Outdoors Columnist Mike Bolton Board's changes to hunting rules make no sense 05/18/03 Get out the smoke poles, boys. Alabama now has a genuine blackpowder-only deer hunting season. The Conservation Advisory Board created a three-day, blackpowder-only deer hunting season that will begin on Nov. 19 and run for three days before the gun season begins Nov. 22. Before the change, Alabama and Montana were the only two states that didn't offer a muzzleloader-only season. The three-day blackpowder season will overlap with the final three days of the Alabama bow season that begins Oct. 15. The reason for that special season was unclear Saturday. There was no hoard of muzzleloading enthusiasts asking for the change. Only Tony Knight, the owner of Knight Muzzleloaders from Iowa, addressed the board to ask for such a season. The board passed the measure without discussion. Knight Muzzleloaders, by the way, is owned by Birmingham's EBSCO Industries. I have no idea if there is a connection there or not. It's interesting to note that blackpowder weapons are legal throughout the gun deer season. That means Alabama already had the nation's longest muzzleloader hunting season. I can't see where the special season does a whole lot for muzzleloader hunters. It will likely do a lot for those who sell muzzleloaders and equipment. That wasn't the only odd decision that came down the pike Saturday. Some board members were ready to introduce a measure that would provide for a lottery that would allow bowhunters to help ease Oak Mountain State Park's atrocious deer over-population problem. That measure never saw the light of day Saturday. Some close to the situation said someone high in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources got cold feet at the last moment, fearing the repercussions from those opposed to killing Oak Mountain's deer. Mark Easterwood, director of Alabama state parks, said Saturday that the park will now spend the fall testing deer to further understand the health of the park's deer herd. Tests have already shown that the deer there carry more parasites than normal, fawns have lower than normal birth weights, and does are giving birth to single fawns when twin fawns are normal. Studies have also shown that the deer herd has decimated almost all edible plants in the park and are being hit by cars as they cross roads for food. Records also show the park is averaging 20 to 25 accidents inside the park each year with vehicles hitting deer. What is it that officials are trying to find out with another year of study? The most bizarre move by the board, however, was rescinding a measure that it imposed in April that allows hunters age 62 or older to hunt with a crossbow. The law now reverts to the old law that requires any person to be at least 80 percent disabled in order to use a crossbow. There are plenty of senior citizen hunters who don't meet that requirement, but are unable to draw a traditional compound bow. State officials on Saturday reiterated the need for more deer to be harvested in Alabama, but the board apparently doesn't believe some senior citizens should participate in that process.