Alabama’s first year of mandatory deer harvest reporting shows that more bucks are being harvested than does and more deer are harvested on private land versus public land. Out of the 82,435 deer reported, 45,546 were bucks and 36,854 were does. Thirty-five deer were of an unspecified gender. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says while compliance was not 100 percent, it is a good start for the state.
“We estimate that approximately 35 percent of hunters reported their deer harvests this first year,” said Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Director Chuck Sykes. “I feel that as hunters get used to the idea and understand what we are trying to do, the reporting will increase. We also want to remind hunters that turkeys should be reported through the same system.”
Sykes said data reported by telephone was not as accurate as the data reported online and through the Outdoor Alabama app. “The phone requires more diligence on the part of the hunter and is more time-consuming, so we encourage everyone to use either the Outdoor Alabama app or report online at www.outdooralabama.com. Those are the easiest reporting methods and the data we receive is more accurate.”
Reporting via the mobile app can be completed offline regardless of cellphone or data coverage. Just input the information and the app will automatically submit it when cellphone or data service is restored. The Outdoor Alabama app is available for both Android and iOS devices.
In addition to providing a convenient way to report a harvest, a smartphone with the Outdoor Alabama app will be accepted in lieu of a paper harvest record. Hunters who plan to Game Check online or by phone are still required to possess a harvest record and hunting license during their hunt.
Turkey season began March 15 in most counties and ends April 30. The bag limit in Alabama is five turkeys (one per day), and all must be male. Hunters have 48 hours to report their harvests.
Game Check was implemented as a tool to help wildlife biologists make better management decisions. Sykes says previous data collection efforts lacked a way to understand how the state’s deer and turkey harvests are distributed across the state and throughout the season. “We need several years of data before we can draw conclusions, but we’re headed in the right direction.” he said.