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“Bonus Buck” Program Would Allow WMA Bucks That Don’t Count Against Buck Limit
By Mike Bolton
Posted Tuesday April 25 2017, 4:09 PM
The WMA Bonus Buck Program will allow hunters to take a buck on certain WMAs on certain days that will not count against their three-buck limit.
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WFF will this summer announce a Wildlife Management Area Bonus Buck Program for the 2017-18 season. This program will allow hunters on certain WMAs, on certain days, to take a buck that will not count against their season’s three-buck limit.

No final decisions have been made yet about which WMAs will be part of the  Bonus Buck program. Chris Snith, the assistant chief of wildlife for WFF, said WMA managers and WFF officials are currently looking at what WMAs would be best suited for the program.

The WMAs and dates will be included in the WMA hunting date schedules that will be released later this summer, he said.

Chuck Sykes, the director of WFF, said the WMA Bonus Buck Program will hopefully generate interest and create an opportunity for many who hunt on private lands to experience hunting on public lands.

“It will give an incentive to people who don’t normally hunt on public land,” he said. “We have excellent public hunting in this state, but people have been told it’s dangerous because you have people running over the top of you, and you are not going to have any good hunting. We want to give an opportunity for people to try it and see that none of that is true.”

Sykes said he believes that the Bonus Buck program will be well received by those who hunt WMAs on a regular basis, as well as by those who hunt private lands, but have harvested three bucks before the season’s end.  The Bonus Buck Program will give them the opportunity to harvest an additional buck that will not count against their three-buck limit.

“We want people to see that you can enjoy WMA hunting,” Sykes said. “It will be good for people who are already hunting WMAs and for those who don’t normally hunt WMAs.”

Smith said the Bonus Buck Program will be in effect only on certain WMAs on certain days. He said hunters who take bucks on those WMAs on those days will be required to bring the buck by a check station, where WFF personnel will record it in the Game Check program. That way, the buck will not go against the hunter’s three-buck limit.

“It’s our intention and hope that it will be a good thing for hunters who are hunting WMAs anyway, and for private land and leased land hunters to experience WMA hunting after they have already taken their three bucks for the season.”

Regular AON contributor Michael Perry, of Vinemont, is strictly a WMA hunter, and he believes the Bonus Buck Program will be a great thing for WMA hunters like himself. He said it will generate much needed money for WFF. An annual $17.45 WMA license is required to hunt deer on WMAs, in addition to the regular state hunting licenses.

“That’s good,” he said of learning about the Bonus Buck Program. “I’ve said they’ve needed to do something like that for years. It will help those who hunt WMAs all the time and bring some others in and create more money for the WMAs. It should sell more WMA licenses.”

Perry said he hunts WMAs because they offer thousands of acres of good hunting at a nominal price. He also likes WMA hunting because of his work schedule that allows him just two weekends off a year. He says joining a hunting club now typically costs more than $1,000 a year, and many require members to have work days on Saturdays, which is something that he just can’t do.

“It’s easier for me to go to a WMA,” Perry said. “Clubs have all these rules about when you can sign in and all that, and I like the freedom of hunting on a WMA and doing my own thing.”

Perry says he hunts Black Warrior WMA, Oakmulgee WMA and Freedom Hills WMA every year, and this past season tried Lauderdale WMA.

He said he believes some private-land hunters will try WMA hunting and find that stories of WMAs being overrun with hunters just aren’t true.

“I rarely encounter another hunter on a WMA,” he said.
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