I eventually managed to yank the fish out of the box. As I dragged it up through the water, I could feel its tail fanning. I expected all hell to break loose when we hit the surface. Catching the cat's body between my knees, I popped out of the water. Jason Sealock

Whitetail deer may take center stage this time of year, but a snuffling pack of beagles and cries of “Tallyho!” from eager hunters recall one of the most storied traditions in the South during Alabama’s rabbit season, which runs through February. You have access to more than 625,000 acres of state-run wildlife management area land with open pastures and bottomland hardwoods. Top areas to check out are the 10,424-acre Lowndes Wildlife Management Area (WMA) along the Alabama River, Swan Creek WMA near Decatur with more than 8,000 acres and the sprawling Black Warrior WMA, which has 98,000 acres in Lawrence and Winston counties near Moulton. The bag limit is eight per day. Nonresident small-game licenses are $47 for 10 days and $32 for 3 days. You also must purchase a $16 WMA permit. Blaze orange is required during the firearms deer season. Check state regulations about closed dates during scheduled WMA firearms deer hunts. Contact: Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (334-242-3465; www.dcnr.state.al.us).