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August is the month to renew hunting, fishing licenses

This year, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is giving hunters and fishermen who hunt or fish in Alabama new options to make purchasing licenses for the 2020-2021 seasons easier.

Young man fishing on a lake from the boat at sunset

Alabama hunting and fishing licenses expire at the end of August and have to be renewed. This year, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is giving hunters and fishermen who hunt or fish in Alabama new options to make purchasing licenses for the 2020-2021 seasons easier.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is offering packages that will cover license requirements. The licensing packages can be acquired with a one-click purchase when the 2020-2021 licenses become available on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. All of the current annual licenses will expire on Aug. 31, 2020.

Chuck Sykes is the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries director. Sykes said other states have successfully packaged licenses to take the guesswork out of the requirements.

“We’re trying to make it easier on people who are hunting and fishing in Alabama, especially non-residents or new hunters and anglers who don’t really know exactly what they need,” Sykes said. “People can go online and look for what activity they want to do, and we’re providing everything they need to do it with one click. I know when I go hunting out of state, a lot of times it can be fairly daunting trying to figure out exactly what licenses I need, like a regular hunting license, a WMA (wildlife management area) license or a stamp of some sort. What this does is eliminate the confusion and make it as easy as possible. When people come into Alabama and say they want to deer hunt, then here’s everything they need to deer hunt, or here’s everything they need to fish. We just want to provide easier access for hunters and anglers in Alabama.”

ADCNR is offering an ultimate bundle this year, the new All Access Sportsman’s Package. It includes annual licenses for All Game Hunting, WMA License, Bait Privilege License, Alabama State Duck Stamp, Harvest Information Program (HIP) Stamp, Freshwater Fishing, Saltwater Fishing, Saltwater Reef Fish Endorsement, and Spear Fishing. The All Access Sportsman’s Package will cost just $127.95 for residents and $533.25 for non-residents.

The All Access Hunting Package includes All Game Hunting, WMA License, Bait Privilege License, State Duck Stamp, and Harvest Information Program Stamp. The hunting package costs just $73.15 for Alabama residents and $407.45 for non-residents.

The All Access Fishing Package covers fishermen from freshwater fishing opportunities to the bounty of Alabama coastal waters and the Gulf of Mexico. The fishing package includes Freshwater Fishing, Saltwater Fishing, Saltwater Reef Fish Endorsement and Spear Fishing. The cost of the inclusive fishing package prices is just $54.80 for Alabama residents and $125.80 for non-residents.

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ADCNR offers a variety of additional packages for both residents of Alabama and non-residents for those who fish only in saltwater.

Fishermen can purchase the Resident Annual Saltwater Pier Fishing Package, which includes Pier Fishing and the Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement. The price is just $16.45. Additional permit fees apply at Gulf State Park Pier.

For those who want to fish for red snapper and other reef fish in Alabama’s unparalleled artificial reef zones, the Resident Annual Saltwater Reef Fish Package include Annual Saltwater Fishing and Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement. The price is $34.75. An Alabama resident can purchase a 7-Day Trip Saltwater Reef Fish Package is available for just $20.30.

For those who like to hunt their fish underwater, there is a Saltwater Spear Fishing package, which includes a Spearfishing license, Annual Saltwater Fishing and Gulf Reef Fish Endorsement. The price is just $40.75 for Alabama residents.

“What I like about the packages is that it groups together commonly purchased licenses,” said Marine Resources Director Scott Bannon. “It helps people make sure they have everything necessary to legally participate in an activity. For instance, if you’re going to spearfish in saltwater, most people do that offshore and would need a spearfish license, saltwater license and Gulf reef fish endorsement. Using the package option makes it easier and clearer.

“With our new license purchase format that groups licenses into a drop-down menu by activity, we’re hoping to make it more user friendly for people to purchase their licenses,” Bannon said. “The packages are an extension of that. And the All Access Sportsman’s Package makes it easy for those who participate in everything we do in the outdoors in Alabama.”

You can learn more about the new license packages at: An auto-renew feature is also available on the licenses page at

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Last year, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources introduced a set of collectible hard-card licenses with a variety of outdoor scenes and wildlife. A set of six new cards will be available for the 2020-2021 license year.

The art scenes include a mature white-tailed buck, strutting turkey, crappie, redfish, wood duck, and a Second Amendment-themed card for shooting sports. A total of 32 license privileges are eligible for purchase as a hard card, including annual hunting and fishing licenses for residents and non-residents, state duck stamp, and Wildlife Heritage and bait privilege licenses. This feature is not available for trip licenses and no-cost privileges.

Lifetime licenses are also available for hunters and fishermen who want to avoid annual renewal fees. While more expensive upfront a lifetime license offers tremendous savings in the long term. The lifetime licenses will also now come on a beautiful new hard card.

To obtain a hard-card license, go online at and click the link to purchase a license, or request one when purchasing at a retail outlet. Buyers can choose one or all of the six new cards at $5 per card. If a license has already been purchased, those who want to get a hard card can go online and click on the “Replacement/Additional Hard Card” link to purchase any or all of the six cards.

The hard-card licenses will be mailed to buyers within 10 days of purchase. If you haven’t received your hard card before you plan to hunt or fish, be sure to keep a paper copy of your license or have it available in the Outdoor AL app on your smartphone.

Also new for the 2020-2021 hunting seasons is an updated requirement for hunters who harvest deer and turkeys to maintain proper paperwork when transferring possession of that animal to a processor, taxidermist or any another individual.

Jonathan Stone is the Assistant Chief of WFF’s Law Enforcement Section.

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Stone said the recording and reporting requirements remain the same in Game Check. The update concerns possession of the game by someone other than the hunter.

“What this means is that whoever is in possession of all or part of a deer or turkey that is not their own must retain written documentation with the name of the hunter, the hunter’s Conservation ID number, the date of the harvest and Game Check confirmation number,” Stone said. “That information can be on a piece of paper, or they can use the transfer of possession certificate available in the Alabama Hunting & Fishing Digest or online at”

“That documentation has to be kept in possession as long as that person is in possession of that deer or turkey,” Stone explained. “It’s the responsibility of the hunter who harvests the deer or turkey to enter that animal into the Game Check system and maintain in their possession a valid confirmation number for that animal.”

This new feature helps ADCNR crack down on poachers who take game without being licensed. That was already illegal; but now processors and taxidermists can not legally process game for an unlicensed hunter.

Hunters still must report the harvest through Game Check within 48 hours to attain a confirmation number. The game now cannot be transferred to another individual until a valid Game Check confirmation number has been acquired.

“Anyone who takes possession of a harvested deer or turkey, which includes taxidermists and processors, must receive and maintain documentation containing the valid Game Check confirmation number, the name of the hunter and other necessary information,” Stone said. “Those who take possession of that animal need to make sure they have that information prior to receiving it.”

Stone also wants to remind hunters that there are two ways to enter their harvests through Game Check. The easiest by far is to download the Outdoor AL smartphone app. The other is to go to and click on “Game Check.” For those who don’t have internet access, WFF has self-service kiosks at all district offices.

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“The 1-800 number is no longer in effect,” Stone said. “You can go to the website or the best way is to use the Outdoor AL app on your phone. It only takes a few seconds to plug in that information and you’re done.”

Alabama is world-renowned for the plethora of hunting and fishing options for sportsmen. Whether it is fishing for red snapper, cobia, spotted sea trout, flounder, amberjack, yellowfin tuna or croaker off the Alabama Gulf Coast; hunting for whitetail deer, hogs, coyotes, alligators, raccoon or fox in Alabama’s forests; fishing for largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and bluegill in Alabama’s lakes; or hunting sandhill cranes, turkeys, geese, ducks, doves, quail, crows and other fowl; or small game hunting for squirrels, rabbits, opossum, beaver and nutria, Alabama has an outdoor sport for you.

The SEC college football season has already been pushed back three weeks to September 26 and shortened by two games due to the coronavirus crisis. Attendance is likely going to be limited to just 25 percent capacity or less if we even have a 2020 season.

High school and youth sports have never been more dangerous to play due to the coronavirus global pandemic, and it is even now dangerous to be in the stands as a spectator.

Hunting and fishing provide a safe recreational activity that the whole family can enjoy where social distancing is actually a normal part of the experience.

Alabama has more than 1.3 million acres of public hunting land and some of the most liberal seasons and bag limits in the nation. Public land hunting opportunities in the state include Wildlife Management Areas, Special Opportunity Areas, Physically Disabled Hunting Areas, Forever Wild land, U.S. Forest Service land, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land, Tennessee Valley Authority land and several National Wildlife Refuges.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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