In an effort to expand the opportunity for bowhunters to harvest more deer within Oak Mountain State Park near Birmingham, hunt dates will be scheduled November 1, 2011 through January 31, 2012. Hunt dates will be weekday only with the exception of the weekend of January 28-29, 2012. The program was designed by the Alabama State Parks Division, the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (Wildlife Section) and Bowhunters of Alabama (BHA) in an effort to maximize hunter opportunity and streamline the deer management process.
Oak Mountain State Park will remain open during the hunting time period. All established rules and regulations will apply. The park will be divided into 11 zones with each zone accommodating 4-5 hunters on a first-come, first-serve basis. No more than 55 hunters will be chosen by BHA through a registration and interview process for the 2011-12 season. Visit www.alabamabowhunter.com , to learn more about registration for this program.
The Oak Mountain hunting format is modeled on other urban deer control programs across the United States and has proven beneficial in total number of deer harvested during the 2010-11 season. Last year 59 Deer total were harvested during the hunts (42 does and 17 Bucks). The hunts have averaged a total of 28 deer harvested per hunting period since the hunts began six years ago. Harvest numbers are expected to go up during the 2011-12 season due to the expanded time frame, weather permitting.
Wildlife experts point to Oak Mountain State Park as a textbook case of how deer tend to multiply in numbers greater than their habitat can support unless controlled through regulated hunting. Scientific data provided by herd health checks and necropsy confirmed the presence of parasites and disease due to overpopulation. After consulting with state wildlife biologists and in consideration of research data, regulated archery hunts were established in order to control the Oak Mountain State Park herd.
Surveys conducted in 1999, 2000 and 2003 found serious vegetative impact on developing wildflower growth, trees and shrubs as a result of deer browsing. In turn, populations of small mammals and nesting birds were negatively effected. Additionally, disease, parasites and malnutrition can result when deer numbers exceed the vegetative carrying capacity of the land. Future research will be conducted as funds allow in an effort to highlight improvements within the park and the whitetail deer population.
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 Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit www.outdooralabama.com  .