Bow hunting coming to Oak Mountain State Park

FROM STAFF REPORTS

As part of the urban deer management program, Oak Mountain State Park will offer bow hunting beginning in November and running through early February.

Consultation with state wildlife biologists and consideration of scientific research data revealed the ongoing need to manage the Oak Mountain State Park herd. Overpopulation of deer causes negative consequences for wildflowers, trees and shrubs in the park, which in turn depletes the food supply for small mammals and nesting birds.

Oak Mountain State Park serves as an example of how deer tend to multiply in numbers greater than the habitat can support, according to wildlife experts, unless controlled through regulated hunting.

“The only way to keep a deer herd healthy, especially in an urban environment, is to manage it,” said Tasha Simon, a Natural Resources Planner for the Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources. “Overpopulation can cause many adverse outcomes to the ecosystem, and Oak Mountain’s proximity to Alabama 119, Interstate 65 and nearby subdivisions makes it critical to manage the herd for human safety as well as the well-being of the herd itself.”

Hunters must apply online to participate in the hunts and will be selected by a random draw.

Any permitted and licensed hunter 16 years or older, subject to and in accordance with established registration and eligibility requirements, can apply to participate in the Oak Mountain hunts.

The dates for the hunts are Nov. 2-5, Nov. 9-12, Nov. 16-19, Nov. 23-26; Nov. 30-Dec. 3, Dec. 7-10, Dec. 14-17, Dec. 28-31; Jan. 4-7, Jan. 11-14, Jan. 21-24, Jan. 28-31, and Feb. 1-4.

Oak Mountain State Park will remain open during the hunting dates, and archery hunters will be spread out and away from park visitors enjoying other activities such as camping, boating, hiking or golfing.

Hunters must have an Alabama Conservation ID (CID) to register for the random draw for the hunts. If selected, hunters must have a Wildlife Management Area license to accept the permit.

Registration begins Monday, Sept. 21 at 8 a.m. and closes Wednesday, Sept. 30, at 8 a.m.

After registration closes and the random draw, selected hunters will have 72 hours to accept their hunt. Once a permit is accepted, the hunter will receive an email with hunt unit assignment along with details and logistics.

The cost to hunt in a State Park Special Opportunity Area (SPSOA) is the purchase of a state hunting license, a WMA license and a SPSOA fee of $40 per hunter – all paid in advance.

Each selected hunter may bring one guest to participate in the hunt, but all guest hunters must also pay the $40 SPSOA fee and hold the other applicable licenses.

If a cabin rental is obtained for the duration of a hunt, the SPSOA fee will be waived.

“It’s important for people who apply to participate in the urban deer management program at Oak Mountain to keep in mind it’s about keeping our ecosystem in balance and maintaining the health and vitality of the deer herd,” Simon said. “Oak Mountain is one of Alabama’s special places, and we want to keep it that way.”

To apply to participate in the urban deer management at Oak Mountain State Park, visit this webpage Alapark.com/parks/oak-mountain-state-park/spsoa-deer-management-hunts.