Last week was Alabama’s end to a very long deer season. I had a front-row seat into the closing hours as I hoped one of the big bucks that had been showing up on scouting cameras would have one final hankering for a salad meal before the end of shooting light. Despite hunting a variety of habitats and using several tactics, I failed to bring home a “'Bama bruiser.”
I was the guest of the 2 Rivers Hunting Club; I enjoyed every minute of my time in Alabama. The club is one of dozens leased from Westervelt Wildlife Services, but it has a unique twist. The club members primarily work for Westervelt and most are wildlife biologists. Good friend Brian Murphy, CEO of the Quality Deer Management Association, hooked me up with the group and even joined us to aid in doe culling. I can’t even begin to describe the learning experience it was to be hunting with a host of biologists and having Murphy in the mix. It was like a crash course in Whitetail Management 101.
I also gained a ton of respect for Alabama’s deer hunting opportunities. I’ve always felt the South didn’t have much to offer in terms of trophy bucks. I was proved wrong by scouting cam photos from 2 Rivers (see main blog image) and other properties that the Westervelt team helps to manage. Their surveys confirmed that 150-class bucks and better are possible. Plus, I was amazed at the true buck-to-doe ratio of 1-to-1. I literally saw as many bucks as does.
To keep buck sightings on par with doe sightings, the hunting club only culls at the end of the season so bucks don’t feel pressure early and disappear into a nocturnal lifestyle. The club also creates vegetative and manmade barriers to veil access, and exit avenues allowing hunters to come and go from blinds without alarming feeding deer. Roads are maintained to stay clear of most fields, and every hunter is looking for bucks 4.5 years of age or older. The same age criteria go for does.
I left Alabama with a whole new respect for deer hunting in the South and I plan to return. If you’re looking for help in your deer management plan or searching for a deer hunting lease, I’d recommend a visit with the folks at Westervelt. They’re on their game.