Field and Stream magazine ranks the Barbour Wildlife Management Area (WMA) among eight public lands nationwide considered, “America’s Best Public Deer Hunts.” As stated in the September 2006 Field and Stream issue, “Barbour WMA is a classic example of Alabama’s quality deer management program.” The article recognizes Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources’ commitment to improve the quality of deer herds in Barbour WMA and across the state. Author Kirk Deeter adds, “the ‘magic ingredients’ for whitetail success are good natural herd numbers, an effort by state wildlife officials to balance the deer populations and to ensure that mature bucks are in the mix, and acreage.”

“There are 32 WMAs statewide that allow deer hunting and five of these WMAs have buck antler restrictions,” said Department of Conservation Commissioner M. Barnett Lawley. “The modern initiative is the result of us listening to wildlife biologists, landowners and hunters who preferred to manage for a more naturally structured deer herd. Over-harvesting in past years decreased the numbers of quality deer in Alabama. The Conservation Advisory Board stepped up to the plate and supported a progressive wildlife management program enabling us to control the size and age of deer being harvested.”

ADCNR Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) biologists recommend the new strategies to reflect the changing demographics of today’s hunters. The Conservation Advisory Board implemented the experimental program in 1998 on approximately 20,000 acres comprising Barbour WMA, and expanded the initiative last year to encompass the entirety of Barbour County. Under the new regulation, hunters may harvest bucks with at least three points on an antler. Additionally, hunters are asked to voluntarily report harvest data online to help wildlife biologists gather data such as weight, antler measurements, age, and date of harvest. Data will be used to help improve deer management strategies.

Research data from Barbour WMA reflect 88 percent of harvested whitetail bucks are at least 2 ½ years old or older. Prior to the program’s inception, younger bucks comprised a disproportionate number of the total harvest, which resulted in an unbalanced adult sex ratio and poor buck age structure. Consequently the odds of harvesting a mature buck were very low. The new program allows hunters a better opportunity to harvest a mature buck. In fact, a five-year analysis indicates mature buck harvest increased by more than 350 percent, compared to the previous five years under traditional deer herd management.

The seven other areas featured in the Field and Stream article are: Wayne National Forest, Ohio; Ballard Wildlife Management Area, Kentucky; Chequamegon National Forest, Wisconsin; Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge; Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia; Delta National Forest, Mississippi; and The Missouri Breaks, Montana.

 The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR visit