Gun deer hunting season kicks off Saturday

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Gun deer hunting season kicks off in Alabama on Saturday. It’s a big deal for hunters and an even bigger deal for the state.

This season will be vastly different from the past. Deer season will run through February 10, giving hunters 10 extra days to bring in that big buck.

Also new this season, hunters will have to use a mandatory game check system.

Hunters have 48 hours to report harvests using the Outdoor Alabama app, calling a toll-free number or online. Hunters will have to document the type of animal, sex and whether it was taken on public or private land, along with a hunting license number.

For years, hunting has been a male-dominated sport but in recent years, the growth of women hunters has actually outpaced the rate of male hunters. As a result, more companies are catering to women, offering protective vests, rifles and other hunting gear.

Kate Lee McDonnell says she’s happy to change the idea of who most people think of as a hunter.

“I like the unexpected surprise of people not knowing, but I definitely think it’s something every woman should try it’s definitely not just something for the boys,” said McDonnell.

McDonnell says she uses hunting as a way to disconnect from the world and instead connect with her family.

Hunters from all over the country are expected to flock to Alabama for gun deer hunting season. Alabama has one of the longest seasons.

According to a 2013 Hunting in America report, the state makes about $1.18 billion in sales related to hunting. Outdoor sporting businesses see proof of how big the industry is in the state.

“Huge business for the state of Alabama, whether it’d be guys and girls coming in and spending money on licenses, they’ve got to stay somewhere, they’ve got to eat somewhere while they’re here in the state, so we’ve got several months of this huge population of people coming into the state,” said Jeremy Hopkins with Mark’s Outdoors.

Hopkins encourages hunters to make sure they have the right safety gear ahead of the big kick-off weekend. He says every hunter should have an orange hat and a vest. It’s required by law that hunters wear 144 square inches of blaze orange.

“Unfortunately we hear every year we hear of these incidents where hunters fall out of tree stands and are injured or even killed so if you’re going to be climbing a stand this weekend make sure you have your safety vest on while you’re climbing and carry your cell phone with you, let someone know where you’re going,” said Hopkins.

Hopkins says although the state in experiencing severe drought conditions, he doesn’t think it’ll impact the hunting season. If anything, he says it could cause hunters to change up their strategies.

For more information on all of the regulations and changes to the gun deer hunting season, click here.

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