The autumnal equinox has passed and that first nip of cooler weather is in the air. For many people in Alabama that means one thing — the fall hunting season has arrived.

The activity is a major happening in the state. A 2011 study by Auburn University said hunting and other wildlife-related events generate $4 billion for the state’s economy. A national survey from the same year reported 535,000 people ages 16 years and older spent a combined total of 10.3 million days hunting in Alabama.

Many generations can enjoy hunting for dove.

Many generations can enjoy hunting for dove.

While some in society have disdain for those who kill animals “for sport,” going into nature to gather sources of protein is an ancient rite of passage. Everything from deer and rabbits to ducks and geese can provide a significant source of food for many families in Alabama. Have some turkey jerky, anyone?

The season for mourning dove and white-tailed dove has already started. For the southern half of the state, the next dates are Oct. 11 to Oct. 26, and Nov. 12 to Jan. 15. Doves can be hunted on these days from one-half hour before sunrise until sunset, with an allotment of 15 a day. For the northern half of the state, the season runs now through Nov. 9, and then Dec. 7 to Dec. 31.

The most popular game in the state is most likely deer. According to a survey by the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, the most successful hunting grounds in southwest Alabama are in Baldwin, Escambia and Monroe counties.

Archery season for the south half of the state, or Zone B, will open Oct. 25 and close Feb. 10. The many varied gun seasons are as follows:

Antlered bucks (stalking or dog hunting) — Nov. 22 to Nov. 30, Dec. 11 to Jan. 25; antlered bucks (stalk only, no dogs) — Jan. 26 to Feb. 10; unantlered deer (private or leased land only) — Nov. 22 to Nov. 30, Dec. 11 to Feb. 10; unantlered deer (open permit, public land) — Dec. 15 to Jan. 1; special muzzleloader/air rifle (private, leased or National Forest land, no dogs) — Nov. 17 to Nov. 21; and bow and arrow, spear (stalk hunting only, no dogs) — Oct. 25 to Feb. 10.

The WWF again split some of seasons into two sections, after having collected data on the reproductive health of deer in many parts of Alabama. Hunters in south Alabama will be able to pursue a larger portion of the breeding segment of the rut.

Another change is the reduction of the antlerless bag limit, from two to one per day.

Other hunting seasons set for Alabama are:

Turkey (decoys not permitted) — Nov. 22-30 and Dec. 20-Jan. 1 (only in Clarke, Clay, Covington, Monroe, Randolph and Talladega counties);

Turkey (decoys permitted) — March 14-April 30 in southwest Alabama; April 1-30 and April 22-26 in other sections of the state;

Teal — Sept. 6-21; six a day, 18 in possession;

Canada goose — Sept. 1-15; five a day, 15 in possession;

Snow/Blue goose — Oct. 25-Nov. 9 in Escambia and Monroe counties; five a day, 15 in possession;

Ducks — Nov. 17-Jan. 25; six ducks a day and may include no more than four Mallards (no more than two of which may be a female), three Wood, one Mottled, one Black, two Redhead, two Pintail, one Canvasback and three Scaup; possession limit is three times the daily bag limit;

Mergansers — Nov. 17-Jan. 25; five a day; only two may be Hooded;

Coot — Nov. 17-Jan. 25; 15 a day, 45 in possession.

For additional information on other game such as squirrel (Is Bienville Square off limits?) plus news and maps of hunting zones, please visit www.outdooralabama.com and www.eregulations.com.

Wetting a line

For those outdoorsmen who prefer to pursue their game with a rod and reel, a benefit fishing competition is set for Saturday, Oct. 4, at Live Oak Landing off Highway 225 in Stockton.

All anglers will receive a T-shirt and lunch. The tourney, which is presented by the Alabama Bass Federation, has a registration fee of $100 per person, and includes a $10 lunker fee and launch fee. To enter, call John Hall of the ABF at 251-379-6390.

The second annual Knockout Cancer Bass Tournament is raising funds to benefit pediatric rheumatology and cancer research at Children’s of Alabama hospital in Birmingham. The event will honor Frances Grace Hirs, a 14-year-old from Fairhope who is a patient at Children’s.

Down to the wire

Fairhope’s Grant Enfinger suffered a major blow in his pursuit for the ARCA Racing Series championship, when his Chevrolet blew an engine during the ZLOOP 150 race in Kentucky. He was credited with 30th place after going just 19 laps.

“It’s really disappointing for everybody at GMS Racing,” said Enfinger, who leads the circuit with six wins. “We lost something internal in the engine as soon as I shifted into fourth gear on the initial start.”

Mason Mitchell entered the race with a 50-point lead in the drivers standing over Enfinger. By finishing the race in third, he pushed his advantage to 200 points. All he has to do is finish 35th or better at Friday night’s ARCA 98.9 race at the Kansas Speedway to secure the title.

Mobile’s Thomas “Moose” Praytor finished the ZLOOP race in 21st place. He has driven his Ford to seventh place in the drivers’ standings.