2 years ago

Why Are There Fewer Alabama Hunters Than Ever Before and Who’s Missing Out?

by Mr. Corky Pugh

Throughout modern history, Alabama, like many of its southern neighbors, has benefited from hunting. In addition to hunting pumping 2-billion dollars into the Alabama economy each year, the positive contributions of hunters on the culture and the conservation of natural resources are irreplaceable. Perhaps most of all, generations of Alabamians have used hunting as a way to create family memories and build bonds that represent a healthy and positive activity in which parents not only spend time with their children but teach them invaluable life lessons.

Nevertheless, Alabama is in the midst of a deeply-concerning, decades-long decline in hunters.

This decline is driven by numerous factors that range from urbanization to social trends. What’s more, many activities compete for discretionary time. Moreover, just as the kids who once played backyard football now spend more time in front of a video game console, our entire society has likewise moved inside, becoming increasingly disconnected from the natural world.

To paraphrase Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, a highly-informative book about what Louv refers to as “nature deficit disorder”:  When we were growing up, we knew every root and stick and stone on the footpaths behind our houses. Today’s children have never even been on those footpaths.

Another factor is that the cost of hunting has grown higher and higher over the years, as the economic value was attached to hunting land and related recreational opportunity. The days of free or nominally-priced hunting permits for thousands of acres of land are only a foggy memory.

Cost is a determining factor for most Alabama hunters. Demographic research by the most qualified experts in the country clearly shows that the vast majority of Alabama hunters are not advantaged economically, educationally, or otherwise. In other words, the rank and file hunter in Alabama can’t afford to purchase or lease land, or even join a hunting club, so they are left to the use of public land or an occasional invitation from someone with permission to private land.

The State of Alabama has been and continues to be a national leader in hunting recruitment and retention programs. Here are a few examples:

• Alabama’s Youth Dove Fields have set a standard for other states to follow and are lauded by experts across the country

• Special Youth Hunting Days and other hunter recruitment opportunities have been included in hunting seasons regulations. Special youth hunts are scheduled at places like the Stimpson Sanctuary in Clarke County.

• The Alabama Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation has partnered with the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division for many years to conduct youth events, and now even owns an incredible hunting property only a few minutes from Montgomery devoted to youth hunter recruitment.

• Alabama has been a leader nationally in partnership with the Archery Trade Association. The Archery in the Schools Program and Community Archery Parks offer excellent opportunities for this gateway activity to hunting.

• The State of Alabama has an aggressive land acquisition program through Forever Wild, and a “No-net-loss of public hunting land” statute is codified into the law of Alabama.

• Alabama offers game populations, hunting seasons, and bag limits that are the envy of most other states. Ample opportunities for hunting exist on private and public lands across the state. There are 33 intensively-managed Wildlife Management Areas, encompassing 756,000 acres from one end of the state to the other.

In spite of these wonderful efforts, Alabama’s hunting participation and hunting license sales continue to decline.

Once again, the vast majority of Alabama’s are hard-working, middle-class people. Most are only occasional participants; one-third do not even hunt as frequently as every year. That’s why it’s important that Alabama not build its hunting programs around avid, advantaged hunters, but around this much larger population of hunters who are increasingly being priced out of the market. What’s more, only ten percent of those who hunt in Alabama are nonresidents, and the overwhelming majority of our hunters will not travel more than one county away from where they live for hunting.

For these reasons, wise hunter retention programs should focus on factors that include the majority of Alabama hunters. Some key considerations:

Simplify hunting laws: Research shows that overly-complex rules and regulations negatively impact hunting participation, so simplifying these rules would encourage greater participation.

Treat All Hunters the Same: While gun deer hunters are the largest segment of our hunters, archery deer hunters,  fall turkey hunters, rabbit hunters, squirrel hunters, and other small-game hunters all deserve to have the opportunity to hunt at times when conditions are good.

Product-driven hunting regulations are a slippery slope, failing to recognize that most hunters cannot afford to go out and buy the latest fad or waste money on bait or feeders.

Hopefully, with wise efforts to encourage a culture of hunting in our state, Alabama can continue to foster this great endeavor for generations to come.

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About the Author: Mr. Corky Pugh spent 35 years working for the state of Alabama, 12 of which he served as Director of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. Mr. Pugh is now the executive director of the Hunting Heritage Foundation, an organization committed to keeping hunting opportunities available for all Alabamians.

42 mins ago

Montgomery launches ‘Feed the Meter for the Homeless’ project

Under the leadership of Mayor Steven L. Reed, new specialized parking meters were installed last week in downtown Montgomery to provide a quick, convenient way to support locals affected by homelessness.

Reed announced the meters were on the way during a recent city council meeting. Called the “Feed the Meter for the Homeless” project, the City’s new initiative is made possible through a partnership with the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless (MACH).

The special parking meters are green and offer residents a way to donate directly to support MACH and central Alabama agencies working with those experiencing homelessness in Alabama’s capital city. Donations will be accepted in the forms of coins or cash at each specialized meter and by card through the ParkMobile app (zone 36999) or online payment.

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“The Feed the Meter for the Homeless initiative connects compassion with convenience by allowing Montgomery residents and visitors to support our neighbors affected by homelessness and its devastating ramifications,” Reed said in a statement. “Each donation is a hand-up to help those in need and an investment in building a better future for Montgomery and the River Region.”

For more information on Feed the Meter for the Homeless MGM, please click here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Cathy Randall now serving on board of The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham

Dr. Cathy J. Randall, chairman of the board of Pettus Randall Holdings, LLC, is now serving as a board member for The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham.

The Women’s Fund made the announcement in a recent release, detailing that Randall term’s officially began on January 1. A Birmingham native and Tuscaloosa resident, she is a longtime, prominent civic and corporate leader, as well as the legendary former director of the University Honors Programs at the University of Alabama.

Tracey Morant Adams, board chair for The Women’s Fund, said in a statement, “The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham strives to elevate and amplify women’s voices, and we are incredibly fortunate to welcome Dr. Randall to our board as she is a well-established voice in the state.”

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“Cathy’s passion for community service and her experience in building a better Alabama will be a tremendous asset for the organization,” Adams added.

Randall’s service to the state includes being immediate past chairman of the Alabama Academy of Honor and former president of the boards of directors of the American Village, the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame and the David Mathews Center of Civic Life, as well as former director of Alabama Girls State.

Additionally, she currently serves on the board of Alabama Power Company and is a former board member of Mercedes Benz USI. Randall was the co-chair of Governor Kay Ivey’s inaugural committee and was named as a Woman of Impact by Yellowhammer Multimedia in 2018.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Sessions responds to ‘desperate and afraid’ Byrne and Tuberville — ‘Sad to see them both descend to such a sleazy low point’

With Alabama’s U.S. Senate Republican primary headed into the home stretch, the field’s three front-runners are beginning to mix it up among one another.

The first significant shot came from U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who on Saturday went up on air with an ad attacking both his leading opponents: former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville has thrown a few barbs as well while on the stump, including one at Sessions that accused him of having “turned on” President Donald Trump.

In a statement given to Yellowhammer News, Sessions condemned the tone of both Byrne and Tuberville, noting their positions in recent polling and describing their tacks as “sleazy.”

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“It is unfortunate that both Tommy Tuberville and Bradley Byrne have abandoned any pretense of running a positive campaign. But it is not surprising: both candidates are trailing in the polls, and when politicians like Tuberville and Byrne are losing, they become desperate and afraid,” Sessions stated. “Both Tuberville and Byrne have quit on themselves and their campaigns. Neither can connect with voters on the merits of their ideas. It is sad to see them both descend to such a sleazy low point.”

Sessions warned there would be a response if this activity persisted.

“If their baseless, desperate attacks continue, they will be forcefully answered,” he continued.

The former U.S. Senator maintained that Alabamians in this primary will be focused on substantive issues.

“The key issue for Alabamians is who will most effectively and forcefully fight for their conservative values and interests, such as ending illegal immigration, protecting our jobs from unfair foreign competition, defending religious freedom, and further advancing our strong Trump economy.”

Alabama Republican voters on March 3 will cast a ballot for their preference to represent them on the general election ballot in November.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

15 hours ago

Leaders, educators and students gather for Alabama’s 2nd Annual HBCU Summit

Alabama’s 2nd Annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Summit celebrated the state’s 14 HBCUs and the value they bring to higher education across our state and country. Saturday’s event, moderated by Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, was held at Miles College in Fairfield.

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The event kicked off with a panel discussion titled “Women in the Lead: How Six Alabama HBCU Presidents Are Raising the Bar.” The session included comments from:

“Extraordinary panel of women in leadership positions,” Jones said afterwards. “I think they provide unique insights to this. Just an amazing group of women that come from varied backgrounds — they came from academics, but also from business, so it’s a unique perspective that is what is going on with HBCUs but also with higher education in general.”

The panelists touched on a number of topics, including ways to help more high school students and nontraditional students get enrolled, making the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) simpler to fill out, partnering with businesses to offer degrees and curriculum the businesses need and working together to elevate the communities they serve.

“That’s what we pride ourselves on is that the benefit of being an HBCU is that … you may not have these large classrooms like you have (elsewhere), but you have teachers that know your name, teachers that care,” Archie said. “We’re going to give you that pep talk when you need that pep talk and we’re going to help you achieve.”

It is that level of concern for students that stood out to Jones.

“These female leaders are so dynamic and so passionate about what they do,” Jones said. “They care so much about their students and their communities. They really represent the best of all HBCUs. HBCUs are the fabric of the communities and I think you saw that reflected here today.”

The summit also featured a career fair and an afternoon panel discussion titled “Student Voices: How Alabama HBCU Student-Leaders Are Lifting Up Their Campuses.” The panel, moderated by Jones, featured students from Miles College, Alabama A&M University, Shelton State Community College, Talladega College and Trenholm State Community College.

“Trying to educate and train the workforce of the 21st century is going to be a challenge,” Jones said. “We’re changing technologically, we’re changing demographically, we’re online — everything is moving in a different direction. Education has got to keep up with that, but also so do businesses. They’ve also got to start reaching out and develop those partnerships to not only train, but to mentor. I think you heard that today.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

16 hours ago

VIDEO: Trust in government was lost long ago, Jeff Sessions leads GOP field while Jones trails all, Birmingham’s battle over monuments and more on Alabama Politics This Week

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Alabama Democratic Executive Committee member Lisa Handback take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Is President Donald Trump causing mistrust in government or is he exploiting that lack of trust?

— With new polls out, does Jeff Sessions have the GOP race locked up and does Doug Jones even have a chance?

— Is Birmingham’s mayor boosting his profile while continuing the fight over a Confederate monument?

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Jackson and Handback are joined by Secretary of State John Merrill to discuss the latest report by the Southern Poverty Law Center that claims Alabama is suppressing voters and Merrill’s willingness to take on more responsibility at the Secretary of State’s office.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” at the waste of millions of dollars Alabama municipalities spend on “public notices” because of a series of outdated laws requiring publication of voter rolls and public notices in local newspapers.

Alabama Politics This Week – 2/16/20

VIDEO: Trust in government was lost long ago, Jeff Sessions leads GOP fields while Jones trails all, Birmingham's battle over monuments has no real purpose and more on Alabama Politics This Week

Posted by Yellowhammer News on Friday, February 14, 2020

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.