Increase in License fees doesn’t mean fewer hunters

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 30, 2004

The process of buying an Alabama State hunting license has become easier and easier over the years while the price continues to steadily increase. The only thing you have to have these days to get a license is a valid driver’s license and a hunter education course number if need be.

The owner of Willingham Sports in Demopolis, Ronnie Willingham said that it is a lot easier nowadays to get a license.

“If you got a valid driver’s license, I will sell you a hunting license, ” Willingham said.

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The overall number of hunting license being sold by Willingham has been decreasing for the past several years. Willingham said that he thinks that two major factors play into the decline.

First, the economy has been really bad the last few years and with hunting equipment costing so much no one is hunting. Secondly, the cost of land to hunt on is ridiculously high around Marengo County.

He also said that the number of youth involved in hunting is seriously decreasing with each year. Willingham believes that the sport of hunting has outgrown the common man’s billfold and that is the reason why the children aren’t coming out.

“We have sold very few licenses to kids this year. The sport has gotten to be so expensive that if you don’t make around $40,000-$50,000 you don’t stand a chance,” Willingham said.

Willingham did sell one youth of Linden a license and his name is Randy Webb. Dole has been out in the woods and has seen a few deer so far this season. He really thinks that hunting is a lot of fun and he wishes more kids would get involved.

“I love to go hunting with my parents. We have lots of fun,” Webb said.

Willingham talked about when he was a kid he could remember paying $9.50 for a license and how the sport has changed so much with the introduction of hunters’ orange and high-powered rifles. The fee for a hunting license was raised from $9.50 to $12.50 back in the late 80’s and again in the early 90’s to $16.00.

Willingham thinks that the State of Alabama should raise the price again to around $25.00. He thinks this would allow the State to hire more game wardens and supply them with up to date devices.

“It costs more to fill my truck up with gas then to go hunting one time. The hunters of Alabama would support a increase in the price I think,” Willingham said, “We want the game wardens to have the best things like a 4 wheeler and a truck, and a boat.”

Another new invention in the process of getting a hunting license is if the hunter was born on or after 1977, he will have to pass the Alabama Hunter Education Course before buying a license.

This rule was adopted back in 1991 and consists of taking a 10-hour course and passing a written exam.

The reason why the State installed this program was to teach the youth firearm safety and handling, safe hunting and hunter ethics, wildlife laws, archery, first aid, survival, and game care. These courses are taught two times a year before hunting season and before dove season.