Alabama hunters used to pride themselves on the number of bucks they bagged, sometimes taking full advantage of the “buck a day” limit to kill 10 or more in a season. That attitude has changed, particularly in the Black Belt region south and west of Montgomery, including Sumter, Pickens, Greene, Marengo, Hale, Dallas, Wilcox, Perry, Lowndes, Montgomery, Bullock, Macon, Barbour, and Russell Counties.

“Many of the hunting clubs and larger land holders in this region have adopted the management philosophy of harvesting antlerless deer and letting younger bucks walk,” says Chris Cook, deer studies project leader. “Bucks harvested on these properties tend to be 3-plus years of age.” Most are solid bucks in the 125 to 140 class, but once in a while a brute comes along, like Jon Moss’ 2597/8 state-record nontypical, taken in Perry County in 1989. Getting in on a lease is the best bet for hunting this area on a regular basis, but lots of outfitted hunts are available.

“Several things contribute to the Black Belt’s ability to produce big bucks,” says Cook. “The primary reason is the region’s soils. They are some of the most fertile found anywhere in the Southeast. Interest in growing and hunting older bucks has also been increasing.”

Nonresident license: $252 ($77 for 3 days)