The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, also known as Outdoor Alabama, develops regulations that determine how individuals can hunt within the state. Hunting is defined as pursuing, killing, shooting, capturing and trapping wild animals, including waterfowl. Certain rules regarding hunting and weapons are generally static, such as Alabama’s statutes on weapons. Other rules may change, such as the dates for deer season.
Alabama Public Hunting Seasons
Alabama's hunting seasons vary by species. There is no single hunting season, but different seasons with different dates. The wildlife species with seasons include deer, turkey, mourning and white-winged doves, waterfowl, alligator, sandhill crane, rabbit, opossum, and the combined category of bobcat, coyote, feral swine and fox.
Deer Hunting Season Dates
Every year, Outdoor Alabama posts a unique page on deer season that divides the state into distinct deer hunting zones. This explains the areas, dates and methods instructing individuals with hunting licenses when and how they can harvest deer. Generally, in order to hunt white-tailed deer in the state of Alabama, a deer hunter must have an all-game hunting license, a harvest record, a wildlife management license, and a map permit if they are hunting in a wildlife management area (WMA).
When an individual harvests a deer, they have 48 hours to report it through Game Check, a program that tracks deer and turkey harvest information on a county-by-county basis.
Recreational Hunting Licenses
Typically, Alabama residents and nonresidents that engage in hunting must purchase a recreational license to hunt. Certain categories of people are exempt from the license requirement, including children under 16 years of age, resident landowners and residents age 65 and over. All hunters, even those who are exempt from purchasing a license, must obtain and possess a harvest record and submit their deer and turkey harvests into the Game Check system.
Convicted Offenders and Gun Use
A person convicted in Alabama of a crime of violence or an attempted crime of violence is not allowed to own, possess or exercise control over a pistol, which means a firearm with a barrel less than 12 inches long. Crimes of violence include murder, manslaughter except manslaughter arising out of the operation of a vehicle, assault with intent to rob, robbery, burglary and kidnapping. The term crime of violence also means any Class A or Class B felony that has an element of a serious physical injury, the distribution or manufacture of a controlled substance, or a crime of a sexual nature involving a child under the age of 12.
An individual who has been convicted of a misdemeanor offense of domestic violence, is subject to a valid protection order for domestic abuse, or is of unsound mind is not allowed to own or use a firearm in Alabama. In addition, the state prohibits a person under 18, a drug addict or a “habitual drunkard” from owning, possessing or controlling a handgun. The maximum punishment for being a felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years in prison.
Alabama’s prohibition of gun ownership and use by a convicted felon means that generally, a convicted felon does not have the right to hunt game or fowl with a gun. A convicted felon may be able to hunt with another type of weapon, such as a bow. An offender who is on informal, or court-supervised probation, or formal, or county-supervised probation, should talk to the court or their probation officer to determine whether they will be allowed to hunt and what types of weapons they are permitted to own and use. This is particularly true if the offender has been convicted of a violent crime.
Constructive Possession of a Firearm
A convicted offender should avoid physically being in a place where firearms are present. If they are in the same space with firearms, they could be considered to be in constructive possession of the firearm. Constructive possession is defined as the individual knowing about the firearm and being in a position to exert dominion and control over the firearm. For example, an offender who is riding in a vehicle with hunters carrying firearms could be in constructive possession of those firearms, depending on the circumstances.
If the firearms are in a locked box to which the offender does not have the key, the offender is not in constructive possession of the firearms. If they are concealed in a bag, the offender might not know of their existence. Since they were unaware that the firearms were present, the offender would not be in constructive possession. However, if other people in the vehicle openly discussed going hunting, the offender remained in the vehicle with them and the guns, and the offender could have easily accessed the guns, it might be considered constructive possession.
Restoring Gun Ownership Rights
A convicted offender may apply for a pardon of their offense when they seek to restore their right to own a firearm. In order to be eligible for a pardon, the applicant must have completed their sentence or successfully served at least three years on parole for the sentence for which they seek a pardon. The individual must not have any pending felony charges. They must have paid in full all fines, fees, court costs and victim restitution ordered at the time of sentencing on disqualifying cases.
Alabama accepts applications for pardons with restoration of civil rights for individuals with a federal conviction or a conviction from another state if the person’s sentence is complete and the applicant resides in Alabama. A pardon from Alabama on a federal case is only recognized in Alabama. The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles (Board) will consider the applicant’s home situation, job status, updated criminal arrest record, written references and other information.
Pardon applicants are required to fully cooperate with the investigation of their criminal history, personal and social histories, and circumstances of their crime. If the applicant fails to cooperate, the investigation will be closed, and the applicant will not be able to reapply for one year. The amount of time necessary to complete the investigation depends on numerous factors, so the Board does not provide an estimate.
After an investigation is complete, the Board dockets the case for consideration and sends the required notification to the victim, certain officials in the jurisdiction of the conviction, and to the applicant. If the Board grants a pardon, it decides whether to restore any and all civil and political rights lost as a result of the conviction. The Board may grant a full pardon, which restores all rights, including that of gun ownership, or it can grant a pardon with restrictions.
- Alabama Attorney General: Alabama's Firearms and Weapons Law
- Outdoor Alabama: Deer Season
- Outdoor Alabama: License FAQs
- Outdoor Alabama: Deer Hunting in Alabama
- Outdoor Alabama: Game Check FAQ
- Outdoor Alabama: Who Is Exempt From Purchasing Recreational Licenses?
- Outdoor Alabama: Seasons and Bag Limits
- Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles: Pardon - FAQs
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.