Oak Mountain hunt claims 26 deer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 3, 2004

State officials are calling last week’s deer hunt at Oak Mountain State Park a success, despite the fact only 26 deer were harvested by the 70 bowhunters during the two-day event.

Aimed at relieving the overpopulation of deer in the park, the archery hunt was organized by park officials and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

&uot;There’s no doubt it was very successful in several facets,&uot; said DCNR spokesman Jerry de Bin.

Just as valuable as the number of deer removed from the park was the information collected by hunters during their two-day hunt at the 10,000-acre park, de Bin said.

The hunters, who were selected randomly from a list of some 5,800 applications, were asked to keep a detailed log of the deer they observed while in the park during their hunt.

The hunter’s reports for Tuesday included sightings of 629 deer, the majority of which were does at 444 sightings. Bucks accounted for 109 sightings and 76 deer were of &uot;undetermined sex.&uot;

Wednesday’s totals were 485 deer observed; 65 bucks, 407 does and 13 undetermined.

The data collected was consistent with reports of malnourished and underfed deer at the park, said Conservation Commissioner Barnett Lawley.

&uot;What we have essentially is a deer herd that is literally eating themselves out of house and home,&uot; Lawley said.

A 7-year-old buck killed during the hunt weighed only 131 pounds, nearly 70 pounds under the optimal weight for a deer that age, Lawley said.

A 4-year-old doe that was killed weighed only 71 pounds where it should weigh at least 100, according to Lawley.

Of the 26 deer killed during the hunt, 11 were bucks and 15 were does.

State regulations allow hunters to kill up to two deer per day, one antlered and one anterless deer.

If each hunter had taken the alloted limit, they could have killed up to 280 deer.

&uot;We went into this knowing from the beginning that we weren’t going to get the two-per-day limit,&uot; de Bin said.

Even though the number of harvested deer fell well short of the limit, Lawley said the hunt was a good &uot;first step.&uot;

&uot;This hunt is directed at solving a problem,&uot; he said. &uot;We know we’re not going to solve the problem with one hunt.

&uot;The problem didn’t happen overnight and it won’t be fixed overnight.&uot;

Lawley said the possibility of additional hunts at Oak Mountain State Park was &uot;favorable.&uot;

If a another hunt is held, he said, &uot;We will tweak and adjust and work it to accomplish our goals.&uot;

Chelsea’s Matt Turpin spent all but about five daylight hours in the woods during the hunt.

He said public misconceptions about the deer in the park were proven wrong during the hunt.

&uot;There is no such thing as a tame deer at Oak Mountain State Park. They are still wild animals,&uot; he said.

Hunters drawn for the hunt were subjected to a bow proficiency test and charged a fee

to participate.

Hunters and alternates whose names were drawn and qualified from Shelby County were: Jason Dwain Bachman, Montevallo; Matthew Clenton Davis, Montevallo; Hunter Harrison Fuqua, Helena; Beau Hutchins, Montevallo; Shaun Jarvis, Alabaster; Phillip Eugene Jarvis, Alabaster; Salvatore (Sammy) John Russo, Pelham; Jeff Brack Shields, Columbiana; William Norman Trice, Wilsonville; Matt Edward Turpin, Chelsea; and Phillip Ray Wood, Vincent