By DAVID RAINER - with Outdoor Alabama Weekly
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
A buddy of mine recently returned from vacation to discover what many landowners have been dealing with for the past couple of decades.
“Hogs tore up my place while we were gone,” the message read.
Now my friend has another tool that he can use to help minimize the impact of the scourge known as feral hogs.
The Alabama Legislature recently passed legislation that allows hunters on privately owned or leased land to purchase a bait privilege license that makes it legal to hunt feral pigs (year-round during daylight hours only) and white-tailed deer (during the deer-hunting season only) with the aid of bait.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) is issuing the new license ($15 for resident individual hunters and $51 for non-residents) through any outlet that sells hunting licenses and online at www.outdooralabama.com.
Hunters who want to thin the destructive hog herd right now can purchase the license, but be aware that license will expire on Aug. 31. If you wish to hunt hogs or deer with the aid of bait during the 2019-2020 hunting seasons, you will need to purchase a new bait privilege license when it becomes available in late August.
The bait privilege license applies to everybody who hunts those species with the aid of bait with no exceptions. That means hunters 65 years old and older and hunters under 16 must have a valid bait license when hunting with the aid of bait. That also includes people hunting on their own property and lifetime license holders.
Plus, each hunter must have his/her own bait privilege license to hunt with the aid of bait.
Also understand that baiting any wildlife – including white-tailed deer and feral pigs – on public lands remains illegal.
Sen. Jack Williams, R-Wilmer, who has been dealing with the destructive feral hogs for years, sponsored the Senate bill. This was the fourth year Williams had submitted similar legislation.
“The biggest thing in my area is the hogs are tearing your property up,” said Williams, who farms and operates a plant nursery in Mobile County. “I’m overrun with them in my area.
“I killed one Easter morning off my porch, in my back yard. They were rooting my driveway up. We’re doing everything we can to kill them. We have more opportunities to kill them during deer season than any other time.”
Williams drew a parallel with how some natural wildlife forage can also congregate animals in tight spaces.
“In my viewpoint, there is not any difference between a group of deer eating the corn spread out or in a trough and white-oak acorns with all the deer up under that tree,” he said. “We’ve fed for years, and I think most people who are trying to grow any deer have too. We haven’t had any problems with it at all.”
Included in the law is a provision that ADCNR can suspend the use of the bait privilege license on a county, regional or statewide basis to prevent the spread of diseases, like chronic wasting disease (CWD), among wildlife.
Williams said he’s received significant feedback on his Facebook page about the bill, and the majority of responses have been positive.
“The polling we had before it was passed was about 84% in favor,” he said. “And it’s a choice. If you don’t want to bait, you don’t have to. If you own property, you can put in your lease that hunters can’t use bait. This is not being forced on you. It’s up to you if you do it or not.”
Williams thinks the use of bait illegally has been a common occurrence in Alabama in the past.
“People have been feeding anyway,” he said. “This is just making a lot of people legal. That’s the way I see it.
“I don’t see it helping the people who grow corn. I know every feed store around here that sells it, and they can’t get it in fast enough during hunting season. It’s not going to make the price of corn go up. That will be market price.”
Williams also mentioned, for those who choose not to hunt with the aid of bait, the Area Definition Regulation remains in effect. The Area Definition Regulation allows for supplemental feeding as long as the feed is more than 100 yards away and out of the line of sight of the hunter because of natural vegetation or naturally occurring terrain features.
Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship said this was not a Department-sponsored bill, but the Department did work with Senator Williams to include the provisions that help prevent the spread of disease.
“We wanted it to be clear in the bill that the Conservation Commissioner had the authority to suspend the baiting privilege if CWD or some other disease was detected,” Blankenship said. “It also says the Commissioner can suspend the feeding of wild game in areas where CWD or other disease might be present.
“This gives us some abilities to ensure that we can protect the deer herd in the case of a disease outbreak in our state.”
Blankenship said there has been much discussion regarding the bill.
“People like that this bill makes it clear that if they want to hunt with aid of bait, they can, like they do in Georgia and other states,” he said. “I’ve also got some calls from people who are unhappy, who don’t think it’s a way that you should hunt.”
Blankenship reiterated what Senator Williams said about choice to participate or not.
“This is not a requirement that people hunt over bait,” he said. “It’s a tool that people can use if that is what they prefer. Somebody who is totally opposed to that type of hunting can hunt the way they always have. This is just an option.”
Like Williams and my friend, Blankenship expects significant participation from people who are dealing with feral pigs.
“This may help us throughout the whole year to better help control the population of feral hogs,” the Commissioner said.
Blankenship said the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division will continue to closely monitor the white-tailed deer herd and any harvest rate trends that might be associated with the use of bait.
“The Department will make sure this is not a detriment to the wildlife and that we have a healthy deer population in our state,” he said. “This is just another factor we will examine as we look at the health of the deer population. With the three-buck limit and other seasons and bag limits, we think our deer population will be fine.”
Revenue from sale of the new bait privilege license will be eligible for federal matching funds to support conservation efforts in the state. That revenue is determined, in part, by the number of licenses sold. Exempt hunters who buy a bait privilege license but don’t buy a hunting license will be eligible to be counted for federal matching funds.
Blankenship said he doesn’t have a projection about the amount of revenue the bait privilege licenses will produce.
“We really don’t know right now,” he said. “After the first season, we’ll have a lot better idea.”
For more information, contact the Alabama WFF Law Enforcement Section at 334-242-3467.
Wouldn't it be great to shoot consistent scores at the local gun club? Maybe I can help. There are a few things you need to get right before your scores can go up.
You should first choose good ammo and check the speed. Whatever the speed you're comfortable with, stay with that speed. If you change from a shell that is 1200 FPS to a shell that is 1300 FPS or even 1100 FPS then your lead changes and then you will either miss the target or find yourself second guessing the lead.
Your mind starts to ask is this right or not? And then you talk yourself out of a target or two trying to figure it out. The result is scores go up and down. Try to stay with the same speed shells whether you are shooting a 1 oz. load or a 1-1/8 oz. load. Keep them the same and you will see a big difference in your consistency.
Shooting method has much to do with consistency. It doesn't matter how you get your gun in front of the target as long as you stay in front and don't stop. Learn to keep your gun going the same speed as the target, with the proper lead your mind will tell you when to make the shot without thinking about it at all.
Out of all the shooting methods to learn, the maintained lead it is by far the best. Recoil is part of breaking targets consistently. I hear a lot of shooters say that recoil doesn't bother them, but if you will look at their scores you will find that they shoot an 85 one day and a 70 the next.
The best way to take out the recoil is to get your gun back bored as much as possible and get the forcing cones lengthened and polished. You can also add a mercury recoil reducer to your gun if you can handle the extra weight.
This will remove lot of the felt recoil. Porting your gun will help take a lot of the jump out of your gun and this will help you go to the second target a lot smoother and be more consistent. If you get these things right before shooting, then all you will need to think about when you get to the course is where the target is coming from and where you need to set up.
If you need gun work contact Shotgun Sports & Outdoors at (256) 235-2780 and they can get you breaking more targets. For comments or shooting lessons contact me at www.shotgunsportsandoutdoors.com or call the store at (256) 235-2780. Next months article will be about course and target breakdown.
With the decline in hunting land, wild quail and the longing for a good dove hunt, sporting clays has become one of the fastest-growing sports in America. With its fancy clubhouses and the shooting fields laid out like golf courses, no wonder it is often referred to as "golf with a shotgun." It lets everyone, young and old, go into the great outdoors and enjoy hunting and shooting all year round.
Safety is the No. 1 priority for shooting sports. Never load your gun until you are in the shooting box, and the gun must be pointing down-range at all times. Make sure your gun is unloaded and the action is open before turning around and stepping out of the shooting box. The action must stay open until you get to the next shooting box. Never load more than two shells in the gun at one time for sporting clays. Never take safety lightly!
Your choice of a gun and ammunition are also very important factors in the sporting clay shooting arena. I like to use a good quality 12- or 20-gauge gun with light recoil and a comfortable fit. A good ammunition is a 3 1/4- gram, 1-oz. load in a No. 7 1/2 or 8 shot, with lots of speed and light recoil.
Another important factor in sporting clays is choice of choke. A cylinder choke is great for targets less than 20 yards. A skeet choke is used for targets 20 to 25 yards. An improved cylinder is great for targets 25 to 35 yards. A modified choke is used for targets 35 to 45 yards and a full choke is used for targets beyond 50 yards. Because most U.S. targets are thrown inside 35 yards, I like to shoot a skeet or improved cylinder. You should find that this works very effectively for any target presentation.
Targets come in a variety of sizes and are thrown from many different angles and at many speeds. You must first view the target and pick out the breakpoint. Each target has a point where it is most vulnerable to be broken. You must establish the breakpoint to start your set up chokes, shot size and foot position.
The correct foot position should be turned toward the breakpoint. Never underestimate the importance of foot position. Your front knee should be slightly bent and your weight distributed 60/40, with the 60 on the front foot. You are then ready for the muzzle-hold point.
The muzzle of your gun should be halfway back toward the trap, from the breakpoint and slightly below the flight path, so you can see a clear view of the target and start your swing accordingly.
The most important part is the focus point, where you see the target closest to the trap and stay focused on it. You should stare directly at the target. If it looks like a comet then you are not focusing hare enough on the target. You should see a clear target when you make your shot. With the correct breakpoint and your feet set up in the right position, muzzle hold halfway back, eyes focused on the target, you will start seeing most of your targets break.
Most shooters seem to miss behind the target. The best way to see the lead is to think of a window between the target and the barrel. Small lead, small window; medium lead, medium window; large lead, large window and so on. You should always miss the target in front.
If you miss a target one foot in front of you will still break the target, but if you miss the target one inch behind, you will have a lost target. So always make sure you miss in front.
Next issue, I we will discuss the different types of shooting methods, to include: the sustained lead, the swing through, the pull away and the Churchill method, and when each should be used and the ups and downs of each.
If you have any questions or comments please contact us at Shotgun Sports and Outdoors (256) 235-2780, Anniston, AL or email us at shotgunsportsandoutdoors.com.
Remember, sporting clay target are not hard to hit, they are just very easy to miss. So get your safety glasses, ear plugs and that old dog, and take a youngster out and enjoy the camaraderie of this great sport!!
When shooting sporting clay's you will need to learn all of the different shooting methods as well as how and when they work the best. Every shooter must have a base method to use, but you must also be able to use all of the methods.
Different people will find that they have a method that is the best for them I like the sustained lead the best. It works very effectively for me as a base method. To understand how to use the different methods, I will refer to the gun pointing straight at the target as the "insert point." For the sustained lead, basically when the target appears, the muzzle is inserted in front of the bird and will stay in front all the way through the shot. When the stock reaches your cheek, you should have your gun in front of the target with the proper lead built-in. To help you be able to see the lead, I like to refer to the lead as being a "window." Small lead, small window; medium window, medium lead; and so on. Do not get caught up in measuring the lead, this will make you slow your swing and shoot behind the target so always keep the window open. You should make your shot when the stock reaches your face and with your muzzle remaining at the same speed as the target, with the window staying the same. After practicing this you will find this to be very effective.
The swing-through method is where your muzzle is inserted slightly behind the target. The muzzle is swept through the target, and the gun is fired as you pass the target. This is referred to as "sweeping" the target, like taking a paintbrush and painting a line of shot in front of the target, a very effective way to break targets and I like to use this method in hunting dove and quail. The downside to this method is when a target is flying off-line; you will tend to shoot over the target. So watch the target flight path before shooting this method.
The pull-away method is similar to the swing through. The difference is where you insert your gun on the target. You insert straight at the target and then pull away and make your shot. You will find, with practice that this is one of the better shooting methods. I like to use this method when shooting long targets, outside 35 yards. Like the swing through, you will need to watch the targets flight path and do not shoot over it. When the wind moves a target or the target hits a limb or is just flying off line, it is very easy to miss the target with this swing through or the pull away method.
The Churchill method is when you do not see any lead. You bring your muzzle up from behind the target, with lots of gun speed and shoot directly at the target. The Churchill method will appear to be very fast, but when done correctly, it should seem very smooth, comfortable and under control. I really like this method for targets inside 20 yards. It is a good way to break a lot of targets.
A beautiful gun, new type of shell and new shooting shirt or wanting to win first place will not break a target. You have to put the shot string on the target. So the shooters job is not to break the target, but to deliver the shot string on the target. Everything you do before you pull the trigger has a direct effect on the outcome of the shot. Thinking of being ahead of your friend, or beating your last score that you shot, will only lead you to missing more targets. Breaking targets consistently requires concentration on the breakpoint, foot position and muzzle hold, focus point and the proper shooting method, but doing this during your set up and when you call "pull" you should have a clear mind. The next time you get out to enjoy a round of sporting clay's, don't be afraid to shoot a lot of shells on any of these shooting methods, as they will all work very well, but they all will take time to perfect
The future of all sports relies on the involvement and participation of juniors and ladies. When it comes to the ladies and juniors, there is a misconception about what equipment they should use.
Time after time, I see a junior or lady sportsman try to shoot the wrong equipment for them. The gun rocks back and knocks their arm off. The gun jumps up and slaps them in the face. They start missing targets as a result or, worse, they're afraid to try to shoot any more. Inevitably, they quit shooting. The reason is the equipment they are using is not right for them. You can spend thousands of dollars for a nice gun, which you thought might be right for them, but if you didn't take the time to get it fitted to them or if it's too heavy for them, it simply won't work. The most common mistake I see with a lady or junior is when they try to shoot a 20-gauge gun. Many are very light and too easy to poke around with real control. The recoil is often way too much. Not all 20-gauge guns are the same. Look around for a gun that is the right weight for the person who will shoot it. Do they have a small or light frame? For a small-frame person, they need a light gun. The best choice is a good gas-operated automatic that has been fitted to them and on which barrel work has been done to reduce recoil. For the 20-gauge gun, I don't recommend getting the guns ported. On a small-frame person, they have a tendency not to eject the shell and the action hangs open. I do recommend getting the forcing cones lengthened and the gun back-bored which will help take our much of the recoil.
For the 20-gauge over-and-under you need to get these guns ported. Also lengthen the forcing cones and have it back-bored. Make sure you choose an O/U that is not too light. Remember, the lighter the gun, the more recoil it will have.
A good gun to start with is the 20-gauge Browning Gold Hunter automatic or the 20-gauge Beretta A-390 or the A-391. Have the barrel work done. I really like the Browning 20-gauge O/U the best, but the Beretta 20-gauge Silver Pigeon or the SKB 20-gauge with a good set of Briley custom-fitted chokes, if they can handle the extra weight comfortably, is by far the better choice.
With the 28-gauge or the 410, you will find them a little more expensive to shoot but the rewards are worth it. The 28-gauge gun in an O/U is the king of the mountain. This gun has very light recoil, the best pattern of all the gauges and will break any target or take any game bird just as well as any other gauge gun.
If the shooter has a larger frame and can handle a little more weight, then I suggest you try a good quality, gas-operated 12-gauge gun like the Beretta A-390, A-391 or the Browning Gold Hunter. You will need to have these guns ported, back-bored and forcing cones lengthened to take out most of the recoil. With the Browning Gold Hunter 12-gauge gun, it comes from the factory back-bored, ported or not ported, as you desire, and with the forcing cones lengthened. It is a great off-the-shelf gun to start with. Either the Beretta or the Browning will work great for a lot of years, but do require cleaning more often the over-and-unders. When choosing the right ammunition, choose a shell that has light recoil and a good pattern. A 7/8 oz low powder load works well for 20 gauge. In the 28 gauge, the 7/8 oz loads will work best. For 12 gauge a 1 oz light load or a 7/8 oz load with high velocity is a favorite choice. The lighter load will break any target with a quarter of the recoil and without a doubt is the best choice for ladies and juniors. When trying to get a new shooter started, don't choose targets that are too hard. Keep them easy and work up from there. You must keep it fun. After all, it's for the enjoyment that we shoot to start with.
If you have any questions or comments please contact us at Shotgun Sports and Outdoors " www.shotgunsportsandoutdoors.com.
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