Deer Forecast-South

Lawrence County

More big bucks were taken in Alabama last season than in recent years, and the biggest came from the expansive Bankhead National Forest in Lawrence County. On December 12, Randy Coffey, of Moulton, Ala., arrowed a 27-point non-typical that unofficially scored 238 points and should easily erase the 10-year-old state record of 1971/8. Increased emphasis on taking antlerless deer helped Alabama reach its second-highest harvest total ever, an estimated 416,000, during the 1999-2000 season, the last for which figures are available. That comes two years after the state record of 423,000 was taken from a population of 1.6 million deer. Conservation Department biologist Keith Guyse expects the 2000-2001 season's figures to fall within that range as a result of a statewide liberalization of either-sex hunting days. Hunters in the southern half of the state can take a doe and a buck or two does per day for the entire firearms season, from mid-November through January. Archery season opens in mid-October and offers the same limit. In emphasizing the doe harvest to reduce an unbalanced buck-to-doe ratio, conservation officials so far have staved off hunters' pleas for buck seasons and antler limits like those in neighboring states. "I'm sure things may change down the line," Guyse says. "But right now we think what we're doing is more important as far as the buck-to-doe ratio is concerned." Guyse adds, "The highest number of big deer seems to come from counties that don't have many deer. Populations are lower, but they have a better food supply because they haven't damaged it through overpopulation."