Fish/Hunt

Summer hog hunting is available on some North and Central Florida wildlife management areas, and no quota permit is needed.  Click to find out which WMAs offer these great weekend hunts http://www.myfwc.com/hunting/by-species/wild-hog/hog-hunts/.

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Click here for regulations

 

2014-2015 Florida Hunting Season Dates

Seasons and dates are not applicable to wildlife management areas and other lands managed by the Commission.

Species Zone/
statewide
Archery Season (A) Crossbow Season (C) Muzzleloading Gun Season(M) General Gun Season (D)
Deer (1)

Must have $5 Deer Permit as well as hunting license to hunt deer.

Zone A (1) Aug. 2 -31

Antlered or antlerless deer by bow only

Aug. 2 – 31

Antlered or antlerless deer by crossbow or bow only

Sep. 1-5

Antlered deer only by crossbow or bow

Sept. 6-19

Antlered deer only by muzzleloader, crossbow or bow

Sept. 20 – Oct. 19 and Nov. 22 – Jan. 4

Antlered deer entire season; antlerless deer may be taken Nov. 22-28 by all legal centerfire rifles and pistols, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows and bows (2)

Zone B (1) Oct. 18 – Nov. 16

Antlered or antlerless deer by bow only

Oct. 18 – Nov. 16

Antlered or antlerless deer by crossbow or bow only

Nov. 17-21

Antlered deer only by crossbow or bow

Nov. 22 – Dec. 5

Antlered deer only by muzzleloader, crossbow or bow

Dec. 6 – Feb. 22

Antlered deer entire season; antlerless deer may be taken Dec. 26-Jan. 1 by all legal centerfire rifles and pistols, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows and bows

Zone C (1) Sept. 13 – Oct. 12

Antlered or antlerless deer by bow only

Sept. 13 – Oct. 12

Antlered or antlerless deer by crossbow or bow only

Oct. 13-17

Antlered deer only by crossbow or bow

Oct. 18 – 31

Antlered deer only by muzzleloader, crossbow or bow

Nov. 1 – Jan. 18

Antlered deer entire season; antlerless deer may be taken Nov. 22-28 by all legal centerfire rifles and pistols, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows and bows

Zone D (4) Oct. 25 – Nov. 26

Antlered or antlerless deer by bow only

Oct. 25 – Nov. 26

Antlered or antlerless deer by crossbow or bow only

Dec. 1-5

Antlered deer only by crossbow or bow

Dec. 6-12 and Feb. 23 – Mar. 1

Antlered deer only by muzzleloader, crossbow or bow

In DMU-D2 (north of I-10), antlerless deer also may be taken Dec. 6-7.

Nov. 27 – 30 and Dec. 13 – Feb. 22

Antlered deer entire season by all legal centerfire rifles and pistols, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows and bows.

For antlerless deer season dates, see (4) at the bottom of the page.

Bag Limit

During Archery Season and first phase of Crossbow Season, daily bag limit is: 2 deer, either of which can be antlered or antlerless

During Antlerless Deer Season daily bag limit is: 2 deer, only 1 of which may be antlerless

During all other seasons (including second phase of Crossbow Season), daily bag limit is 2 antlered deer,  and antlerless deer may be taken by antlerless deer permit only.

Possession limit: 4 deer

Fall turkey (gobblers and bearded only) (T) Zone A Aug. 2 – 31

by bow only

Aug. 2 – Sep. 5

by crossbow or bow only

Sept. 6-19

by muzzleloader, crossbow or bow only

Oct. 6-19 and Nov. 22 – Jan. 4

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Zone B Oct. 18 – Nov. 16

by bow only

Oct. 18 – Nov. 21

by crossbow or bow only

Nov. 22 – Dec. 5

by muzzleloader, crossbow or bow only

Dec. 6 – Feb. 1

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Zone C Sept. 13 – Oct. 12

by bow only

Sept. 13 – Oct. 17

by crossbow or bow only

Oct. 18 – 31

by muzzleloader, crossbow or bow only

Nov. 1 – Dec. 28

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Zone D (5) Oct. 25 – Nov. 26

by bow only

Oct. 25 – Nov. 26 and Dec. 1-5

by crossbow or bow only

Dec. 6-12

by muzzleloader, crossbow or bow only

Nov. 27 – 30 and Dec. 13 – Jan. 18

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Bag Limit

Fall turkey:

Daily bag limit: 2

Season and possession limit: 2 for all fall seasons combined

Quail (D)

 

Zone A Aug. 2 – 31

by bow only

Aug. 2 – Sep. 5

by crossbow or bow only

Sept. 6-19

by muzzleloader, crossbow or bow only

Nov. 8 – Mar. 1

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Zone B Oct. 18 – Nov. 7

by bow only

Oct. 18 – Nov. 7

by crossbow or bow only

Nov. 8 – Mar. 1

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Zone C Sep. 13 – Oct. 12

by bow only

Sep. 13 – Oct. 17

by crossbow or bow only

Oct. 18 – 31

by muzzleloader, crossbow or bow only

Nov. 8 – Mar. 1

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Zone D Oct. 25 – Nov. 7

by bow only

Oct. 25 – Nov. 7

by crossbow or bow only

Nov. 8 – Mar. 1

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Bag Limit Quail:
Daily bag limit: 12
Possession Limit: 24
Gray Squirrel (D)

 

Zone A Aug. 2 – 31

by bow only

Aug. 2 – Sep. 5

by crossbow or bow only

Sept. 6-19

by muzzleloader, crossbow or bow only

Oct. 11 – Mar. 1

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Zone B Oct. 11 – Mar. 1

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Zone C Sept. 13- Oct. 10

by bow only

Sept. 13 – Oct. 10

by crossbow or bow only

Oct. 11 – Mar. 1

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Zone D Oct. 11 – Mar. 1

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Bag Limit Squirrel:
Daily bag limit: 12
Possession limit: 24
Spring turkey

gobblers and bearded only)

(6)

Youth Spring Turkey Hunt (7) Spring Turkey Season (T)
South of State Road 70 Feb. 28-Mar. 1

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Mar. 7 – Apr. 12

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

North of State Road 70 except Holmes County March 14-15

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

March 21 – April 26

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Holmes County March 14-15

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

March 21 – Aprl 5

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Bag Limit Spring Turkey Daily bag limit: 2

Season and possession limit: 2 for spring season

Holmes Daily bag and season limit:1

Rabbit Statewide Year-round by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols (D)

Bag Limit:

Daily bag limit: 12
Possession limit: 24

Wild hog Statewide Year-round by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols.  Hunting license not required. Wild hogs also may be trapped but cannot be transported alive without permit from the Florida Dept. of Agriculture at 850-410-0900. (D)

Bag Limit: No Limits

Bobcat (D)(F)

 

Statewide Dec. 1 – March 31

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Those with a hunting license may pos­sess no more than 1 bobcat and 1 otter pelt between April 1 and Nov. 30, 2013, unless pelt has FWC tag.  Also, otter and bobcat pelts may not be taken out of Florida unless tagged.  Bobcats may be chased with dogs year-round.

 

Bobcat: No Limits

 

Otter (F) Statewide Dec. 1 – March 1

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols

Those with a hunting license may pos¬sess no more than 1 otter pelt between April 1 and Nov. 30, unless pelt has CITES tag.  Also, otter pelts may not be taken out of Florida unless tagged.

 

Otter: No Limits

Raccoon, opossum, coyote, beaver, skunk, nutria Statewide

 

Year-round

by all legal rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, crossbows, bows and pistols (D)(F)

Hunting raccoons or opossums at night is allowed, but only .22­-caliber rimfire firearms (other than .22-mag­nums) or single-shot .410-gauge shotguns (using shot not larger than size 6) may be used.  Hunting raccoons or opossums by displaying or using lights from moving vehicles, vessels or animals is prohibited.  It is illegal to transport wild-trapped live raccoons within, into or from the state, except by FWC permit or authorization.

Bag Limit: No limits on any species

Deer-dog training Zone A Aug. 16 – Sep. 4
Those with a hunting license may train or toughen free-running deer dogs on private property during daylight hours, after first registering (at no cost) the tract of land with the FWC.  While training, all deer dogs must have their FWC-issued registration number, along with the owner’s name and address on their collars.  Copies of the registration must be in the hunter’s possession when training deer dogs.
Zone B Nov. 1-20
Zone C Sept. 27 – Oct. 16
Zone D Oct. 25 – Nov. 13

(A)  Must have $5 Archery Season Permit as well as hunting license.  It is prohibited to use bows equipped with sights or aiming devices with electronic computational capabilities or light (laser) projection during Archery Season.

(C) Must have $5 Crossbow Season Permit as well as hunting license.

(M) Must have $5 Muzzleloading Gun Season Permit as well as hunting license. The only muzzleloaders that can be used during Muzzleloading Gun Season are those that are fired by wheel lock, flintlock, percussion cap or centerfire primer (including 209 primers). Muzzleloaders that can be loaded from the breech are not legal during Muzzleloading Gun Season.

(D) Free-running dogs may be used for hunting but must wear collars listing the owner’s name and address.  When using dogs to hunt deer on private property, hunters must first register with the FWC (at no cost) the tract of land they have permission to hunt, and all deer dogs must have their FWC-issued registration number on their collars.  Copies of the registration also must be in hunter’s possession when using dogs to pursue deer.

(T)  Must have Turkey Permit ($10 for residents, $125 for nonresidents) as well as hunting license to hunt turkeys.

(F) A trapping license ($26.50) is required when trapping furbearers and when selling the pelts or meat of furbearing mammals, whether taken by trap, snare or gun.  For trapping regulations and CITES tag requirements, see page 26.

(1) Antlered deer – Deer having at least one antler 5 or more inches in length visible above the hairline.

(2) Antlerless deer – Deer (except spotted fawns) that do not have antlers or have antlers less than 5 inches in length.                                                                                                                                                   It is illegal to take spotted fawns.

(3) No antlerless deer may be taken on that portion of the eastern Everglades south of Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) and east of Everglades National Park; or in Collier County south of I-75 during Antlerless Deer Season.

(4)  Zone D has been split into 2 Deer Management Units (DMUs) with Interstate 10 being the dividing line.  Changes have been made to antler regulations and antlerless deer season.

  • North of I-10 is DMU-D2, and all antlered deer must have at least 3 points (1 inch or more in length) on one side OR have an antler with a main beam length of 10 inches or more to be legal to take.  However, youth 15-years-old and younger can take any antlered deer (1). Antlerless deer (2) season in D2 is Nov. 29-30, and Dec. 6-7 (during muzzleloading gun season), 20-21 and 27-28.
  • South of I-10 is DMU-D1, and all antlered deer must have at least 2 points (1 inch or more in length) on one side to be legal to take.  However, youth 15-years-old and younger can take any antlered deer (1). Antlerless deer (2) season in D1 is Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 27-28.

(5)           In Holmes County, there is no fall harvest of turkeys allowed.

(6)           When hunting wild turkeys during the spring season on wildlife management areas, only shotguns and muzzleloading shotguns using shot no larger in diameter than No. 2 may be used.  Bows and crossbows, where allowed, also may be used.  All rifles, pistols, buckshot and slugs are prohibited.  This rule does not apply on private lands.

(7)           Only youths under 16 years old are allowed to harvest a turkey while supervised by an adult, 18 years or older.  However, adult supervisors with a hunting license and turkey permit are allowed to “call in” the turkey and otherwise participate in the hunt, but they are not permitted to harvest one.  Any turkey harvested during the Youth Spring Turkey Hunt counts toward the youth hunter’s spring season limit of 2.

Must have $5 Archery Season Permit as well as hunting license.  It is prohibited to use bows equipped with sights or aiming devices with electronic computational capabilities or light (laser) projection during Archery Season.

(C)  Must have $5 Crossbow Season Permit as well as hunting license.

(M)  Must have $5 Muzzleloading Gun Season Permit as well as hunting license. The only muzzleloaders that can be used during Muzzleloading Gun Season are those that are fired by wheel lock, flintlock, percussion cap or centerfire primer (including 209 primers). Muzzleloaders that can be loaded from the breech are not legal during Muzzleloading Gun Season.

(D) Free-running dogs may be used for hunting but must wear collars listing the owner’s name and address.  When using dogs to hunt deer on private property, hunters must first register with the FWC (at no cost) the tract of land they have permission to hunt, and all deer dogs must have their FWC-issued registration number on their collars.  Copies of the registration also must be in hunter’s possession when using dogs to pursue deer.

(T)  Must have Turkey Permit ($10 for residents, $125 for nonresidents) as well as hunting license to hunt turkeys.

(F)  A trapping license ($26.50) is required when trapping furbearers and when selling the pelts or meat of furbearing mammals, whether taken by trap, snare or gun.  For trapping regulations and CITES tag requirements, see page 26.

(1) Antlered deer – Deer having at least one antler 5 or more inches in length visible above the hairline.

(2)  Antlerless deer – Deer (except spotted fawns) that do not have antlers or have antlers less than 5 inches in length.                                                                                                                                                   It is illegal to take spotted fawns.

(3)  No antlerless deer may be taken on that portion of the eastern Everglades south of Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) and east of Everglades National Park; or in Collier County south of I-75 during Antlerless Deer Season.

(4) Zone D has been split into 2 Deer Management Units (DMUs) with Interstate 10 being the dividing line.  Changes have been made to antler regulations and antlerless deer season.

  • North of I-10 is DMU-D2, and all antlered deer must have at least 3 points (1 inch or more in length) on one side OR have an antler with a main beam length of 10 inches or more to be legal to take.  However, youth 15-years-old and younger can take any antlered deer (1).  Antlerless deer (2) season in D2 is Nov. 29-30, and Dec. 6-7 (during muzzleloading gun season), 20-21 and 27-28.
  • South of I-10 is DMU-D1, and all antlered deer must have at least 2 points (1 inch or more in length) on one side to be legal to take.  However, youth 15-years-old and younger can take any antlered deer (1).  Antlerless deer (2) season in D1 is Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 27-28.

(5)   In Holmes County, there is no fall harvest of turkeys allowed.

(6)  When hunting wild turkeys during the spring season on wildlife management areas, only shotguns and muzzleloading shotguns using shot no larger in diameter than No. 2 may be used.  Bows and crossbows, where allowed, also may be used.  All rifles, pistols, buckshot and slugs are prohibited.  This rule does not apply on private lands.

(7) Only youths under 16 years old are allowed to harvest a turkey while supervised by an adult, 18 years or older.  However, adult supervisors with a hunting license and turkey permit are allowed to “call in” the turkey and otherwise participate in the hunt, but they are not permitted to harvest one.  Any turkey harvested during the Youth Spring Turkey Hunt counts toward the youth hunter’s spring season limit of 2.

 

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The fine art of fly fishing alive and well in Walton County

Jason Stacy ties a shrimp fly. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Old Florida Outfitters fishing guide a true master of tying flies

In our fast paced world, it is reassuring to know that a few great sports stand the test of time. One popular ancient sport, fly fishing, dates as far back as the 2nd century.

The fine art of fly fishing is thriving in the Walton County area thanks to Freeport resident Jason Stacy. Working at Old Florida Outfitters in Santa Rosa Beach, Stacy is the shop’s in-house expert on the sport. Not only does he instruct a fly fishing school, he also offers a guide service and is the fly tying expert at the outfitter.

Fly tying is the process of producing an artificial fly used by anglers to catch fish in shallow water. Fly-tying is a process of binding various materials to a hook using thread such as chenille, rubber, feathers and foam. The design replicates various insects, reptiles or crustaceans that fish feed on. Click here to continue

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David Barron with one of the four large stripers he and his crew caught near the mouth of the Choctawhatchee River. Photo courtesy David Barron

Local charter boat captain recounts great day of winter fishing

Local fisherman and charter captain David Barron of Freeport reeled in several large striped bass recently near the mouth of the Choctawhatchee River. David was generous to share his account of a great day of fishing:

Big fish, cold weather
I was lucky enough to be home with my family for the holidays this year. After sharing Christmas with my family, I was ready to go fishing. I have noticed something about the Eastern end of the Choctawhatchee Bay; as the weather gets colder, the fish I catch get bigger, and more aggressive. As the temperature drops, the bait, then the trout, redfish, bass, and stripers run to the deepest part of the estuaries that empty into the Choctawhatchee Bay. If you can get bait, you can get on.

Big fish, big baits
I called my fishing buddy Bill Oswell (Freeport) on Dec. 26th and asked him if he wanted to go striper fishing with me. I was lucky enough to have caught several big mullet in my cast net and wanted to try a couple of deep holes at the mouth of the Choctawhatchee River. The baits were big and I rigged the appropriate tackle. We ran over a deep hole in the main river (15+ feet) with the boat and I chunked the bait as far upstream as I could. It landed about 30 feet from the boat. Bill and I were discussing where to land the boat and the weather. That is when I heard the thump against the side of the boat. Click here to continue

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More than 265,000 acres of fishing and hunting await the outdoor enthusiast at Eglin Air Force Base Reservation

The clear water of Boiling Creek is just one of the many places to explore at Eglin. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Eglin Air Force Base Reservation is much more than the largest AFB in the free world. Within its 464,000 acres, more than 265,000 are open for public recreation. Activities such as fresh water fishing, hunting, camping, biking, canoeing/kayaking, hiking await outdoor enthusiasts.

More than 17,000 permits are issued each year at Eglin’s Natural Resources Branch Jackson Guard office. Annual recreation passes are $12, fishing/recreation $20, hunting $55, sportsman’s combo $65, with fees at $20 for active or retired military. Ten day Consecutive permit (resident or nonresident) $25. Other fees for specialized hunts are also available (check the regulation guide).
Address: 107 Highway 85 North, Niceville FL 32578 (just north of Hwy. 20). Tel: (850) 882-4165 or (850) 882-4166
Office hours are:
Mon. – Thurs. 7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Fri. 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sat. 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Sunday and federal holidays closed

Eglin has many improvements in the works including upgrades to the recreation areas along with the launch of a new website soon. The site will it make it easier for the user to acquire permits, understand the regulations, and a web application posting the daily closings. Currently anyone embarking on Eglin must phone in prior to entering to find out where the closed areas are located. (This site will be updated when Eglin’s new website access is available).

Currently one of the largest improvements under construction is at Anderson Pond. The area is a critical habitat for the endangered Okaloosa darter (Etheostoma okaloosae), a small fish with a range of only six tributary systems in the lower Choctawhatchee Bay drainage. In 1960, Anderson Branch creek was dammed off for the pond, closing the habitat connection of the darter. Eglin is currently restoring the creek connection and including camping areas along with 12+ tent pads, a picnic area, and boardwalks.

In addition, Eglin is improving canoe accesses and currently working on the Turkey creek access at Gooden Bridge off of Range Road 232. Improvements include improved access to the water along with a parking lot in the works.

Rules and regulations are strictly enforced at Eglin as the base’s security is vital to our national defense. The base works hard at making the reservation compatible for the outdoor enthusiast, but enforces its boundaries so as not to jeopardize security. Military missions often require the closure of large portions of areas open to public access. The regulations are a bit complex, however the large guide and map which Eglin provides is comprehensive.

Click here to download regulations

Click here to download map

Click here for Eglin’s Website

Newly improved hunting check stations. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Fishing:
17 freshwater ponds ranging from 4 – 40 acres are available for fishing at Eglin Reservation. You must possess FWC fishing license in addition to an Eglin permit unless you are fishing with a cane pole in the county you reside. Fishing access is authorized from 2 hours before sunrise to 2 hours after sunset. Hurlburt Lake may be fished during daylight hours only.

Hunting:
The hunting season at Eglin parallels the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s seasons for Wildlife Management Areas and you must possess an FWC hunting license. Eglin may at any time shorten the season as necessary to retain game population. Refer to the regulation guide for check in points and areas with specific hunting availability. There are several check in stations located at three locations on the reservation, refer to the regulation guide. Eglin also takes measurements and retains jawbones of deer kills for wildlife management purposes.

Canoeing/Kayaking:
There are several great creeks to explore on the reservation with the most popular being Boiling Creek, Juniper Creek, Turkey Creek, Rocky Creek, Alaqua Creek and the Yellow River which offers primitive camping along its banks. Jackson Guard offers a canoe trail guide for those interested. Below are two links to stories:
Boiling Creek and Yellow River paddle
Turkey Creek paddle

Hiking/Biking/Camping:
Recreational hiking, biking and primitive camping are available at several locations throughout Eglin Reservation. The Florida Scenic Trail runs through Eglin Reservation as well. You can obtain a detailed map of the Florida Trail http://www.floridatrail.org/
For more information, call Jackson Guard at (850) 882-4165 or (850) 882-4166.

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Shoreline fishing license is free to Florida residents

Resident anglers pay only $2.31 vendor fee when buying online or you can get it free at Copeland’s in Freeport

The shoreline fishing license for Florida residents to catch saltwater fish from shore or a structure affixed to shore cost $9 last year, but this year it’s free, beginning July 1.

The Florida Legislature repealed the shoreline license fee during the past session. However, legislators retained the license requirement to prevent a more-costly federal registration fee from taking effect in Florida.

Resident anglers who obtain the shoreline license over the phone or Internet still will have to pay a convenience fee to the vendor. The convenience fee is $2.31 for Internet sales at www.fl.wildlifelicense.com or $3.33 for phone sales at 888-FISH FLORIDA (888-347-4356).

Only Florida residents qualify for a no-cost shoreline license, and the license does not cover fishing from a boat or fishing from a location or structure accessible only by boat.  That requires a regular saltwater fishing license: $17 for residents; for nonresidents the cost is $17 for three days, $30 for seven days or $47 per year.

There are some exemptions for license requirements. More information is available at MyFWC.com/License.

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Two Northwest Florida national wildlife refuges offer special hunts

Special deer and wild hog hunt applications begin May 4

This fall, Northwest Florida offers some special deer and wild hog hunts at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and a unique “big-game” hunt on the island of St. Vincent NWR.

The application period for these hunts begins at 10 a.m. May 4 and continues through 11:59 p.m. June 10.

There are two archery hunts, two general gun hunts and one mobility-impaired gun hunt on St. Marks NWR, which covers 60,000 acres in Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties. Five-day archery hunts for white-tailed deer and wild hogs take place Nov. 9-13 in the Panacea Unit and Nov. 2-6 in the Wakulla Unit. There are 200 available permits for each hunt at $15 each. Click here to continue

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FWC considers restricting methods of take during public-land spring turkey hunts

Photo courtesy FWC.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is considering a rule proposal that would limit the methods of take allowed during spring turkey hunts on wildlife management areas (WMAs).
The proposal would restrict firearms to shotguns and muzzleloading shotguns only, using shot no larger than number 2.  If FWC Commissioners approve the rule, all rifles, pistols, buckshot and slugs will be prohibited during spring turkey hunts on WMAs, beginning with the 2011 spring turkey season.

However, all legal bows and crossbows would still be allowed in taking spring turkeys, provided they have draw weights of at least 35 pounds and shoot broadheads having at least two sharpened edges with minimum widths of 7/8 inch.
The FWC would like to hear the views of Florida’s turkey hunters on this rule proposal.  Go to MyFWC.com/Hunting and look under “Breaking News” to provide online comments and constructive feedback.

Public lands, in many cases, have more hunters per acre than private property.  Also, hunters are less likely to know the locations of other hunters compared with those who are hunting private lands.
The intent of this rule proposal is to address safety concerns expressed by public-land turkey hunters.

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Food plots planted in Point Washington State Forest
encourages wildlife habitats

One of the recently planted food plots on a closed road in the Point Washington State Forest. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

The Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Point Washington and the Florida Fish and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are working together to promote wildlife brooding habitats in the Point Washington State Forest. 18 food plots have been planted on closed road areas throughout the Forest.

Working with cost share funding from the National Wild Turkey Federation, Forestry and FWC started with warm season grasses in July 2009, with brown top millet, sorghum, pearl millet and iron-clay peas planted. In December, the cool season was planted with clover, wheat, rye and oats.

Click here to continue and view maps of plots

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FWC moves ahead with proposed hunting rules,
adding new public hunting lands

 

fwclogo20072Proposed rules will affect zone boundaries and season dates for deer hunting

The seven-member Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) directed its staff today to proceed with advertising new rule proposals to be voted on at a future Commission meeting.  They would affect the 2010-11 hunting season.

The proposal affecting the most hunters would modify zone boundaries and season dates for deer hunting.  The proposal would move the boundary (that meanders through Tallahassee) separating the current Northwest Hunting Zone from the Central Zone a little farther west.  The proposal also calls for an additional hunting zone, made up in part by the Green Swamp Basin.  This proposal takes into account hunter suggestions and new biological data, and it aims to modify and better align hunting season dates with when deer breed, thereby increasing hunter satisfaction. Read More…

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Opening day of general gun season productive for local hunter

Randy Humphreys bagged these 100 and 130 lb. wild hogs on Bruce Creek in Northeast Walton County early on Thanksgiving Day.

Randy Humphreys bagged these 100 and 130 lb. wild hogs on Bruce Creek in Northeast Walton County early on Thanksgiving Day.

It didn’t take long on Nov. 26 for local hunter, Randy Humphreys to successfully bag two feral hogs within a few hours along Bruce Creek. Randy said he didn’t have to go far from the boat launch before he spotted the two hogs.  Randy has been hunting most of his life and lives in Niceville with his wife Angel.

General gun season is Nov. 26-29, 2009 and Dec. 12, 2009 – Feb. 17, 2010.

Click here for a map of the Choctawhatchee River Wildlife Management area.

FWC reminds hunters to be careful cleaning wild hogs: Click here for information

About wild hog:
The wild hog, (Sus scrofa) also called the wild boar or feral pig, is not a Florida native, and may have been introduced by explorer Hernando DeSoto as early as 1539.   They may weigh over 150 pounds, and be 5-6 feet long.  They travel in herds containing several females and their offspring. Read More…

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Outta The Woods: Safe hunting is NO Accident

tonyyoungWith the dog-days of summer fully upon us, it’s hard to think about hunting quite yet. But if you’re between the ages of 16 and 34, and haven’t completed the state’s hunter safety course requirement, now’s just the time to be thinking about it. If you’ve been putting off taking a hunter safety class, August is the best time to sign up for one in your area.

Many of these classes, offered statewide, fill up fast during hunting season while people scramble to get certified. Often, August and the preceding summer months offer smaller class sizes and make for a better opportunity for students to take a class while they have more free time before school gets cranked up, and they get busy with homework and school-related activities. Click here to continue

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By Bob Wattendorf, with Jason Dotson, FWC

By Bob Wattendorf, with Jason Dotson, FWC

Florida Fish Busters – What is a creel survey?

You might wonder why someone in a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) boat is stopping you and asking to participate in a “creel survey.” Two questions come to mind. What is a creel? And why does it require a survey? Very good questions – one answer involves tradition; the other answer involves a healthy fishery.

A creel is a wicker basket used for holding fish that an angler has caught, or a wicker fish trap. Today, we still use the expression derived from that old-fashioned, but very stylish, basket. Somehow we haven’t adapted to asking if we can do “a live-well,” “ice-chest” or “catch-and-release” survey.

So bear with us when we ask for your participation. Your answers to our questions are important to the future health of Florida’s fisheries.

 A traditional creel basket, used to hold an angler's catch. (FWC photo)

A traditional creel basket, used to hold an angler’s catch. (FWC photo)

The FWC’s fisheries biologists need to know what you have been catching. Despite using old-fashioned terminology, the sophistication of these vital surveys has grown over the years, and they are now a critical source of information for determining how Florida’s fisheries are doing.

Since creel clerks who conduct these interviews cannot talk to every angler, biologists and statisticians work together to carefully determine a sampling scheme of when and where we momentarily interrupt an angler’s recreation to gather this information. Each angler asked to participate represents many other anglers that we cannot talk to, so it is very important that we get the most accurate information possible. The interviewer will want to know how long you’ve been fishing, and what you caught and harvested as well as what you released. They may also measure your fish, check them for tags and ask some questions about where you live and other information that helps to explain results, including information on your age, which, for instance, relates to license sales.

This information is used to determine what anglers want to catch, what they are catching (species, size and numbers), whether they are keeping them, and other factors that allow biologists to estimate the health of a fishery. Combined with other data, such as information from electrofishing samples, biologists can determine what regulations are needed for size and creel limits, what is needed for habitat restoration, supplemental fish stocking, and where additional access, such as boat ramps, shoreline access, or fishing piers, may be needed.

A creel clerk measures an angler's bass before returning it. (FWC photo)

A creel clerk measures an angler’s bass before returning it. (FWC photo)

For biologists to make the decisions that ultimately impact the quality of your fishing, they need honest, accurate information. False responses that over- or underestimate your catch can lead to unnecessary or unrealistic solutions. For example, an underestimate of angling success could lead to stricter creel limits (the number or size of fish anglers may legally harvest) when they aren’t necessary and stunting of the fish population because too few big fish are harvested to allow the others to grow rapidly. In case of an overestimate of angling success, the decision may be made that habitat improvements aren’t needed because the fishery is doing so well, delay a proposed fish stocking, or prevent appropriate harvest regulations from being implemented.

Of course, biologists consistently use multiple sources of data to reduce the chance these types of errors will occur. But with recurring budget cuts, creel surveys and angler-attitude surveys become increasingly cost-effective. As other options – such as electrofishing, seining or trawling – are reduced to save money, or sampling – such as block nets and gillnetting – are reduced because of adverse public perception, the need for honest, accurate answers to creel surveys becomes more and more important.

So the next time someone tells you they are conducting a creel survey, remember you are representing many anglers and helping to ensure the safe and sustainable future of quality recreational fishing in Florida when you give a few minutes of your time and accurate information to the creel clerk.

Instant licenses are available at MyFWC.com/License or by calling 1-888-FISH-FLORIDA (347-4356). Report violators by calling *FWC or #FWC on your cell phone, or 1-888-404-3922. Visit MyFWC.com/Fishing/Updates for more Fish Busters’ columns.

One Response to Fish/Hunt

  1. Garry Yeager says:

    I would like very much to set up a fishing trip on the Choctawhatchee River around Ebro,Florida Or any Surronding Area for a several day trip.
    I need a map of the river and area and a list of fishing camps that has lodging.
    Can You Help Me Out?
    My Address:
    Garry Yeager 2712 Memphis Circle
    Pensacola,Fl. 850.944.4328

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