DCNR opens registration for private hunting units on public land

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) opened registration this past Monday for the new special opportunity areas (SOA) to make public hunting opportunities more accessible.

The DCNR Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division and the Forever Wild Land Trust collaborated to bring this new concept to Alabama hunting that would divide large hunting areas into smaller units that hunters can hunt privately on their assigned dates if they are chosen.

This is a way for hunters to utilize the land and not worry about a lot of pressure in the area nor other hunters being in their assigned unit,” Marianne Hudson of the WFF said.

The 6,500-acre Cedar Creek SOA in Dallas County is 15 minutes from Roland Cooper State Park and will offer four-day deer hunts and two-day turkey hunts.

The area, which has three miles of frontage on both the Alabama River and Cedar Creek, will be divided into 16 hunting units.

“The availability of large tracts of land is becoming less common,” Hudson said. “The WFF and the Forever Wild Land Trust to come up with a new concept to allow hunters to enjoy Alabama’s hunting opportunities in a more personalized way.”

The hunting units, which will be approximately 300-500 acres each, will be less overwhelming for inexperienced hunters, according to Hudson.

She says it makes it easier for them to know where they are supposed to be, and they will know that they are the only hunter in their assigned area.

Registration will run until Oct. 3, when the random selection process will begin.

Successful applicants will receive and e-mail with the dates and zone that they have been permitted to hunt in. There will be a 72-hour window after the invitation has been sent for the applicant to accept the permit, according to Hudson.

Applying for the SOAs is free, but hunters will need to have a hunter’s license and wildlife management area license.

The Cedar Creek SOA will allow the permitted hunter to have one guest during their assigned hunting period.

Hunters aren’t limited to the SOAs in their immediate areas. New SOAs will also be available at Uchee Creek in Russell County, Crow Creek in Jackson County and at Fred T. Stimpson in Clarke County.

The DCNR is encouraging all hunters, including ones outside of Alabama, to register so they can test out their new concept. Applications can be found online at outdooralabama.com/special-opportunity-areas.

“This is a new concept that hasn’t been offered in Alabama before,” Hudson said. “It is a new opportunity for public land hunting that’s going to give deer and turkey hunters a chance to take advantage of these properties that offer these high-quality hunting experiences.”