You are on page 1of 59

Official Publication of the ACEOA

WWW.ACEOA.ORG

EDITOR:
Gayle Morrow

PUBLISHER:
Brent-Wyatt West
8436 Crossland Loop, Suite 207
Montgomery, Alabama 36117

SALES OFFICES:
Chris Banks / Jim Downing
8436 Crossland Loop, Suite 207
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
(334) 213-6229

SUMMER 2015

in this issue...
2014 2016 State Officers and Directors  3
From the President  5
From the Trenches  7
The Buckmasters Expo 2015  9
Beyond The Basics  13

ON THE COVER

ACEOA District 4 Dinner  27

Seven officers from the Alabama Marine Resources


Division received First Responder Citations on April
25, 2015, from The Military Order of the Purple
Heart. The recognition was for resolute action and
service Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.

Alabama State Parks Newsletter  35


Rigs to Reefs  39
TallaCoosa Squirrel Hunt  43
Kids Get Hooked at Fishing Derby  49
Alligator Season  53
Blue Springs Youth Fishing Summer Kick-Off 2015  61
Talladega Sports WorldClass Marksmanship Park  67
Enjoying the World Beyond Cell Service  73
Snakes Part of Healthy Environment in Alabama  81
Annual Youth Forestry & Safety Field Day  87
Record Fish Indicate Great Saltwater Fishing  93
Pike County Kids Fishing Day Huge Success  99

ACEMagazine is the official publication of the


Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officer
Association. Purchase of advertising space
does not entitle the advertisers to any privileges
or favors from members. ACEMagazine does
not assume responsibility for statements of
fact or opinion made by any contributor.
This magazine is created and produced by
BrentWyatt West. Copyright 2015. 
All rights reserved.

Prescribed Fire Valuable Wildlife Management Tool  103


2015 Barbour County WMA Youth Hunt Successful  106
Ten Alabama State Parks Awarded Certificate of Excellence  109
Thank You Notes  110
Advertisers Index  111
Business Directory  115
ACEOA Magazine1

2014 2016 ACEOA State Officers


Executive Director

Rusty Morrow (Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Enforcement Retired)

2014 2016 ACEOA State Officers

Heath Walls President Vance Wood Vice President Chris Lewis Secretary/Treasurer
Chris Jaworowski Past President

DISTRICT I

Ernie Stephens Director Wendell Fulks Associate Director


Blount, Colbert, Cullman, Fayette, Franklin, L amar, L auderdale, L awrence, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Morgan, Walker, Winston

DISTRICT II

Scott Kellenberger Director Jerry Fincher Associate Director Joel Glover Associate Director
Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, DeK alb, Etowah, Jackson, Marshall, R andolph, St. Clair, Talladega, Tallapoosa

DISTRICT III

Grady Myers Director Cliff Robinson Associate Director


Autauga, Bibb, Chilton, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lowndes, Perry, Pickens, Shelby, Sumter, Tuscaloosa

DISTRICT IV

Tim Ward Director Patrick Norris Associate Director Rick Smith Associate Director
Barbour, Bullock, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Elmore, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lee, Macon, Montgomery, Pike, Russell

DISTRICT V

Don Reaves Director Joe Little Associate Director Bo Willis Associate Director
Baldwin, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Escambia, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, Washington, Wilcox

ACE Magazine
Gayle Morrow Editor

For questions about your District Director, ACEOA, or membership contact:


Rusty Morrow, P.O. Box 74, Lowndesboro, AL, 36752, (334) 3919113, rusty_morrow@yahoo.com

ACEOA Magazine3

From the President


By Heath Walls

ell, summer is winding down. The kids are


back in school, the fishing is a little slow, and
hunting season hasnt quite made it here yet.
I was fortunate enough to have been able to go with
my family to the beach a couple of times this summer.
Alabamas beaches are the best in the world in my opinion. I was also able to squeeze in a few fishing days.
Several of my friends and I take an annual kayak/canoe
fishing trip down the Coosa River; then go home and fry
them up. I didnt get a chance
this summer to go to Mount
Cheaha, but in the past Ive
enjoyed going there in the
summer because of the cooler
temperature that comes with
the change in elevation. Living
in a state with so much diversity in land types and outdoor
opportunities is something that
should make us all proud to
be Alabamians. There are few
other places that you can climb
mountains, see water falls, visit
caves, canoe through rapids,
go salt water or fresh water
fishing, hunt year round, ride in
a boat for miles, or leave from
one of our coastal marinas and
go anywhere in the world.
Through our Forever Wild
program and Alabama State Parks system the Department
of Conservation and Natural Resources tries to make as
many of these opportunities as possible open to and
affordable for the public. Please keep this in mind as
our state is still struggling with budget issues. Trying
to take money from Forever Wild, State Parks, and the

Department of Conservation has been mentioned several


times as part of the solution to the general fund budget
shortfall. The Department of Conservation is not funded
by the general fund; we are funded through license sales
and matching federal funds for specific projects, such
as public boat ramps. If the money is taken from the
Department of Conservation it is not only the loss of
those dollars but the loss of matching federal dollars that
would affect us and the services we provide to the public.

Thank you for your support of our Alabama


Conservation Enforcement Officer Association and for
supporting the Department of Conservation. I hope you
all have had a great summer and have a safe and enjoyable hunting season.
l

ACEOA Magazine5

From the Trenches


By Rusty Morrow, ACEOA Executive Director

t seems these summer months get shorter and


shorter. Im sure the school kids would agree. But
with summer nearly behind us, I really look forward
to the fall and cooler weather. Yes, and Im looking forward to football season. Living in a divided household
I have to be supportive
of Alabama and Auburn.
We Auburn fans are
expecting a great year.
Summer has been
busy for our officers and
our sponsored events
across the state. This
magazine has featured
several of those events.
ACEOA really enjoys
taking part in these fun
times for the kids.
Politics in Alabama is
not a good subject right
now; but I must devote
a quick paragraph or
two to the topic. The
Governor and the Legislature remain at odds and you
wonder when they will come to an agreement. I only hope
they leave our State Parks and DCNR out of the equation.
Our funds are earmarked and are not drawn from the
general fund. If ever these funds were diverted or used

for something unintended we could lose federal matching


funds. This could end services that the public depends on
(law enforcement, wildlife restoration and more.)
State parks struggle all the time but it seems the
Legislature always seems to relieve them of any funds
they may accrue. I ask
that they let them grow
and prosper. Those of
you that utilize our State
Parks can appreciate just
how great they are. Think
how better they would be
if they werent operating
on a shoe string.
I hope you enjoyed
your summer. Well be
getting ready for the fall.
Our next magazine will
feature all the fall and
winter events.
Again I would like
to thank you for your
unwavering support for
ACEOA. We could not do it without you. You are the Life
Line of this Association. I will leave you with this Quote.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed
in overalls and looks like work. ~ Thomas Edison

ACEOA Magazine7

The Buckmasters
Expo 2015
By Rusty Morrow, ACEOA Executive Director

CEOA was on hand at the Buckmasters


Expo last weekend. As usual, we had
a great time and got to renew old friendships. It was a great opportunity to show all the
visitors the great things ACEOA does.
I appreciate all the help in the booth. Heath
Walls, Jerry Fincher, Joel Glover and Chris Lewis
helped greet the crowd and answer questions.
As usual, Ken Jackson came from Birmingham
to assist.
The cheerleaders from Lowndes Academy, Eva
Marie Stinson, Laura Jean McCurdy, and Sara Anna
McIntosh sold a lot of raffle tickets and we certainly appreciate their help. We also appreciated
the help of Jana Stinson. We have found that those
cute girls do a lot better job selling tickets than
a bunch of old guys.
We raised $575 for Buckmasters American Deer
Foundation. This money will be used by BADF to help
special needs hunters at the Life Hunt. They really do
a great job and we are glad to support them whenever
we can. The .22 caliber rifle was won by Ken Smithson of

Noah and Rusty.

Pike Road, Alabama. His 10-year-old may have already


taken it away from him. Congratulation, Ken!
I had an opportunity to talk to Ray Scott (Founder of
continued on 11

ACEOA Magazine9

10ad8

Happy Jack Tires

WALKER PATTON
COMPANY, INC.

1728 Alabama Hwy. 20


Town Creek, AL 35672
256-685-2500
Bassmasters) when
he came by the booth. It is always

2689 Queenstown Road


Birmingham, AL 35210

Hub City Eye Care

Perry Home
Inspection

THE BUCKMASTERS EXPO 2015 continued

a pleasure seeing him. Bill Jordan (Realtree) stopped by


but he was so busy we didnt have time to get pictures.
He has to make a showing at each Realtree booth at the
Expo. Michael Wadell (Realtree) was on hand at the Expo
to sign autographs. Now, that is one popular guy. We
only got to speak but he is always a pleasure to see. We
have been friends for a while.
It was great to see Carrie Mason and Noah Walters.
B McAuliffe
Drive
These are our23050
Life Hunt
friends. Jackie
Bushman joined
Robertsdale,
AL
36567
in on the photo session with Carrie. Noah and Carrie are
my Heroes. They251-947-4300
have the strength of ten people.
Please enjoy the photos and be sure to join us next
year at the Expo. Well be there.
l

205-836-9899

P.O. Box 522


Guntersville, AL 35976
256-558-5337

Southern Restoration
Service, LLC
P.O. Box 1474 Roanoke, AL 36274

334-863-2000

ACEOA Magazine11

Beyond The Basics


By Gayle Morrow, ACEOA Editor

he Alabama Conservation
Officer is a government
employee assigned to management of freshwater fish, wildlife, marine resources, waterway
safety, state lands, and state parks.
Conservation officers are certified
at the state level as peace officers.
To ensure that wildlife is being protected, conservation officers have
a number of basic duties that they
must fulfill. These include, but are
not limited to, Law Enforcement,
licensing, patrolling, investigating
and education.
Most people do not realize that
our officers often go beyond the
basics in their everyday duties.
Because of their training in law
enforcement, their broad knowledge of Alabama land and waterways and their experience in search and rescue, they
are called upon when disaster strikes. They were there
in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. They were there during and after Hurricane Katrina. When the Gulf Oil Spill
devastated the Gulf Coast, your Alabama Conservation
Officers were there. They are your unsung heroes. They
have stories to tell that
you wont read in the
newspaper or see on
the nightly news. They
just quietly do their jobs
and walk away.
The 2015 Dauphin
Island Race on April
25, 2015, ended in
tragedy as the area
was hit with a sudden
storm that struck with
exceptional speed and

intensity. This system packed


a punch that would astonish even
veteran sailors. In a few hours, it
would hit the bay with the force of
a tropical storm (winds estimated
at 70 mph). The Coast Guard later
reported that 117 boats were on
the water. There were 476 sailors
on the water at the beginning of
the storm.
The day would end in turmoil,
with ships capsized, sailors lost
and a massive search-and-rescue
under way. Not all of them would
make it home, and many of those
who did would pass through
moments of terror. Six sailors lost
their lives that day. Those numbers could have been so much
worse if it had not been for the
first responders.
We estimate there were more than 40 rescues made
between the Coast Guard, state personnel (Marine
Resources and ALEA) and good Samaritans, Major
Bannon said. (Major Scott Bannon, Marine Resources
Chief of Enforcement.) Major Bannon also said that
Marine Resources dedicated about 500 man-hours to
the search, rescue
and recovery after the
storm, a task that is
high on the Enforcement
Sections list of duties.
Pl e a s e r e ad t h e
ar ticles written by
Dav id Rainer w ith
Alabama Department
of Conservation and
Natural Resources and
Lawrence Speckler with
AL.com.
l
ACEOA Magazine13

BEYOND THE BASICS continued

Rapid Response Saved Lives


at Dauphin Island Race
By David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,

s tragic as the storm-ravaged 2015 Dauphin Island


Enforcement Officer Steve Humphrey and I used one
Race was, it possibly could have been worse if
of our jet-drive boats to rescue the folks who had run
not for a rapid action by a team of emergenaground at the Dauphin Island Bridge. Then we were
cy responders.
able to hook a generator up so we could lower some of
Alabama Marine Resources Director Chris Blankenship
the smaller boats to start searching. Captain Willis found
was handing out awards for the Dauphin Island Gumbo
an overturned sailboat that was adrift and he towed it
Cookoff at the Alabama Deep Sea
Fishing Rodeo site, where many of
the sailors congregate after theyve
finished the sailboat race, when he
spotted the ominous clouds and felt
the extremely strong winds.
Blankenship took shelter in the
concrete-block rodeo building during the height of the storm and
called Major Scott Bannon, Marine
Resources Chief of Enforcement, and
told him to alert everyone available
to be ready to launch a rescue effort.
Chris called me and said, Scott,
youd better get some guys together.
This is going to be bad. There are
only 10 sailboats here, which means
A screen capture from a video shot by Marine Resources Director Chris Blankenship
there are more than 100 still in the
at the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo site shows the ferocity of the storm.
Bay. Bannon said. I called the
Coast Guard and it was chaos because they had so many
in. Captain Kornegay and Officer Kyle Clifford left from
calls coming in. I told them we were going to get some
Point Clear.
boats underway, and we would call and find out where
Kornegay and Clifford managed to find and rescue Ron
they needed them the most.
Gaston and first-time sailor Hana Blalack after the pair
Bannon called Glenn Kornegay, the captain in Baldwin
had spent more than two hours in the water.
County, and Bo Willis, the captain in Mobile County, and
With his people in the midst of the search effort on the
got them to round up members of the enforcement staff.
water, Bannon headed for the Coast Guard station on the
island to coordinate assets with the Coast Guard and the
Those available showed up at Dauphin Island to discover a hurdle in the response effort. The power was out
Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA).
on the island and most of the Marine Resources boats
We were trying to wrap our minds around how big
were on lifts that couldnt be lowered without power.
a picture this was, he said. The race was technically
continued on 17
We had to get creative, Bannon said. Conservation
ACEOA Magazine15

BEYOND THE BASICS Rapid Response Saved Lives at Dauphin Island Race continued

An overturned catamaran in the middle of Mobile Bay


is a reminder of the deadly storm that struck south
Alabama during the Dauphin Island Race on April 25.

over, so some of the boats had headed back to where


they launched. Some were headed to Dauphin Island, so
they were all over Mobile Bay.
Organizers brought the race applications to the station
and calls were made to determine the status of the 118
vessels that participated in the race, not including the
spectator boats. Seven vessels registered for the race
pulled out before the start.
We narrowed it down to 10 vessels that were sunk,
submerged or missing, Bannon said. While I was at
the Coast Guard base, we had good Samaritans picking
people up, and I talked to one guy who did not know
where his son was.
The missing son had been on the boat with 71-year-old
J.C. Brown and 17-year-old Adam Clark. Clarks body was
recovered. Browns body has not been recovered. The
bodies of four more sailors Kris Beall, 27, of Pineville,
La., Robert Delaney, 72, of Madison, MS, William Glenn
Massey, 67, of Daphne, and Robert Thomas, 50, of

Pickens, MSwere recovered after the race, making it


likely the worst regatta tragedy on record.
When I was at the base, a boat brought in two
survivors who were wearing inflatable PFDs (Personal
Flotation Devices), like we wear, Bannon said. They
were singing the praises of the PFDs and how well they
worked. The guy driving the boat that picked them up
said they stood out like a sore thumb.
That guy (Scott Godbold) knew some of the people
missing and he leaves about 9 oclock that night out of Billy
Goat Hole. He turns north and hears a voice in the dark.
The boat pulls up to 16-year-old Leonard Wooten, who
had been in the water for six hours with no life jacket
or flotation device of any kind. Godbold had previously
been Wootens Sea Scout Master.
I talked to him after they got back in, Bannon said.
I said, Leonard, you had two optionssink or swim.
You chose to swim. It was amazing.
Remarkably, Wootens six hours in the water had no
lasting effects on his health, other than fatigue.
The ambulance personnel checked him out and he
was fine, Bannon said of Wooten. He was walking
around. That was his father who was waiting at the Coast
Guard station.
By that time, many family members of the missing
sailors were showing up at Dauphin Island, a situation
the Coast Guard station was not prepared to handle.
Bannon called Blankenship, who called John Valentine
of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab to see if it could accommodate the family members awaiting word on the missing sailors.
In no time they had opened the Shelby Center and
told us to make ourselves at home, Bannon said. You
dont know how much that was a benefit to those families.
The Red Cross came down to bring cots and food. The
community brought food. State Troopers came down.
Bannon, Lt. Col. Tim Pullin of ALEA and a Coast Guard
representative would meet with the families on a regular
basis to provide updates on the search efforts.
By Thursday of that week, the responders had recovered an average of three boats a day and were able to
determine that no people were trapped in boats.
We estimate there were more than 40 rescues made
between the Coast Guard, state personnel (Marine
continued on 19
ACEOA Magazine17

BEYOND THE BASICS Rapid Response Saved Lives at Dauphin Island Race continued
Resources and ALEA) and good Samaritans, Bannon
said. Major operations stopped at sunset on Thursday.
We still send occasional patrols out to see if we can find
Mr. Brown.
The fury of the storm that turned a traditional fun day
on the water into a tragedy caught almost everybody
by surprise.
I was not on the water at the time, but I watched the
storm hit Baldwin County from my shop door. I sent
a text to my wife that the weather was about to get bad.
It hit before I had time to go 100 feet from my shop to
our house. I watched through the shop door as the 70
mile-per-hour winds toppled six trees onto my driveway.
People didnt grasp the severity of it, Bannon said.

The lessons we can learn from this are knowing


your skillset and experience and matching that with the
weather; and wearing that life jacket. The fact is wearing
life jackets save lives.
Bannon said Marine Resources dedicated about 500
man-hours to the search, rescue and recovery after the
storm, a task that is high on the Enforcement Sections list
of duties.
Even though some people call us the fish cops, we
always participate in search operations, Bannon said.
Its an important aspect of what we do because of the
local knowledge and assets we can bring to bear. We
understand the need to bring that loved one home to
their family.
l

Dauphin Island Regatta Disaster

By Lawrence Specker, AL.com

ike any other edition of the Dauphin Island Race,


the 2015 edition began with the race before the
race: The intense competition to gain the maximum advantage at the starting line as the seconds
counted down.
The moments before a regattas start can be alarming
for newcomers, as some of the most aggressive skippers
and crews on the water angle for tiny but significant
advantages. The scene can seem like sheer chaos: A flurry
of boats tacking back and forth in close proximity, sometimes passing within arms length of one another, their
crews working furiously to carry out rapid-fire orders.
Winning this game means being in position to surge
ahead just as the start is signaled.
Unknown to the regatta fleet on this Saturday, April 25,
2015, another clock already had begun its count down
toward a shocking, somber toll. The Coast Guard would
later report that about 476 sailors were on the water at
the start. Not all of them would make it home, and many
of those who did would pass through moments of terror.
The day would end in turmoil, with ships capsized,
sailors lost and a massive search-and-rescue under way.
What it would all mean for Mobiles Bays sailing community and its most storied race was unknown; grief was
palpable as darkness fell.

But now, on Saturday morning, what mattered to the


sailing crews was the regattas start. The first group of
boats blew it, crossing the line early and having to be
called back for a do-over.
The race had already suffered one significant delay. Now,
the fleet would fall another 30 minutes behind schedule.
These kinds of things happen a lot in sailing. Usually,
they arent a matter of life and death.

STORM WARNING
In retrospect, there were signs that the weather could
be problematic. Forecasts depicted a turbulent system
moving in from the west. Speaking with the advantage
of hindsight, Birmingham meteorologist James Spann
said Monday on his WeatherBrains blog that there was
ample notice. There was a watch, he said. There was
a specific marine warning. There was a severe thunderstorm warning clearly identifying the risk of very strong
straight-line winds.
But on Saturday morning, it was a fluke miscommunication that was the chief concern for regatta organizers at
Fairhope Yacht Club. According to accounts confirmed by
FYC Commodore Gary Garner, an erroneous notice that
the race had been canceled appeared on the FYC website.
continued on 21
ACEOA Magazine19

BEYOND THE BASICS Dauphin Island Regatta Disaster continued


The notice was taken down after about 30 minutes.
Still, it caused confusion, prompting organizers to push
the regattas start back an hour.
Between that postponement and the do-over, the race
eventually got under way at about 11 am, an hour and
a half behind the original timetable. The finish line was
18 miles to the southwest just the direction from which
the prevailing winds were coming. That guaranteed a long
day as boats tacked back and forth, beating their way
upwind. It also guaranteed the fleet would spread out,
particularly as it got south of Middle Bay Light.
Sailors whove spoken since the race have said that they
were aware of the oncoming storm system. The general
consensus seems to be that they thought they could either
outrun it, or handle whatever it threw at them. The Coast
Guard later reported that of 125 boats registered for the
regatta, only eight withdrew before the start.
Its worth noting that squalls are a fact of life, and
that sailors tend to be astute weather-watchers who
arent troubled by conditions that pleasure-boaters might
find appalling at least if they pass quickly, and on Mobile
Bay they usually do. But this system packed a punch that
would astonish even veteran sailors. In a few hours, it
would hit the bay with the force of a tropical storm. The
mornings seemingly insignificant delays would come to
seem like the work of fate.
As the storm approached from the west, radar began
to show a pattern called a bow echo. Jason Beaman,
a warning coordination meteorologist with the National
Weather Service in Mobile, said the arched formation can
be a precursor to particularly intense weather. Basically,
he said, the oncoming storm became most organized
over the bay.
Weather Channel celebrity Jim Cantore, speaking several days later, highlighted the issue: Whats interesting
is that they started the race late, he said. If they had
started it on time, I dont think they would have had to
deal with that weatherOnce you go late and once you
have that stuff coming at you, and youre in a watch,
youre playing with fire.
Certainly an extra 90 minutes would have allowed
some boats to make it back up the bay to their home
marinas, but dozens more would still have remained on
open water. Meanwhile, some of the boats that finished
would have proceeded on to Dauphin Islands Aloe Bay

to raft up for the post-race ceremonies and a traditional


party. The small bay is open to the west; cell phone
video shows a chaotic scene as the storm hit around
4 pm, with at least two large boats pulling loose from
their anchorage and drifting across the harbor. With
more boats packed together, that scene could have been
disastrous as well.

SUDDEN IMPACT
If theres one point of agreement, its that the storm
struck with exceptional speed and intensity. Not all the
crews were able to snatch down their sails and close
their hatches before it hit, and even those who did were
bowled over in many cases.
The impact of the storm is illustrated by a video
recorded aboard the 36-foot St. Somewhere. Aboard it,
Joshua Edwards had strapped a GoPro camera to his
head. At times in the video, the big Catalina heels over
even though its sails are down; at one point it passes
a boat that seems to be on its side. The St. Somewhere
ended up towing a beleaguered smaller boat home.
Wiley Ashley had already abandoned the race and
turned his 36-foot Beneteau westward toward home
when the squall bore down. He and girlfriend Christine
Kramer survived a wild ride, with wave action unlike
anything hed ever seen in the bay. Ashley said afterward,
I havent been that scared since 1966 when I was in
Vietnam and people were shooting at me.
Susan Kangal, skipper of the 34-foot Bora, described
conditions as all white, like a sheet. She hurried her
crew into the cabin. If anyone had come out of the hatch,
theyd have gone overboard, she said. It was like being
in a blender, just bucking.
The Bora heeled over far enough that the mainsail
dipped into the water, a perilous situation. Afterward,
the motor wouldnt start and the rudder was tangled
in pieces of the mainsailbut being towed home was
a small price to pay for survival.
Connor Gaston of Helena was with his dad, Shane
Gaston, on the most vulnerable boat imaginable, a flyweight 16-foot Hobie catamaran. The storm pushed the
boat over three times, he said, once so far that the mast
hit the bays bottom about 10 feet below and a section
broke off. Even in the worst of it, he said, his biggest fear
continued on 23
ACEOA Magazine21

BEYOND THE BASICS Dauphin Island Regatta Disaster continued


was lightning: Im sitting there on the boat waiting for
a flash and a bang, waiting for us to get hit, he said.
Once the winds eased, they were able to right the
damaged catamaran, sail to shore and call for help. At
that point Connor Gaston didnt yet know the fate of
his uncle and a companion. Their story was equally
remarkable: Ron Gaston and Hana Blalack, 15, a student
at Spanish Fort High School, were on a Hobie cat that
flipped. Fortunately they had a hand-held GPS unit and
a cell phone; after two and a half hours in the water,
they were able to guide Marine Police to their location.
Teen and sailor tell of capsizing and rescue in Dauphin
Island Regatta During the 2015 Dauphin Island Regatta
a storm capsized their small catamaran and put Hana
Blalack and Ron Gaston in the water. It was the first time
Blalack, 15, had been sailing. They had already
crossed the finish line and were heading back
when the storm overtook them. Later, after
they were rescued following two and
a half hours in the water, they learned
just how bad the day really was. Boats
were capsized, and sailors were dead
or missing.
Rob Eaves, Larry Goolsby and Tony
Cellamare likewise had a rough time
aboard a Catalina 22 named 4G. The boat was
knocked down twice and then run over by a bigger boat. Afterward, Cellamare was critical of the other
boats captain, whose identity is unknown: Technically
the guy left us for dead, he said. The three men, clinging to one life ring, were rescued by the sailboat Light
O Mobile.
The 26-foot Scoundrel had finished the race and was
headed north when it was knocked horizontal, said
owner Lee Creekmore. He went into the water to let
down the sails, and as he did so, the boat righted itself.
But crewmember Kris Beall was trailing behind, holding
onto a line.
Creekmore, describing the mishap two days later, said
he almost got dragged into the water trying to pull Beall
toward him. Then Beall disappeared. In the squall, there
was no hope of turning upwind to retrieve him. His body
was found late Saturday.
Hes a wonderful, very brilliant, very bright young
man, Creekmore later said of Beall, who owned Kris

Beall Construction in Alexandria, La., and was from


nearby Pineville.

AFTERMATH
A massive, sustained search-and-rescue effort unfolded from Saturday onward, led by the Coast Guard and
involving state and local agencies.
The effort included multiple boats, aircraft and dive
teams from the Coast Guard, Marine Police, the Alabama
Law Enforcement Agency and Mobile County, plus
Daphne Search and Rescue, a search team from the
Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency and
other shoreline search teams. It eventually covered more
than 9,500 square miles, according to the Coast Guard.
On Thursday evening, the Coast Guard handed the
effort over to the control of state law enforcement, saying it had now become a searchand-recovery.
Beall was one of six lost sailors. The
others were Jimmie Charles J.C. Brown,
71, of Mobile; Adam Clark, 17, of Mobile;
Robert Delaney, 72, of Madison, Miss.;
William Glenn Massey, 67, of Daphne;
and Robert Thomas, 50, of Pickens, Miss.
By Thursday, five bodies had been recovered, and only Brown remained missing.
Meanwhile, officials announced a plan to survey regatta participants. The goal is to gather data before
passing judgment on the days events and considering
whether changes should be made in safety regulations.
That could take months.
Bay sailors discussing the regatta in person and on
social media have pondered the changes that might come:
Perhaps a new system for presenting the race, a responsibility which traditionally rotates from year to year among
the bays yacht clubs. Maybe an improved registration
system, so that organizers have better information about
whos on the water and how to contact them. Maybe new
ways of communicating weather warnings to the fleet.
Saturdays storm passed by 5pm that day, but its lessons are still sinking in.
Michael Dumas, Carol McPhail, Michael Finch, Emily Hill,
Jeff Dute, Theresa Seiger and Martin J. Reed contributed to
this report.
l

ACEOA Magazine23

BEYOND THE BASICS continued

Purple Heart Commendation


he Military Order of the Purple Heart recognized
seven members of the Alabama Department of
Conservation Marine Resources Division for their
Director Chris Blankenship
Major Scott Bannon
Captain Edward & Bo Willis

contribution to the rescue efforts on Mobile Bay in late


April following the Dauphin Island Regatta disaster. The
following personnel were recognized:

Captain Glenn Kornegay


Officer Steve Humphrey

Officer Jeremy Hicks


Officer Kyle Clifford

The presentations were made at USS ALABAMA Battleship Park. l

ACEOA Magazine25

ACEOA District 4 Dinner


By CEO Tim Ward, Director D-4

hope everyone has had a great summer.


We had a good time here in District 4
at our ACEOA dinner. It was catered by
Crawdaddy Camps, LLC from Troy, Alabama.
We all enjoyed a low country boil, grilled
chicken, and of course lots of crawfish at the
Motes Barn.
Our first speaker was ACEOA President,
Heath Walls. Following that was our quest
speaker, Michael Demmer, President of Combat
Wounded Outdoors. Then rounding out the
night was entertainment provided by my brother
in law, Shane Owens. Many had their number
drawn and received
great door prizes.
1728 Alabama
Hwy. 20
We had a good turnout, but hope to have
Town Creek, AL 35672
100% participation next year. Be safe out there
256-685-2500
this hunting season.
God Bless.
l

Happy Jack Tires

10ad8

WALKER PATTON
COMPANY, INC.
2689 Queenstown Road
Birmingham, AL 35210

205-836-9899

ACEOA Magazine27

Davids Heating &

ACEOA DISTRICT 4 DINNER continued

ACEOA Magazine29

ACEOA DISTRICT 4 DINNER continued

ACEOA Magazine31

ACEOA DISTRICT 4 DINNER continued

ACEOA Magazine33

We are proud to announce that the Governors Tourism Award has been
presented to the Marshall County CVB for their hard work and development
of the Majestic 3 marketing campaign.
The M3 promotional campaign is a clever promotion of the three Alabama
State Parks that reside in Marshall County; Lake Guntersville, Cathedral
Caverns and Bucks Pocket.
Thanks to Katy Norton, and her staff at the Marshall County CVB for their
dedication to this project.
The rural state parks of Alabama provide scenery and relaxation that are
often times overlooked and are usually located within an hours drive from
anywhere in the state. Visit Paul M. Grist State Park this weekend for their
Family Fun Day or take a trip to Roland Cooper State Park, the home of the
world record alligator harvested in 2014.

Providing park adventures is a great way for us to interact with our loyal
partners/supporters and also allows us to introduce new customers to our
locations. We offer packages that combine these adventures with overnight
accommodations and save you money in the process.

Have you ever considered an Alabama State Park as a destination for


corporate retreats? Sure, our resort parks offer great facilities for business
meetings, but we also provide the perfect landscape for team building after
the work is done. Activities include:
Rock climbing and rappelling at DeSoto; Golf at Lake Guntersville; Boat
rentals at Joe Wheeler; Hiking at Cheaha; Bass fishing at Lakepoint.

continued on 37
ACEOA Magazine35

ALABAMA STATE PARKS NEWSLETTER continued


We always look forward to the opportunity to teach people the importance of nature in our world. Creek Kids, our newest program shares how
we can each do our part to ensure Alabamas water resources are here for
generations to come. The next class of this successful program will be held
at DeSoto State Park.

Our end of the Summer events are in full swing. Visit alapark.com to stay
informed on the Park events at all 22 state parks. Occasionally we offer Last
Minute Deals that coincide with these events that offer money savings. Join us
this Saturday at Joe Wheeler State Park for Rockin The River and Saturday,
August 29th for General Joes Car Show.

Volunteers are vital to Alabamas state parks. The Volunteer In Parks (VIP)
program was created to allow individuals or groups to make a difference at
their favorite park. Volunteers fill a multitude of positions within the parks
system and make a positive impact year-round in each of the states 22 parks.

We encourage all of our supporters to continue expressing their opinions


about state parks with their local communities and to share those opinions
with their elected officials. In these uncertain times, the best way to show support is by visiting a state park and joining the Alabama State Parks Partners
Coalition. The recent actions of the Legislature to involve the Forever Wild
Program was stopped, but keeping our supporters up to date with the latest
State Park news is important to us.
Offering amenities that make things convenient and fun for our customers
is important to us. The transient marina slips at Joe Wheeler State Park are
great examples of convenience and this new video of Joe Wheeler is a great
example of fun. Thank you for supporting Alabama State Parks.

ACEOA Magazine37

Rigs to Reefs
By David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

labama is blessed with the most successful and


is. Then when you go down and dive it, it seems even
extensive artificial reef programs in the world.
bigger. It is going to provide a lot of quality habitat.
And its in the process of getting even better.
Blankenship said Marine Resources has two other rigs
in line to be deployed in the Rigs to Reef Program.
Thanks to a program called Rigs to Reefs, derelict gas
and oil rigs will now become a part of the states artiWe have the agreements in place, Blankenship said.
ficial reefs instead of being sold as
Were waiting for them to be decomscrap metal.
missioned. The paperwork is done.
Viosca Knoll 385 A, the first rig
Were just waiting on the compato be included in the Rigs to Reefs
nies now.
program, was deployed 40 miles
One is a deep-water rig that will
south of Dauphin Island on May 21
not be deployed like the first rig. The
this year.
Viosca Knoll 780 sits in 737 feet of
water. Plans are to cut that rig 90
We have a real Rigs to Reef program now, said Alabama Marine
feet below the surface and then tow
the top part of the jacket closer in
Resources Division Director Chris
shore to a location within one of the
Blankenship. Weve made reefs
out of a few rigs in the past, but we
pre-existing reef zones.
havent had a formal program like
Blankenship said there is also a rig
we have now. We work with the oil
in Mississippi Sound that is being
companies and gas companies and
decommissioned. However, because
take possession of the rig in a formal
of its location, it will not be reefed
agreement. Craig Newton, one of our
in place. It will be partially disasMarine Resources biologists, went
sembled and moved to an offshore
out to see the first rig deployed in
reef zone.
the program.
Craig has done a great job of
In addition to donating the
reaching out to these oil and gas
decommissioned rigs, those oil and
(Marine Resources) The Viosca Knoll 385
companies about the rigs that were
gas companies are also required to
A rig was cut 62 feet below the water
scheduled for decommissioning,
make a donation to the Alabama
line and the upper half was deployed
Blankenship said. These companies
Artificial Reef Program according to
adjacent to the base to create a massive
are required to remove these rigs
the money saved by donating it to artificial reef off the Alabama Gulf Coast. after a certain time after they are no
the Rigs to Reefs Program.
longer productive. Now that oil and
Newton said the companies left the legs of the rig in
gas prices have come down, the companies dont have
place and cut the jacket about 62 feet below the water
as much money to work with, so theyre only decomline in 135 feet of water. The jacket was then hoisted and
missioning the rigs that they are required to remove. So
set down beside the base of the rig.
theres not as much of that activity going on right now.
Now there are two structures that make up the one
Newton said the habitat produced during the Rigs to
reef site, Newton said. And its massive. Its massive.
Reefs program will be beneficial to vast array of sea life
Its hard to fathom how big these rigs are. You go around
for many years to come.
the rigs with your bottom machine and track how big it
continued on 41
ACEOA Magazine39

RIGS TO REEFS continued


We expect a very diverse assemblage produced
from this reef project, Newton said. We expect it to
be a long-term, durable project. It adds to the overall
diversification of our artificial reef program.
Not only will anglers benefit from the Rigs to Reef
Program, divers will
also be able to enjoy
their sport as well.
Ive already received
several reviews from
the diving community and they love it,
Newton said.
He also said that
anglers will have to
adjust their fishing techniques for these new
reefs made from rigs.
Fishermen are not
going to be able to
drop all the way to the
bottom on these reefs
or theyre going to get
tangled up, Newton said. We suggest fishing for amberjack above the reefs or red snapper beside the reef. But if
you drop your line all the way down while youre sitting
directly over the reef, you will likely get broken off. People
fishing the tanks or chicken coops or whatever are less
likely to get hung up. If they try that on these reefs made
from rigs, they will most likely get cut off.
Newton said MRD currently has permits to deploy two
more rigs, including the aforementioned Viosca Knoll 780,
which is located 56 miles south of Sand Island Lighthouse
in 737 feet of water. That rig will be cut 90 feet below
surface, and the top section will be towed to the TatumWinn South artificial reef zone and deployed in about
206 feet of water. The new reef will have about 100 feet
of vertical relief.
The Main Pass 255 rig is located 54 miles south of
Fort Morgan in 333 feet of water. The top section will be
cut 105 feet below the water line and set down adjacent
to the base.
For the rigs in federal waters, MRD has to coordinate
with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement,
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard

and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


(NOAA) to gain permits to turn the decommissioned rigs
into reefs.
The rig in Mississippi Sound is in state waters and
not subject to the myriad regulations that MRD officials
have to traverse for rigs
in federal waters.
We dont have to
have a special permit
for that rig, Newton
said. That one will be
cut off 15 feet below the
mud line and taken in
large pieces to one of
the offshore artificial
reef zones. We plan
to make multiple large
reefs from this rig.
Fisheries managers
on the federal level are
just now starting to
include the benefits of
the oil and gas structures in the Gulf of Mexico in fish stock estimates.
The Rigs to Reefs Program keeps this material in
the water instead of being recycled onshore, Newton
said. The big thing is these new reefs are made from
durable materials that will sustain numerous generations
of anglers, and this will produce an abundance of reef
fish, pelagic fish and support a stable offshore ecosystem.
The amount of life and productivity of these rigs
is enormous. The rigs have a nickname, Island of Life,
because they support life from coral, pelagic and reef
fish to even sea turtles. Its very important that these
structures remain in the Gulf. The Rigs to Reefs Program
allows us to keep these highly productive structures from
being removed.
Visit www.outdooralabama.com for more information.
Blankenship said anglers and divers can download a file
with information about Alabamas public inshore and
offshore artificial reefs. This file contains GPS coordinates, range and bearing information, reef material used
and date of deployment. Blankenship said the addition
of a new file format, GPX, will allow boaters to plug that
information directly into their GPS units.
l
ACEOA Magazine41

TallaCoosa Squirrel Hunt


By Joel Glover

he Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officer


Association (ACEOA) and the Alabama Chapter
of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF)
recently provided funds to take a few kids squirrel hunting in Coosa and Tallapoosa Counties. The members
of these two organizations realize the future of hunting and wildlife conservation depends heavily on the
recruitment and development of hunters. Many people,
including hunters, fail to realize their purchase of hunting
and/or fishing licenses helps fund the vast majority of
wildlife management.

Lee Brown with student.

The Tallapoosa County Hunter Education group has


mentored hundreds of students in the proper handling
of firearms, safe hunting practices and wildlife management for many years. While taking a hunter education is
informative and beneficial, it doesnt necessarily create
hunters. Research has shown actual hunting experiences
help to grow hunting.

The TallaCoosa School Hunt was hosted by the


Tallapoosa and Chilton County Hunter Education groups
in December. Gray squirrels are plentiful and the skills
needed to successfully take squirrels are easily applicable
when pursuing other game species. Unfortunately a hard
pouring rain isnt exactly ideal for an outdoor classroom.
The group had to quickly alter their plans. Luckily this
group has plenty
of experience and
the transition to
an indoor setting
wasnt that difficult. Now seated in
a greenhouse, the
students received
instruction including squirrel biology and behavior,
favorite foods and
hunting methods.
Fortunately the
rain subsided and
we were able to
move outdoors
however not before
e ach child was
Dixie.
provided a hunter
orange cap and orange toboggan, a hunting vest and
a cap light. Some of the rules and regulations pertaining to squirrel hunting were discussed including the fact
that anyone hunting squirrels in areas open to gun deer
hunting had to wear hunter orange.
We divided the kids and parents among the instructors
and the outdoor portion of their training commenced.
Lead instructor Lee Brown from Chilton County provided
firearms instruction including a walking trail complete
with squirrel targets. In addition instructors Ronald
Brown, Doug Bice, Maron McConnell, Ricky Porch and
Chris Bice provided instruction and assistance to the
continued on 45
ACEOA Magazine43

TALLACOOSA SQUIRREL HUNT continued

Fletcher Scott.

students. The students also took part in a walk in the


woods where they worked on walking quietly and being
observant of things such as den trees and squirrel nests.
Once all the students had passed through each station it
was time for a squirrel hunt.
The cloudy windy afternoon definitely wasnt conducive to squirrel hunting. However one of the students
demonstrated there is an exception to every rule by taking
three squirrels!
The weather the next Saturday was perfect and
we knew the kids were in for a treat. Conservation
Enforcement Officer Lt. Cliff Robinson, local TREASURE
Forest landowner John Osborn and longtime squirrel
hunter Ronnie Barker arrived with their
squirrels dogs in tow. At another satellite
location, Blake Kelley and Milton Ellington
were waiting to chase some busy tails in
Coosa County. Today we would be actively
pursuing squirrels with mountain curs and
feists leading the way.
Lt. Cliff released his dogs, Seeker and
Abby and the hunt was immediately on.
Within one minute the dogs were barking
treed. We quickly made the short walk to
the tree where both dogs were telling the
news. Our young hunter loaded his shotgun, spotted the squirrel and promptly
knocked him out. The squirrel hit the
ground, Seeker grabbed it and gave it to
Cliff and was off again.

On another nearby property, Lee


Brown and Ronnie Barker were hunting
with Ronnies dog, Dixie. Dixie, a feist,
wasnt quite as high strung as the other
dogs however she was all business. The dog
was quickly barking treed and our young
hunter brought the squirrel down.
Mentors Doug Bice and John Osborn and
Johns mountain cur, Patch were also busy
harassing bushy tails on another nearby
property. Once treed, the squirrel flattened
out on a high limb attempting to hide from
the hunters. This afforded the mentors to
the opportunity to reinforce the training
concerning how to spot a squirrel in a tree.
The young sharp eyes of the young hunter found the
squirrel and a great shot caused him to tumble to the
forest floor.
While these hunts were going on in Clay and Tallapoosa
Counties, members of our group were also chasing squirrels in Coosa County. Mentors Blake Kelley & Milton
Ellington and Blakes dog, Uno were busy guiding two
youth hunters on the Kelley property. Soon the dog was
barking at the base of a tree. The young hunter took aim
and fired but failed to connect. The group moved on and
this same scenario was repeated a couple of times. With
the young hunter rejected the mentor took him aside and
continued on 47

ACEOA Magazine45

TALLACOOSA SQUIRREL HUNT continued

Instructor with student.

encouraged him. He also challenged him to practice to


hone his shooting skills. Truth be known, most hunters
have probably missed a squirrel or two.
With the morning hunt completed everyone returned
to the home of our hosts, Jerry and Genelle Brown for
a catered lunch. It was interesting listening to the excited
telling of the adventures of the morning. The hunters were
all smiles and so were the instructors and mentors. By
all accounts we had a successful hunt.
I appreciate the willingness of everyone to take part in
the hunt. It was especially good for the kids and adults

Joe and Seth.

to have the opportunity to interact with conservation


enforcement officers in a fun cooperative atmosphere.
While all involved were well satisfied with our hunt, the
true measure will be down the road when these kids
make the decision of whether or not to purchase a hunting license and pursue hunting. However, even if they
dont do that, I feel confident they will support hunting.
I sincerely appreciate the strong support from the
ACEOA and NWTF for this worthwhile endeavor.
l

TallaCoosa Squirrel Hunt group photo.


ACEOA Magazine47

Kids Get Hooked


at Fishing Derby
By Ernie Stephens

he Bankhead National Forest held the 23rd annual


Kids Fishing Derby on Saturday, June 13, in celebration of National Fishing and Boating Week and
National Get Outdoors Day. The Forest Service, which
hosts the yearly event to help interest young people in
wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation, stocked
a pond with about 350 pounds of catfish and invited
area youngsters to try their luck. The highlight of this
years Derby was the National Wild Turkey Federations
Jakes Take Aim Shooting Booth. All children received
a free membership to the NWTFs Jakes club and a fishing
derby t-shirt complements of the Alabama Conservation
Enforcement Officers Association.
Over 60 children (with accompanying adults) from
surrounding counties came to the Black Warrior Work
Center on the Bankhead National Forest to compete for
trophies in three age categories. Contestants fished for
approximately 1 hours and the winners in each age
group were decided by measuring the longest fish caught
by each individual.
The largest fish overall was caught by Tylie Romero
of Houston.

In the 5- to 6-year-old age group, Robert Gilmore of


Houston took the first place trophy. Molly McDonald of
Haleyville captured second place.
Braden Luker of Addison won the first place trophy
in the 7- to 9-year-old group. Nena Garrison of Double
Springs won the second place trophy.
continued on 51

ACEOA Magazine49

KIDS GET HOOKED AT FISHING DERBY continued


In the 10- to 12-year-old category, John Linley of
Haleyville took the first place trophy and Tucker Beck of
Nauvoo took the second place trophy.
In addition to the fishing competition, a casting contest
was held in which Tyden Steele of Houston won in the
5- to 6-year-old division; Jon Hess of Haleyville won in
the 7- to 9-year-old division; and Brilyn Dover of Addison
won the 10- to 12-year-old division. All three received
a new rod and reel and tackle box as their prize.
The Derby concluded with drawing for door prizes,
awarding of trophies to contest winners and a hotdog
lunch. This years event was funded by a grant to the
Winston County Natural Resources Council from the
Winston County Commission, a grant from the National
Wild Turkey Federation, and the US Forest Service.
Sponsors of the 2015 Kids Fishing Derby include the
Double Springs Lions Club, the Alabama Division of
Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Sipsey Strutters
Moulton Chapter and Bankhead Beards and Spurs
Winston County Chapter of the National Wild Turkey

Federation, Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers


Association, Winston County Natural Resource Council,
and the Bankhead National Forest.
A big THANK YOU from Smokey Bear to everyone
who continue to help make the Kids Fishing Derby a great
success.
l

ACEOA Magazine51

Alligator Season
WFF Explains Alligator
Preference-Points System

By David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

o quote the warden in Cool Hand Luke, the classic


Paul Newman movie, What we have here is failure
to communcate.
Despite the best efforts of the Alabama Department
of Conservation and Natural Resources and its Wildlife
and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF) to explain the
changes for the selection process for the 2015 alligator
season, a bit of confusion remains.

Before the 2015 season, the draw process for the alligator tags was strictly a luck of the draw proposition.
It didnt matter how many times you were drawn or not
drawn, the process was blind to previous seasons.
Obviously, people who watched as certain lucky
individuals seemed to get tags regularly while they were
left out were understandably upset.
That is why a weighted preference-points system was
instituted this year. Results from the 2014 draw were

entered into the system. Those who applied in 2014 and


werent drawn received one point.
However, if those individuals were not drawn again
this year, their chances of being drawn in 2016 and later
years increased exponentially.
WFF Wildlife Biologist and Alligator Program
Coordinator Chris Nix said there was a misunderstanding
about how the preference-points system works.
Even though the people who
werent drawn in 2014 have a preference point, its still just one preference
point, Nix said. What we need to do
is really explain the preference-points
system and how it will work in future
years. Its not a quick fix. There is no
way we can fix it in one year, but the
strides weve made should resolve the
problem in future years.
Nix said the way the system works,
starting with the 2014 season, is to
take the number of years the individual has applied and not been drawn
and cube it.
In other words, one preference
point cubed is still one. However, if
that individual was not drawn again
in 2015, then you take two points and
cube that to equal eight preference points and then add
one for that years application for a total of nine points
for the 2016 drawing.
When its time to draw the tags, the system is set up
for two draws. The first draw, which accounts for 85
percent of the tags, will come from those applicants with
preference points. The remaining 15 percent of the tags
will be pulled from the non-preference-points pool.
continued on 55
ACEOA Magazine53

ALLIGATOR SEASON continued


For the people who have not drawn a tag, were trying to give them an upper hand, giving them better odds
of pulling an alligator tag, Nix said. We cant do that
exclusively. We still have to give people who are putting
an application in for the first time an opportunity to draw.
Each preference point is like having another entry
into the drawing. But that one is not going to make as
big a difference as they would in three years. Then they
would have 28 points. It accumulates at a very quick rate.
If people are patient, in three to four years, its almost
a guarantee that they will draw a tag.
There is one caveat that everyone who wants to participate in the alligator season must be aware of the
only way to keep preference points is to apply for a tag
each year.

If you apply for three years and for some reason you
dont put in that fourth year, you lose all the preference
points you had accumulated, Nix said.
We have tried to make this process as fair as possible, said WFF Director Chuck Sykes.We feel this system will provide all Alabama gator hunters with the best
opportunity to successfully draw a tag. Unfortunately,
there were a few hunters who assumed they would automatically get a tag if they were unsuccessful in drawing

one last year.Well, you know the old saying about what
happens when you assume something.
The only other issue I have seen is people not being
able to attend the mandatory training class.I really hate it
for the hunters who successfully draw a permit but have
a conflict and cant attend. But, it plainly states on the
website at registration that all hunters must attend the
training class in the area where the tag was drawn and
the dates are given. We had roughly 4,000 hunters apply
to receive one of the 260 tags. That is approximately
a seven-percent chance at drawing a tag.So, there will
be a few alternates this year who will be ecstatic that
someone had a conflict and could not attend the class.
This year, another change is that Lake Eufaula will
have its own separate zone. In past years, most hunters
selected for the Southeast
Zone traveled to L ake
Eufaula in their quest to
harvest an alligator.In an
effort to better distribute this
harvest pressure throughout
the Southeast Zone and to
more closely manage the
Lake Eufaula population,
the Lake Eufaula Zone was
established. The Southeast
Zone hunters will have the
option to either pursue their
gators on private lands (with
landowner permission) or
on the various rivers such as
the Pea and Choctawhatchee
that occur in that zone.
We continue to observe
and survey the populations
of each zone annually, Nix
said. Due to the data we received, we broke out Lake
Eufaula to protect and enhance that particular zone.
Twenty tags are what we felt comfortable with for Lake
Eufaula. And there is an 8-foot length restriction on Lake
Eufaula in order to protect the females in that population.
Lake Eufaula hunters can pursue gators during daytime
and nighttime hours from sunset on August 14 to sunrise
on October 5. Only nighttime hunting is allowed from 8
continued on 57
ACEOA Magazine55

ALLIGATOR SEASON continued


PM to 6 AM in the remaining zones. Lake Eufaula Zone
encompasses the public Alabama state waters only in
the Walter F. George Reservoir (Lake Eufaula) and its
navigable tributaries, south of Hwy 208 (Omaha Bridge).
This zone excludes the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge.
The Southeast Zone (excluding Lake Eufaula and its
associated tributaries) includes the private and public
waters in Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Geneva,
Henry, Houston and Russell counties. This zone will have
40 tags for 2015.
There are no length limits on any area except for the
Lake Eufaula Zone.
Again this year, the Southwest Zone will have the most
tags, 150. The Southwest Zone includes the private and
public waters in Baldwin and Mobile counties and private
and public waters in Washington, Clarke, and Monroe
counties that lie east of U.S. Highway 43 and south of
U.S. Highway 84.
The West Central Zone, where Mandy Stokes worldrecord gator of 15 feet, 11 inches was taken last year,
will again have 50 tags. The West Central Zone includes
the private and public waters in Monroe (north of U.S.
Highway 84), Wilcox and Dallas counties.
Successful applicants will be required to attend and
complete the Alligator Training Course, provided by the
Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries staff, associated with
the zone where the tag was drawn. After completion
of the course, drawn applicants will be eligible for an
Alligator Possession Tag.

For the Southwest Alabama zone, the course will


be held twice on July 25at the Five Rivers complex in
Spanish Fort, Alabama. The first class will be from 10 AM
until noon. The second class will be from 1 PM to 3 PM.
For the Southeast Alabama and Lake Eufaula zones, the
course will be held from 10 AM to noon on August 8at
the Chamber of Commerce Office in Eufaula, Alabama.
The course for the West Central Zone will be held from
10 AM to noon on August 1st at the Central Alabama
Farmers Co-Op in Selma, Alabama.
Those who are selected for the Southwest Alabama
hunt and have attended the course at Five Rivers as
a permittee or alternate in prior years may be exempted
from this requirement. All others will be required to
attend this years class at Five Rivers in Spanish Fort.
If you were selected for the West Central Alabama hunt
and have attended the course at the Central Alabama
Farmers Co-Op in Selma as a permittee or alternate in
prior years, you may be exempted from this requirement.
All others will be required to attend and complete this
years class at Alabama Farmers Co-Op in Selma.
Nix said individuals drawn in one zone cannot attend
the Alligator Training Course for another zone.
Its very specific, he said. You must attend the training class for the area where the tag was drawn.
This year, weve added an alligator training video.
There is a link on the page when the hunter accepted
their tag. We encourage hunters and alternates to watch
the video before attending their training classes.
l

Perry Home

ACEOA Magazine57

Blue Springs Youth Fishing


Summer Kick-Off 2015
By Ken White

he traditional Memorial Day weekend youth fishing


event is actually the kickoff for the Blue Springs
State Park summer camping and outdoor activity
season. Located on Hwy. 10 approximately 15 miles west
of Abbeville, AL this is a small state park that can provide
huge opportunities for creating great family memories.
With perhaps one of the coldest springs in the state,
it is a favorite swimming hole for the locals and those
fortunate visitors looking for an off-the-beaten path
camping experience. It also has a neat little fishing pond
and it is here where this story unfolds.
Saturday morning, May 23, dawned with Sgt. Aurora
Thomas and a host of fellow Conservation Enforcement
Officers setting up for this annual youth event. Park
Manager Gloria Peters and her staff had the facility looking good and in great shape as registration opened early.
Many of these young anglers came prepared to fish and to
claim their favorite fishing spot around the pond as they
made return visits for a day of angling and swimming fun.
We had 145 youth officially register and they had a great

Smallest Fish: Abby Odom with Officer Jerry


Jinright (Ret.) reading the scales.

Largest Fish: Christian Brown with Sgt.


Mike Heath reading the scales.

time. The lake was cooperative as a limit of six catfish


was established and many brought that number to the
scales. Age divisions were established at 0-6, 7-10 and
11-13 years of age to keep the competition at a fair level
and all had fun. While all anglers were encouraged to
bring their own fishing equipment and preferred catfish
baits, there were rods, reels, hooks, line and even sinkers
available for those that were new to the sport or visiting
the park with their families for the weekend. If you were
a kid, and you wanted to fish, you absolutely had the
opportunity thanks to all the great sponsors of this event.
The event is basically a two-hour fishing event followed by the weigh-in and a hot dog luncheon at which
over 350 hot dogs, chips and cold drinks were served.
The Conservation Enforcement Officers handled all the
weigh-in and provided the man-power needed, along with
several volunteers, for the cooking and serving. In addition, the officers also provided guidance and assistance to
the anglers, and their families and friends, as needed to
continued on 63
ACEOA Magazine61

BLUE SPRINGS YOUTH FISHING SUMMER KICK-OFF 2015 continued

Age 0-6 years: Lyla Grace (2nd), Rayleigh Napper


(1st), *Not Pictured- Holden Junghans (3rd)*

Age 7-10 years: Bryson Pugh (2nd), Lamar


Morris (1st), and Roger Williams (3rd).

get crossing lines untangled, hooks, sinkers and bobbers


tied on and fish unhooked as the event unfolded. This is
one of the main benefits of this event is the interaction of
these officers with the public and especially the youth.
Any opportunity to let the public, especially youth, know
law enforcement officers are real people who do care and
do want to help serve and protect them cannot be taken
lightly. These events cannot be underestimated in their
importance and the impact they can have on our future
generation of leaders and outdoorsmen.
Following the lunch break is time for the great door
prize give-ways and recognition of the winners of the
event. Each first place winner of the age division was
awarded a new bicycle with second and third place winners receiving rod and reel combos and a loaded tackle
box respectively. Winning prizes were also awarded for

the smallest fish and the largest fish brought to the scales.
Winners of this years event are as follows:
Age 0-6 years:
1st Place Rayleigh Napper 8 lbs. 08 oz.
2nd Place Lyla Grace 6 lbs. 14 oz.
3rd Place Holden Junghans 5 lbs. 09 oz.
Age 7-10 years:
1st Place Lamar Morris11 lbs. 01 oz.
2nd Place Bryson Pugh8 lbs. 11 oz.
3rd Place Roger Williams 8 lbs. 06 oz.
Age 11-13 years:
1st Place Christian Brown 13 lbs. 06 oz.
2nd Place McKenzie Williams 8 lbs. 04 oz.
3rd Place Nathaniel Slater 7 lbs. 13 oz.
continued on 65

ACEOA Magazine63

10ad9

Guntersville Tackle &


Outdoor

RAMER BANK

P.O. Box 145 105 Main Street


BLUE SPRINGS
YOUTH
FISHING
SUMMER
Ramer,
Alabama
36069

KICK-OFF 2015 continued

Smallest Fish: 334-562-3257


Abby Odom less than 1 ounce

3760 Alabama Hwy. 69


Guntersville, AL 39576
256-582-9870

Largest Fish:
Christian Brown 4 lbs. 10 oz.
This event was a huge success and was made posANGELOS
ROLLOFF & GARAGE
sible by donations from many local and area businesses
and individuals. Contributing to the success also as host
4205
Nichols
Lane
sponsors were Blue
Springs
State Park,
Alabama Dept. of
Conservation Birmingham,
Wildlife and Freshwater
Fisheries Division
AL 35224
and the Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers
205-786-1630
Association. Representatives of the Blue Springs State
Park include Park Manager Gloria Peters, Joe Clark, Melvin
Smith and Bobby McMath. Conservation Enforcement
Officers attending and assisting the event included Sgt.
Mike Heath, Sgt. Aurora Thomas, Lt. Randall Lee, and
Officers Jerry Jinright (Ret.), Larry Doster, Bill Freeman,
Joey Richardson, Joe Carroll, Wes Croy, Micah Allison and
Stacy Lush. Special thanks also go out to all the volun-

Powell Wrecker Service


4205 Nichols Lane
Prattville, AL 36067
334-361-2929

Edith Couch Counseling


1307 Christine Avenue
Anniston, AL 36207

256-235-7479
Age 11-13 years: McKenzie Williams (2nd), Christian
Brown (1st), and Nathaniel Slater (3rd).

LANGLEYS SHELL

teers who assisted in many ways to make this another


506 South Main Street
special event for our youth.
l

Linden, AL 36748

334-295-1657

ACEOA Magazine65

Talladega Sports
WorldClass
Marksmanship Park

By David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

ucked inconspicuously among the rolling hills and


him to be the head coach of its service rifle team at Fort
back roads of rural Talladega County sits a modBenning, Georgia, where he stayed for 13 years.
ern marvel.
CMP then asked Heuman to run some of its matches
No, Im not talking about the legendary Talladega
in North Carolina and Arizona. That association soon led
Superspeedway, which dominates the conversation when
the CMP to offer Heuman the managers job at Talladega.
the county name is mentioned.
The (TMP) concept has been in the works for 10
Im talking about a new facility just south of the
years, he said. It was an idea from Mark Johnson, who
Superspeedway that will leave
any visitor stunned by its grandeur and size.
The new facility is the CMP
Talladega Marksmanship Park,
a 500-acre park that rivals any
shooting venue in the world.
The Civilian Marksmanship
Program (CMP) is well known for
its facility at Camp Perry in Ohio,
and it has a presence at Anniston
Army Base just up the road.
A s it s ays on the CMP
Talladega Marksmanship Park
brochure, the new facility is
state-of-the-art and blends traditional marksmanship with the
latest technology.
Retired Master Sergeant Don
Heuman, who served in the
The CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park, located just south of Talladega
U.S. Marine Corps for 26 years,
Superspeedway, offers visitors a clubhouse with meeting rooms and pro shop.
is in charge of the Talladega
Marksmanship Park (TMP). Heuman said he has been
is now our chief operating officer. He is of the belief that
part of the marksmanship community for more than 30
if we are to be at the forefront of marksmanship in the
country, along with the National Rifle Association, that
years and shot competition for the Marines for about 20
we should have a marksmans paradise, if you will.
of those years.
continued on 69
After retiring from the Marines, the U.S. Army asked
ACEOA Magazine67

TALLADEGA SPORTS WORLDCLASS MARKSMANSHIP PARK continued


Before the TMP was opened
earlier this year, more than
600,000 yards of dirt was moved
on the property. Some of that
soil was worked to make ballistic loam for the huge berms
on the shooting ranges. Those
berms are integral parts of the
lead mitigation program at TMP.
Nothing was moved in
and nothing was moved out,
Heuman said. The ballistic
loam absorbs the lead, which
then leaches into our collection
ponds, which are lined with
zinc and limestone materials
that absorb the lead. When we
The 600-yard rifle range allows the Talladega facility to host a wide range of competition did our lead survey done by
rifle matches, while the 100-yard range is the perfect place to sight in your hunting rifle.
one of the universities, what
releases back into the environPeople can come and we can dispel the bad percepment through leaching is less than what it was when we
tions about shooting and firearms, and we can create this
purchased the property. We had all that research done
golf course-type environment where people can come
to satisfy the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)
out, especially here in Alabama, and have something
requirements.
nice for the public. This is not a private facility. We do
Heuman said park visitors can shoot into the ballistic
not have memberships.
loam for eight to 10 years before the berms will have to
The facility is open to the public. It is fee-based with
be dismantled and the lead recycled.
daily to weekly rates. TMP is open Wednesday through
On the main range, there are 54 stations with targets
Sunday. Mondays and Tuesdays are maintenance days
set at 200 yards, 300 yards and 600 yards. There is
at the park, Heuman said.
a 100-yard rifle range with 40 stations that will most often
He said one of the reasons TMP took so long to
be used by those who are sighting in or checking their
become reality was finding 500 contiguous acres between
rifles for hunting season. Action pistol shooters can take
Birmingham and Anniston. The current location was
advantage of three ranges. There are 25 stations each at
found in 2012 and the work started.
the 25- and 50-yard pistol ranges, the only two places
The (CMP) board was convinced that we needed
in the park still under construction. On the shotgun side,
a park with everythingsporting clays, trap, action pisthere is a mountaintop sporting clays range, as well as
tol, traditional pistol, rifle, long-range rifleeverything
trap and five-stand ranges.
for every marksman out there, Heuman said. They said
Heuman said with the high-power range out to 600
it wasnt going to be done halfway. It was going to be
yards, the Talladega facility can host the traditional CMP
done right.
matches, which consist of 10 rounds in the standing posiThe board set aside $10 million and started working
tion at 200 yards, 10 rounds in the sitting position at 200
with architect David Christian of Anniston to develop
yards, 10 rounds at 300 yards in the prone position and
the concept. Rabren General Contractors out of Auburn
then 20 rounds at 600 yards in the prone position.
handled the bulk of the construction. The final tally for
We can shoot any type of match, Heuman said.
construction was around $20 million.
continued on 71
ACEOA Magazine69

TALLADEGA SPORTS WORLDCLASS MARKSMANSHIP PARK continued


Electronic Target System allows
shooters to check the point of
impact on a monitor immediately
after the shot is fired.
The Kongsburg system measures the bullet impact within .0064
of an inch, which is more accurate
than a (printing) run of paper targets, Heuman said. When you
hit the target, it feeds back to the
monitor instantly.
The immaculate clubhouse is
14,000 square feet with two training
classrooms and a pro shop that sells
firearms, ammunition and shooting
apparel. There are rooms available
Jeremy Coppock of Jacksonville, Ala., sights in his AR-15-style rifle in
for board meetings. A huge patio
.223 caliber with ease, thanks to the electronic scoring system.
deck overlooks the 600-yard range.
The most common reaction
I can shoot NRA matches. Well start having monthly
we get when people step out onto the patio is, Wow,
matches. A club in north Alabama is going to hold a state
Heuman said. They say, Its about time Alabama had
championship, which hasnt been held in a long time
something like this.
because of a lack of a venue.
Heuman said there is an
Heuman expects the 100age minimum of 10-years-old.
yard rifle range to be especially
Those under 18 must be accombusy in September and October.
panied by an adult. Each shootWere going to get a lot of
er must undergo a 15-minute
use out of the 100-yard range
safety briefing before firing
this fall when its time for huntat the range for the first time.
ing, he said. And Im going to
That safety briefing is good for
challenge the hunters because
one year.
a lot of them talk smack about
We dont allow automatic
shooting their deer out to 300fire, and we dont allow any400 yards. Were going to put
body to fill their magazines
their claims to the test. We
and just willy-nilly shoot at
want the hunters to come out.
the targets on the electronic
We can get them zeroed in for hunting season.
ranges, he said. People are really respectful of this
place. They are not expecting what theyre seeing, so
They can shoot anything up to a .338 magnum. We
their attitude almost instantly changes from stepping
do not shoot .50 caliber. We can shoot blackpowder as
onto a dirt lot and unloading a magazine to something
long as the bullet is conical in shape. I hope my 25- and
they can really enjoy.
50-yard pistol ranges will be up and running by the end
of August. Weve also got what I call our plinker range
Visit http://thecmp.org/competitions/talladega-marksat 25 feet.
manship-park/ for details, map and information on hours
The target system is one of the features that really
and prices. For obvious reasons, TMP is closed during
makes the Talladega facility unparalleled. The Kongsburg
race weeks at the Superspeedway.
l
ACEOA Magazine71

Enjoying the World


Beyond Cell Service
By Paul Hudgins, Butler County Forester

pending over 72 hours in the deep


woods of Butler County is not
the typical way most sixth graders would want to start their summer
vacation; however, for 28 students from
across Butler County, that is exactly what
they chose to do this past June.
The Natural Resources Youth Camp is
sponsored annually by the Butler County
Forestry Planning Committee (FPC) with
tremendous support from the forest community, local businesses, and interested
individuals. Because of such support, the
FPC has offered this hands-on camp
for area sixth grade students at no cost
for the last 20 years. Once selected
by their school to attend the camp, students spend three days and two nights
at Mussel Creek Hunting Lodge, a rustic cabin located on
private property in north Butler County. Campers leave

behind their smart phones, iPads, Kindles, NOOKs, televisions, radios, and text messaging to take part in this
one-of-a-kind adventure.
The camp offers kids the opportunity
to learn about Alabamas forest environment, how it relates to the everyday
economy, as well as the important role
it plays in our daily lives. The camp also
provides students something to do from
7AM to 11PMand even later if youre
the last one to get a shower.

Lostand Found
The camp begins with students being
given a compass and a crash course
on how to use it, as well as instructions
on determining an unknown distance
by pacing. Campers are divided into
continued on 75
ACEOA Magazine73

ENJOYING THE WORLD BEYOND CELL SERVICE continued


teams with one adult leader, carried
to a starting location, given a pair of
snake leggings, and wished a fond
farewell. They then compete in an orienteering field exercise that stretches
across wooded terrain. Completing
this rugged course requires the students to not only work together as
a team, but also individually. Each
student is required to complete at
least one leg of the course without
any assistance from their team. At
the end of camp, awards are given
to the team(s) completing the course
in the quickest time and locating the
most correct points. Only twice have
we had a team to get so completely
turned around that they missed
a portion of the course. On a side note, this year we
were lucky to finally find Fred, an unfortunate camper
thats been missing since 2013!

Keeping it Safe
While some students are becoming skilled at orienteering, others are hearing about power line safety from
Mr. Phillip Baker, System Engineer with Pioneer Electric
Cooperative. These three activities work in conjunction

with each other to ensure the students experience a busy


first morning.

Flying Overhead
After a hearty lunch, students are treated to an
educational live flight demonstration from a few of
Alabamas birds of prey. Mr. Dale Arrowood with the
Winged Ambassadors raptor program provides the
kids an up-close and personal look at these birds and
what an important role they play in
the environment.

Dirt Pie, Anyone?


Following the birds of prey, students are treated to a soil education
activity entitled Dig It. Mrs. Beth
Chastain with the USDA Natural
Resources Conservation Service, show
students how different land covers
can affect soil movement, and how
this soil movement could eventually
impact creek sedimentation and possibly even their drinking water. This
exercise ends with the campers creating some edible soilwith Oreo
cookies, gummy worms, sprinkles,
continued on 77
ACEOA Magazine75

ENJOYING THE WORLD BEYOND CELL SERVICE continued


pretzels, and a cup cake. I really
dont remember dirt tasting this
good when I was a kid!

The Great Outdoors


Next on the agenda, students
study different types of wildlife
habitat, and what it takes to
improve this habitat, with Mr.
James Altiere, Retired Wildlife
Biologist with the Alabama
Department of Conservation and
Natural Resources. Following
a super supper of fried fish,
they hear about open water/
boating safety from Mr. Walter
Lacy, Marine Police Officer with
the Alabama Law Enforcement
Agency. Finally, a discussion on
Hunter Ethics and Preserving Our Hunting Heritage is
delivered by Mr. James Altiere, Retired Hunter Education
Instructor with the Department of Conservation and
Natural Resources, the last scheduled topic of the day
before we take a hay ride into the dark woods.

Each evening, well after darkness falls, the students


are loaded onto the FPCs tour trailer and driven through
the deep forest of South Alabama. The purpose of these
night-time excursions is to look for nocturnal wildlife,
and again this year we were lucky enough to call up
a pair of owls that perched on a limb just above the
students heads.

the campers about fur bearer population management


and trapping techniques used in Alabama. They learned
how and what it takes to control nuisance animals by
trapping as a safe and effective way to limit damage.
Mr. Steve Perdue, Forestry Specialist with the Alabama
Forestry Commission, takes the students on a walk
around the property for a Project Learning Tree activities:
Every Tree for Itself Mr. Brandon Smith with Larson &
McGowin Forest Consultants gave this years campers
a course on Tree Identification. Using the differences
in overall appearance, leaf characteristics, and tree bark,
they learn to identify different tree species. Each boy and
girl camper that could identify the most trees were given
some nice prizes.

Making Tracks

Creature Features

Early on the second day, the kids find out how to identify wildlife footprints. Using the Project Wild activity,
Making Tracks, Mr. Richard Tharp, Wildlife Biologist
with the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural
Resources Wildlife Section, introduces students to the different types of tracks made by Alabama wildlife. Following
this presentation, Mr. Mike Sievering, Wildlife Biologist
with the Department of Conservation and Natural
Resources, and Mr. Jerry Fiest, Wildlife Biologist with the
USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, teach

Next, after spending time with the trees, campers


are presented with A Cooperative Experience by Mr.
and Mrs. Jimmy Stiles. Mr. Stiles is an Environmental
Services Analyst with PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.
The students are given a hands-on, close-up encounter
with some of Alabamas local inhabitants. An alligator,
a pine snake, a king snake, tree frogs, toads, and legless
lizards are just a few of the creatures that the kids get
to touch and even hold, if they dare.

Wild Nightlife

continued on 79
ACEOA Magazine77

ENJOYING THE WORLD BEYOND CELL SERVICE continued

In the Creek

Going Home

The next activity offers students a chance to explore


and learn what really lives in a local creek with Mr. Rob
Andress with the Alabama Department of Conservation &
Natural Resources, Fisheries Section. Campers take creek
samples using nets, then look through these samples to
make an evaluation of the creeks overall condition.
Once this condition is determined, the students have time
to swim, play, and just explore Mussel Creek.

To close out the camp experience, students are given


several Audubon Field Guide books, the Longleaf novel by
Roger Reid, and other nice prizes for surviving camp.
Special awards are presented for the best shooter in each
of the firearm events, as well as top shot in archery.
All of this natural resources experience is funded in
part by tremendous community support as well as grants
from the Alabama Forests Forever license plate and the
Alabama TREASURE Forest Association. In a few years,
when the campers look back at their time at Mussel Creek,
we hope they remember us fondly and think of this camp
as an experience of a lifetime!
l

Civilizations from the Past


After cooling off in one of Alabamas creeks, the campers are presented with some local Native American history by Mr. Charlie Clark, Executive Director, Farm Service
Agency, and Ms. Elishia Ballentine, Publications Specialist
with the Alabama Forestry Commission and 18th century
Creek Living History interpreter. They share artifacts,
pottery, and animal hides with the students, as well as
stories of Native cultures.

Firearms 101
After a delicious dinner of barbeque ribs, the students
are given a taste test of some wild Alabama game. This
year, students were able to tryout eleven different wild
game foods. The camper that got the most right won a nice
prize. After the wild game tasting, they were introduced
to firearms handling and safety by Mr. James Altiere.

Bird Walk
The third and final day starts off with an early morning
walk with Mr. Charlie Kennedy, President of the Alabama
Ornithological Society. Mr. Charlie, as he is affectionately
called, explores the woods with the students looking for
a variety of birds, both large and small.

Top Guns
After the bird walk, the remainder of the final day of
camp is spent learning to shoot skeet, black powder,
.22s, and archery. For some of these students, this is
their first time to ever shoot a firearm or even pull a bow.
For others, its their opportunity to show everyone how
good they really are, or how good they really think they
are. Over the past 19 years, the girl campers have given
the boys a run for top shooter. As a general rule, girls
listen better to the instructors and are easier to teach.
ACEOA Magazine79

Snakes Part of Healthy


Environment in Alabama
By David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

ike humans this time of year, just about all


Gods critters are looking for some shade, even
those that give a good many people the shivers.
Despite being cold-blooded animals, snakes dont like
to get too hot in the summertime, and you may find a variety of reptiles seeking shelter from the hot summer sun.
A buddy of mine was concerned about finding a snake,
which may or may not have been a cottonmouth, near
his house recently.
Roger Clay, Non-Game Biologist with the Alabama
Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF), said if
landowners and homeowners arent seeing a snake every
once in a while, then something isnt right.
A lot of people always try to attribute seeing snakes
this time of year to some kind of weather phenomenon,
Clay said. Its so hot. Its so wet. Its so dry. Some people
say they havent seen a snake in X number of years, but
theres got to be snakes around. By some coincidence
they see a couple in a short amount of time. Because
they hadnt seen any in a long time, they think they are
suddenly overrun with snakes. But theyre really not.
If you have a healthy environment, youre going to
have snakes. Thats the way it is. If you have a field next
to you and theyre doing construction work or something,
they may run a few snakes onto your property. That
might be the phenomenon that accounts for you seeing
a couple of snakes.
Clay said if you live near water, then youll likely
encounter a few snakes and other critters that live in
and around the water or are just coming by to get a drink.
Some people still dont realize that any snake that
lives around water is not a cottonmouth, he said. There
are many more snakes that live in and amongst the water
other than a cottonmouth.
Clay said its sometimes hard to convince folks there
are more than two kinds of snakes, what they call water
moccasins and ground rattlers.

The Cottonmouth adult of the species displays


its cottonmouth as a warning signal.

For some people, every snake they see is a venomous snake, but in Alabama there are only six venomous
snakes, he said.
The venomous species include the pit vipers: cottonmouth, copperhead and the three rattlesnakes eastern
diamondback, timber and pygmy. The sixth venomous
snake is the extremely rare coral snake.
The coral snake is so rare youre not going to find it
in the front yard, Clay said. Coral snakes are usually
limited to the southern half of the state, although we have
continued on 83
ACEOA Magazine81

SNAKES PART OF HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT IN ALABAMA continued


records of them in the central part of state. A coral snake
is so boldly colored people are not going to mistake it for
one of the other snakes.
There is an old saying about the coral snake that will
give people an idea of what theyre looking for in identifying a coral snake.
It goes, Red touch yellow, kill a fellow. Red touch
black, friend to Jack.

tinct pattern, he said. As it gets older, the pattern gets


obscured. Secondly, when cottonmouths and copperheads are young, theyll have a brightly colored tip on
their tail. If you come across anything with a brightly
colored tip on its tail, leave it alone.
Obviously, most rattlers are identified by a diamondshaped pattern and other markings as well as the rattlers.
But other snakes also have distinctive patterns.
If somebody sees a rat snake,
they might think it has a pattern
similar to a rattlesnake, Clay
said. Rat snakes are definitely
beneficial. It might be the best
mouse and rat catcher out there.
The question is whether you
would rather have a rat snake
out in your yard or a rat in
your house?
Clay said all snakes are
beneficial in their own ways,
especially the kingsnake, which
regularly dines on several of the
venomous species.
In fact, there was a video on
The juvenile cottonmouth has distinct markings and a noticeable
Facebook of an eastern kinglightly tipped tail as it swims through the water.
snake consuming a rattlesnake.
The video starts with the rattlesnake hopelessly snared in the kingsnakes coils. The
Clay said there are a couple of snakes that mimic the
coral snakes banding, but a coral snake has the only
kingsnake then slowly swallows the rattlesnake head first.
banding where yellow touches red.
About 10 minutes later, the rattlers disappear down the
If somebody does see a coral snake, please let us
kingsnakes mouth.
know because they are so rare, he said.
Kingsnakes are famous for eating other snakes,
In terms of identifying the pit vipers, Clay said the dead
including venomous snakes, Clay said. Obviously,
giveaway is the elliptical pupil in the eye, although he
you dont want to kill a beneficial kingsnake. The thing
realizes most people dont want to get anywhere close
about a kingsnake is that its head is not going to look
enough to see an elliptical pupil.
like a pit viper.
Some people say you can identify them with their
Clay said sometimes people will mistake other reptiles
triangular-shaped head, he said. That might be kinda
for a rattlesnake because they hear some kind of rattrue, but you cant use that for positive identification.
tling noise.
There are several non-venomous snakes that can change
A lot of snakes will vibrate their tails when they feel
the shape of their heads to look triangular. Its not doing
threatened, he said. If theyre in dry leaves, it may
sound like a rattle. Thats just a defense mechanism.
them any good, but they want you to leave them alone.
Clay said the appearance of a cottonmouth can vary
The good thing about snakes is they eat only small
depending on its age.
animals and other critters. They dont eat fruits or vegWhen a cottonmouth is young, it has a pretty discontinued on 85
ACEOA Magazine83

SNAKES PART OF HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT IN ALABAMA continued


etables. The small snakes are going to eat insects or small
invertebrates. The larger snakes like the black racer, garter

snake and rat snake will eat what they can catch, which
is mice, rats and other snakes.
Most snakes will seek an escape from the
summer heat and will typically find shelter underground.
Snakes dont like it too cold or too hot, Clay
said. Youre going to find them in shady areas
in the summertime. If they get caught out in the
sun for too long, theyll get too hot and die. So
theyll be seeking shelter during the hot times
of the day.
If a snake is encountered, Clay recommends
that you give the reptile a wide berth and leave
10ad9
it alone.
A lot of people want to know if there is anything they can buy that will keep the snakes
away, Clay said. The short answer is no. Snakes
generally like hiding places, so keep your yard
mowed low and keep it nice and tidy to eliminate
P.O. Box 145 105 Main Street
The round
pupil
in
the
eye
of
a
rat
snake
indicates
it
is
not
a
hiding places. If youve got a pond nearby, keep
Ramer, Alabama 36069
Alabama
Hwy.
69
pit viper, which has an elliptical pupil similar to a cats eye.
the 3760
edges trimmed
of tall
grass.
l

RAMER BANK
334-562-3257

Childress A-C &

Guntersville Tackle &


Outdoor
Guntersville, AL 39576
256-582-9870

ACEOA Magazine85

Annual Youth Forestry


& Safety Field Day
By Katanga Mants, County Extension Coordinator

he Lowndes County Natural Resources Council


(LCNRC) held its Annual Youth Forestry & Safety
Field Day on April 30th at the Holyground Battlefield
Park for the sixth year. A perfectly beautiful day and fun
(while learning) was had by all.
This one day event teaches 4th grade students (from
both the public and private schools) about the contributions that forests made to the environment and the
economy of Alabama. Additionally, students learn safety
lessons that can keep them and those around them safe.
Groups of students with their classroom teacher/parent rotated between stations where specific topics are
taught. Dynamic guest presenters conducted seven 30
minutes, safe, educational, age-appropriate, fun and
hands-on presentations for 100 4th grade students and
their chaperons. This years topics were: Underground
Utilities (taught by Mr. McKay Lyvers with Alabama One
Call), Weather Safety (taught by Ms. Amanda Curran
with WSFA-TV 12), Wildlife Awareness (taught by Mr.
Andrew Green and Mr. Chris Jaworoski with Alabama
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources),
Common Tree Safety (taught by Mr. Paul Stuckey and

Mr. Walter Nolan with Alabama Forestry Commission),


Roadway/Seatbelt/Passenger Safety (taught by Corporal
Jess Thornton with Alabama Law Enforcement Agency),
Water Safety (taught by Mrs. Kelli Little, Mr. John Williams
and Mr. John Bennett of the US Army Corps of Engineers)
and Electrical Safety (taught by Ms. Casey Rogers with
Pioneer Electric Cooperative).
The funds for the meal were provided through a donation from Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers
continued on 89

ACEOA Magazine87

ANNUAL YOUTH FORESTRY & SAFETY FIELD DAY continued


Association. The goodie bags & t-shirts were provided by
the Progressive Agriculture Foundation and its national
and state sponsors.
The LCNRC would like to THANK everyone who helped
to make this day a great and safe day.
The LCNRC is comprised of local agencies Alabama

Cooperative Extension System Lowndes County


Office, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alabama Forestry
Commission, Alabama Department of Conservation &
Natural Resources, Farm Services Agency, Tuskegee
Cooperative Extension Program and private landowners.

l

ACEOA Magazine89

ANNUAL YOUTH FORESTRY & SAFETY FIELD DAY continued

ACEOA Magazine91

Record Fish Indicate


Great Saltwater Fishing
By David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

udging by the number of record fish caught in the


past year and a half, it appears Alabamas saltwater
fishing is doing just fine.
Ten records were established in 2014, and five more
have been established in 2015 with several months left
to fish.
One of the most impressive fish that made the record
book was a snowy grouper caught by Tyler Kennedy of
Mobile in 2014. That fish weighed 68 pounds, 9 ounces.
The world record is 70 pounds, 7 ounces.
Another record set in 2014 was a king mackerel caught
by Jeremy Goldman during last years Alabama Deep
Sea Fishing Rodeo. That fish was a dollop of fish slime

away from 70 pounds. The official weight was 69 pounds,


15.84 ounces.
The cubera snapper caught by Brett Rutledge of Mobile
was another impressive 2014 catch at 84 pounds, 9 ounces. Also on the big fish list was a jack crevalle caught by
Joseph Condry Pope IV of Alabaster, Ala., that weighed
40 pounds, 2 ounces.
Others on the 2014 record listed included a 5.0-pound
Darwins slimehead (aka big roughy) caught by Lance
Smith of Lithia Springs, Ga.; a scorpionfish caught by
Ike Farmer of Salem, Ala., that weighed 4 pounds, 4
ounces; a sharksucker caught by Dylan Andrew Bauman
continued on 95

No strangers to the Alabama saltwater record book, the father-son duo


of Tyler and Marcus Kennedy have two entries each on the list. Tylers
latest entry is a 68-pound, 7-ounce snowy grouper, while dad, Marcus,
added a horse-eye jack that weighed 22 pounds, 7.2 ounces.
ACEOA Magazine93

RECORD FISH INDICATE GREAT SALTWATER FISHING continued


of Spanish Fort, Ala., at 5 pounds, 13.2 ounces; a great
northern tilefish caught by Dick Paul of Pensacola, Fla., at
35 pounds, 5.6 ounces; a tomtate caught by Lauren Ogle
of Muncie, Ind., at 1 pound, 4.6 ounces; and a whopper of
a big eye tuna caught by Bobby Abernathy of Merryville,
La., at 236 pounds.
The first fish to make the record book in 2015 was
a 13-pound, 9-ounce monster of a sheepshead caught
by Branden Ryan Collier of Irvington, Ala.
Other fish to make the book in 2015 included a huge
bull shark caught by Jeff Moore of Birmingham
that weighed 448 pounds, 4 ounces; a blue
angelfish caught by Natalie Parker-Beach
of Fairhope, Ala., at 2 pounds, 10.6
ounces; and a cutlassfish caught by
John Robert Frain of Cumming, Ga., at
3 pounds, 5 ounces. A horse-eye jack
caught by Marcus Kennedy of Mobile
that weighed 22 pounds, 7.2 ounces
caught this July is the latest addition to
the record book.
The fact we continue to set state records
in many categories, both inshore and offshore,
just shows what a good fishery we have in all our waters
in Alabama, said Chris Blankenship, Director of the
Alabama Marine Resources Division. We set records
on inshore species like jack crevalle and sheepshead.
Then we had the offshore fish in the bigeye tuna, king
mackerel and snowy grouper.
Blankenship said that several species that made the
record books in 2013 and 2014 were deep-water species
that indicated somewhat of a shift away from the traditional reef-fishing activities for species like red snapper
and triggerfish, both of which have limited seasons now.
I think people were doing more deep-dropping to
catch species like the tilefish, he said. I think people
are branching out into the deep water to fish the edge
of the shelf. Were seeing some species that werent as
popular in years past.
But at the end of 2014 and into 2015, the record
fish were seeing are more of the traditional species.
A 13-pound sheepshead is a fine catch, and that came
from just off Dauphin Island. You could see the boat ramp
from where that fish was caught.
There was also one application for record-fish status

that was rejected earlier this year. An application was


submitted for a yellowedge grouper, but the state record
fish committee denied the application, determining the
fish was a scamp, another member of the grouper family.
The state record fish committee is made up of scientists, local fishing guides and communicators who are
very knowledgeable about the fish, Blankenship said.
When someone submits an application for a state
record fish, the rules that apply are: The boat has to
leave and return from an Alabama port; the fish must be
weighed on certified scales and be witnessed;
photos of the fish must accompany the application for verification purposes.
Another requirement is that if the
species cant be verified by the photos
submitted, the fish must be kept frozen
for 14 days for possible inspection.
In the particular case of the yellowedge grouper, Dr. Bob Shipp and Dr.
Will Patterson felt sure it was a scamp
and not a yellowedge, Blankenship said.
The fish was not saved for inspection, so the
application was denied.
That shows the state record fish committee worked
the way it was supposed to, that records are awarded to
those that are deserving and meet all the criteria.
The special red snapper season in Alabama waters for
the month of July recently concluded, and Blankenship
was a little surprised by the results.
The state red snapper season was viewed very positively by the fishing community, he said. We didnt have
as much participation as I thought we would. But during
the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo and the Roy Martin
Young Anglers Tournament, I did see a lot of red snapper
weighed. It was definitely enjoyable to see people enjoying
fishing in state waters during the rodeos.
Blankenship said one theory for the lack of participation in the state red snapper season was the enforcement
issue regarding the state waters limit. Alabama enforces
a state waters limit of 9 miles, while federal officials
enforce a 3-mile limit.
I think some people were apprehensive about taking
the risk between 3 and 9 miles, he said. I do think that
was a big part of it. And we dont have a huge red snapcontinued on 97
ACEOA Magazine95

10ad10

TONY GRIFFIN
Construction

ADVENTURES
UNLIMITED
7605
County Road
47 SALTWATER FISHING continued
RECORD FISH
INDICATE
GREAT
Rainsville, AL 35986

P.O. Box 9272 Dothan, AL 36304

per population in state waters. The bulk of the snapper


256-996-3605
population is outside that 9-mile limit.
But we did see some nice triggerfish catches during
the state season. Although triggerfish werent part of our
Snapper Check system, our biologists and enforcement
officers saw a lot of triggerfish come in to the docks.
I think the population of triggerfish has really rebounded
the last couple of years. With the federal management
of triggerfish, it has kept down peoples access to that
fishery as it rebuilds.
13000 The
Smith
federal
Young
system
Roadtakes a couple
of years to catch upMobile,
with whats
being seen on the water.
AL 36695
The population of triggerfish
251-633-0270
offshore and in state waters
has really picked up.

Amberjack season
re-opened on August 1, which gives
256-506-5580
anglers one of the more popular species to catch while
red snapper season is closed.
Here at Marine Resources, were trying to build reefs
that are more productive for species like amberjack,
Blankenship said. We put 25-foot-tall pyramids down
two years ago. We sunk a 70-foot boat off Dauphin Island.
We sunk a rig as part of the Rigs to Reefs program south
of Dauphin Island. Were increasing habitat for species
1121
N. Weve
Beverly
other than red
snapper.
builtRoad
some great habitat
Dothan,
Alabama
36303
for amberjack so our fishermen will have opportunities
to fish for other species
while red snapper and triggerfish
334-792-3985
are closed.
l

PORT CITY FLOORING

Richards & Sons

PEAVYS HEATING &


AIR CONDITIONING

1835 Charlene Court


Mobile, AL 36695

251-605-2093

DANCO INDUSTRIAL
CONTRACTORS

1301 Avenue I
Bessemer, AL 35020
205-428-5267

ACEOA Magazine97

Pike County Kids


Fishing Day Huge Success
By Ken White

he annual Pike County Kids Fishing Day was held


Saturday, June 20, and it was a beautiful morning for fishing. Once again, John and Carol Dorrill
and family opened their Clay Hills Farm facility to the
kids featuring a lake full of catfish just waiting to be
caught. This tradition has been on-going at Clay Hills
Farm for over 15 years and is held the second Saturday
of June each year. Hosted by the Alabama Conservation
Enforcement Officer Association, Wal-Mart and the
Alabama Department of Conservation Wildlife and
Freshwater Fisheries Division, it was a great day for the
48 youth that registered.
All area youth aged 5 to 15 years were invited to fish
this event and they were divided into three age groups to
even the competition. The event began with registration
at 7:00AM and the fishing got underway at 8:00AM. With
three hours of fishing time many of the 48 youth were
able to fill their stringers and bring the allotted ten catfish
to the scales. The youth and accompanying adults and
guardians surrounded the lake and squeals of delight
could be heard echoing through the surrounding woods.

Six-year-old Jack Redmon asks Wanna see my stringer?

Autumn Adamson and brother, Zachary Adamson, add


another good catfish to what became a winning stringer.

Nine-year old Autumn Adamson was one of the participants and she was having a great time. Accompanied
by her brother, Zachary, they were sharing some real
continued on 101

A pick-up bed full of prizes awaited the door prize drawing.


ACEOA Magazine99

PIKE COUNTY KIDS FISHING DAY HUGE SUCCESS continued

Autumn Adamson, winner of the 8-11 year age group,


displays her $50 Wal-Mart certificate on a new bicycle.

Kameron Christian, winner of the 5-7 age group displays


his $50 Wal-Mart certificate on a new bicycle.

family fun time. I came to this event for 11 years when


growing up, stated Zachary. I got to thinking Autumn
might enjoy a day in the outdoors as much as I did at her
age so here we are, he continued. This is an excellent
example of what this event is all about. It is all about
introducing a love for the outdoors at a young age that
will stay with young men like Zachary, and allowing them
to share this experience as they get older with others.
Once the fishing came to an end it was weigh-in time.
The top winners of each age group was awarded a nice
prize for their winning effort. Leading the 5-7 years age
group was Kameron Christian with a weight of 10 lbs.
14 oz. Taking first in the 8-11 age group was Autumn
Adamson with a stringer tugging the scales at 12 lbs. 14
oz. The 12-15 years age group was led by Denver Thomas,
another regular angler, with a weight of 13 lbs. 03 oz.
Awards were also given for the smallest fish, won buy
Connor Raby with a weight of 3-ounces. Dylan Henderson
brought the largest catfish to the scales with a nice one
going 4 lbs. 11 oz. These awards were provided by the
local Troy Wal-Mart in conjunction with the Alabama
Conservation Enforcement Officers Association.
Following the weigh-in all the registered youths names
were put in the hat for a door prize. These door prizes were

furnished by the Alabama Conservation Enforcements


Officers Association and filled the bed of a pick-up truck.
Tackle boxes, rods and reels, lure packs and assorted
other items were picked off the bed of the truck as the
names were called. This was followed by a chicken lunch
provided by the Troy Wal-Mart, a long-time title sponsor
of the event.
It was another great day for the youth and all the
volunteers that helped make it happen. John and Carol
Dorrill and their family are recognized for their continued support of the area youth and the commitment to
the introduction of youth to our great outdoor world.
They open their farm, facilities and lake for the pure
enjoyment of a day spent fishing with family and friends.
Conservation officers participating included host officer,
Jerry Jinright (retired but still active), Sgt. Mike Heath,
Sgt. Aurora Thomas, Officer Joey Richardson and Officer
Blake Nowlan. Their time spent with the youth cannot be
under-estimated. The positive impact they have through
this interaction is invaluable in establishing the relationships with law enforcement personnel our youth of today
need to experience. To all the volunteers that helped in
all aspects of this event your participation was greatly
appreciated by all.
l

ACEOA Magazine101

Prescribed Fire Valuable


Wildlife Management Tool

By David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources


Photos by David Rainer

ire is your friend if youre managing land for


a variety of reasons, especially for wildlife habitat,
according to Andy Baril of the Alabama Cooperative
Extension System (ACES). Controlled fire, that is.
Baril, a regional extension agent in ACES Forestry,
Wildlife and Natural Resources Division, was at the
Buckmasters Expo in Montgomery over the weekend,
and I asked him what hunters and wildlife managers can
do right away to enhance their land with hunting seasons
on the horizon.
Understand that Im a forester, Baril said. But we
can do more for our wildlife by managing our forests
than anything else. I like to call it the green wall. If
youve got woody underbrush in your forest that you and
I dont want to walk through, its not helping your deer at
all. Youre looking at sweet gum, red maple and all that
stuff. That forage might have nine percent protein. If you
were to put fire through your woods, you wont believe
the difference.

And you can burn year-round. Youve just got to know


your fuel moisture. Youve got to know your weather. We,
the Extension System, can teach that stuff to the landowners if theyre interested. We can teach the tricks of the
burning trade. By killing that green wall, what comes in
underneath your pines and your hardwoods are forbs and
grasses. There youre talking about 20-percent protein.
Baril said its a common fallacy that the thicker the
better for fawn-dropping and fawn-rearing areas.
Huh-uh. When you get down low, you can see right
through that thick stuff, he said. And the coyotes
can see through it really well. But if youve got grasses
and forbs growing 6 feet tall, like dog fennel, a coyote
cant see through that. A fawn can easily sit down in that
and nobody knows its there.
Baril said were our own worst enemy when it comes
to the willingness to undertake a prescribed-burning
program in our forests.
continued on 104

Whether youre performing prescribed burns or planting crops for a certain species of wildlife, proper
habitat management can benefit all wildlife from doves to deer and everything in between.
ACEOA Magazine103

PRESCRIBED FIRE VALUABLE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT TOOL continued


Weve got to start burning our woods, he said. We
burn, on average, a million acres a year. We need to
bump that on up another 6 million acres a year. Weve
got about 23 million acres of timberland in Alabama.
Baril said there is a significant stand of upland hardwoods in the northern part of the state. The rest
of the state is a pine-hardwood mix, which
Baril said needs to be burned every three
years at a minimum.
Thats 7 million a year for a total
of 21 million acres in three years,
he said. Fire is our friend. If we
dont do that, our wildlife habitat is
going backwards.
As far as preparation for the
upcoming hunting seasons, Baril said
its all about the rain.
If you dont have rain, your grain is
not going to come up, he said. A lot of
hunters are planting their wheat crop for dove
season, and the rain is spotty. What we recommend is
to keep an eye on the forecast, and if it looks like a good
chance of rain, get out and put some seed on the ground.
If youre not close to your hunting area, you might have
to plant a few days in advance, but rain is the big issue.
Baril also said if you havent had a soil analysis done
lately, get that accomplished right away. Go to http://
www.aces.edu/anr/soillab/forms/soilform20080609.pdf
for instructions on how to properly take a soil sample. If
you provide an email when you bring your soil sample,
Baril said the turnaround time is about two weeks. If
you do it by snail mail, its going to take about a month.
Baril said people can waste a lot of time, effort and

104ACEOA Magazine

money if they dont provide their soil with the correct additions.
If you have an acidic soil and you put fertilizer out,
your plants cant do anything with it, he said. Youve
got to get your pH up by adding lime. And most of our
game patches are very acidic because they are
in the woods.
You need to loosen up the soil, but
you want to tamp it down a little bit
because you broadcast the seeds.
And you want the seed to go into
the soil no further than the width
of the seed. If youve got a seed
like a butterbean or lima bean, its
a big seed. You can put that an inch
underground. But clover is miniscule,
so you plant your other seeds and put
the clover on top and let the rain beat it
into the soil. If you try to plant the clover,
youre going to put it too deep. So it depends on
the thickness of the seed.
Obviously, hunting doves over bait is illegal in Alabama,
and Baril said the determining factor when grain is present
on the ground is if its a normal agricultural procedure.
What were looking for with top-sown wheat in dove
fields is whether its an acceptable agricultural practice,
said Baril, who reminds hunters and landowners that the
maximum application rate is 200 pounds of wheat per
acre on a properly prepared seed bed.
The Extension System is the authority on what
is a properly prepared seed bed, said Kevin Dodd,
WFFs Chief of Enforcement. When we look at a field,
continued on 105

PRESCRIBED FIRE VALUABLE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT TOOL continued


if the landowners or hunters made an obvious effort to
properly disk the ground where there is good seed-to-soil
contact, then were good to go. If there is an even distribution of seed, then we consider it a properly prepared
and planted seed bed.
Another acceptable agriculture practice, according to
Baril, is to strip-plant a tract of land for cattle grazing
or a deer food plot.
I can go out to the field, disk up that strip, and plant
that strip, Baril said. Two weeks later, I can go out and
make another strip and plant it. I can do that multiple
times so I will always have seeds on top of the ground,
and youll have varying stages of germination with the
seeds youve broadcast earlier. The seed on the ground
will germinate when its in contact with the mineral soil.
It sends a root down, kind of like a white oak acorn does
in the springtime. Its sitting on top of the soil, germinates
and sends a root down.
For deer season, Baril prefers to plant a varying mix of
7605
County
Road
vegetation that will
provide
forage
for 47
whitetails through
Rainsville,
AL
35986
the cold of the winter.

TONY GRIFFIN
Construction
256-996-3605

Baril likes to build a circular cage in the middle of his


game patches that will allow him to judge how well the
deer are using the patch. The cage is made of wire mesh
that keeps the deer from foraging on the plants inside to
give Baril an idea of how much the deer are impacting
the growth outside the cage.
You can have wheat, rye and oats, he said. Then
you can add your brassicas (leafy vegetables) to it. When
you get that freeze in December or January, the brassicas
become sweet for the deer. They wont touch it before it
freezes. While youre planting your wheat and oats, you
can plant turnips and other crops you typically would
plant in your garden. You can even plant collards or kale
in a game patch. Theyll come out for that kind10ad10
of stuff,
too. Clover is the last thing you put in the game patch. It
wont do much until late winter and early spring.
Deer and turkey hunting have a huge economic impact
in Alabama to the tune of an estimated $1 billion annually.
Hunting is big business in Alabama, Baril said. And
the Extension System is here to help people get the most
Box 9272 Dothan, AL 36304
out of P.O.
their money.
l

ADVENTURES
UNLIMITED
256-506-5580

ACEOA Magazine105

RUSTYS

2015 Barbour County WMA


Youth Hunt Successful
By Ken White

aturday, February 28, found 234 youth gathering at


the Barbour County Wildlife Management Area for
a great day full of outdoor activities. This 18th year
brought change as the traditional BCWMA Youth Hunt
date has always been on the first Saturday in February.
This marked the opening of the deer hunting woods to the
small game hunters all this changed with the extension
of the deer hunting season. This change in the Alabama
Deer Hunting season to add an additional ten days to the
south zone season dictated a date change as the BCWMA
was affected. Thus the last Saturday in February will now
become the standard date.
Hosted by the Eufaula Lions Club, Alabama Department
of Conservation Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
Division, Barbour County Coon Hunters Association, the
Alabama Conservation Enforcement Officers Association
and the Barbour County Wildlife Management Area this
hunt is one of the top five youth hunts in the nation. This
year marked the eighteenth anniversary and it was a great

Officer Bill Freeman looks on as Sgt. Aurora Thomas


assists 6-year-old James Gillis of Eufaula, AL at the
Conservation Officers Clay Shooting venue.
106ACEOA Magazine

Sgt. Aurora Thomas puts finishing touches on ACEOA banner.

day for the youth. The event was free to all youth 15 years
of age and younger and it offers them an opportunity to
see what the outdoor world has to offer. This offers our
youth opportunities not readily available in our computerdominated world of gaming and social media. Even more
importantly, it provides opportunities for family participation and a day for making great family memories.
Everything begins with the youth registration at the
office-shop complex for the Barbour County Wildlife
Management Area located near Clayton. Adam Pritchett
and his able crew had the area spotless and ready to
welcome everyone to a full day and evening of fun and
fellowship in their outdoor arena. Rodger and Pat Kott
of the Eufaula Lions Club and their volunteers had the
various venues ready to go and the wagons lined up once
the first group got their registration finalized. From that
point it was off to visit the various venues which were
spread out around the shop area of the BCWMA.
The first venue is the traditional BB-gun shoot which
gets things started. All age groups, from barely old enough
continued on 107

2015 BARBOUR COUNTY WMA YOUTH HUNT SUCCESSFUL continued

Trent and Mick Gilliland of Seale, AL at


full draw at the archery venue.

the Squirrel Hunt or the Rabbit Hunt and those 12 years


of age and over could attend and participate in the Rifle
Shooting Competition. The hunts were very good this
year and the competition at the Rifle Shooting contest
was great as the youth were shooting some very high
scores. This is a really fun event as it features both a boys
and girls division. Once the winners of each division is
established, the competition then goes one step further
with a shoot-off to determine the overall champion. This
years champions were Ansa Campbell of Graceville and
Andrew Meyers of Eufaula. Andrew won the overall and
the opportunity to choose which of the two 22-cal. rifles
he preferred as his prize. Ansa was awarded the remaining gun.
With the hunts and rifle-shooting competition completed it was time for the traditional hot-dog supper followed by the door prize drawings. This was followed

to hold a BB-Gun with Dads, Moms or a volunteers help


to an I can do this 15-year-old attitude, are encouraged
to take a turn and post a score. This years winners are
as follows:
0-5 Years Age Group:
Ansley Carter (tie) and Cole White (tie)27 points
68 Years Age Group:
Braden Moss 30 points
912 Years Age Group:
Dakota Ingram32 points
13-16 Years Age Group:
Gabe Hartley (tie)
and Preston Gilliland (tie)31 points
The winners in each age group won a trophy to commemorate their success.
Other venues consisted of the Sling-shot Shooting,
Archery Shooting, Outdoor Survival Skills, Compass
Reading and Trail event and Turkey Hunting/Shooting. Of
course, the traditional and all-time favorite Clays Shooting
venues remained extremely popular with both Mrs.
Pats Clays and the Alabama Department of Conservation
Clays stations seeing a lot of action.
Once the venues closed for the day, it was time for
the afternoon activities. The youth could choose from

Officer Joey Richardson assists 4-year-old Brian White


of Eufaula, AL at the Turkey Hunting Venue.

by the evening-closing Coon Hunt event as everyone


loaded up and headed into the night-time woods of the
Barbour County WMA in search of a coon. The sound
of the baying hounds is something that really needs to
be experienced as words cannot do the dogs justice. In
the interest of safety, as it is not uncommon to have
continued on 108
ACEOA Magazine107

2015 BARBOUR COUNTY WMA YOUTH HUNT SUCCESSFUL continued


over a 100 participants for this night event, this hunt is
actually an enactment of a traditional coon hunt. This
allows the youth and parents to participate in a safe,
controlled-hunt environment and is one of the days most
anticipated events.
Once again the Youth Hunt was a resounding success. This cannot happen without the great support of
our many local and area merchants and businesses. The
Youth Hunt staff would like to thank each and every one
of these people and businesses, as well as the many
volunteers that give of their money, time and supplies to
make this such a quality event for our youth. Also, each
of the hosts for the event is to be recognized for their
financial support and their volunteers. Without all this
support it could not happen. A special thanks goes to the
Alabama Conservation Enforcements Officers Association
as the financial and personnel support provided helps
assure the traditions of our great outdoors continues in
the generations to come.
l

Ansa Campbell and Andrew Meyers were the winners


of the 12-15 year Rifle Shooting Competition. Ansa took
top honors with a score of 34-points to win the Girls
Division. Andrew and Brian Taylorson tied with a score
of 40-points in the Boys division. Andrew took the win
with a 32 to 29 top score in the shoot-out. Each was
presented the rifle they hold as winner of their division.

Edith Couch Counseling


1307 Christine Avenue
Anniston, AL 36207

256-235-7479

108ACEOA Magazine

PEAVYS HEATING &

DANCO
INDUSTRIAL
LANGLEYS
SHELL

Press Release
June 18, 2015
Contact: Alabama State Parks, 334-242-3334
Ten Alabama State Parks Awarded TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

en Alabama state parks have been awarded the


numbers and operating budget. Each park in the Big 10
2015 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor,
received a Certificate of Excellence in 2014 or 2015.
a travel website featuring traveler-generated
Joe Wheeler, Monte Sano, Cathedral Caverns,
content and reviews. The award celebrates establishments
Guntersville, DeSoto, Cheaha, Oak Mountain, Wind Creek,
that provide excellent guest experiences and consistently
Lakepoint and Gulf comprise the park systems Big 10.
achieve positive reviews on the TripAdvisor website,
These 10 parks account for 94 percent of the entire park
tripadvisor.com.
systems guest revenue and attendance, Lein said. As a
The 2015 Certificate of Excellence winners for Alabama
user pay system it is especially gratifying to know that
State Parks are DeSoto, Gulf, Joe Wheeler, Monte Sano,
these 10 parks, which are so significant to the operational
Cathedral Caverns, Cheaha, Chewacla, Lake Guntersville,
revenue for all 22 parks in the state parks system, are
Oak Mountain and Wind Creek.
being honored with awards from a travel and hospitality
business like TripAdvisor and praised by our customers.
Eight of these parks also received the award in 2014.
Two parks, Cheaha and Wind Creek, improved their rating
Alabama State Parks is encouraging customers at the
since last year to receive the award in 2015.
smaller state parks to post their observations and experiIn the past two years, 11 of our state parks have
ences at those parks on TripAdvisor as well.
received Certificate of Excellence awards from TripAdvisor,
We hope to use these recent awards as examples at
said Greg Lein, Alabama State Parks Director. We are
some of our smaller parks, Lein said. The more our
extremely proud that our customers regard our parks in
customers at the smaller parks share their positive experisuch a consistently positive manner. The entire parks
ences the better off Alabamas state park system will be.
division deeply appreciates our staff, park volunteers,
To learn more about TripAdvisors Certificate of
and the customers who make these awards possible. They
Excellence and read traveler reviews of Alabamas state
have been especially encouraging to our staff during the
parks, visit tripadvisor.com. To learn more about how
Alabama State Parks is funded, visit alapark.com/aboutrecent difficult budget experiences.
Since 2014, Alabama State Parks has conducted a series
alabama-state-parks.
of open house and public listening sessions across the
The Alabama State Parks Division operates and mainstate. The sessions offer the public an opportunity to
tains 22 state parks encompassing approximately 48,000
speak about state park related issues and provide insight
acres of land and water. These Parks rely on visitor fees
into how the parks are funded. During the sessions, Lein
and the support of other Partners like local communities
identifies a list of parks called the Big 10 that generto fund the majority of their operations. To learn more
ate the majority of the parks systems yearly attendance
about Alabama State Parks, visit www.alapark.com.
###
ACEOA Magazine109

Thank You Notes

110ACEOA Magazine