1. ALABAMA [BRACKET “TURKEYS”] Jump-start your turkey season where the magnolias are starting to bloom and the longbeards are already gobbling in the hardwood bottoms and strutting in the hayfields. While most of the country’s turkey hunters are left twiddling their thumbs until April or May, the spring season for the majority of Alabama’s turkey country (with a population estimated at 450,000) starts on March 15.
“There’s good hunting from one end of the state to the other,” says Steve Barnett, a biologist with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, “and we have some very sizable public areas with excellent hunting.” He points visitors to the 37,291-acre Coosa Wildlife Management Area in east-central Alabama, the 39,139-acre Upper Delta WMA in the extreme southwestern part of the state, and the Choccolocco WMA in the northeast, where hunters willing to hike or bike can find plenty of elbowroom in 50,100 acres of prime Appalachia turkey woods.
But the epicenter, according to Barnett, is in the southern part of the state, where the hunting largely takes place on private land. The area is home to several renowned lodges where one can chase gobblers in genteel southern luxury. Spend the morning calling toms on 21,000 acres of prime turkey habitat, for example, at the White Oak Plantation near Tuskegee. Afterward, stuff yourself with a gourmet meal, cast for bass in the private pond, or shoot at one of the country’s best sporting clays courses. “We offer three- and four-day hunts and allow only six hunters at a time to ensure a quality experience,” says marketing manager Wes Cumbie. “It’s all fair chase, with one-on-one guiding.”
Season Dates: **March 15 to April 30 in most of Alabama
**Bag Limit: ** One gobbler per day; annual total of five (spring and fall)
| **Nonresident License: **$77 for three days
| **Guide Fees: ** $1,875 for a three-day hunt, including lodging and meals in a luxury facility
|Contact:** White Oak Plantation, 334-727-9258; www.whiteoakplantation.com
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