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State aims to keep track of deer kills

When Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division Wildlife Biologists Chris Cook and now retired Dave Nelson kept fielding questions about the biggest and best white-tailed bucks taken in Alabama each year, they realized all they really could provide was hearsay evidence and became determined to establish a resource for hunters to keep abreast of the buck harvest.

“Before Dave retired, we started talking about establishing a records and recognition program book for Alabama deer,” said Cook, who specializes in whitetail biology. “Hunters always wanted to know what was the biggest buck taken last year and what county had the most big bucks. We have never had a program to monitor those things. We started kicking around the idea of establishing a records program with biologists in other Southeastern states and soon found practically all the other states either had one of their own or had partnered with other groups to establish a program.”

Hence, the Records of Alabama’s White-tailed Deer (RAWD) was established to give hunters a resource for the buck harvest information.

“We’ve been working on it a while because we wanted to get our ducks in a row,” Cook said. “We wanted to have enough people trained in the Boone & Crockett scoring system so we could start having some measuring sessions around the state.”

WFFD Biologist Bill Gray and his fellow biologists in District VI measured a few deer at last year’s Southern Deer & Turkey Expo, but most hunters were unaware of any Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources program to recognize large bucks taken in the state.

Gray and his cohorts will be back at the Southern Deer & Turkey Expo from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on August 23 at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds on U.S. Highway 31 South in Dothan for one of two measuring sessions scheduled to begin the process of establishing a database. Call 334-347-1298 for information about the Dothan event.

The other scoring session in 2008 is scheduled for 8 a.m. until noon on Aug. 9 at the District IV ADWFF Office (phone 334-358-0035) in Prattville.

For more about the Records of Alabama’s White-tailed Deer program, to obtain score sheets, or to locate the next available scoring session, visit www.outdooralabama.com.