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Alabama Youth Dove Hunt Program Praised as Mentoring Example

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The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announces that Alabama’s 11th Annual Youth Dove Hunts are scheduled for the following counties in 2011: Baldwin, Bibb, Calhoun, Chilton, Colbert, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Escambia, Geneva, Greene, Hale, Henry, Jackson, Jefferson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Lowndes, Macon, Marshall, Monroe, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Walker and Wilcox.

North Zone hunts begin Sept. 3, and South Zone hunts begin Oct. 1. South Zone counties include Baldwin, Barbour, Coffee, Covington, Dale, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Mobile; all other counties are in the North Zone. The hunts are sponsored by the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) with support from many partners.

Hunt schedules and registration information are available at www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/youth-hunts. Although the hunts are free, pre-registration is necessary. The preferred method of registration is online at www.outdooralabama.com. Online registration begins August 15 for the North Zone hunts and Sept. 12 for the South Zone. Participants without Internet access may register by calling their WFF district office listed in the hunt schedule. District office personnel will complete the electronic registration form for you over the phone.

To participate in the hunts, youth hunters must be age 15 or younger and accompanied by an adult at least 25 years old (or a parent) who holds a valid state hunting license and a Harvest Information Program (HIP) stamp. Hunters will not be able to obtain a HIP stamp on site at the youth dove hunts this year.

Before each hunt, a short welcome session with reminders on hunting safety will be conducted. All hunters are encouraged to wear eye protection and earplugs.

A recent report issued by the National Wild Turkey Federation and Responsive Management, a natural resource survey research firm, cited Alabama’s Youth Dove Hunt Program as an excellent example of a state youth hunt program. The report praised Alabama’s program for its strong sense of parent-child bonding and mentoring relationship building that is built into the instruction.

Another highlight of Alabama’s program, according to the report, is that it is held in open fields and is staffed by ADCNR personnel, thus encouraging feelings of security and safety among both parents and participants. The program also makes use of private lands and fields opened for use by community members, thus fostering good relationships between hunters and private landowners, and an overall sense of closeness with community.

The information used in the report was gathered through surveys conducted by phone, both before and after the 2010 hunts. “The information will assist the WFF as we try to provide a quality hunting experience for all participants as part of an effort to help ensure the future of our hunting heritage,” said Ray Metzler, WFF Wildlife Section Assistant Chief. “The hunters’ cooperation in the survey was greatly appreciated and helps to improve the event.”

According to WFF Division Director Corky Pugh, dove hunting is a perfect way to introduce youngsters to hunting and to spend quality time with family members. “The youth dove hunts are tailor-made for first-time hunters,” Pugh said. “The emphasis is on having fun while enjoying a safe, quality dove hunt.” To date, more than 16,000 young hunters have participated in these annual hunts.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com.

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