Press Releases

Alabama Black Belt Best Fish

Youngster Wins Black Belt’s Best Fish Photo Contest, Fishing Gear from Alabama Black Belt Adventures

 MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Black Belt once again proved its reputation as a hotbed for great fishing this summer and the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association’s winner in its annual Best Black Belt Fish Photo Contest is 9-year-old William Booker of Homewood, Ala.

Alabama Black Belt Big Fish Contest Winner

“William’s photo of a really nice bass that he caught at a family pond in Dallas County attracted the most votes in our contest this year,” said Pam Swanner, director of the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association. “We had a great cross section of photos, including largemouth bass, bream, catfish and crappie from the Black Belt. As always, we had some really nice photos of young people enjoying the outdoors while taking pride in their catch, whether big or small fish, and sporting huge smiles.”

William, a third-grader at Shades Cahaba Elementary, spends most summer weekends at his grandparents’ farm in Orrville in Dallas County. The family pond, built and stocked by his grandfather, is William’s favorite fishing hole, though he and his family also spend time fishing closer to home, too. The contest champ, who wins $100 worth of fishing gear from the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association, most often fishes with his mom and dad, Deidre and George Robert Booker, and his grandparents, Jule and Terry Booker.

“I can’t believe I won!” William said. “I can’t wait to use my new fishing gear.”

Entries came in from almost half the counties in the Black Belt, with anglers sharing their photos of their catches from public and private waters. The winner was determined by the number of “likes” the photo received on the ALBBAA Facebook page (Facebook.com/AlabamaBlackBeltAdventures).

The rules were simple, asking only that the fish in the photo be one – or several – caught in the Black Belt in 2018.

The Black Belt includes the following counties: Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa and Wilcox.

 

CWD Restrictions Expanded to all 50 states

By DAVID RAINER, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) catapulted into the world of deer hunters all over the South when an afflicted white-tailed deer was discovered in the Mississippi Delta this past January.

It was the first case so close to Alabama, and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division immediately responded by adding Mississippi to the list of states where special precautions were in effect to minimize the chance of spreading the disease.

At the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board meeting in May, WFF asked that the rules regarding the importation of carcasses from members of the cervid family (deer, elk, moose, caribou, etc.) be extended to all states and Canada.

Those rules state that hunters should completely debone the animal and remove and dispose of any brain or spinal tissue from skull plates, raw capes and hides before returning to Alabama. Those skull plates must be free of any brain or spinal cord material. Velvet-covered antlers are also included in the prohibited materials. Root structures and other soft tissue should also be removed from all teeth. Finished taxidermy products and tanned hides are not affected by the ban.

Starting with the 2019-2020 seasons, Alabama will implement a ban on the use of natural deer urine products as well. Synthetic deer urine products are not affected.

CWD is a disease similar to mad cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep. CWD is a form of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy that starts to debilitate the affected animal and always results in death.

At last weekend’s Buckmasters Expo in Montgomery, game biologists and law enforcement officers at the WFF booth tried to spread the word about the threat of CWD and how it could change hunting, which is a $1.8 billion industry in Alabama.

The WFF outreach on CWD education will ramp up significantly right away with seminars, billboards and media promotions.

“We are doing our seminar series that will focus on CWD,” said WFF Director Chuck Sykes, who travels the state to conduct the seminars. “We are purchasing billboard advertisement up and down our major road systems. We’re also doing some outreach at gas pumps and ice machines at convenience stores in strategic places around the state.”

Sykes said there is so much misinformation in the public square, whether online or around the campfire, that WFF is doing everything it can to ensure people are getting the correct information.

“There are rumors that it is already here in Alabama, which is not true,” Sykes said. “There are rumors that it’s made up; there’s no such thing as CWD. The best one I’ve heard is it’s just a way for the state to make money. I wish they would show me how we’re going to make money when we’re having to move resources and money to help test animals and educate the public. It’s typical anti-government rhetoric that doesn’t have any basis in reality. So, we’re trying our best to get the facts out.”

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Annual Best Black Belt Fish Photo Contest

Catch a Fish in the Black Belt, Alabama Black Belt Adventures Will Release a Prize

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama Black Belt is a great place to spend time wetting a hook and hauling in a nice prize. Whether it’s a big bass or catfish or a feisty little bream, the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association wants to showcase the outdoor fishing fun with its annual Best Black Belt Fish Photo Contest, starting today.

ALBBAA will reward the top vote-getter in the Facebook contest with $100 worth of fishing gear. To be eligible, the fish must be caught in the Black Belt during 2018. The photo must be emailed to photocontest@albbaa.org and the entrant must like the Facebook.com/ AlabamaBlackBeltAdventures page. Photos uploaded to Facebook are not eligible and Best Black Belt Fish Photo Contest winners from 2017 and 2016 are ineligible this year. Please include the name of the angler, the county where the fish was caught and a contact phone number with the email.

“The Black Belt has so many great fishing spots, both public and private, and we love seeing the smiling faces of the folks who enter our contest,” said ALBBAA Director Pam Swanner. “This contest is not about the biggest fish, it’s about recognizing the great times that can be enjoyed in our outdoors. Fishing together as a family creates fond memories that will last a lifetime and we want to share them on our Facebook page.”

Photos will be shared on Facebook.com/AlabamaBlackBeltAdventures and the winner will be selected based on the number of “likes” each photo gets.

“We encourage people from outside the Black Belt region to come visit for an adventure in discovering your favorite ‘honey hole,’” Swanner said. “Our website – AlabamaBlackBeltAdventures.org – offers information for both public fishing spots as well as outfitters and lodges in the area that can provide a great fishing experience.”

The contest will run through August 31 with the winner to be announced the first week of September 2018.

ALBBAA promotes and encourages ethical hunting and fishing practices. These contests were created to further educate the public on the abundance of natural resources found in Alabama’s Black Belt region.

The Black Belt includes the following counties: Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa and Wilcox.

 The Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association is committed to promoting and enhancing outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities in the Black Belt in a manner that provides economic and ecological benefits to the region and its citizens. For information, go to www.alabamablackbeltadventures.org.

WFF Releases Rehabilitated Bald Eagle

By DAVID RAINER

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Far from what today’s crowd calls civilization, Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship gained a new appreciation for America’s symbol of greatness.

Blankenship had the honor to release a rehabilitated bald eagle into the wild at the Uchee Creek Special Opportunity Area (SOA) in rural Russell County.

“Holding the eagle, I could tell she was ready to go and get back into the wild and enjoy life again,” Blankenship said after launching the immature eagle into the air. “Seeing the length of those talons and feeling the strength of her legs, it was really a little bit surprising how strong that eagle was.

“The nongame wildlife work we do, including raptors and birds like this, is very important to the Department of Conservation and the community. People are fascinated with hawks, kestrels and raptors of all kinds, eagles particularly. For us to be able to work with Auburn University and other rehabbers around the state and see those birds come back from injuries and be released back into the wild, that is extremely rewarding for us at the Department of Conservation.”

The released bald eagle was rehabilitated at the Southeastern Raptor Center, a part of Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The immature eagle was found in Lee County with a broken wing. Once at the Southeastern Raptor Center, X-rays revealed the bird had been shot. Multiple small shot were evident in the X-ray, and one piece of bird shot had broken the metacarpus in the bird’s left wing.

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Alabama Black Belt Big Gobbler Contest Winners

Turkey-Callers Claim Prizes in First Alabama Black Belt Adventures Video Contest

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Turkey-callers in Alabama’s Black Belt strutted their stuff in the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association’s first Big Gobbler Facebook video contest with Cody Godwin and Jerry Lavender earning big prizes.

The Big Gobbler Contest wrapped up on Monday, a week after the end of turkey season in Alabama. Godwin won the People’s Choice award and a $200 cash prize from Southeastern Land Group while Lavender took the Pro’s Pick award and three of Eddie Salter’s “Turkey Man” game calls, valued at $150.Enter To Win Our Big Gobbler Contest

The turkey-calling videos racked up more than 7,200 page views in the contest, which ran during the spring turkey season in Alabama. Godwin is from Enterprise and Lavender is from Greensboro.

“We had a lot of fun with our Big Gobbler Contest this year,” said Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association Director Pam Swanner. “Instead of asking hunters to share photos of their turkey harvests from the Black Belt, we called for videos of them working their calls to show their expertise in luring gobblers in range. Turkey hunting is quite a challenge and it was fun and informative to see the calling techniques hunters use to ensure success in the woods.”

Pro’s Pick judges were Dr. Bobby Dale, Mike Giles and Ron Jolly. All are avid turkey hunters, members of Southeastern Outdoor Press Association and are known as experts in the sport. Dale is currently the president of the board of directors for SEOPA and he is the author of three books on turkey hunting as well as one children’s book. He writes an outdoors medical column for Delta Wildlife. Giles is a Bass Pro Shops Pro Staff Member, SEOPA board secretary, award-winning wildlife photographer and columnist for the Meridian (Miss.) Star. Jolly recently retired after 15 years as executive producer at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, in charge of all video production for the department.

The Pro’s Pick prize, donated by Salter, includes a limited-edition glass call featuring an encased turkey feather from one of the turkey-hunting legend’s own gobbler harvests. That call is certain to be a collector’s item. Lavender also wins a Salter classic box call and his favorite reed call. Salter, known as “Turkey Man” due to his world renown as a turkey-caller and hunter, is a native of the Black Belt from Evergreen, Ala., in Conecuh County. He has won seven Southeastern Open Turkey Calling Championships, six Alabama State Championships and two World Open Championships. He has almost four decades of turkey-hunting experience.

The Black Belt includes the following counties: Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa and Wilcox. 

The Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association is committed to promoting and enhancing outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities in the Black Belt in a manner that provides economic and ecological benefits to the region and its citizens. 

Quail Forever, ALBBA come together with one conservation goal

By Howard K. Vincent
President and Chief Executive Officer
Pheasants Forever, Inc., & Quail Forever

I have been working with Pheasants Forever, Inc., & Quail Forever for more than three decades with one goal in mind: the conservation and restoration of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.

Our Minnesota-based organization was formed in 1982 and now has locally based volunteer chapters in 42 states, including our newest chapter formed during an eventful visit the last week of February to the Alabama Black Belt. The Black Belt chapter will be the sixth Quail Forever group in the state.

Quail Forever

We were fortunate to be invited to visit the Black Belt for the first time by the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association (ALBBAA), an organization that holds the same values as Quail Forever. The ALBBAA is dedicated to wildlife habitat conservation and economic development of the beautiful rural areas in the 23 counties that make up the Black Belt. The marketing organization, founded in 2009, relies on the plentiful opportunities for hunting, fishing, camping and many other outdoors attractions to spur tourism. Thanks to the major role Raycom Media plays in supporting this effort by providing advertising on its many television stations across the country, visitors are increasingly finding their outdoor adventures in the Black Belt – and quail hunting is a growing pursuit.

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Big Buck Photo Contest Winner

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Hunter Goodman of Columbus, Miss., knew he had something special when he pulled the trigger that January morning in Boligee, Ala. The 17-point Greene County buck was special – exceptional enough to win the sixth annual Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association Big Buck Photo Contest and the prize package valued at more than $3,000.

“I had a little bit of everything running through my head,” the 17-year-old junior at Victory Christian Academy in Columbus said. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Goodman’s father, Dean, who hunts on a family friend’s land that borders the Tombigee River in Greene and Sumter counties, said the big buck’s uniqueness didn’t register with his son at first. “I told him he’d killed the deer of a lifetime. He didn’t know what he had. I’ve been hunting my whole life and I’ve never seen a deer like that.”

Once the Goodmans entered the contest, they worked their extensive social media network to draw a huge number of visitors to the ALBBAA Facebook page (Facebook.com/AlabamaBlackBeltAdventures) to vote by “liking” the photo. The winning entry was one of 93 photos submitted to the contest. Photos of deer harvested in 22 of the 23 Black Belt counties were entered. The winner was determined by the number of “likes” each photo received. Goodman received 2,433 “likes.” A total of 14,464 votes were cast in the contest that ran throughout the 2017-18 deer season.

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Big Buck Photo Contest Prize

December 4, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Big Buck Photo Contest Prize Package Boosted to More Than $3,000

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Deer hunters, head to Alabama’s Black Belt region to find a trophy buck – and you may also land a big payoff from the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association Big Buck Photo Contest. Several Alabama businesses have donated new prizes to boost the total value for the winner to more than $3,000.

“The generosity of so many has provided the greatest Big Buck Photo Contest prize package we’ve ever had throughout its six-year history. We are thankful for their support of our efforts to brand the region an outdoor destination,” said Pam Swanner, ALBBAA Project Director. “It’s this type of partnership, from those who work every day to boost the Black Belt’s economy, that will help draw attention to the great opportunities for hunters in the Black Belt.”

The new prize package for the contest, which started with the opening of bow season in October and runs until February 14, 2018, a week after this season’s close:

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NWTF Donates More Than $157,000 for Wildlife Management

Press Release
December 1, 2017
Contact: WFF Wildlife Section, 334-242-3469

NWTF Donates More Than $157,000 for Wildlife Management

The Alabama Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) recently allocated $157,555 in Hunting Heritage Super Funds and Tag Funds for wild turkey projects in Alabama. Of that total, $81,193 was donated to the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) to fund projects including wildlife habitat management and the publication of the annual wild turkey report, Full Fans & Sharp Spurs.

Approximately $76,000 was approved for other projects statewide including funding to improve wild turkey habitat on public lands as well as to help launch outdoor education programs in schools. This funding supports the enhancement of turkey habitat, increases access opportunities, funds educational programs and is an excellent fit for the NWTF “Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt” initiative.

Most of the WFF dollars will be used on Wildlife Management Areas throughout the state to support habitat management and other wild turkey programs.

“About $63,000 of this generous donation offers us access to federal matching dollars, which makes the donation go even further,” said Chuck Sykes, WFF Director. “Since federal matching dollars play such a major role in how our division is funded, contributions like this are extremely important.”

WFF is primarily funded by money generated through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses. That money is then matched nearly three to one by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. WFF does not receive an appropriation from the state’s General Fund.

“I thank NWTF and the Alabama Chapter Board of Directors for helping to support our efforts in Alabama,” Sykes said. Continue reading

Alabama Black Belt Adventures Christmas Gift Ideas

Alabama Black Belt Adventures Offers 12 Great Christmas Gift Ideas

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Twelve Days of Christmas start on Christmas Day and end on January 5, but instead of being traditional, let’s use a dozen days to find a dozen ways to make any outdoors person happy with a gift from Alabama’s Black Belt.

The Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association offers these 12 suggestions for your Christmas list.

“Shopping in the Black Belt is a great way to get unique gifts for hunters, anglers and everyone who enjoys time outdoors,” said Pam Swanner, executive director of the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association. “There are also so many places in the Black Belt that offer wonderful edible treats that make perfect gifts. These suggestions are just a few from local businesses that help keep the Black Belt economy going.”

1. The holidays are about sharing and what’s better than to share than some tasty popcorn and candy? The Auburn Popcorn Co. (106 N. College Street, Auburn, 334-329-7700) opened in the spring, but the newcomer to town is a perfect spot to grab a snack and to purchase a great stocking-stuffer. www.facebook.com/theauburnpopcorncompany Continue reading

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<p>Counties included are Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Wilcox. Counties included are Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Wilcox.

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