Registration for the various hunts on Alabama’s Special Opportunity Areas (SOAs) will begin on Monday, August 19, 2019, at 8 a.m. Alabama’s SOA program is offered through the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) in an effort to provide hunters with unique hunting opportunities.
SOAs are typically smaller than Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in acreage and are more suitable to a limited-quota hunting format, which reduces hunting pressure on game species and increases the hunt quality. The program offers a limited number of slots for successful permit holders and their guest(s) to hunt a dedicated 300- to 400-acre location for a two to four-day hunt.
“The SOA format provides our traditional public land hunters with new and exciting hunting options,” said Chuck Sykes, WFF Director. “It also provides hunters who have always been a bit hesitant about hunting on public land with a great opportunity to test the waters.”
Rodney Gilbert from Arab, Alabama, took his daughter on a deer hunt at the Uchee Creek SOA in January 2019. After the experience, he feels this type of opportunity can help renew an interest in hunting for younger generations and create positive lasting memories for families and friends.
“My goal for the hunt was to hopefully give my daughter a chance to harvest her first deer,” Gilbert said. “She was able to harvest a large, mature doe on Friday afternoon. We were both very excited. It was a very special time with my daughter that created lots of memories we will be able to share in the future.”
Dr. Benjamin Harris, an optometrist in Montgomery, Alabama, shares Gilbert’s enthusiasm for Alabama’s SOA program. Dr. Harris was drawn for a turkey hunt on the Portland Landing SOA earlier this year. While he didn’t bring home a bird, the abundance of other wildlife he encountered during his hunt – including several turkey, deer and a juvenile alligator – made for an equally enriching experience.
“At this point in my hunting career, the kill is not the most important thing to me anymore, it’s more about the experience,” said Dr. Harris. “Without question, the experience I had at Portland Landing ranks as one of the top five of my outdoor adventures of my life. I am so very grateful for this opportunity.”
Registration times for the 2019-2020 SOA hunts:
Registration for the SOA deer hunts runs from August 19 to September 13, 2019.
Registrations for the youth squirrel hunts at Fred T. Stimpson SOA and adult waterfowl hunt at Crow Creek SOA run from September 16 to September 30, 2019.
Registration for the Fred T. Stimpson SOA youth waterfowl hunt will begin in December 2019.
Registration for the Crow Creek SOA youth waterfowl hunt will begin in January 2020.
Registrations for small game and turkey hunting at the Cedar Creek, Portland Landing and Uchee Creek SOAs run from December 2 to December 16, 2019.
The limited-quota permits to hunt the SOAs are obtained through an online registration and selection process. Applicants apply online for a preferred SOA property hunt date. The cost to hunt an SOA is the purchase of both a state hunting license and a WMA license. Hunters will also need a Conservation ID Number, which is free.
To register for one of the SOA hunts, visit www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/special-opportunity-areas during the dates and times listed above. The 2019-2020 SOA hunt dates are also available on that webpage.
Alabama’s six SOAs include
Crow Creek (400 acres) in Jackson County offers adult archery deer hunting for a permit holder and one guest and waterfowl hunting on select dates throughout the season for a permit holder and four guests.
Cedar Creek (6,400 acres) and Portland Landing (8,700 acres) in Dallas County and Uchee Creek (4,735 acres) in Russell County offer deer, small game and turkey hunting on selected dates throughout those seasons for the permit holder and one guest.
Fred T. Stimpson (5,320 acres) and Upper State Sanctuary (1,920 acres) in Clarke County offer adult archery deer hunts for a permit holder and one guest; youth gun deer hunts for a youth hunter and youth guest with their supervising adult(s); and squirrel hunts for the permit holder, one youth and up to five additional guests, one of which must be a youth.
For more information about Alabama’s SOA program, please visit www.outdooralabama.com/special-opportunity-areas/soa-frequently-asked-questions.