March 2016 Newsletter
BASS founder honored in Montgomery
Ray Scott, founder of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society and board member of the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association, was honored by the unveiling of a commemorative marker in Montgomery on Feb. 29. The sign at 513 Madison Avenue marks the birthplace for what would become the world’s largest sport-fishing organization. Under Scott’s leadership, BASS became much more than a fishing tournament organization, advocating for clean water, boating safety and the encouragement of children to become anglers.
“We have a real, believable fish story, an honest whopper here in Montgomery, Alabama, and want visitors to know about it,” said John McMillan, Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries. McMillan worked with the Alabama Department of Tourism to erect the new historical marker and attended the unveiling.
Gov. Robert Bentley was also in attendance and said, “Alabama is blessed with great outdoor resources and world-class bass fishing. We are proud to recognize Montgomery as the founding place of the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, the world’s largest sport-fishing organization, and its contribution to the conversation of bass fishing’s future.”
Deer Season Over, But Gobblers On Horizon
Deer hunting season ended Feb. 10 and squirrel and rabbit seasons closed on Feb. 29, but spring hunting season for wild turkeys is on the horizon. The spring season runs from March 15 through April 30 in the Black Belt.
Also, remember quail hunting at preserves is ongoing until March 31, although the season has ended on public lands. Check out the video above for a taste of a great quail rise and visit our website to see lodges that may have spots open for last-minute hunts.
According to the season and bag limits information on the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website, the spring turkey season (decoys permitted) is gobblers only – one a day, five during the combined fall and spring seasons.
In the Black Belt, the March 15-April 30 season is open in 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.
A special youth hunt is set for March 12-13, the Saturday and Sunday before the spring season opening. The hunt will be held in accordance with rule 220-2-.119. A special disabled hunt is set for one day prior to all opening days. Participants must meet medical requirements of regulation 220-2-.109(2)(d).
Also, hunters are required to complete the mandatory harvest record.
Most Public Fishing Lakes Are Open
Anglers, grab your gear and head to one of the 23 state-owned public fishing lakes in Alabama – six of them in Alabama’s Black Belt – that reopened on Feb. 1. Although the Pike County Lake is closed until summer, there are five other public lakes in the Black Belt: Barbour County Lake, Crenshaw County Lake, Dallas County Lake, Lee County Lake and Monroe County Lake.
Commonly known as state lakes or county lakes, Alabama’s public lakes are known for quality bream, largemouth bass, channel catfish and, in some spots, crappie. Because these lakes are smaller and warm more quickly than larger bodies of water, early spring fishing can be excellent. Before traveling to one of these lakes, anglers should call ahead to check the operational schedule.
Pike County Lake has been renovated and restocked and is scheduled to open in the summer, but the exact date has not yet been set.
Each state lake offers boat rental ($5) and launching of private boats ($3). A $3 daily permit is required at all lakes as is a valid state fishing license.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division carefully stocks and manages the lakes for optimum fishing, according to ADCNR. The lakes are fertilized for maximum fish production, each have a concessions building with snacks, drinks, restrooms and personnel who can offer fishing advice. Concessionaires mow areas of the shoreline for fishing, and there are piers to allow access to deeper water.
Visit the ADCNR website for more information about the state-owned public fishing lakes.
Youngster Wins Big Buck Photo Contest
Congratulations, 12-year-old Dannah Dawson of Union Springs on winning the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association Big Buck Photo Contest on Facebook. Dannah bagged her buck on opening day of the 2015-16 season, and her mom sent the photo in for the contest.
More than two dozen entrants drew almost 1,400 “likes” on the Facebook page, and young Dannah’s buck was voted the best.
Dannah is the daughter of Daniel and Shasta Dawson. The entire family, including older brother Taylor, are avid hunters in Alabama’s Black Belt and love their annual trip to Louisiana to hunt geese and ducks. This year, the family will also travel to south Texas for a whitetail hunt. Dannah and her father will enjoy the Big Buck prize, a pheasant hunt at Great Southern Outdoors Wildlife Plantation – also in Union Springs.
According to her mom, Dannah’s prize-winning hunt went like this: Dannah killed her big buck on opening day of the season in Perote, in Bullock County. She and Taylor were sitting in a box stand overlooking a green field that is surrounded by hardwoods. Dannah said nothing much was going on, when all of a sudden the woods came alive with deer. The big buck arrived with eight does and another buck. She said she wasn’t sure who was most nervous before the shot or most excited afterwards – she or Taylor. She made the 90-yard shot and killed the 8-point deer.
Dannah was very excited and couldn’t wait to show off photos of her monster buck, especially to the boys in her seventh-grade class at Pike Liberal Arts in Troy. The majority of the class have a friendly “big buck” competition of their own going on, and Dannah earned early bragging rights.
“I am so excited about winning the Big Buck Photo Contest, and I can’t wait to try a new kind of hunting – pheasant hunting,” said Dannah, who also enjoys playing softball and volleyball for her school teams.
Black Belt Hunting Rated at the Top
This news certainly confirms what we all know. According to this year’s hunter survey completed by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, the best deer and turkey hunting in the state is Alabama’s Black Belt.
The survey revealed that the top counties to go turkey hunting include Dallas, Greene, Lowndes, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Sumter and Tuscaloosa. The top counties in the Black Belt to go deer hunting, the respondents said, were Dallas, Lowndes, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Sumter and Tuscaloosa.
Also included in the report, 53 percent of hunters said if harvest reports became mandatory, they would prefer to report their deer or turkey harvests through an app on their smartphone.
Alabama World Champ Bow Hunter crowned
A Minnesota man won the title of Alabama World Champion Bow Hunter in the Superbow championship at Great Southern Outdoors in Union Springs during the finals competition Feb. 8-10. Chad “Benzy” Benzinger of Lakeville, Minn., won the championship, beating 28 other finalists in the championship that challenges competitors to demonstrate their skills in all aspects of the sport, including proficiency in selecting and using equipment, coping with challenges the weather may present, as well as the challenges of fair chase hunting of free-range game.
Benzinger shot with a Mathews Chil R Bow, outfitted with both a QAD Ultra Rest and an IQ 7 pin sight. He shot Carbon Express Maxima Reds with Rage Hypodermics Broadheads. His safety gear included a harness from Hunter Safety Systems.
To apply to compete in the Second Annual Alabama World Bow Hunter Championship, fill out an application on Great Southern Outdoor’s website, greatsouthernoutdoors.com, or call the lodge at 334-738-5066.