In today’s economy, most of us are looking at ways to save and cut back on expenses. At the same time, it is getting more difficult to find affordable land to hunt. If you are fortunate enough to have friends or family with land that you can hunt on, count your blessings. Most hunting clubs have a substantial annual membership fee, and the cost to lease lands is still significant. With those high prices many people are searching for alternatives.
Did you know that there is an approximately 760,000-acre “hunting club” that you can join for less than $45 per year? This is no joke. In fact, depending on what game animal you want to hunt, the annual dues for this club may be less than $45.
The “hunting club” I am speaking of is Alabama’s Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). There are currently 36 WMAs throughout the state of Alabama with a combined acreage of more than 760,000 acres. Chances are that one or more of these areas are within a short drive of where you live.
Alabama’s wildlife management areas provide many different hunting opportunities for the public. If you enjoy bird hunting, there are several WMAs that offer excellent dove, waterfowl and turkey hunting. Some areas are known more for exceptional deer hunting than others. Small game, such as squirrel, rabbit, and raccoon, can be found on all areas. Within the past several years, numerous management areas have been invaded by feral hogs. Although feral hogs are very destructive to the habitat, many hunters enjoy the challenge of pursuing them. There is an abundance and variety of game animals on Alabama WMAs for the hunters’ enjoyment.
The type of license needed for hunting on a WMA depends on what species of game animal is hunted. If you are strictly a small game hunter, a wildlife heritage license might appeal to you. A wildlife heritage license, which costs just over $10, allows Alabama residents to hunt small game, except waterfowl, on any WMA. This license also allows the purchaser to use any Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) shooting range, any WFF-operated public fishing lake (day-use permit required), and fish in public freshwater from the bank with a hook and line statewide. If you would rather hunt big game, such as turkey and deer, an Alabama resident can purchase an all-game hunting license and a wildlife management area license for a combined total of just under $41. And don’t forget to purchase your state and federal duck stamps when hunting waterfowl. The all-game and WMA licenses also include the privileges of the wildlife heritage license. In addition to the appropriate license, a current map permit for the particular area you are hunting is required. These free map permits are available at any WFF district office, local hunting license vendors, and online at www.outdooralabama.com.
Alabama’s WMAs also offer a variety of other outdoor recreational opportunities. You can camp, hike, canoe, fish, or even ride horses on most management areas. Rules and regulations vary between WMAs, so be aware of them before beginning your outdoor excursion. All of the rules are on the back of the map permit.
So what are you waiting for? Get out and enjoy the largest and most affordable hunting club in Alabama! You and your wallet will be glad you did.
Logo courtesy Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources