heavy gas cylinder, springs or action bar linkage under the forend, the Vinci balances like a fine game gun should.


The Vinci SpeedBolt incorporates a bolt inset with tungsten, which has been designed for faster cycling as well as handling light 1-ounce loads. Less recoil means less muzzle climb and SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 39

The Gun Rack less time getting back on target. The SpeedBolt utilizes the QuadraFit buttstock, which the gun owner can easily adjust for drop, cast, comb height and length of pull. The stock also incorporates ComforTech Plus, which diminishes recoil for quicker recovery and faster follow up shots. The Crio System combines a barrel frozen to -300 degrees Fahrenheit with a cryogenically treated, longer choke tube. Benelli engineers found that freezing the barrel relieves the stresses caused by hammer forging and creating an even grained slick surface. This means less resistance against wads and shot, resulting in a 13.2 percent better shot pattern. Additionally, the Crio treated barrel stays cleaner longer than an untreated one.


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The ComforTech Plus is a complete recoil reduction system delivering better results than any other recoil product available. Recoil and muzzle climb are reduced with no added weight or moving parts. Complete recoil reduction is accomplished at all three stages: firing, rearward bolt travel and forward bolt travel. The shock-absorbing chevrons, the comb pad and the contoured recoil pad combine to manage recoil. The Comfortech Recoil Pad reduces felt recoil in two ways. First, the contoured shape of the pad distributes the recoil force over a larger area. Secondly, the pad material spreads the recoil force over a larger period of time. Bennelli’s ComforTech Comb pad cushions the cheek during recoil, and provides a slick surface for your cheek to slide along the comb during recoil. This eliminates friction, which insulates your face from recoil shock and vibration.

Shooting the Vinci

I recently had the opportunity to spend a short amount of time with a new Vinci. I went to the farm for some informal shooting to get a “feel” for how the gun performed. After mounting the gun to my shoulder a few times, I was impressed with how the gun came up and fit me. There was no need to adjust the QuadraFit stock. Weighing 6.9 pounds, the Vinci felt even lighter due to its excellent balance. This is a big advantage when you are following bird dogs all day or walking to the far ridge where the turkeys are roosting. The safety at the front of the trigger guard, rather than the rear, was a little awkward to me. I am sure that in time, however, it would become second nature to use.

The Skinny

My mistake when the Vinci was first introduced was to judge it solely by its appearance. I didn’t look into the features and how they could improve my shooting. Despite the relatively short amount of time I spent with the Vinci, I have become a ‘believer.” Despite the different “look,” I found the Benelli Vinci to be an excellent handling shotgun with many innovative design features that should help anyone in their hunting pursuits. The MSRP is $1,549 for the model 10515 with Realtree Max-5 camo.

DIRECTORY OF ALABAMA SHOOTING RANGES Legend A Archery IA Indoor Archery M Muzzleloading P Pistol R Rifle S Shotgun Sk Skeet SC Sporting Clays T Trap * Fee or membership required # State hunting license or WMA license required ^ No fee required

Autauga County Archery Unlimited* Autauga County Bowhunters* Baldwin County Dennis Lake Wing Club# Upper Delta WMA Shooting Range# Barbour County Barbour County WMA Shooting Range# Bibb County Vick Shooting Range* Blount County Big Springs Hunting Preserve^ Green Ridge Shooting Range Bullock County Greenway Sportsman’s Club Calhoun County Moss Branch Shooting Range * Chilton County Chilton County Bowhunters* POPS Armory* Cleburne County Heflin Community Archery Park# Circle W Hunting Preserve* Henry Creek Firing Range* Coffee County Lock N Load^ Colbert County Freedom Hills WMA Range# Waterfall Valley Hunt Club* Coosa County Coosa County WMA Range# Covington County Conecuh National Forest Range* South Alabama Gun Club* White Oak Archery* Cullman County Cullman Community Archery Park# Cullman Parks and Recreation Indoor Range Todd’s Outdoors* Maple Ridge Gun Club* Van’s Outdoors Wilborn Outdoors* Dale County Tri-States Gun Club* Ozark Community Archery Park # Dallas County Central Alabama Fowl Preserve* Dekalb County Dekalb County Bowhunters Elmore County Bennett’s Archery * Escambia County Conecuh Shooting Range # Etowah County Etowah County Bowhunters* Etowah Public Shooting Range# Mountain Outfitters* West End Bow Club* Fayette County Fayette County Gun Club* Franklin County Cedar Hill Trap Range* Hale County South Sandy Shooting Range # Henry County Headland Skeet * Houston County Dothan Eastgage Park Archery Range# The Firing Line* Jackson County Skyline WMA Firing Range #

IA 334-358- 2697 A 334-361-8663

SK, P, R, A 251-689-8527 S, R, P 251-626-5474 S, R, P 334-529-3222 S, R, P 205-926-9765 P, R, SC 256-466-3145 P, R, S 205-681-2121 S 334-738-3072 S, R, P


A 205-294-0002 P 205-646-1486 A 256-463-5434 SC 256-463-7769 S, R, P 256-463-2272 P 334-347-5151 S, R, P, A 256-353-2634 S, R, P 256-435-5422 S, R, P 334-222-2555 S, R, P 334-222-3671 A, IA 334-493-2697 A 256-734-9157 256-734-9157 A, IA 256-796-1455 S, R, P 256-709-2860 IA 256-775-4031. A, IA 256-737-9595 R, P, S 334-774-5972 A 334-774-0588 SC, A 334-366-2589 A 256-659-2000 A 334-514-1286 P, R, S 334-222-2555 A 256-442-4956 S, R, P, M 256-435-5422 IA 256-538-1161 A 256-353-2086 S, R, P 205-932-4051 S 256-412-9287 S , R, P 205-339-5716 S 334-791-1100 A 334-615-3730 S R A 334-677 -5024 S, R, P 256-587-3114

Jefferson County Alabama Training Institue & Pistol* Brock’s Gap Training Center Magic City Gun Club * Pleasnt Grove FOP Range * Southern Trap and Skeet * Lamar County Murphy WMA Firing Range # Lauderdale County Muscle Shoals Skeet & Trap * Lawrence County Doublehead Resort & Lodge* Limestone County Swan Creek WMA Range # Athens Community Archery Park# Limestone Hunting & Sporting Clays* Macon County Central Alabama Gun Club* Tuskegee National Forest * Madison County Larry’s Gun and Pawn * Madison Co. Shooting Sports Assn. * Mars Skeet Club* Marshall Skeet Club * Marengo County Demopolis Community Archery Park# Marengo Public Shooting Range# Marion County Archer’s Point Marshall County B & G Rifle and Pistol Club * Marshall County Bowhunters * Sand Mountain Shooter’s Club* Mobile County Emerald Island Firearms* Gunport* Monroe County Village of Buena Vista Monroe County Archery Club * Specialist Shooting Services Montgomery County Dixie Trap Club * Lower Wetumpka Shotgun Sports Club * Tri-County Shooting Range Montgomery Indoor Shooting Complex * Morgan County Decatur Community Archery Park# Hartselle Gun Club* Pickens County Westervelt Lodge* Russell County East Alabama Gun Club Shelby County Cahaba River WMA Shooting Range # St. Clair County Heritage Gun Club * Talladega County Lincoln Community Archery Park# Red Eagle Gun Club * Selwood Farms * Sheppard Branch Range * Tallapoosa County Alex City Shooting Club * Tuscaloosa County C & W Shooting * Tuscaloosa Gun Club* Tuscaloosa Community Archery Park # Walker County Pat’s Archery * Winston County Stix-N-Strings Archery Range* Hurricane Creek Range *

P 205-592-3004 S, R, P S, R, P 205-325-1914 P, R, S 205-744-2600 T S 205-956-6800 S, R, P 256-353-2634 256-383-1610 S SC 800-685-9267 S, R, P, M 256-353-2634 A 256-353-2634 SC 256-423-6029 S, R, P, A 334-324-3257 S, R, P 334-727-2652 P 256-534 -1000 S R P 256-379-2716 SK, T 256-544-7198 Sk 256-544-1141 A 334-289-2891 S, R, P 205-339-5716 A (3D) 205-993-8587 S R P 256-534-7968 A 256-878-8023 S, R, P 256-593-8027 S, R, P 251-675-0015 P, S, R, T, Sk 251-824- 1776 S 251-593-6400 A 334-862-2374 P R S 334-564-2155 S T 334-584-7651 S T SC A 334-420-3371 RP 334-265-8865 P 334-215-2255 A 256-341-4940 R, P 256-773-2549 A, R, SK, SC 205-562-5263 R, P 706-888-3140 S, R, P, M 205-339-5716 S, R, P A 205-763-1006 T, S 256-378-6970 S, SC 256-362-7595 S, R, P 256-362-2909 R, P 256-329-0080 S, P, R 205-339-0849 R, P 205-333-3258 A 205-331-5600 A 205-221-3974 A(3D) 256-747-4569 S, R, P 205-489-5111

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t was so hot earlier this day. On the white beaches of Alabama, the sun baked all of those tourists covered with oil, as Jimmy Buffet sang in “Margaritaville.” Now, after the sun had dropped below the gas rigs off to the west, the air was much cooler and the water flat and clear. A boat in the darkness was floating in a brilliant pool of its own light slowly moving up the shoreline of Orange Beach. All the boat crew stood and looked intently into the water. Then, the person on the bow stepped carefully to the very front of the boat,

Bowfishing near structure like the pier in the background can be very productive.

SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | CS-1

See ‘Em, Stick ‘Em on the Coast




30 Blackburn Ave. Bay Minette, Ala. 36507

lifted an old compound bow and quickly drew on a target. When the arrow left the bow, there was a flurry of wild water in the shallows. Then, the shooter’s position changed to the other side of the boat as something very strong and upset took line off the reel and pulled hard. The other crewmembers gave advice. As the shot fish began to tire, line was retrieved steadily and the fish came to the boat side. The guide leaned down with a sharp gaff. With a quick jerk, the 20-pound stingray came aboard, still very unhappy. The arrow was removed, the fish subdued and pictures were taken. Everyone was smiling and laughing. The next shooter hurried to take her place on the bow of the boat. When the trip ended around midnight, there was a large pile of stingrays and a few flounder piled in the box of the boat. Even though a few yawns were seen and some sore muscles were massaged and rubbed, no one seemed to be disappointed. In fact, plans were made for another bowfishing trip on the Alabama Gulf Coast in the very near future. Just about the best things about bowfishing on the Alabama Gulf Coast, the costs are pretty low, the setup simple and the results can be outstanding. Of course, bowfishing here is a whole lot of fun.

When the trip ended around midnight, there was a large pile of stingrays and a few flounder piled in the box of the boat.”


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Although it’s perfectly legal and often quite productive to bowfish during the day, most dedicated bowfishers find the cooler temperatures at night to be best for good bowfishing trips. Bright overhead sunlight can produce either very good seeing conditions or it can be totally worthless for seeing fish. Artificial nights used for night fishing often produce much more uniform seeing conditions for shooters. Of course, good lighting is crucial. You can’t shoot what you can’t see, so lights on the bowfishing boat must be carefully placed so that shooters can get the best benefit of the light. Capt. Jason Mallette of Liquid Trails bowfishing charters says, “I use a Carolina Skiff wide Model 198 with welded aluminum light rail. I also have a shooting stool that makes it more comfortable for shooters for the long waits between shots. I run 10 lights, six 250-watt halogen lights and four 50-watt LED lights. For power, I run a Honda 2000 generator.” Of course, beginning bowfishers who want to get into the bowfishing game without paying so much cash up front can do quite well with a very simple rig. Captain Jason says, “To get started, just get a basic flat-bottomed boat, put some shop lights on the front and rig up a generator.” Make sure that the generator and the lights are very securely mounted to the boat. A generator failing off a platform in a

See ‘Em, Stick ‘Em on the Coast


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It doesn’t take long to gather a big pile of fish when the rays are running big like these.

wake can cause some real problems to the boat hull and it doesn’t do the generator any good, either. Hot lights falling into the water can be exciting, also. Just make sure everything is very firmly attached before going out on the water. Once a suitable boat and lighting system has been set up, bowfishers need to think about their actual shooting gear. Captain Jason tells us, “I like a smaller bow with a light draw. I like a Pearson Sidewinder or a PSE Discovery bow. These lighter weight and lighter draw bows make it easy for anyone of any size to have success.” It’s totally possible to use older recurve bows for bowfishing duty, but it would not be a good idea to bring that prized old bow because saltwater bowfishing, in fact, bowfishing of any kind, is hard on equipment. There’s lots of water to get on gear and salt water is especially rough on bows. Brian Hughes of Backwater Outdoors, a major bowfishing equipment sales company, says, “A bow of 30- to 50-pound draw and good bowfishing reel setup work very well. We recommend the Muzzy bowfishing reel, 200-pound Fast Flight line, a Muzzy reel seat and Muzzy Fish Hook. We also use Muzzy carp point arrows.”

A GOOD NIGHT FOR BOWFISHING? Obviously, going out bowfishing on a stormy, windy, high-wave sort of night is not a good idea for many reasons. Bowfishers can have good success any time of the year that the water temperatures are above 75 degrees, but summer is prime bowfishing season on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Capt. Jason Mallette says, “In good clean water, we can shoot fish as deep as six feet. Out in the gulf in clean water, we can shoot up to six feet deep, too. On a good night, we can shoot up to 400 pounds of rays and other fish.” Most shots taken at night will be about one to two feet deep. These are much easier shots to make to get a good arrow placement in the fish. Perfect bowfishing conditions are winds SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | CS-3

See “Em, Stick “Em on the Coast less than 10 knots and clear, clear water. If the water is murky or choppy, this makes seeing the fish much more difficult.

WHY DO I MISS SO MANY SHOTS? Beginning bowfishers often face frustration when they draw careful aim on a ray or gar and then totally miss. The problem comes from the fact that light reflected from the fish has to pass through both water and air and these two substances transmit light at different rates. In short, this situation called refraction happens when the water acts like a lens to change the way the light reaches the archer’s eye. How deep the fish is, the angle the shooter sees from and even how tall the shooter is all make a difference in dealing with refraction. If the shooter doesn’t allow for refraction and simply shoots directly at the target, usually a good idea when bowhunting in most conditions, the result will be a miss every time. To correct for refraction, the shooter needs to aim low, sometimes very low. It takes a lot of practice on the water for each particular archer to learn just how deep to hold on a target. Capt. Jason Mallette says, “Don’t hold on the target too long. Just draw to the target. This should get the right and left part of aiming taken care of. Then drop the aim low. Try to take the shot within three seconds of drawing on the fish.”

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See “Em, Stick “Em on the Coast It takes time and lots of practice to make aiming at fish deep in the water a natural part of the bowfisher’s skills, but at least this kind of practice is a lot of fun.

Don’t hold on the target too long. Just draw to the target. Try to take the shot within three seconds of drawing on the fish.” – Capt. Jason Mallette, bowfishing guide

Important contact Information CAPT. BRIAN HUGHES


Backwater Bowfishing 256-776-9109

Liquid Trails Bowfishing 334-568-9904

CAROLINA SKIFFS 800-422-7282 912-287-0547

MUZZY ARCHERY 770-387-9300

WHAT KIND OF FISH TO SHOOT? Unlike rod and reel fishing where the angler really doesn’t have much to say about what kind and size fish hits a bait, in bowfishing, the shooter is in charge. The decision to shoot or not is up to the bowfisherman. In fresh water along the Gulf Coast, bowfishers can take carp, buffalo, gar, grinnel, drum and catfish. In salt water, sharks, stingrays, flounder, sheepshead, mullet as well as other species can be taken. Some of these fish, such as sheepshead, flounder and mullet, are prime eating fish, but what about sharks, rays, skates and other fish taken by bow? What happens to them? Captain Jason says, “For most bowfishers in Alabama, nothing goes to waste. When we shoot a couple hundred pounds of rays, and this is pretty common, the rays are used for shark bait. Any other fish are used for crab trap bait. Crabbers are always happy to get a big supply of free crab trap bait. Many bowfishers like to dress out and eat the rays and sharks we shoot.” Captain Jason reminds potential bowfishers, “Know your game so you don’t shoot something you’re not supposed to shoot.” Shooting an illegal fish can produce some hefty fines, so be sure and check the regulations, which can change from year to year, to make sure that only fish that are fair game for bowfishers are taken.

GREAT NIGHTS OUTDOORS Many times, kids and women who get bored by regular daytime fishing just love the excitement, challenge and constant activity of bowfishing. The equipment is not expensive. The results are immediate and the conditions are often much more pleasant than in the heat and humidity of daytime in the summer on the Alabama Coast. As Capt. Jason Mallette tells us, “Get out with some friends and do it! It is a fast-paced sport that can be an addictive habit.” Sounds like fun to us.

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SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | CS-5




wo Florida anglers crossed the state line to win the Alabama Hunger Relief Delta Rendezvous Charity Bass Tournament, held July 16 out of Live Oak Landing on the Tensaw River near Stockton. Kenny Smith and R.J Thompson, both of Pensacola, Fla., won the event with a 5-bass tournament limit weighing 13.14 pounds. R.J Thompson and Kenny Smith show off some of the fish they caught to win the Alabama Hunger Smith anchored the bag with a 4.37-pound Relief Delta Rendezvous Charity Bass Tournament, held July 16 out of Live Oak Landing in Stockton. bucketmouth. They mostly fished the Tensaw Lake area and caught fish on a variety of lures seven keepers and two little ones all day. They were scattered including buzzbaits and frogs. out. We caught our biggest fish at about noon on a topwater.” “We fish this area quite a bit,” Smith revealed. “We caught fish on a little bit of everything. We lost one big fish, but don’t know what it was. It ate a topwater, but we never did see the fish. It just THIRD PLACE came unbuttoned. I caught the big fish at about 1:15 p.m. when it Taking third place, Ray Long of Bay Minette caught five hit a frog on top. We were throwing it back into the cypress trees bass going 10.31 pounds while fishing the middle portion of the and under the bushes.” Mobile-Tensaw Delta. Fishing alone, he capped his catch with a “We had a limit early, by about 7:45 a.m., and culled up twice 3.31-pounder. Normally, he fishes with Dwayne Smith of Loxley, late in the day,” Thompson echoed. “We caught about 10 bass but his partner could not make it for this tournament. total. I caught a pretty good bass early in the morning. We left “I was running and gunning from tree to tree all day long,” he there and went running around and came back later in the day. explained. “I dropped a jig with a twin-tail trailer into the cover. That’s when Kenny caught the big bass in the same place.” When the current was swift, I threw a 3/4-ounce black and blue

SECOND PLACE Finishing second, the team of Mike Holland of Molino, Fla., and Leon Jernigan of Pensacola, Fla., landed five bass for 11.69 pounds. Their biggest bass weighed 3.84 pounds. They fished up the river with topwater baits. “We fish this river just about every weekend,” Jernigan commented. “We went up the river about 10 miles. We caught

jig. In water without so much current, I threw a white 1/2-ounce jig. I only had three fish by 12:30 p.m. Then, it turned on at 1 p.m. when the tide started moving out. Between 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m., I probably caught 20 fish, all keepers.” Coming in fourth, Danny Phillips brought in five bass weighing 9.73 pounds including a 2.52-pounder. Rounding out the top five, Danny Griffith landed four bass going 9.59 pounds with a 3.53-pound lunker.

The top three teams from left to right, include R.J Thompson and Kenny Smith, first place; Mike Holland and Leon Jernigan, second place; and Ray Long, third place.

CS-6 | 800-597-6828 | SEPTEMBER 2016

Delta Rendezvous Tournaments

AUGUST 13 TOURNAMENT In other Delta Rendezvous bass tournament action, Kenny Ward pounded out a solo victory despite stormy conditions for most of the day during the Aug. 13, 2016, event. The Pensacola, Fla., angler returned to the landing with a 5-bass tournament limit weighing 10.11 pounds, the only angler to top 10 pounds in this event. He anchored his catch with a 3.16-pound largemouth to take tournament lunker honors as well. “I fished the south end of the delta with black and white buzzbaits and topwater baits,” Ward revealed. “I only had five bites all day and caught five fish. That was it and that’s all I needed.”

Kenny Ward shows off the 3.16-pound largemouth he caught, the biggest fish landed during the Alabama Hunger Relief Delta Rendezvous Charity Bass Tournament, held Aug. 13, 2016, out of Live Oak Landing on the Tensaw River near Stockton. Ward also won the tournament with 5-bass tournament limit weighing 10.11 pounds.

SECOND PLACE In second place, the team of Jeston Anderson and Gene Latham finished with a tournament limit going 9.83 pounds. Both from Mobile, the anglers stuck to dragging plastics along the bottom after making a long run early in the morning. “We had a pretty good day,” Latham explained. “We fished way up the river. It took us about an hour to get there. We fished in both the Tombigbee and Alabama rivers and caught some fish that we weighed in on each river.” “We flipped woody cover with junebug soft plastics,” Anderson added. “The water was a little muddy up there and the junebug seemed to work in that color water. We threw a couple other baits, but didn’t do as well. We caught eight fish and that was all the bites we had. We caught everything that bit.”

River, making a run of about an hour after leaving the tournament launch facility. “The water was rising up the river,” Quick said. “I caught my fish on a black and blue Devour jig and a couple on a spinnerbait, but the best fish came on the jig. All my fish came off wood, but the bass were a little off the bank in about five to six feet of water. I caught 10 fish all throughout the day. I caught everything that bit and didn’t lose a fish.” Robbie Robinson and Barry McLain finished in fourth place with five bass and 8.48 pounds. They capped their catch with a 2.59-pounder. Cecil Williams and Joe Barnett rounded out the top five teams, catching five bass for 8.33 pounds.


The tournaments raise money for Alabama Hunger Relief, which helps feed needy families in Alabama. People can help by making tax-deductible donations to AHR. The organization especially needs product donations to give away as door prizes during the tournament. To donate or volunteer to help, call 251-423-1857 or send an email to info@ The last regular season Delta Rendezvous Charity Bass Tournament will be held Sept. 17. However, the top points leaders will qualify to fish the 2016 Delta Rendezvous Classic, slated for Oct. 1. All tournaments will run out of Live Oak Landing. For more information on this tournament or Alabama Hunger Relief, call Alan White, publisher of Great Days Outdoors magazine, at 800-597-6828 or see

THIRD PLACE Taking third in the 31-boat field in August, Jerry Quick of Loxley also fished alone. He landed a 5-bass limit for 8.95 pounds. He also headed up the Alabama

The top anglers fishing the Aug. 13, 2016, Alabama Hunger Relief Delta Rendezvous Charity Bass Tournament include from left to right, Kenny Ward, first place; Jeston Anderson and Gene Latham, second place; and Jerry Quick, third place.

SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | CS-7


Charity Inshore Tournament

The Causeway Blowout Prizes and Trophies for Adults! Prizes

for all Kids who weigh in a fish.

$30 Per Angler, $15 Youth Angler (age

Sept. 10

d Trout, Redfish, Speckle rout Flounder, White T & Tripletail


nShip io p a m h C e o r h s In m a a Alab

15 & under)

nt before Tourname ng 6 pm Friday AL e, bil Mo , Captain’s Meeti wy ant Battleship Pk Bluegill Restaur y of Tournament The Bluegill Da @ pm 3 -In Weigh

September 10, 2016

Anglers will attempt to catch a slam which includes:

Speckled Trout / Slot Redfish / Flounder Bonus Points for a Slam // Total Weight Wins

h nu 5t An al

$120 Per Boat (2 Persons Max), 80% Cash Payout, Trophies, 1st - 3rd places Championship ticket also includes Causeway Blowout Plus! Optional Mystery Fish Jackpot

All Proceeds Benefit Alabama Hunger Relief

Money raised from events provide venison to area food banks

and families in need.


To learn more and get the latest updates. Follow us on Facebook @ Alabama Hunger Relief. CS-8 | 800-597-6828 | SEPTEMBER 2016


A Place to Hunt Shrinking Hunting Lands a Concern for All Hunters

by Corky Pugh Executive Director, Hunting Heritage Foundation


hether public or private, the amount of land available to hunters is limited and in many areas shrinking. So says Rob Southwick of Southwick Associates, the preeminent authority on fish and wildlife economics and statistics. According to Southwick, the largest percentage of American hunters rely on land owned by family and friends. In a survey of hunters, 38 percent – almost four out of every 10 – said they hunted on a friend’s or family member’s property for free. The next largest group, those who hunted public land, made up 28 percent. About 18 percent hunted land they own, while only 11 percent belong to a hunting club or hunt land they lease. “This survey shows the importance of private land that can be affordably hunted,” says Southwick. “However many hunters do not

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have a family member or friend who owns land they can hunt. Combined with ongoing land development, the future of hunting is dependent on efforts to maintain hunting access on public lands.”

Small Lands Important The same survey also examined the size of properties hunters utilize and found that small tracts of land remain extremely important to providing opportunities for hunting. Of those surveyed, 38 percent hunted lands 200 acres or larger, but 24 percent hunt properties of 50 acres or less. The next largest segment, 21 percent, hunts lands of 50 to 100 acres. Almost 17 percent hunt lands between 100 and 200 acres in size. These nationwide statistics may be even more true for Alabama and other southeastern states. Land ownership patterns here very likely result in an even higher reliance on small properties,

private land and relationships with landowners. “For hunters unable to pay for greater hunting access, this is a critical issue, especially in eastern regions where public lands are sometimes limited,” according to Southwick. The average forest landholding in Alabama is 80 acres. More than two-thirds of all forestland in Alabama is owned by small, non-industrial private landowners. Businesses own 28 percent. Government owns five percent. Small tracts can be incredibly productive to hunt, generally due to lower levels of human disturbance. The Pope and Young bucks that George P. Mann killed came from small tracts, typically 80 acres or less. He managed the tracts so they became sanctuaries for big bucks and he did everything possible to reduce human disturbance.

Public Land Relatively Safer Public land can be very productive to hunt for those willing to walk a distance away from roads and other infrastructure. Statistically, public land is the safest place to hunt. Ironically, most hunting accidents occur on private land and involve close friends, private club members or relatives.

Foolishly Dangerous to Project Own Characteristics Onto Others For those of us advantaged enough to own or lease land or to belong to a hunting club, Southwick’s figures about where people hunt may seem unbelievable. As always, it is easy to assume that others are similar to us. The fact is that the vast majority of Alabama hunters are not advantaged economically or otherwise. Detailed demographic analysis of Alabama hunters in a separate study by Southwick revealed that most are hardworking people engaged in blue-collar occupations. About onethird of them do not have a high school diploma. As in all things, it is foolishly dangerous to project our own characteristics onto other people. As avid, advantaged hunters, we are a small minority of the total population of hunters. We associate with other avid hunters through land leases, clubs, hunting organizations and other social mechanisms. Because we don’t see the less-advantaged hunters in our settings, it is easy to fall in the trap of believing everybody shares in our good fortune.

Invisible Hunters The hunter in the woods behind Aunt Susie’s house is invisible for all practical purposes. Yet, statistically, he or she is far more representative of the masses of hunters than the folks who are in hunting clubs with large leases. The man or woman who works a shift in a mill or a mine or on a construction crew may only get to hunt one or two days a year. This lower level of participation also means he or she is less visible. These less-visible hunters constitute the majority in numbers. Each and every one of them pay exactly the same through their license purchases as the most advantaged, avid hunter toward management and protection of wildlife. In addition,

every hunter counts the same at the ballot box. That’s the American way. Less avid, less advantaged hunters all help pay for management and protection of wildlife resources. However, the man or woman who only gets to hunt a couple of days a year does not make the same demand on the resource as an avid hunter who hunts a lot.

Unity Among Hunters Important Hunters of all types are important and the sooner we all recognize this, the better off we all are. Strength lies in numbers and at present, only seven out of a hundred Alabamians hunt. The other 93 do not hunt, but most support hunting, so long as it is done responsibly. With animal rights activists and other anti-hunters constantly doing all they can to marginalize or totally do away with hunting, unity among hunters should be our watchword. Our concern for one another will largely determine our future. The Hunting Heritage Foundation is an Alabama non-profit organization established in 2011. To see what HHF stands for go to the website at You can write to us at P. O. Box 242064, Montgomery, AL 36124, or * The opinions expressed in this column are solely that of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the staff and management of Great Days Publishing, LLC.

Show Your Support for Alabama’s Coastal Fishing & Marine Resources All proceeds from your TAX DEDUCTIBLE purchase are used for marine conservation in coastal Alabama Now available at your local license tag office.

SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 43


Tailgate with Alabama Seafood This Year Eating Local Seafood Helps Everyone – and Tastes Great Too!

by Chris Blankenship Director of the Marine Resources Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources Photos courtesy of ADCNR

Questions or Comments Please feel free to call or email me with any questions or comments. I can be reached at chris. or at 251-861-2882. I also hope you take some time to enjoy outdoor Alabama this month.


love to eat seafood. As a matter of fact, most people I know love to eat seafood. That being the case, it is good that we live in an area that produces some of the best seafood in the world. The Marine Resources Division manages the resources in Alabama for both recreational fishing opportunities and for sustainable harvest by commercial fishermen. The shrimp, oysters, crabs and fish harvested in Alabama and adjacent Gulf of Mexico waters are very important to the Alabama economy. In 2014, the Alabama commercial and recreational fishing industries had a combined economic impact of well over $1 billion and supported more than 15,000 direct jobs. Since 2004, the seafood industry has taken several hits that threatened to damage the economy of coastal Alabama and the centuriesold way of life in south Mobile and Baldwin counties. These hits include hurricanes Ivan, Katrina and Dennis. It also includes the

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economic downturn and recession, high fuel prices, restrictive federal fishing seasons, the floods of 2011, the drought of the late 2000s, the increase in imported seafood, and last but certainly not least, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of 2010. These events have had an impact not only on the commercial fishermen and seafood processors, but also on restaurants, charter boat operators and consumers.

“In 2014, the Alabama commercial and recreational fishing industries had a combined economic impact of well over $1 billion and supported more than 15,000 direct jobs.” Knowing how great the seafood is from Alabama, that the industry needed some help to increase markets for this seafood, and to recover from the events listed above,

Gov. Robert Bentley created the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission in May 2011. The commission has now been at work for five years to assist in the recovery and expansion of the Alabama seafood industry.

Marketing Commission Knows Seafood The Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission is comprised of 15 very knowledgeable people from all facets of the seafood industry. There is a chef, a restaurant owner, commercial fishermen, seafood dealers, seafood processors, a retail seafood business owner, a charter boat operator, consumers of seafood, the director of the Alabama Restaurant Association and the head of the Alabama Grocers Association. Also included in the commission in a non-voting capacity are representatives from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Department of Public Health, Department of Agriculture, Tourism Department and members of the Mobile and Baldwin County Legislative delegations. I am honored to be the program administrator of the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission. As you can see, the commission is a very comprehensive and diverse group. The members have worked diligently to put together a strategic plan that will increase consumption and value of Alabama seafood. A large step in this process was hiring a marketing and public relations firm to turn the strategic plan into a marketing campaign. Big Communications has done a great job of taking the expertise and advice of the commission members and crafting a multi-faceted marketing plan.

The Awesome Alabama Seafood Website I hope by now you have seen some of the work of the commission. We have had several TV commercials airing during the local news in four major cities, billboards in Mobile and Baldwin counties, print advertising in the newspapers across the state and on We’ve also run ads in several magazines, including Southern Living, web ads, sponsorships of many seafood related events and other outstanding marketing events. We served Alabama seafood at the Big Apple BBQ in New York City and nearly started a riot when we gave out some grilled Alabama shrimp. The people of New York said they had never had seafood that good. I told them my hope was to sell all the seafood we could produce in Alabama, but that if we had extra we would be glad to sell them some. The most important accomplishment has been our website: The website is very comprehensive and has information on where to find Alabama seafood, how to catch it, how to clean it and how to cook it. Readers can learn all about the seafood in the “Field Guide” section. The website is also a prime source for news on the industry and about the work of the commission. I encourage you to check out the website. You will not be disappointed.

It is also important to ask where the seafood you are consuming originates. When you go to a restaurant or to a retail grocery store or seafood market, ask if the seafood is from Alabama or at least from the Gulf of Mexico. More than 80 percent of the seafood served in the United States is imported from overseas. This imported seafood, especially shrimp, is not of the same high quality as the wild-caught domestic product. There is definitely a difference in taste and quality. As more consumers ask for Alabama seafood, the retailers and restaurants will source Alabama products. This will ensure that you are getting the best. As we say in one of our commercials, “Always ask. Never settle.” In the “Find It” section on the website, people can find a list of retailers, wholesalers and restaurants that proudly support the fishermen of Alabama and serve quality Alabama Gulf of Mexico seafood.

Coastal Alabama Visits Not Complete Without Fishing and Seafood One thing we discovered during the strategic planning process is how closely the different parts of the tourism economy are tied to seafood. We called this the “Coastal Alabama Experience.” People come to the coast of Alabama for many things. They come for the beach first and foremost. While they are at the beach, they make seafood a large part of their meal plans. They also fish, both from the shore or piers and from charter boats. They like to learn about the waters, the seafood and the people of the area. They enjoy the seafood at the restaurants and they want to purchase some local seafood to take back with them. Having a healthy seafood and charter industry is important to keep people coming back to Alabama. Our hope is that through the work of the commission and partnering with local and state tourism groups, we can enhance that “Coastal Alabama Experience” and benefit the people and economies of the state. Since I have been working with the different industry representatives on the Seafood Marketing Commission, I have learned a great deal about each of their parts of the seafood business. It has been an eye opening experience, but one thing I already knew has been confirmed. We have the best people and seafood anywhere in the world. The hard working men and women of Alabama strive diligently to provide the best quality product for you and me. The least we can do as Alabamians is to try to eat just as much of it as possible. This will be healthy for us and will ensure that the coastal economy and way of life will continue. This year, when you are putting together your Saturday tailgate menu, be sure to include some quality Alabama seafood. It will make your party great, no matter who wins the game. SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 45


Mandatory Game Check For the First Time, All Hunters Must Report Deer, Turkey Harvest Data

I By Charles “Chuck� Sykes Director of the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) w

would like to pass along our thanks to those of you who attended one of the educational Game Check seminars this summer. The mandatory Game Check program should prove to be one the most progressive management tools implemented by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in decades. For the first time in the history of the department, all hunters will be a part of the data collection process. Near real-time harvest data will be gathered on deer and turkey throughout the state. This data will be accessible to all hunters as well as our biologists. We are confident that over the next few years, trends observed in the harvest data will allow us to better set seasons and bag limits for hunters in Alabama. The success of this program depends on hunter participation. That is why we

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scheduled more than 30 seminars throughout the state in an attempt to inform as many hunters as possible. These seminars consisted of a 30-minute PowerPoint presentation describing in great detail the Game Check program and the most efficient way to enter data into the Game Check system. A question and answer session followed each presentation. The Q&A portions typically lasted an hour to 90 minutes. The participants took advantage of the opportunity to ask questions on a myriad of conservation topics from predator control, antlerless harvest goals, waterfowl management, updates on research projects and many others. The one common thread that was prevalent throughout the seminars was the abundant misconceptions about the Game Check program. Therefore, I would like to clarify some misconceptions surrounding Game Check.

Misconception 1

The department is placing an undue burden on the hunters of this state by requiring them to report game harvest.

Fact: Game Check is not a novel idea created by the ADCNR. Many states throughout the country have similar systems. In fact, some states still require hunters to physically carry harvested game to a centralized check station where a biologist gathers valuable biological information. As of the penning of this article, Alabama is one of only three states that do not have a mandatory data recording system (physical tag, physical check station or online reporting). In Alabama, a 3-buck deer limit was implemented through the regulatory process beginning in the 2007-2008 hunting season to help provide improved age structure and a better sex ratio of the Alabama white-tailed deer population. This regulation has been an overwhelming success in improving the quality of animals harvested, which has improved hunter satisfaction. Hunters were required to maintain a harvest record that indicated when they killed each of their allotted three bucks and their five turkeys. The paper harvest record did not provide the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries with any information regarding the temporal and spatial (when and where) distribution of the deer or turkey harvest in Alabama. Since that time, a large segment of the hunting public has continued to request a more rigid “tagging system” due to their desires to ensure all hunters were abiding by the deer or turkey harvest limits. After carefully investigating the options available to WFF, a decision was made to implement a telephone and Internet based reporting system (Game Check) very similar in design to systems used in many other states throughout the nation. Requiring hunters to place a physical tag on a deer or turkey would significantly increase expenditures by WFF and it would not provide data regarding the health and harvest distribution of our deer and turkey populations. The Game Check rules are easy to follow and will provide a simple and efficient way to gather biological information. They also will help our conservation officers greatly in enforcing deer and turkey limits.

in Alabama in order to better manage those resources of our state for the sustainable benefit of all Alabamians. Further, it is important to note here that the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division has historically operated well within its budget without cost overruns or any General Funds revenues. Regarding the costs of fines, the vast majority of departmental violations are classified as Class C misdemeanors, which carry fines from $0 to $500. The Administrative Office of Courts maintains a recommended fine list for most WFF Division offenses. According to the AOC fine list, the recommended fine for harvest record violations is $50. Although most judges follow this list, the final assessment of fine is determined by the district judge and not the department or conservation officer.

Misconception 3

I don’t have internet or cell service at my camp. It’s not practical for me to leave and ruin my hunt to check in a deer.

Fact: The department realizes that some rural areas of Alabama have “limited internet or cell phone service.” However, we maintain that most hunters are willing to assist the WFF with the data collecting process if it will improve compliance with daily and seasonal bag limits as well as provide valuable information regarding harvest distribution of deer and turkey. The new regulation allows the hunter 48 hours to report each deer and turkey harvest. Remember, conservation officers

Misconception 2

Game Check was instituted to increase revenue for the department. Hunters will be fined $500 for failure to report their harvest.

Fact: Revenue from fines imposed by district judges as a result of game and fish violations accounted for less than 2.2 percent of the WFF budget, which includes all conservation officers, wildlife and fisheries biologists and support staff over the past three years. We do not expect to increase revenue to our agency as a result of implementing the Game Check system. Again, the primary reason for implementing the Game Check system is to collect harvest information for deer and turkeys SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 47

From the Director: Mandatory Game Check

live and work in the same areas where hunting takes place. They understand the areas of the counties with limited service. Therefore, officer discretion will be utilized to a great extent. Again, the reason for Game Check is to gather biological information not issue fines. In addition, the Outdoor Alabama app available to smart phone users will allow hunters to import harvest data even if no cell service is available. Utilization of the Outdoor Alabama app is by far the most efficient way to enter data into the Game Check system.

Misconception 4

Game Check is going to cost more for the Alabama hunters.

Fact: The funding for the entire project comes from the

budget of the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. Game Check has not caused any increase in license costs for Alabama hunters. In fact, other than Consumer Price Index increases, which were approved by the Alabama Legislature, hunting license fees have only been increased five times for Alabama residents over the 106-year history of the department.

Misconception 5

The information gathered through the Game Check System is only accessible to departmental staff.

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Fact: The data derived from Game Check will be available to anyone through the Outdoor Alabama website. Hunters will be able to access this information in almost real time to see the deer or turkey harvest in each county throughout the state. Misconception 6

A voluntary reporting system would work just as well.

Fact: A voluntary Game Check reporting system has been in

use for the past three seasons with dismal participation. Less than 20,000 deer were reported for the 2013-2014 season. Approximately, 16,000 deer were reported the following season. By Feb. 11, 2016, 15,138 deer were reported. This proves that a voluntary system will not work. The ADCNR, through its Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, is charged with managing, protecting, conserving and enhancing the wildlife resources of Alabama for the sustainable benefit of the people of Alabama. White-tailed deer and wild turkey are by far the most utilized wildlife resources in Alabama and drive the $2.6 billion economic engine that hunting provides annually to our state economy. Because these resources are so important to all Alabamians, managing them in a sound manner with the best biological data available within the means of our department and the hunters of Alabama is crucial.


Getting Time for Fall Planting Preparing the Seed Beds for the Best Results BY AUSTIN DELANO //



he late summer or early fall planting season is quickly approaching. Soon, hunters will be getting ready for their club work days and preparing to plant food plots. I’m often asked to give some tips for good seed bed preparation, so here goes. I believe one of the biggest reasons for poor seed bed preparation is trying to work soil with too much green or overgrown vegetation. This problem is magnified when coupled with inadequate equipment.

Preparing the Bed

It is really tough to prepare a good seed bed when you are trying to disk or till under massive amounts of green vegetation. Your disk or tiller simply can’t work as well as it should with the tonnage of grass and weeds in the way. A properly timed, nonselective herbicide application can kill the unwanted weeds and dry them down where your equipment can function much more efficiently. This saves a lot of tractor or all-terrain vehicle time and fuel. Many people who are unfamiliar with herbicides are afraid of spraying a nonselective herbicide like Roundup (glyphosate) in

fear that it may affect their planting. Glyphosate is a contactonly herbicide and has no soil or residual activity. In other words, if it doesn’t touch the green tissue of a living plant, it won’t work. This allows a person to spray very close to the planting time to help the crop get a jumpstart on any weeds. The ideal timing for mowing and spraying can take two to three weeks before planting time to really get good results, so the time to act is now. Usually in about 10 to 14 days after spraying, the plot will be starting to dry down.

Tips for Herbicide Applications

Try these tips for good pre–planting herbicide applications.

Read the label. The herbicide labels contain great information and they are there for a reason. Labels will identify what weeds it kills and what the recommended rate is. Spray when grasses or broadleaf weeds are young and thriving. If the field is tall and overgrown, the results will often be less than desirable. If weeds are already tall and mature, mow SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 49

Wildlife Mangement first and return a few days later to spray the new regrowth even if it is minimal. For optimal results, use AMS (ammonium sulfate). AMS will increase the effectiveness of the herbicide by helping the weeds readily translocate the herbicide to the roots for a good kill. AMS is especially helpful when using well water. Don’t skimp on water. Many times, people use the correct amount of herbicide, but don’t add enough water to thoroughly spray the field. In a burn down before planting, always try to use 15 to 20 gallons of solution per acre. Know the size of the fields you are going to be spraying so you can apply the appropriate amount of solution. To practice and calibrate your sprayer, find a field and measure it with a GPS or use a rangefinder to determine the acreage. Fill your spray tank with just water and take note of the speed you travel and the amount of water you apply over the known area. This will eliminate guesswork and yield better spray results. My cocktail of choice for pre-plant burn down includes the following: 1.25 quarts of 41 percent glyphosate per acre, 15 pounds of granular AMS per 100 gallons, two pints of non-ionic surfactant per 100 gallons. One pint per acre of 2,4D can be added if the area contains woody brush, heavy broadleaf weeds or areas with glyphosate resistant weed varieties.



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The Latest & The Best NEW Products by John E. Phillips

Hunter Safety System New Crossbow Harness

TRACT Optics TORIC 10x42 Binocular TRACT Optics, a new direct-to-consumer optics line, recently was awarded the coveted Outdoor Life Great Buy award for its flagship Toric 10x24 binoculars. The unique direct-toconsumer TRACT Optics business model cuts out the middleman markup that retailers add on to the product, allowing the consumer to get a product with a level of quality that would likely cost hundreds of dollars more if available through retail outlets. Available exclusively at, the initial product offerings are the Toric and Tekoa binocular models and three lines of riflescopes designed for hunting, a line of caliber-specific AR models, as well as rimfire models. The comprehensive and educational TRACT Optics website will serve as a resource for the optics community through blogs, videos and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. See

Muzzy Trocar HB (Hybrid Broadhead) With a profile that looks like it will be right at home on a medieval battlefield, the Trocar HB blends the best of Trocar fixed-blade technology and adds a pair of center-pivot blades that deploy on contact. This creates large wound channels and excellent penetration on large-game animals. The 0.35-inch thick surgically sharp stainless-steel mechanical blades on the Trocar HB stay tucked in tight to the solid-steel ferrule in flight, but they deploy reliably for a total cutting diameter of 2 5/8-inches on impact. The fixed blades are also 0.35-inch thick and have an offset for increased accuracy and stability. The Trocar HB also features a bone-crushing chisel tip. See

The new HSS Crossbow Harness provides a stylish, comfortable and affordable harness. Unlike traditional bows, crossbows have issues related to cocking the crossbow while hunting from an elevated position. When the crossbow is cocked, the tree stand safety harness tether strap tends to fall in front of the hunter, which is not only frustrating, but also can tangle with the crossbow and knock off or damage the scope. To eliminate this problem, HSS added a Tether Stow Strap, a deep zippered pocket specifically designed to accommodate the cocking rope. The company also added a Range Finder Rip Cord that keeps the rangefinder handy yet out of the way and always attached, so an accidental drop is never a concern. The 2.5-pound HSS Crossbow Harness features 1.25-inch upperbody webbing, shock absorbing tether and waist buckle. The individual, padded hexagon shoulder straps on the HSS Crossbow Harness provide comfort and maximum flexibility. The ample pockets, including a secure mesh pocket designed for a cell phone, makes storing all necessary items easy. Visit

Farberware 4-Liter Deep Fryer We’ve had this stainless-steel deep fryer in a 1.5-liter model for cooking fish and shrimp for about eight years and loved using it, but the 4-liter model is even more awesome. Here are some of the features: three sets of baskets, two small and one large, to keep the different items frying separately, an enamel coated pan for cooking and a temperature control. We’ve never burned anything we’re cooking, vegetables, shrimp, fish or pickles, in it. This small appliance earned 4.5 stars out of a possible five from about 400 reviews. Walmart online has sold out. We bought ours at the store. Amazon still has some on hand. See or

TRUGLO Carbon XS Xtreme TRUGLO introduces the next generation of carbon composite archery sight, the Carbon XS Xtreme. Carbon XS Xtreme is perfect for any aspiring bowhunter. This new take on the popular Carbon XS comes to the market with fresh new technology requested by avid hunters. The ultra-lightweight carbon composite 5-pin sight weighs less than 4.2 ounces and is equipped with more features than ever before. Features include a longer mounting bracket (for a longer sight radius), extended windage and elevation adjustments, larger aperture and PRO-BRITE Pin Technology for pins that are brighter and stronger than ever before. Utilizing the unique TRUGLO TRU-FLO fiber design, this sight provides extra-long fibers for maximum brightness. The reversible bracket provides greater vertical adjustability and is adjustable for left and right-handed shooters. Carbon XS Xtreme is outfitted with a glow-in-the-dark shooter’s ring aligned with the outer aperture ring for improved peep alignment. To round out the extensive list of features, the TRUTOUCH Soft-feel technical coating was added to help decrease noise and vibration. See

Hard Core Brands Deluxe Man Cave For avid waterfowlers, the season can’t arrive soon enough. Take a look at these new offerings from Hard Core Brands, a leading manufacturer in waterfowl equipment. The company has received patent rights on its Man Cave and Deluxe Man Cave layout blinds for waterfowl hunters. The patent elements of the Man Cave and Deluxe Man Cave give waterfowlers a layout blind with no-pin construction, making set-up and take-down fast and easy. These state-of-the-art layout blinds completely conceal a hunter with a quality-designed camouflage while providing good visibility of incoming birds through the flexible mesh viewer. The lightweight, heavyduty aluminum frame construction houses the internal adjustable back and head support that delivers hours of comfort in the field. The DriBed Waterproof Bottom keeps the user dry in up to six inches of water. Since hunting waterfowl can be a messy job, Hard Core placed a full zipper on the foot bag and made it easy to clean. See

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Camphouse Kitchen by Denise & John E. Phillips Photos by John E. Phillips


Shrimp Stroganoff September is a wonderful month to enjoy fresh wild Alabama shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico. You’ll love the flavor of this dish that’s versatile to prepare for more or fewer people by adjusting the amounts.

Spicy Baked Snapper We’ve enjoyed this snapper recipe and find it’s delicious prepared with many types of white, flaky fish.

Shrimp Stroganoff is simple to prepare and tastes delicious.

Ingredients: 3 pounds raw shrimp, small or medium, shelled and deveined 8 tablespoons butter, divided 2/3 cup chopped onion 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced 1 clove garlic, crushed 2 tablespoons flour 1 cup chicken broth 1 tablespoon tomato paste 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 cup sour cream Cooked rice Preparation: Sauté shrimp in six tablespoons butter for five minutes. Remove shrimp and reserve. Add remaining butter, onion, mushrooms and garlic. Sauté five minutes. Stir in flour, chicken broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, dill and salt. Simmer for two minutes. Add some of hot sauce to sour cream, then return to pan and mix well. Add shrimp. Heat, but do not boil. Serve hot with cooked brown rice. (Often we make a much smaller amount by adjusting the spices, sour cream and chicken broth). Yield: Six to eight servings

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Ingredients: Snapper, scamp, grouper, orange roughy or any white flaky fish fillets Lemon or lime juice Lawry’s Seasoned Salt Mayonnaise, preferably Hellmann’s Lemon slices Almonds, shaved Preparation: Wash and remove skin from fish fillets. Drain. Sprinkle juice over entire fillet. Then sparingly apply Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. Let stand for approximately 10 minutes. Coat with a thin layer of mayonnaise. Top with lemon slices and shaved almonds. Spray broiler pan with a non-stick spray. Place aluminum foil over slotted part of broiler pan. Place fish on the rack. Cook in preheated 375-degree oven for no longer than 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve. Families enjoy getting together and cooking fish like Emma Grace Phillips of Birmingham shows us.

Smothered Doves Any time we have a recipe with the word smothered in it, we know it will have a wonderful flavor and the meat will be tender. Ingredients: 12 quail 2 bunches green onions, chopped 7 mushrooms, sliced 1/2 cup butter 2 cans cream of celery soup 1 soup can of non-alcoholic white wine Preparation: Soak quail three or four hours in mild salt water. SautĂŠ onions, celery and mushrooms in butter for 10 minutes or until tender. Add cream of celery soup and wine. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper to mixture. Place quail in a Dutch oven and pour sauce over them. Cover and cook at 350 degrees in the oven for 1.5 hours or until tender. Serve birds over wild rice with sauce on top. Yield: Six servings


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MONROE COUNTY Dove Breasts Supreme Easy to prepare, this dove dish is also delicious. Ingredients: 12 dove breasts, cleaned Small bottle of Italian dressing Pound of bacon 3/4 cup of non-alcoholic apple wine Toothpicks Preparation: Place breasts in plastic zip-top bag. Pour dressing over meat and close. Refrigerate overnight. Wrap each breast in bacon, using toothpicks to hold bacon in place. Grill over low-medium heat until bacon is done. Place breasts in casserole dish. Pour apple wine on top. Cook at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Yield: Six servings

Slow Cooker Wild Pork Chops This wild pork recipe is quick but provides tasty, fall-apart chops. Ingredients: 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard 1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper blend 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt 4 wild pork chops (4 ounces each) 2 tablespoons canola oil 1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth Preparation: In a large resealable plastic bag, combine 1/2 cup flour, mustard, garlic, pepper and seasoned salt. Add pork chops, one at a time and shake to coat. In a large skillet, brown chops in oil on both sides. Transfer to a 5-quart slow cooker. Place remaining flour in a small bowl. Whisk in broth until smooth. Pour over chops. Cover and cook on LOW for three to four hours or until meat is tender. Remove pork chops to a serving plate and keep warm. Whisk cooking liquid until smooth; serve with pork. Yield: Four servings

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Saucy Wild Pork Chops Here’s another yummy crockpot recipe for preparing wild pork chops. Ingredients: 4 wild pork chops (6 to 8 ounces each) 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 2 tablespoons canola oil 2 cups ketchup 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, optional

Preparation: Sprinkle pork chops with garlic powder, salt and pepper. In a large skillet, brown chops in oil on both sides and drain. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, brown sugar and liquid smoke if desired. Pour half of the sauce into a 3-quart slow cooker. Top with pork chops and remaining sauce. Cover and cook on LOW for four to five hours or until meat is tender. Yield: Four servings

Before you turn up your nose at the idea of using cranberries with wild pork chops, try this recipe that has a wonderful flavor.

Cranberry Wild Pork Chops As you know, we love crockpots at our home for delicious, no-muss meals to fit our busy schedules. This cranberry wild pork combo will please everyone. Ingredients: 6 wild pork chops, 6 to 8 ounces each 1 can (14 ounces) jellied cranberry sauce 1/2 cup cranberry or apple juice 1/4 cup sugar 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1/4 cup cold water 1/2 teaspoon salt Dash pepper



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Preparation: Place pork chops in a 3-quart slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the cranberry sauce, juice, sugar and mustard until smooth. Pour over chops. Cover and cook on LOW for seven to eight hours or until meat is tender. Remove chops and keep warm. In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch and cold water until smooth, gradually stirring in cooking juices. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for two minutes or until thickened. Stir in salt and pepper. Serve with chops. Yield: Six servings

Balsamic Wild Pork Stew A truly 1-pot meal, balsamic wild pork stew includes delicious meat and vegetables. Ingredients: 2 pounds wild pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 2-inch chunks 2 cups chopped onions 1 cup chopped red peppers 4 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme Pinch of red pepper flakes 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes 3/4 cup chicken broth 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 (10 ounces) package frozen green and yellow beans Preparation: Season pork with salt and pepper. Coat large skillet with cooking spray; place over medium-high heat. Brown pork in batches on all sides, about seven to 10 minutes per batch. Transfer pork and juices to a slow cooker and layer on remaining ingredients, except green and yellow beans. Cover and cook for four hours on HIGH or eight hours on LOW. Just before serving, cook beans as package directs. Drain, stir into stew. Skim off fat; season to taste with salt and pepper. Yield: Six to eight servings.

Cherry Glazed Wild Pork Tenderloin or Roast Wrapped in Bacon Hopefully, you’ve taken a wild pig this past spring or summer, had it processed and now have it in your freezer. Ingredients for Roast: 1 to 3 pounds boneless pork roast or tenderloin 6 to 8 pieces of thin-sliced bacon 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon cumin 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

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Ingredients for the Cherry and Port Glaze: 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1/4 cup chicken stock 2 tablespoons butter 1/3 cup chopped onion Pinch of ground allspice 1/2 cup port or another sweet red non-alcoholic wine 1/2 cup or so dried cherries 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed Preparation for Glaze: Whisk the cornstarch and stock in a small bowl until the mixture is smooth and set the bowl aside. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, but not browned. Add the allspice and cook for one more minute. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the port (or a sweet red non-alcoholic wine), cherries and brown sugar to the skillet. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cook the glaze until the mixture is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Add to the skillet the cornstarch mixture you set aside. Cook and stir until the mixture boils and thickens. Preparation for Roast or Pork Loin: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Rinse the pork in cool water and pat dry. Let the meat reach room temperature, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile create the spice rub. In a small bowl, combine the dry rub ingredients. Use your hands to massage the flavors into the meat. Now wrap the bacon around the rubbed pork, one piece at a time, starting at the ends and meeting in the middle. Cover all of the pork with bacon. Place the pork in the center of the pan covered with foil. Roasting times vary. Roast 45 to 50 minutes if your roast is two pounds or under or 50 to 60 minutes if it is 2.5 to three pounds. After roasting the pork, drizzle the glaze over top of the pork and continue to roast for about 30 minutes longer or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Once out of the oven, let the pork rest for a short time, about 10 to 15 minutes. If you cut it right away, you risk having dry meat. Slice into servings about 1-inch thick. Yield: Three to four servings


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Mackerel have extremely sharp teeth making wire leader a necessity.

End of Summer F ishing Bonanza Variety of Fish Available Peaks in September BY DAVID THORNTON PHOTOS BY DAVID THORNTON

“Dinner-plate” sized spadefish are frequently caught on the pier.

Red drum are a common by-catch for pier anglers.

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Sooner or later, September marks the end of summer heat and humidity. Along the beaches of coastal Alabama, a wide variety of fish species utilize the warm surf zone waters to find shelter and food. On average, water temperatures are in the middle 80s at the beginning of the month, but fall a few degrees by the end of the month after the equinox. Air temperatures abate as well and we may even see a few refreshing dry spells as early autumn cool fronts make their way south to the northern Gulf of Mexico. Barring any significant tropical weather, which would dirty the water for an extended period, September provides us some outstanding pier and shore fishing opportunities. The hurricane season peaks in mid-month. Statistically speaking, we are about due so savvy anglers keep a wary eye on extended weather forecasts. The month begins and ends with new moons, and coincidentally, neap tides will also occur just after the full moon on Sept. 16 to 18. These sustained periods of very little tidal flow can be a real test to angling skills as fish may become generally lethargic or feed only for short durations. So, being prepared and in the right place at the right time with the right bait or lure is most critical, but can still produce bounteous

catches as the fish begin to fatten up in anticipation of their fall migrations.

Return of Fall Classics

King and Spanish mackerel are the primary attraction for anglers on the Gulf State Park Pier again this month. They are drawn to the pier to feast on schools of young-of-the-year scaled sardines, locally called “LYs,” silver mullet and other baitfish. Anglers have learned to catch these 3- to 4-inch fish with small looped red ribbon rigs or Number 10 gold hook rigs. Some people cast nets for them elsewhere and transport them to the pier in aerated 5-gallon buckets to use as bait. Gamefish like mackerel, bluefish, ladyfish and redfish often strike a variety of 3-inch long silvery spoons, such as Krocodile, Sidewinder and Mr. Champ. These lures imitate the small baits. Another great lure is the 4-inch soft swimbaits like Zoom Fluke or Fin-S on a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce jighead. Keep in mind all these lures (and hooks) need to be protected by a short piece of light steel wire or at least a foot or so piece of heavy clear 30- to 40-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon line. Otherwise, the extremely sharp, slashing teeth of mackerel or bluefish will quickly

separate the lure from the angler. Occasionally, in years when the weather and water conditions have been very stable, even true pelagic fish such as mahimahi and sailfish are caught from Gulf Coast piers, including the one in Gulf Shores. Though rare, it can and does happen!

King and Spanish mackerel are the primary attraction for anglers on the Gulf State Park Pier again this month.” Mangrove snapper are another fish species that peak in September. Sharp-eyed, swift and extremely wary, they are usually caught using small minnows suspended from the pier between pilings or along the rock jetties or seawall. They have a bad habit of diving for cover and breaking an unwary angler’s line, but the reward of a legal fish (12-inch total length) is a quick, hard pull and a delicious meal. Redfish, speckled trout and flounder (along with a variety of jack species) can be caught on the aforementioned baits and lures as well from the pier or along the beaches and especially at the jetties of Perdido Pass, Little Lagoon Pass, Fort Gaines and Katrina Cut on Dauphin Island. Additionally, shorebound anglers are excited to be getting a chance to again fish the seawall at Alabama Point under the Perdido Pass bridge. The city of Orange Beach has undertaken a temporary restoration that should at least restore public access to the portion of the seawall, which was fenced off in 2012 due to erosion. If the night lighting sufficiently illuminates the water, anglers can expect some outstanding action around the clock just a few dozen feet from their vehicles.

Sand, Suds & Sunscreen

Surf fishing and wade fishing can be exceptionally fun or frustrating in September as varying early fall weather conditions challenge fishermen to adapt their approach to take advantage of large scale fish movements while avoiding places too rough to fish. In sideshore wind conditions (especially strong easterly winds), the sand spit (Pelican Spit) extending southeastward from the landlocked Dauphin Island Pier offers a windbreak and provides several protruding sandbars with nice drop-offs to concentrate fish while keeping the wind at your back instead of in your face. These are great places to find speckled trout, bluefish and flounder as well as whiting, ground mullet, red and black drum and perhaps even some pompano within casting distance or just a short wade from shore. The same spoons and soft-bodied jig setups used on piers and jetties work as well or better on these species in the surf zone. In addition, topwater lures, such as Rapala Skitter Walk, MirrOlure Top Dog Jr. and Heddon Zara Spook can be quite effective – and FUN! Topwater action is still a great way to start the day, but they can be used anytime especially when there is cloud cover. As always, while in or near the water, be wary of stingrays, stinging jellyfish and lightning of course. However, sunburn

is still an issue worthy of precaution so sunscreen as well as a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses are advisable. Another bane of the late September shore fishermen is the horde of biting flies (marsh flies) that descend on the beaches whenever a north wind persists for a couple days. These bloodthirsty bugs are relentless in their ravaging of beach goers and nothing short of 100 percent DEET seems to deter them. Despite the possible distractions Mother Nature may throw our way, September marks the beginning of prime time fishing along coastal Alabama as the seasons begin their transformation. Since the primary vacation period has passed, it is often a great time to enjoy smaller crowds and get some great fishing during your great days outdoors.



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SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 57


Alabama Coastal

FISHING OUTLOOK Hot Tips for a Changing Season Along the Coast BY MIKE THOMPSON //



t’s not fall yet and the temperatures confirm that. School activities, football and other September activities indicate the season is about to change, but south Alabama anglers must still endure heat for a little while longer. Fish are in a confused state right now, not sure of what to do, due to the transition period taking place. There are several places to get into good fish and numbers as well. Let’s look at a few places to try.

INSHORE Speckled trout will be moving towards the estuaries this month. As they make their way northward in Mobile Bay, they will be stopping off at various locations during this journey. First, you can count on a few bruiser trout to be hanging around the cuts running beneath the Dauphin Island Bridge. Fishing these cuts and channels can produce solid stringers of fish on soft plastics. Fin-S grubs, Saltwater Assassins and Cocahoe plastic minnows will all be great choices to lure the trout. Set upon the edges of the channels and toss your baits upstream, allowing them to float along with the natural current flow. Most of the strikes will occur as you hop the grubs along the bottom. White, chartreuse and tuxedo colors seem to work best. Moving up Mobile Bay, you can always count on specks, reds and white trout to be hanging around the large channel markers and Middle Bay Lighthouse in September. Once again, working grubs along the bottom is a great tactic to connect with the aggressive specks, but if you want the reds or white trout, put a piece of fresh dead shrimp on a jig to “sweeten” it.

Blake Mead shows off a fine king mackerel.

The last of the tripletails will be hangMobile Bay. Try areas around Blakeley ing around the channel marker buoys and River, Apalachee River and Tensaw marker poles in September. By mid-SepRivers. Use a live shrimp fished near the tember, the bay should be extra clear and grass edges and drop-offs. Move your salty. At this time, you can find tripletails bait slowly along the bottom and try to as far up as the mouth of Mobile River. cover as much bottom as possible on Besides the obvious markers, you each cast. should target any logs hung up on the edge of “Slow trolling hardtails is the preferred the ship channel. Use method for catching kings, but some prefer a large live shrimp to fool some of the biggest to drift baits in the current.” fish of the year. You can fish the shrimp under a float or just free-line the shrimp around the logs to find the September Crabs will be a problem this month and tripletails. Super green water will be all the way to the Coal Terminal and saltwaleaving the bait stationary for too long ter fish will be abundant in that area. will invite the hungry crustaceans to Flounder will be found this month at chop up your live shrimp. A great artificial choice will be the old “Capt. T-Bone the mouths of rivers near the head of

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Special.” That would be a sparkle beetle in root beer with glitter. Couple that bait with a fluorescent orange jighead and wait for the magic to happen!

OFFSHORE The offshore bite continues to stay strong this month. King mackerel are abundant around the rigs of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana coasts. Slow trolling hardtails is the preferred method for catching kings, but some prefer to drift baits in the current. Another fish species you may encounter around the rigs is cobia or ling. These are especially curious fish that sometimes rise to the surface as your boat idles by. Once they show themselves, cast a bait in front of them and hope they strike it. Spanish mackerel will be abundant in September as the saltier water creeps closer to shore. Bigger Spanish can be caught on live baits drifted around structure or anchored shrimp boats. Smaller Spanish can be caught by trolling Clark Spoons near weed lines and tide lines.

BLUE WATER This summer has produced some of the best tuna fishing in years. Ross Hutchisson over at Ross’ Rod and Reel says, “Fine catches should be available at the Drilling Ship and the Marlin Rig. Trolling Ilander Lures in blue and white with a ballyhoo works best. You can also connect with tuna by dropping a live hardtail or anything else frisky near the rigs. If you run out of live bait, you can also score using diamond jigs worked vertically near the rigs too.”

Cobia will be lurking around structure offshore this month.


Saltwater Assassins

Sparkle Beetles

Ross Hutchisson Ross’ Rod and Reel 251-344-9984

FRESHWATER Bass can be quite confused this month as the weather is so “in-between.” It’s still not fall, but subject to change on the next cool front arriving from the north. Bass fishing in the MobileTensaw Delta will be good on the main rivers. Target spots where there is good current and hungry bass will be waiting. Soft plastics always work well on the delta, but shallow-running crankbaits in perch or bream colors work well. You can always catch a few bass on suspending twitch baits as well. White or chrome colors are solid producers. Towards the end of the month, there should be a great influx of white shrimp in the delta. This turns bass very aggressive and you can score with live shrimp or Vudu Shrimp fished along the grass edges of the rivers. Bream will be available in many Mobile-Tensaw Delta creeks in September. Live wigglers fished on the bottom in six to eight feet of water can result in some beautiful catches this month. If you can get your hands on some seed shrimp, the action can be even better. Some of the better places to try will be Louis’ Bayou, Jims Creek, Big Briar and Big Bay John creeks.

CONCLUSION September can have you pulling your hair out trying to figure out the fish. However, once you establish a pattern, whether salt or fresh, the rewards can be awesome. See you on the water!

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SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 59


Alabama Lakes

FISHING OUTLOOK September Means Time to Go Fishing After Summer Heat Abates BY ALEX GRANPERE // PHOTOS BY ALEX GRANPERE


nce again, it’s time to kick the football and start the season on Friday nights and Saturdays in Alabama, but it’s also time to get on the water and catch some fish. September brings cooler temperatures, shorter days and the fish realize that cool weather is coming. Fall is a great time to find fish that are eager to bite. In September, anglers need to keep in mind that even though it’s fall on the calendar, we will still have lots of hot days and strong sun with afternoon thunderstorms that can make boating an adventure. Keep the sunscreen handy and keep an eye on the weather. Also, anglers will need to remember that on some Alabama lakes, the water levels will be lowering to winter pool. That will put obstructions closer to the surface, which could make them boating safety hazards. Be careful when cutting across points where stumps, old house foundations and other bottom stuff that can tear up a lower unit might be shallower than during higher summer water levels. Of course, wear a personal floatation device when running the boat. Let’s see what some of Alabama’s best anglers can tell us about the fishing in September. MILLERS FERRY RESERVOIR Millers Ferry is one of the best lakes for Alabama anglers to fish in the fall. After the heat of summer, Millers Ferry bass, crappie and bream are ready for some cooler temperatures and ready to eat. Alden Dunn of Dunn’s Sports in Thomasville says, “Crappie will be on river and creek channels. Look for treetops, rocks and deep-water ledges. We mostly cast 1/16- to 1/8-ounce jigs or bottom bounce with 1- or 2-hook rigs.

Basswill in September down August bass blow up onrarely a wideturn range a soft-plastic worm or creature of topwater lures fished around cover. bait worked around drop-offs and ledges.

I like Mr. Crappie Blood Red Number 2 hooks above 1-ounce bank sinkers. We’ll be fishing in 10 to 18 feet of water.” For bass, Alden Dunn says the very same pattern for crappie will hold true for the green fish. He says, “For bass, look for deeper stumps and treetops in 10 to 12 feet of water. The spotted bass will be on the main river channel in the lake. Work Bandit 300 Series crankbaits, jigs and spinnerbaits over ledges, rocks or deep treetops.” Alden adds, “Catfish will be in the mouths of sloughs and anglers can still catch a few on jugs in open water. Use shad and cut bait in 10 to 15 feet of water.”

lures slowly. Shaky head jigs and worms, heavy jigs, Carolina-rigged worms and Texas-rigged worms will all work fine.” He adds, “The best color to use? Use the color you have most faith in. Dark greens and deep purples are all usually good here. When choosing Eufaula crankbaits, chose one that has a dot on it like threadfin shad because that’s the primary forage here.” Crappie will still be very deep. Find a school of crappie on the fish finder and drop a black and chartreuse jig or a minnow to it. Be sure to fish above the school of crappie. Crappie often move upwards to take a bait, but they almost never move down to take bait.

LAKE EUFAULA It has been a good fishing season this summer on old Lake Eufaula and there’s no reason to expect that this fall will be much different. Our friend Capt. Sam Williams says, “Find the trash piles out in the lake. You’ll need to work deep fish and work

LAKE WEISS September on Lake Weiss is when fish and anglers start to change for the upcoming winter. Capt. Lee Pitts tells us, “In late September, we’ll start the usual winter drawdown of the lake level. This drawdown exposes a lot of wood cover and concentrates the fish.”

60 | 800-597-6828 | SEPTEMBER 2016

pieces of cut bait on the hooks, making sure to bring the point of In September, both spots and largemouth bass are actively the hook all the way through the bait. following bait. The cooler weather in September brings bait, Smaller fish will still congregate below both Wilson and primarily threadfin shad, up in pockets on the lakes and around Wheeler dams in large numbers. wood cover. The bass are really These fish can be easily caught stimulated to chase bait when using a split-shot weight and this happens. small circle hook on medium Captain Lee says, “On Weiss in “When tackling trophy cats, make sure you have spinning gear. For the big boys, September, you can use anything good quality heavy tackle. Nothing is more try fishing whole gizzard shad or from square-billed crankbaits, frustrating than hooking a big catfish only to lose it the front half of a large skipjack spinnerbaits, Pop-Rs or anything because of undersized tackle.” along the bluff walls. Try to in shad patterns. I like to throw – Capt. Brian Barton, fishing guide locate steep ledges, humps or old a 1/4-ounce buzzbait over both canal structure, where a rapid open flats and very close to bottom contour occurs. The larger fish will start their fall staging cover. Little River, Yellow Creek and Bay Springs areas will all on the deep ledges before moving up shallower in the weeks to be good on Lake Weiss for September fishing.” come, Capt. Brian Barton tells us. LAKE GUNTERSVILLE “When tackling trophy cats, make sure you have good quality heavy tackle,” the captain says. “I do all my fishing with B’n’M Capt. Tim Chandler reminds us, the heat of summer won’t start Silver Cat Magnum rods and 80-pound-test Vicious braided line. to leave us until the very end of September so come prepared to Last but not least, use a 7/0 or 10/0 Daiichi Bleeding Bait circle deal with the heat and the sun. Bring lots of water to drink and hook. Nothing is more frustrating than hooking a big catfish only lots of protection from the sun. However, the good news is that to lose it because of undersized tackle.” September also brings the start of the world-famous frog bite on big old Lake Guntersville. PICKWICK LAKE Captain Tim says, “Look for hydrilla and milfoil, the thickest Our buddy Captain Brad Whitehead says, “For crappie in mats possible. The best grass mats should be from Seibold Creek September, we’ll be trolling crankbaits. I like 300 Series Bandit north on the lake. Toward the lower end of the lake, the grass crankbaits. We’ll be working them in 20 to 25 feet of water won’t be as good as up north.” Anglers need to keep in mind that the bass in the grass are eating bluegills during the frog bite, so all of the soft-plastic topwater lures used need to be in dark, bluegill colors. Captain Tim says, “Keep the colors dark. Black, brown and green are good. It needs to look like a bluegill. Work that lure on top in a pop-pop-stop pattern. The fish will tell you how they want the a division of MarineONE Corporation lure worked and where they want it.” Flipping 1- to 1.25-ounce jigs with dark trailers can be very good in September, too. Again, make sure the lures are in bluegill colors. In September, anglers on Guntersville can expect to find better than average fish. Anglers might not catch as many, but they should find better sizes. For open water anglers, use electronics around causeways and bridges in deep water to find schools of shad. The big stripers and hybrids won’t be far away from the shad and they’ll eat silver or white jigs or Rat-L-Traps worked around the big wads of shad.


Don’t Buy a Boat ‘til You Get a Buck’s Quote!

WILSON LAKE Our friend Capt. Brian Barton tells us that by the middle to end of the month, the thermocline should dissipate and catfish will begin to move shallower, but remain close to the bottom. Shad schools will begin to migrate from the main lake into the sloughs and backwaters and the catfish will follow. The long points of Six-Mile Creek, Shoals Creek and McKernan Creek will all hold fish at this time of year. This is one of the best times of the year to try jugging. Set your jugs three to four feet off the bottom and distribute them along the flats. If you can locate stationary shad schools, try to put your jugs as close to them as possible. Use live minnows or small


Skeeter Rebates & Yamaha 3+2 warranty

1-800-I’M-READY (467-3239)

4500 Hwy. 77 · Southside, AL 35907 SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 61

Alabama Lakes Fishing Outlook

over big deep flats.” When asked to name the good places, Captain Brad recommended Bear Creek, Indian Creek and Yellow Creek areas as all good places to find crappie in September. Captain Brad adds, “I always use a B’n’M Pro Staff rod and I like Vicious High-Viz yellow line when I’m trolling. We move at 1.5 to 1.8 miles per hour.” The key to crappie trolling in September on Pickwick Lake is to cover a lot of water. This technique will allow anglers to carefully fish several acres of potentially good fishing areas. For bass anglers, Capt. Brian Barton says, “In September, we are right on the edge of some great live bait fishing for bass. We’ll use yellowtails or threadfin shad for bait.” LAKE WEDOWEE Capt. Brian Morris says, “The bass here are feeding on shad, so the key to finding bass is finding balls of shad. The bass will not be far away. In September, the bass will be from the mouths to midway up the creeks.” Captain Morris says, “We use Fishhead spinners with a 3-inch mini fluke in pearl white. We cast to the fish we’ve found and count down to four or five before we retrieve. The bass will be starting to school up. When they do and come to the top, Zara Spooks will work well. The action can be non-stop.” Bandit crankbaits in the 200 Series in shad patterns are very good for both spots and largemouth bass on Wedowee. For crappie anglers, key on docks close to water 15 to 30 feet deep. Brush piles near to the dock are even better. Flip 1/32-ounce Bobby Garland jigs and watch the line as the little jig sinks.

GUIDE INFORMATION: Capt. Brian Barton | 256-599-4229 | Capt. Tim Chandler | 256-655-8292 | Alden Dunn | Dunn’s Sports | 334-636-0850 | Thomasville, Al Capt. Brian Morris | 770-634- 6212 | Design Stocking Feeding Electrofishing Liming Fertilization Weed Control Aeration Systems

Capt. Lee Pitts | Pitt Stop | 256-390-4145 | Capt. Brad Whitehead | 256-483-0834 | Capt. Sam Williams | Hawks Fishing Guide Service 334-355-5057 |

PRODUCT INFORMATION: Big Bite Baits | 877-222-7429 | Fin-Tech Tackle Company | 877-390-FISH | PRADCO (Bomber, Booyah, Yum) | 479-782-8971 | Birmingham, AL Auburn, AL Jackson, MS Jackson, TN Licensed Commercial Pesticide Herbicide Applications

Rat-L-Trap | 1-800-633-4861 | Insured and Bonded

Strike King Lures Company | 901-853-1455 | Zoom Bait Company |

62 | 800-597-6828 | SEPTEMBER 2016



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MOON AND FEED TIMES      is specifically designed for game movement for the state of Alabama This chart feeding times in non-tidal waters in the state. Inclement weather & fish or rapidly  changing temperatures can adversely affect feeding times. Moon Over & Under is the best feeding times for game animals & fish in non-tidal waters.  September 2016  Shaded areas represent best days during the month.  PHASE Rise Over Set Under  Date 12:39 AM  T 1 6:30 AM 1:02 PM 7:26 PM 1:25 AM  F 2 7:27 AM 1:47 PM 8:00 PM 2:09 AM  Sa 3 8:21 AM 2:31 PM 8:33 PM 2:52 AM  S 4 9:15 AM 3:14 PM 9:07 PM 3:35 AM  M 5 10:07 AM 3:57 PM 9:41 PM 4:19 AM  T 6 11:00 AM 4:41 PM 10:16 PM 5:03 AM  W 7 11:53 AM 5:26 PM 10:54 PM 5:49 AM  T 8 12:45 PM 6:12 PM 11:36 PM 6:36 AM --:- F 9 1:37 PM 7:00 PM Sa 10 2:27 PM 7:25 AM 7:50 PM 12:21 AM  S 11 3:17 PM 8:15 AM 8:41 PM 1:10 AM  M 12 4:05 PM 9:07 AM 9:33 PM 2:04 AM  T 13 4:50 PM 9:59 AM 10:25 PM 3:01 AM  10:52 AM  W 14 5:34 PM 11:18 PM 4:02 AM 11:45 AM --:-5:06 AM  T 15 6:16 PM 12:39 PM  F 16 6:58 PM 12:12 AM 6:11 AM 1:33 PM  Sa 17 7:40 PM 1:06 AM 7:18 AM 2:28 PM  S 18 8:22 PM 2:00 AM 8:25 AM 3:23 PM  M 19 9:07 PM 2:55 AM 9:33 AM 4:20 PM  T 20 9:54 PM 3:51 AM 10:40 AM 5:17 PM  W 21 10:44 PM 4:48 AM 11:45 AM 6:14 PM  T 22 11:38 PM 5:46 AM 12:47 PM --:-7:10 PM 6:42 AM 1:46 PM  F 23 8:05 PM  Sa 24 12:33 AM 7:38 AM 2:38 PM 8:57 PM  S 25 1:31 AM 8:32 AM 3:27 PM M 26 2:29 AM 9:47 PM 9:23 AM 4:10 PM  T 27 3:27 AM 10:35 PM 10:12 AM 4:49 PM  W 28 4:23 AM 11:21 PM 10:58 AM 5:26 PM  --:- T 29 5:19 AM 11:43 AM 6:00 PM F 30 6:13 AM 12:05 AM 12:27 PM 6:33 PM                


64 | 800-597-6828 | SEPTEMBER 2016

Mobile / Tensaw Delta

PRIME FEEDING TIMES This chart is specifically designed for fishing times in the Mobile/Tensaw Delta & other tidally influenced waters of South Alabama. Date Day

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri

September 2016



Fort Morgan T F Sa S M T W T F Sa S M T W T F S Su M T W T F S Su M T W T F

1 12:00 PM / 1.25 2 3:05 AM / 0.92 1:19 PM / 1.16 3 2:31 AM / 0.97 2:51 PM / 1.08 4 1:40 AM / 1.07 4:14 PM / 1.01 5 1:38 AM / 1.18 6 2:00 AM / 1.28 7 2:31 AM / 1.36 8 3:07 AM / 1.42 9 3:48 AM / 1.45 10 4:34 AM / 1.46 11 5:27 AM / 1.45 12 6:37 AM / 1.43 13 8:15 AM / 1.4 14 9:52 AM / 1.37 15 11:16 AM / 1.32 16 2:23 AM / 0.91 12:45 PM / 1.25 17 1:47 AM / 0.95 2:30 PM / 1.17 18 12:55 AM / 1.06 4:10 PM / 1.11 19 12:27 AM / 1.22 20 12:51 AM / 1.38 21 1:32 AM / 1.51 22 2:20 AM / 1.57 23 3:12 AM / 1.58 24 4:05 AM / 1.54 25 5:00 AM / 1.45 26 6:01 AM / 1.34 27 7:32 AM / 1.21 28 10:25 AM / 1.12 29 12:55 AM / 0.96 12:13 PM / 1.05 30 12:23 AM / 1.01 2:07 PM / 1 11:37 PM / 1.1

8:35 PM / 0.67 6:49 AM / 0.83 8:25 PM / 0.77 7:49 AM / 0.75 8:22 PM / 0.86 8:40 AM / 0.69 8:14 PM / 0.92 9:28 AM / 0.64 10:21 AM / 0.61 11:41 AM / 0.6 2:28 PM / 0.58 4:21 PM / 0.52 5:29 PM / 0.46 6:16 PM / 0.42 6:54 PM / 0.4 7:27 PM / 0.42 7:54 PM / 0.5 8:11 PM / 0.62 5:49 AM / 0.86 8:09 PM / 0.77 7:06 AM / 0.72 7:54 PM / 0.91 8:09 AM / 0.59 7:38 PM / 1.02 9:10 AM / 0.49 10:26 AM / 0.44 12:46 PM / 0.4 2:42 PM / 0.37 4:08 PM / 0.35 5:20 PM / 0.36 6:14 PM / 0.41 6:52 PM / 0.49 7:12 PM / 0.61 7:01 PM / 0.73 5:24 AM / 0.83 6:37 PM / 0.83 6:39 AM / 0.72 6:29 PM / 0.91 ----

Fowl River T

1 12:50 PM / 1.41 11:06 PM / 0.65





Su 4 M




W 7

1:55 PM / 1.3

11:05 PM / 0.8

3:57 AM / 0.85

6:48 AM / 0.81

3:43 PM / 1.21

9:51 PM / 0.9

2:24 AM / 0.99

9:29 AM / 0.74

4:54 PM / 1.13

9:57 PM / 0.97

2:54 AM / 1.13 10:31 AM / 0.66 6:06 PM / 1.05

8:54 PM / 1.02

3:31 AM / 1.27

11:26 AM / 0.6

4:07 AM / 1.39 12:32 PM / 0.56



4:44 AM / 1.5



5:23 AM / 1.58

2:55 PM / 0.5

S 10 6:11 AM / 1.64

5:33 PM / 0.48

Su 11 7:09 AM / 1.67

6:48 PM / 0.44

M 12 8:06 AM / 1.67

7:49 PM / 0.43

T 13 9:04 AM / 1.64

8:52 PM / 0.45

1:48 PM / 0.53

W 14 10:30 AM / 1.57 9:43 PM / 0.53 T 15 12:14 PM / 1.48 10:20 PM / 0.66 F 16 1:51 PM / 1.37 10:45 PM / 0.85 S 17 3:11 AM / 0.93

7:53 AM / 0.82

3:55 PM / 1.27

9:25 PM / 1.06

Su 18 1:33 AM / 1.12

9:30 AM / 0.66

M 19 1:47 AM / 1.35

10:40 AM / 0.5

T 20 2:28 AM / 1.56 11:49 AM / 0.39 W 21 3:22 AM / 1.74

1:40 PM / 0.32

T 22 4:12 AM / 1.85

3:00 PM / 0.29

F 23 4:59 AM / 1.89

4:19 PM / 0.32

S 24 5:50 AM / 1.87

5:49 PM / 0.38

Su 25 6:49 AM / 1.78

6:59 PM / 0.46

M 26 7:50 AM / 1.67

8:15 PM / 0.57

T 27 8:47 AM / 1.53

9:42 PM / 0.68

W 28 10:12 AM / 1.38 10:24 PM / 0.82 T 29 12:50 PM / 1.28 10:40 PM / 0.96 F 30 12:57 AM / 0.97 6:16 AM / 0.89 ---2:18 PM / 1.21

Mobile River T F S Su M T W T F S Su M T W T F S Su M T W T F S Su M T W T F

1 1:46 PM / 1.56 2 4:51 AM / 1.15 3:05 PM / 1.45 3 4:17 AM / 1.22 4:37 PM / 1.35 4 3:26 AM / 1.34 6:00 PM / 1.26 5 3:24 AM / 1.48 6 3:46 AM / 1.6 7 4:17 AM / 1.7 8 4:53 AM / 1.77 9 5:34 AM / 1.81 10 6:20 AM / 1.83 11 7:13 AM / 1.82 12 8:23 AM / 1.79 13 10:01 AM / 1.75 14 11:38 AM / 1.71 15 1:02 PM / 1.65 16 4:09 AM / 1.14 2:31 PM / 1.56 17 3:33 AM / 1.18 4:16 PM / 1.46 18 2:41 AM / 1.32 5:56 PM / 1.38 19 2:13 AM / 1.53 20 2:37 AM / 1.73 21 3:18 AM / 1.88 22 4:06 AM / 1.97 23 4:58 AM / 1.98 24 5:51 AM / 1.92 25 6:46 AM / 1.82 26 7:47 AM / 1.67 27 9:18 AM / 1.52 28 12:11 PM / 1.4 29 2:41 AM / 1.2 1:59 PM / 1.31 30 2:09 AM / 1.26 3:53 PM / 1.25

10:07 PM / 0.84 8:21 AM / 1.03 9:57 PM / 0.97 9:21 AM / 0.94 9:54 PM / 1.07 10:12 AM / 0.86 9:46 PM / 1.15 11:00 AM / 0.8 11:53 AM / 0.77 1:13 PM / 0.75 4:00 PM / 0.72 5:53 PM / 0.65 7:01 PM / 0.58 7:48 PM / 0.52 8:26 PM / 0.5 8:59 PM / 0.53 9:26 PM / 0.62 9:43 PM / 0.77 7:21 AM / 1.07 9:41 PM / 0.96 8:38 AM / 0.9 9:26 PM / 1.14 9:41 AM / 0.74 9:10 PM / 1.27 10:42 AM / 0.61 11:58 AM / 0.55 2:18 PM / 0.5 4:14 PM / 0.46 5:40 PM / 0.44 6:52 PM / 0.45 7:46 PM / 0.51 8:24 PM / 0.62 8:44 PM / 0.76 8:33 PM / 0.91 6:56 AM / 1.04 8:09 PM / 1.03 8:11 AM / 0.89 8:01 PM / 1.13

Perdido Pass T F S Su M T W T F S Su M T W T F S Su M T W T F S Su M T W T F

1 10:32 AM / 0.93 2 11:20 AM / 0.83 3 12:54 AM / 0.63 12:15 PM / 0.73 4 12:37 AM / 0.71 1:27 PM / 0.64 5 12:42 AM / 0.8 6 1:00 AM / 0.87 7 1:30 AM / 0.93 8 2:10 AM / 0.98 9 3:02 AM / 1.01 10 4:05 AM / 1.05 11 5:13 AM / 1.08 12 6:21 AM / 1.1 13 7:26 AM / 1.11 14 8:30 AM / 1.08 15 9:36 AM / 1.03 16 10:48 AM / 0.94 11:44 PM / 0.61 17 12:13 PM / 0.83 11:17 PM / 0.74 18 2:26 PM / 0.73 11:25 PM / 0.88 19 11:55 PM / 1 20 ---21 12:39 AM / 1.1 22 1:35 AM / 1.15 23 2:40 AM / 1.17 24 3:56 AM / 1.15 25 5:17 AM / 1.12 26 6:36 AM / 1.06 27 7:49 AM / 0.99 28 8:56 AM / 0.9 11:44 PM / 0.64 29 10:04 AM / 0.81 10:47 PM / 0.71 30 11:19 AM / 0.72 10:33 PM / 0.8


7:20 PM / 0.4 7:05 PM / 0.49 5:42 AM / 0.56 6:34 PM / 0.56 7:27 AM / 0.52 5:40 PM / 0.59 8:59 AM / 0.47 10:33 AM / 0.42 12:11 PM / 0.37 1:38 PM / 0.32 2:45 PM / 0.27 3:40 PM / 0.22 4:25 PM / 0.19 5:05 PM / 0.18 5:41 PM / 0.21 6:11 PM / 0.27 6:35 PM / 0.37 6:45 PM / 0.5 ---4:47 AM / 0.51 6:29 PM / 0.63 6:34 AM / 0.42 5:08 PM / 0.72 8:11 AM / 0.34 9:50 AM / 0.27 11:32 AM / 0.21 1:08 PM / 0.16 2:27 PM / 0.14 3:30 PM / 0.15 4:19 PM / 0.2 4:55 PM / 0.27 5:16 PM / 0.37 5:19 PM / 0.47 ---3:06 AM / 0.61 5:03 PM / 0.56 4:56 AM / 0.55 4:27 PM / 0.63 ----

SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 65


Pensacola Bay

East Pass Destin



11:58 AM / 1.4

8:44 PM / 0.6



11:25 AM / 0.7

8:10 PM / 0.2


2 12:46 PM / 1.2

8:29 PM / 0.7


2 12:13 PM / 0.6

7:55 PM / 0.2

2:20 AM / 0.9

7:06 AM / 0.8

Sa 3

1:41 PM / 1.1

7:58 PM / 0.8

Sa 3 S


2:03 AM / 1.1

8:51 AM / 0.8

2:53 PM / 0.9

7:04 PM / 0.9



1:47 AM / 0.5

6:32 AM / 0.3

1:08 PM / 0.5

7:24 PM / 0.3

1:30 AM / 0.5

8:17 AM / 0.3

2:20 PM / 0.5

6:30 PM / 0.3



2:08 AM / 1.2

10:23 AM / 0.7



1:35 AM / 0.6

9:49 AM / 0.2



2:26 AM / 1.3

11:57 AM / 0.6



1:53 AM / 0.6

11:23 AM / 0.2

W 7

2:56 AM / 1.4

1:35 PM / 0.6

W 7

2:23 AM / 0.7

1:01 PM / 0.2



3:36 AM / 1.5

3:02 PM / 0.5



3:03 AM / 0.7

2:28 PM / 0.2



4:28 AM / 1.5

4:09 PM / 0.4



3:55 AM / 0.7

3:35 PM / 0.1

Sa 10

5:31 AM / 1.6

5:04 PM / 0.3

Sa 10

4:58 AM / 0.8

4:30 PM / 0.1

S 11

6:39 AM / 1.6

5:49 PM / 0.3

S 11

6:06 AM / 0.8

5:15 PM / 0.1

M 12

7:47 AM / 1.6

6:29 PM / 0.3

M 12

7:14 AM / 0.8

5:55 PM / 0.1

T 13

8:52 AM / 1.7

7:05 PM / 0.3

T 13

8:19 AM / 0.8

6:31 PM / 0.1

W 14

9:56 AM / 1.6

7:35 PM / 0.4

W 14

9:23 AM / 0.8

7:01 PM / 0.1

T 15 11:02 AM / 1.5

7:59 PM / 0.6

T 15 10:29 AM / 0.8

7:25 PM / 0.2

F 16 12:14 PM / 1.4

8:09 PM / 0.8

F 16 11:41 AM / 0.7

7:35 PM / 0.2

S 17

1:10 AM / 0.9

6:11 AM / 0.8

S 17 12:37 AM / 0.4

5:37 AM / 0.3

1:39 PM / 1.2

7:53 PM / 0.9

1:06 PM / 0.6

7:19 PM / 0.3

Su 18 12:43 AM / 1.1

7:58 AM / 0.6

Su 18 12:10 AM / 0.5

7:24 AM / 0.2

3:52 PM / 1.1

6:32 PM / 1.1

3:19 PM / 0.5

5:58 PM / 0.4

M 19 12:51 AM / 1.3

9:35 AM / 0.5

M 19 12:18 AM / 0.6

9:01 AM / 0.2

T 20

1:21 AM / 1.5

11:14 AM / 0.4

T 20 12:48 AM / 0.7 10:40 AM / 0.1

W 21

2:05 AM / 1.6

12:56 PM / 0.3

W 21

1:32 AM / 0.8

12:22 PM / 0.1

T 22

3:01 AM / 1.7

2:32 PM / 0.2

T 22

2:28 AM / 0.8

1:58 PM / 0.1

F 23

4:06 AM / 1.7

3:51 PM / 0.2

F 23

3:33 AM / 0.9

3:17 PM / 0.1

S 24

5:22 AM / 1.7

4:54 PM / 0.2

S 24

4:49 AM / 0.8

4:20 PM / 0.1

Su 25

6:43 AM / 1.7

5:43 PM / 0.3

Su 25

6:10 AM / 0.8

5:09 PM / 0.1

M 26

8:02 AM / 1.6

6:19 PM / 0.4

M 26

7:29 AM / 0.8

5:45 PM / 0.1

T 27

9:15 AM / 1.5

6:40 PM / 0.5

T 27

8:42 AM / 0.7

6:06 PM / 0.2

W 28 10:22 AM / 1.3

6:43 PM / 0.7

W 28

9:49 AM / 0.7

6:09 PM / 0.2

T 29

1:10 AM / 0.9

4:30 AM / 0.9

T 29 12:37 AM / 0.5

3:56 AM / 0.3

11:30 AM / 1.2

6:27 PM / 0.8

10:57 AM / 0.6

5:53 PM / 0.3

F 30 12:13 AM / 1.1

6:20 AM / 0.8

11:40 PM / 0.5


12:45 PM / 1.1

5:51 PM / 0.9

F 30 12:12 PM / 0.5

5:46 AM / 0.3

11:59 PM / 1.2


11:26 PM / 0.6

5:17 PM / 0.3

66 | 800-597-6828 | SEPTEMBER 2016

Navarre Beach T F

1 2

Sa 3





T W T F Sa S M T W T

6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

F 16 Sa 17 S 18 M T W T F S Su M T

19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

W 28 T 29 F 30

10:15 AM / 1.3 12:33 AM / 0.7 10:59 AM / 1.2 12:29 AM / 0.8 11:44 AM / 1.1 10:19 PM / 0.9 12:41 PM / 1 10:55 PM / 1.1 2:04 PM / 0.9 11:38 PM / 1.2 ---12:26 AM / 1.3 1:18 AM / 1.4 2:17 AM / 1.5 3:19 AM / 1.5 4:23 AM / 1.6 5:29 AM / 1.6 6:38 AM / 1.6 7:50 AM / 1.6 9:07 AM / 1.6 11:20 PM / 1 10:25 AM / 1.5 11:23 PM / 1.1 11:44 AM / 1.3 11:16 PM / 1.2 1:07 PM / 1.2 9:48 PM / 1.4 10:28 PM / 1.6 11:19 PM / 1.7 ---12:17 AM / 1.8 1:22 AM / 1.8 2:34 AM / 1.8 3:55 AM / 1.7 5:45 AM / 1.6 7:43 AM / 1.5 10:41 PM / 0.9 9:00 AM / 1.4 10:41 P / 1 10:04 AM / 1.3 10:40 PM / 1 11:05 AM / 1.2 8:28 PM / 1.1


5:04 PM / 0.6 3:21 AM / 0.6 5:13 PM / 0.6 4:22 AM / 0.6 5:24 PM / 0.7 ----5:22 AM / 0.6 5:29 PM / 0.8 6:28 AM / 0.6 5:15 PM / 0.8 7:50 AM / 0.7 11:08 AM / 0.6 12:52 PM / 0.6 1:45 PM / 0.5 2:30 PM / 0.5 3:10 PM / 0.5 3:46 PM / 0.5 4:12 PM / 0.5 4:16 PM / 0.6 4:10 PM / 0.7 ----2:30 AM / 0.8 4:14 PM / 0.8 3:42 AM / 0.7 4:23 PM / 0.9 4:52 AM / 0.7 4:32 PM / 1 6:06 AM / 0.6 7:38 AM / 0.5 11:52 AM / 0.4 1:00 PM / 0.3 2:02 PM / 0.3 2:59 PM / 0.3 3:51 PM / 0.4 4:37 PM / 0.5 4:58 PM / 0.7 ----12:47 AM / 0.9 3:13 PM / 0.7 2:03 AM / 0.8 3:21 PM / 0.8 3:05 AM / 0.7 3:34 PM / 0.9

Panama City T F

1 2

Sa 3 S




T W T F Sa S M T W T F

6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Sa 17 S 18 M T W T F S Su M T W

19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

T 29 F 30

11:33 AM / 1.5 7:05 PM / 0.8 4:24 AM / 0.9 1:02 AM / 1 12:26 PM / 1.4 6:57 PM / 0.9 5:49 AM / 0.9 1:09 AM / 1.1 6:54 PM / 1 1:19 PM / 1.3 7:07 AM / 0.9 1:15 AM / 1.2 6:22 PM / 1 2:14 PM / 1.2 12:56 AM / 1.3 8:30 AM / 0.8 5:47 PM / 1 3:20 PM / 1.1 12:48 AM / 1.4 9:56 AM / 0.8 1:17 AM / 1.5 11:27 AM / 0.7 1:56 AM / 1.6 2:16 PM / 0.7 2:42 AM / 1.6 3:21 PM / 0.6 3:40 AM / 1.6 4:05 PM / 0.5 4:55 AM / 1.7 4:42 PM / 0.5 6:35 AM / 1.7 5:13 PM / 0.5 7:59 AM / 1.7 5:41 PM / 0.5 9:09 AM / 1.7 6:03 PM / 0.6 10:19 AM / 1.6 6:20 PM / 0.7 3:30 AM / 1 12:19 AM / 1 11:32 AM / 1.5 6:31 PM / 0.9 12:24 AM / 1.1 5:13 AM / 0.9 6:26 PM / 1 12:47 PM / 1.4 12:31 AM / 1.2 6:42 AM / 0.8 2:05 PM / 1.3 5:26 PM / 1.1 12:25 AM / 1.4 8:16 AM / 0.7 12:18 AM / 1.6 9:56 AM / 0.6 12:50 AM / 1.7 11:48 AM / 0.5 1:35 AM / 1.8 1:37 PM / 0.4 2:27 AM / 1.8 2:54 PM / 0.4 3:34 AM / 1.8 3:52 PM / 0.4 6:02 AM / 1.7 4:39 PM / 0.5 7:32 AM / 1.6 5:16 PM / 0.6 8:41 AM / 1.5 5:34 PM / 0.7 9:44 AM / 1.4 5:00 PM / 0.9 ---10:57 PM / 1.1 3:40 AM / 1 10:46 AM / 1.3 4:51 PM / 1 11:04 PM / 1.2 11:51 AM / 1.2 4:50 AM / 0.9 4:48 PM / 1 11:13 PM / 1.3


Biloxi Bay /




2 12:32 PM / 1.6

Sa 3 S


11:46 AM / 1.8

8:17 PM / 0.8 8:07 PM / 1

2:40 AM / 1.2

5:36 AM / 1.2

1:20 PM / 1.5

7:35 PM / 1.1

2:02 AM / 1.4

7:43 AM / 1.1

2:22 PM / 1.3

6:31 PM / 1.2 9:43 AM / 1.1



2:00 AM / 1.5



2:17 AM / 1.7

12:01 PM / 1

W 7

2:46 AM / 1.8

1:46 PM / 0.8



3:26 AM / 1.9

2:50 PM / 0.7



4:17 AM / 2

3:41 PM / 0.6

Sa 10

5:18 AM / 2.1

4:25 PM / 0.5

S 11

6:25 AM / 2.2

5:07 PM / 0.5

M 12

7:35 AM / 2.2

5:46 PM / 0.5

T 13

8:42 AM / 2.2

6:22 PM / 0.6

W 14

9:48 AM / 2.2

6:56 PM / 0.7

T 15 10:53 AM / 2.1

7:24 PM / 0.9

F 16 12:04 PM / 1.9

7:39 PM / 1.1

S 17

1:32 AM / 1.3

5:21 AM / 1.2

1:29 PM / 1.7

7:25 PM / 1.4

Su 18 12:53 AM / 1.5

7:25 AM / 1.1

3:59 PM / 1.5

5:42 PM / 1.5

M 19 12:54 AM / 1.8

9:19 AM / 0.9

T 20

1:20 AM / 2.1

11:12 AM / 0.7

W 21

2:01 AM / 2.3

12:53 PM / 0.6

T 22

2:52 AM / 2.4

2:14 PM / 0.5

F 23

3:52 AM / 2.5

3:21 PM\ / 0.4

S 24

5:01 AM / 2.4

4:19 PM / 0.5

Su 25

6:21 AM / 2.3

5:08 PM / 0.6

M 26

7:47 AM / 2.2

5:47 PM / 0.8

T 27

9:08 AM / 2.1

6:15 PM / 0.9

W 28 10:22 AM / 1.9

6:27 PM / 1.1

T 29 11:31 AM / 1.8

6:18 PM / 1.3

F 30 12:30 AM / 1.5

5:29 AM / 1.3

12:44 PM / 1.7

5:45 PM / 1.5

Pascagoula T F

1 2

Sa 3



M T W T F Sa S M T W T F

5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

S 17

Su 18 M T W T F S Su M T W T

19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

F 30

10:28 AM / 1.2 7:14 PM / 0.5 3:04 AM / 0.6 5:11 AM / 0.6 11:08 AM / 1.1 6:59 PM / 0.6 2:20 AM / 0.7 6:12 AM / 0.6 2:04 PM / 1 7:16 PM / 0.6 11:36 PM / 0.8 ---2:57 PM / 0.9 7:15 AM / 0.5 ---7:32 PM / 0.7 12:21 AM / 1 8:19 AM / 0.5 1:11 AM / 1.1 9:24 AM / 0.4 1:54 AM / 1.2 10:40 AM / 0.4 2:34 AM / 1.3 11:57 AM / 0.3 3:14 AM / 1.4 1:02 PM / 0.3 4:03 AM / 1.4 4:01 PM / 0.2 5:19 AM / 1.4 4:45 PM / 0.1 6:38 AM / 1.4 5:19 PM / 0.1 7:48 AM / 1.4 5:50 PM / 0.1 8:59 AM / 1.4 6:13 PM / 0.2 10:09 AM / 1.3 6:21 PM / 0.4 1:58 AM / 0.7 5:02 AM / 0.6 12:16 PM / 1.2 6:31 PM / 0.5 1:31 AM / 0.7 6:06 AM/ 0.5 2:06 PM / 1 6:46 PM / 0.7 11:17 PM / 0.9 ---3:26 PM / 0.9 7:15 AM / 0.3 ---6:51 PM / 0.9 11:47 PM / 1.1 8:27 AM / 0.2 12:31 AM / 1.3 9:55 AM / 0.1 1:22 AM / 1.5 12:09 PM / 0 2:08 AM / 1.6 1:17 PM / 0 2:51 AM / 1.6 2:51 PM / 0 3:36 AM / 1.5 4:38 PM / 0 4:36 AM / 1.4 5:15 PM / 0.1 6:04 AM / 1.3 5:40 PM / 0.2 9:05 AM / 1.2 6:00 PM / 0.4 10:19 AM / 1.1 6:11 PM / 0.5 1:43 AM / 0.7 3:51 AM / 0.6 11:22 AM / 1 5:21 PM / 0.6 11:49 PM / 0.7 ---12:48 PM / 1 4:53 AM / 0.5 9:48 PM / 0.9 5:26 PM / 0.7 ----

September 2016 Sunrise / Sunset 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

7:09 PM 7:07 PM 7:06 PM 7:05 PM 7:03 PM 7:02 PM 7:01 PM 6:59 PM 6:58 PM 6:57 PM 6:55 PM 6:54 PM 6:53 PM 6:51 PM 6:50 PM

6:20 AM 6:21 AM 6:21 AM 6:22 AM 6:22 AM 6:23 AM 6:24 AM 6:24 AM 6:25 AM 6:26 AM 6:26 AM 6:27 AM 6:27 AM 6:28 AM 6:29 AM

16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

6:29 AM 6:30 AM 6:31 AM 6:31 AM 6:32 AM 6:32 AM 6:33 AM 6:34 AM 6:34 AM 6:35 AM 6:36 AM 6:36 AM 6:37 AM 6:38 AM 6:38 AM

6:49 PM 6:47 PM 6:46 PM 6:45 PM 6:43 PM 6:42 PM 6:41 PM 6:39 PM 6:38 PM 6:37 PM 6:35 PM 6:34 PM 6:33 PM 6:31 PM 6:30 PM

GET THE COMPLETE PACKAGE. FOR LESS. 3032E Compact Tractor Package • 31.4 hp† Compact Tractor • 18' Trailer • Rotary Cutter • Box Blade (not pictured)




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*Offer ends 09/30/16. Prices and model availability may vary by dealer. Excludes sales tax. Some restrictions apply;other special rates and terms may be available, so see your dealer for details and other financing options. Available at participating dealers while supplies last. Manufacturer’s estimate of power (ISO) per 97/68/EC.

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SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 67


Steve Roberts, beach side topwater action at it’s best.

Stephen & Jayda Fisher. That was her first blackfish!

Brandon Bland and a stud crappie from the Mobile-Tensaw Delta.

Randy Turner of Ga. lands his trophy while out with Capt. David Hare on Lake Martin.

Trenton Brannan with two redfish.

David Donald with his first “Pier” king caught off the Gulf State Park Pier in Gulf Shores.

Ian Ankersen and a full moon night fishing with my brothers in South Mobile Bay.

68 | 800-597-6828 | SEPTEMBER 2016

Lance Sarvold caught this bull red in Mobile Bay on a 10-pound line, awesome fight! Brandon Smith caught 8 of these garfish while trying to catfish!

Alan Williams caught his first black drum in Bayou La Batre.

Todd Milbrath and his all time record of 10.5-pound from a private pond.

Josh Henderson with a 33-inch snapper south of Dauphin Island.


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Simply by posting your best shot to our @ Great Days Outdoors Magazine, Weekly winners will receive a gift certificate to a restaurant.


Post, Email, or Mail your best shot to us for a chance to win Photo of the Month! Monthly winner will receive a FREE Subscription to Great Days Outdoors Magazine. Final Decision is made by the editorial Staff of Great Days Outdoors Magazine. Submitting a photo does not guarantee it will be published.

When Submitting Trophy Room photos, be sure to include as much information as possible about the person and the trophy. Please include you address so that we can send you a free subscription if you are Photo of the Month. SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 69

Hannah McIlwain with her first catch. “Whata you mean we’re out of bait and we have to go!!”

Jesse Jones and Avery Jones, 2 years old, with a 4-pound 7-ounce flounder.

Brian Rowe Jr. and a nice catch!

Brenna Stevens with her 6.35lb winning Speckled Trout from the Christ the King Inshore Classic.

Colby Milbrath, with his all time record 8-pound bass on his 1st cast of the day!

Colt Martiniere with a flounder.

70 | 800-597-6828 | SEPTEMBER 2016

Brayden Schwartz with a 7-pound bass he caught.

Chandler Matthew Boyington with a nice flounder.

Jackson Olsen, age 12, caught this big bass on a private lake.

Eli Lores and a big red snapper!

James Jerkins II caught his first speck during be Roy Martin Jr tournament.

Zac Bentley and his catch.

Luke Whittington, age 8, of Memphis TN, with a limit of Fowl River redfish.

Harrison Byrd, caught this 50-pound black drum after 30 minutes of reeling it in!

Zane Bentley and his catch.

SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 71


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Go Deep to Catch Big Stripers BY CAPT. DAVID HARE

Striped bass like cooler water temperatures so they go deep during the warmest months. In September, we still see some hot days in Alabama, so stripers hang out in the deeper water trying to stay cool. At Lake Martin near Alexander City, big stripers mostly stay in the deeper, clearer water at the southern end of the lake. At this time of year, I start looking for striped bass in about 60 to 70 feet of water, but they’ll suspend about 40 to 50 feet deep. I like live bait for catching big stripers, but people can also catch stripers by trolling with spoons on downriggers. During the hot months, we need to get baits deep to catch stripers. I typically use a 6- to 7-inch gizzard shad in September. Sometimes, we use black salties or even bream for bait. Tie a 2- to 3-ounce weight to the end of the

Captain Dana’s G U I DE S E RVI CE In-shore Fishing

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trout, flounder & redfish

A-TEAM FishAindgventures Fishing Out of Dauphin Island & Bayou La Batre Captain Bobby Abruscato (251)


line. Below the weight, tie a 2- to 3-foot fluorocarbon leader tipped with a circle hook. Don’t forget to check the bait frequently because at this depth, baitfish won’t survive for very long. Whether fishing with live bait or lures, first find the fish with electronics. Using good electronics is the key to catching stripers in hot weather. If people don’t have good electronics, they are just wasting their time. When I determine the depth that stripers prefer, I don’t drop the bait right to that depth. Instead, I drop the bait about three to four feet above the fish. Stripers will only come up to feed, but they won’t go down. With good electronics, we can sometimes watch a fish take the bait on the unit screen. The bite can be awesome at this time of year, but we have to get on the water early. I like to be over the fishing spot when it starts getting light. We’ve caught some monster striped bass on Lake Martin. It’s not unusual for Alex City Guide Service to put clients on monster stripers on a regular basis. Some of these reach up to 55 inches and weigh more than 50 pounds. (EDITOR’S NOTE: David Hare of Alex City Guide Service guides on Lake Martin. People can book a trip with David by calling 256-401-3089. On line, see

Shady Lady Tuna Trips Out of Zeke’s Marina in Orange Beach, AL.

850.516.9760 UNA FALL T G H FIS IN

Also Booking Deer, Turkey, Hog & Dove Hunts

Capt. Richard Rutland 251-459-5077 SEPTEMBER 2016 | 800-597-6828 | 73


A SURE THING by J. Wayne Fears Illustration by Christine LaGrassa

t was a serious problem, the second week of September, and we were plum out of .22 ammo. Squirrel season was just a few weeks away. Chipmunk, Punky nor I had any money to buy cartridges and we were out scouting for odd jobs or anything that would bring in enough cash to purchase three boxes of .22 Shorts from the crossroads store. On Friday afternoon, we stopped by the store to see if Mr. Miller would float us a loan for some ammo. He said no, but that if we would come up with enough fresh caught catfish for him and Mrs. Miller to have a meal; he would trade us three boxes of .22 Shorts for the fish. What a break! We knew a deep pool in Hurricane Creek where we could always count on catching a few skillet size catfish and it wasn’t far from the store. With any luck at all, tomorrow we would deliver Mr. Miller a fresh mess of catfish and we, in return, would have ammo for the opening day of squirrel season. Leaving the store excited, I stated loudly, “This was a sure thang!” The gang agreed. We went straight to Punky’s dad’s barn and started digging worms and laying plans for a fishing expedition early the next morning. Snotty Morring, an overweight boy our age, who seldom ever changed his overalls and always was wiping his nose, joined us while we were digging worms. He came over to show us his new Benjamin pump air rifle given to him by a rich aunt for his birthday. We were envious and each took a turn pumping and shooting the powerful air rifle. Soon we lost interest in the new air rifle and returned to digging worms. Snotty helped and asked to join us the next morning. We welcomed him after Chipmunk made it clear he was not a part


of the deal with Mr. Miller. Snotty didn’t care and just wanted to go with us and shoot his fancy new air rifle. The next morning at daybreak we, each with a cane pole rigged for catfishing, met at Mr. Bailes barn and started walking up the creek to the Green Hole. This hole was famous for being a great place to catch catfish and we could already see the shiny new boxes of Peters .22 Short cartridges that would be ours before the day was over. My dog Skipper was with us, and as we neared the Green Hole, we heard Skipper barking. He had treed something. Off all four of us went at a run. On the bank of the creek at the Green Hole, Skipper was trying to climb a big willow. Out on a big limb overhanging the creek was a snow-white Green Hole possum. It was too good to be true. That possum, if we could get it, would be worth enough to buy several boxes of cartridges. Women would be willing to buy the meat and the hide would bring a couple or more dollars. The challenge was to get it off that limb before it fell into the deep hole of dark green water. As we pitched our cane poles down and began to come up with a plan to catch the possum, we heard the crack of the Benjamin Pump rifle and a splash in the water. Snotty took it upon himself to shoot the possum. We raced to the creek bank to see the white possum disappear under the water. Before we could say anything Chipmunk had his overalls off and dove into the water at the point we last saw the possum. While Punky scolded Snotty for shooting, I watched for Chipmunk to come up holding a possum. For what seemed like an eternity,

74 | 800-597-6828 | SEPTEMBER 2016

Chipmunk finally surfaced shouting that he couldn’t see under the water. “I need to stay under longer so I can feel for the possum with my hands,” he shouted. “I saw a short section of old hose pipe back at Mr. Bailes barn,” Snotty stated. “I will run to get it so Chipmunk can put it in his mouth and breath through it.” Off he ran and soon he was back with the length of hose. We unrolled it and while I held one end of it high above my head, Chipmunk put the other end in his mouth and disappeared under the green water. He no longer had gone out of sight in the water when giant bubbles arose from the water. Chipmunk shot up from the surface spitting out of his mouth a huge roach bug that had been in the pipe. As Chipmunk gagged Punky shouted, “Look in the water just below Snotty!” There the big white possum clung to a pile of brush very much alive. Snotty saw this as an opportunity to get back in our good graces. He dove into the creek next to the brush. He popped up right next to the snarling possum and grabbed for the tail, but his hand caught the belly hair and at the same time the possum bit the misplaced hand. Snotty screamed and flung the white beast downstream out of sight. As I looked at the bloody hand, full of tiny teeth holes, Snotty sobbed he was sorry the possum got away. Punky and Chipmunk retrieved our fishing poles and we started fishing in a creek hole that had been churned into froth with activity. We fished all day and never got a bite. That day we learned there is nothing that is a sure thing!


Great Days Outdoors - September 2016  

Alabama's #1 Outdoors Monthly

Great Days Outdoors - September 2016  

Alabama's #1 Outdoors Monthly