FWC makes changes for deer-hunting in northwest Florida
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), at its meeting at the Florida Public Safety Institute near Tallahassee today, passed changes that divide the state’s Hunting Zone D (from Pensacola to Tallahassee) into two deer management units (DMUs), each with a unique set of antler-point requirements and antlerless deer harvest days.
These changes take effect during the 2014-15 hunting season and are part of a larger, statewide project aimed at managing deer on a more local level and providing stakeholders with a greater say in deer management.
The FWC conducted a public outreach and input process in northwest Florida beginning in early 2013. Since then, the Commission has received substantial input and comments from hunters, farmers and the general public regarding how they would like to see deer managed in the newly proposed DMUs.
As a result of this outreach process, the FWC passed rules for both public and private lands in both of the DMUs in Zone D, with Interstate 10 being the dividing line between the two DMUs. South of I-10 will be called DMU-D1, and north of I-10 is DMU-D2.
Now bucks harvested south of I-10 in DMU-D1 must have antlers with at least 2 points (each point having to be at least 1 inch long) on one side and at least one antler 5 inches or more in length.
North of I-10 in DMU-D2, the minimum antler requirement is now 3 points (each point having to be at least 1 inch long) on one side and have at least one antler 5 inches or more in length, or have an antler with a main beam length of 10 inches or more.
The rule includes an exception for youth to the increased antler requirements in both DMUs whereby hunters 15 years old and younger may continue to harvest bucks that have at least one antler 5 inches or more in length.
The Commission’s action also changes the antlerless deer season (“doe days”) on private lands within Zone D. During antlerless deer season, does may be harvested as well as bucks with less than 5-inch antlers. But it is illegal to take spotted fawns.
In DMU-D1 (south of I-10), the antlerless season was reduced to four days consisting of two popular holiday weekends (the weekends after Thanksgiving and Christmas).
In DMU-D2 (north of I-10), antlerless deer season was lengthened to eight days distributed across four weekends (Saturday-Sunday after Thanksgiving, first weekend of muzzleloading gun season, third weekend of general gun season and the weekend after Christmas).
The purpose of modifying the antlerless deer season was to spread out the hunting opportunity, so that more hunters could participate without reducing deer populations. These changes will be monitored to measure any impacts they may have on deer harvest and hunter satisfaction within each DMU.
For more information on Hunting Zone D’s newly established DMUs and their respective modifications to deer hunting regulations, click MyFWC.com/Deer.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: 2014 Spring Turkey Season – Daily Bag Limit
The bag limit for wild turkeys during the 2014 Spring Turkey Season remains at one per day, two per season. NEXT season, the daily bag limit will increase to 2 birds on private lands statewide (except Holmes County).
FWC announces 2013-14 hunting season dates
2013-2014 Florida Hunting Season Dates
(Seasons and dates do not apply to wildlife management areas)
|Season||Zone A||Zone B||Zone C||Zone D|
|Archery||Aug. 3 – Sept. 1||Oct. 19 – Nov. 17||Sept. 14 – Oct. 13||Oct. 26 – Nov. 27|
|Deer-dog training||Aug. 17 – Sept. 5||Nov. 2-21||Sept. 28 – Oct. 17||Oct. 26 – Nov. 14|
|Crossbow||Aug. 3 – Sept. 6||Oct. 19 – Nov. 22||Sept. 14 – Oct. 18||Oct. 26 – Nov. 27and Dec. 2-6|
|Muzzleloading gun||Sept. 7-20||Nov. 23 – Dec. 6||Oct. 19 – Nov. 1||Dec. 7-13 andFeb. 24 – March 2|
|General gun||Sept. 21 – Oct. 20 andNov. 23 – Jan. 5||Dec. 7 – Feb. 23||Nov. 2 – Jan. 19||Nov. 28 – Dec. 1 andDec. 14 – Feb. 23|
|Antlerless deer||Nov. 23-29||Dec. 26 – Jan. 1||Nov. 23-29||Dec. 26 – Jan. 1|
|Fall turkey||Oct. 7-20 andNov. 23 – Jan. 5||Dec. 7 – Feb. 2||Nov. 2 – Dec. 29||Nov. 28 – Dec. 1 andDec. 14 – Jan. 19 *|
|Quail||Nov. 9 – March 2||Nov. 9 – March 2||Nov. 9 – March 2||Nov. 9 – March 2|
|Gray squirrel||Oct. 12 – March 2||Oct. 12 – March 2||Oct. 12 – March 2||Oct. 12 – March 2|
|Bobcat and otter||Dec. 1 – March 1||Dec. 1 – March 1||Dec. 1 – March 1||Dec. 1 – March 1|
|Youth spring turkey hunt **||Feb. 22-23||March 8-9||March 8-9||March 8-9|
|Spring turkey||March 1 – April 6||March 15 – April 20||March 15 – April 20||March 15 – April 20 ***|
Wild hogs, rabbits, raccoons, opossums, skunks, nutrias, beavers and coyotes may be taken year-round.
* Except for Holmes County, where there is no fall harvest of turkeys allowed.
** Only youths under 16 years old will be allowed to harvest a turkey while supervised by an adult, 18 years or older.
*** In Holmes County, spring turkey season is limited to March 15-30.
FWC passes rule prohibiting importation of deer
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at its Pensacola commission meeting today, Sept. 6, passed a rule prohibiting the importation of live captive deer into Florida from out-of-state sources.
The rule was passed in an effort to reduce the chances of chronic wasting disease (CWD) being introduced into the state. Eighteen other states, including Georgia and Alabama, also prohibit the importation of live cervids (deer, elk and moose).
CWD is not known to affect people but is a contagious neurological disease affecting cervids. It is always fatal, and there is no known cure or vaccine. So far, the disease has been discovered in 22 states, two Canadian provinces and in South Korea.
To implement the decision immediately, the FWC also issued an executive order prohibiting importation of cervids effective today, Sept. 6, 2013. The order includes limited exemptions for reindeer and zoos.
The Commission also directed the executive director to create a working group to include the industry to develop other measures to safeguard the state from CWD. If these other measures are determined to be sufficient to adequately reduce risk, the Commission gives the executive director authority to then allow importation.
Since the beginning of May, the FWC has received much public comment on this and answered questions and concerns. During this process, those who have deer farms and hunting preserves , hunters and conservationists provided suggestions for additional prevention measures to consider. The Commission used this important feedback to guide its decision making.
For more information on chronic wasting disease, this rule and the CWD Alliance, go to MyFWC.com/CWD. To see the executive order, go to MyFWC.com/About and select “Inside FWC” then “Executive Director.”
In general, waterfowl hunting in Florida is permitted on any water body that has public access, unless it is closed for a specific reason, such as being in a park or in an area where the discharge of firearms is prohibited. Wildlife management areas (WMAs), water management district (WMD) lands, and national wildlife refuges (NWRs) that offer duck hunting may have special permit requirements and restrictions on when and where you can hunt. Regional offices of the FWC can provide additional information on WMAs and other duck hunting areas. Please check with local law enforcement agencies for specific firearm discharge regulations on public water bodies prior to hunting.
2013-2014 Waterfowl Season Dates
*NOTE: Dates with an asterisk are anticipated and subject to change.
Early Season Canada Goose:
Sept. 7-25, 2013
Special September Season Teal and Wood Duck:
Sept. 21-25, 2013
Regular Season (Ducks, Coots, and Light Geese):
Nov. 23 – Dec. 1, 2013 and Dec. 7, 2013 – Jan. 26, 2014*
Regular Season Canada Goose:
Nov. 23, 2013 - Jan. 30, 2014*
Youth Duck and Goose:
Feb. 1-2, 2014
- 2013-2014 Early duck, dove, crow and snipe seasons
- 2013-2014 Regular duck, coot and limited goose seasons (coming soon)
- Electronic duck stamp temporary receipt only valid for 45 Days
- Approved nontoxic shot types
- Synopsis of federal regulations that pertain to migratory game bird hunting
- Federal migratory bird regulations
- Baiting information
- Duck blind rule information (Leon, Jefferson counties)
ADA Duck Blind
- Duck blind information for persons with disabilities (STA 5, Guana, Goodwin)
- ADA Accommodation Request Form
FWC and Other Hunt Areas
- A list of all FWC-managed hunting areas (WMAs) is available.
- Where to Duck Hunt in Florida (5MB – Brochure)
- T.M. Goodwin Waterfowl Management Area
- PotashCorp – White Springs WMA
- Guana River WMA
- Hickory Mound Impoundment WMA
- STA Public Small Game Hunting Areas
- Ockalawaha Prairie Small Game Hunting Area
- Gulf Islands National Seashore
- Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge Waterfowl-hunting information
- Water Management Districts – NW Suwannee St. Johns Southwest South
- Sunrise table (for any US location)
- Avian influenza guidelines
- Where to purchase a federal duck stamp
Report Duck Bands
- Call toll-free: 800-327-2263
- Internet: www.reportband.gov
National wildlife refuges offer special hunts
This fall, Northwest Florida offers some special deer and wild hog hunts at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and a unique “big-game” sambar deer hunt on the island of St. Vincent NWR.
The application period for these hunts begins at 10 a.m. May 3 and continues through 11:59 p.m. June 9.
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 are Nov. 8-12 in the Panacea Unit and Nov. 1-5 in the Wakulla Unit. There are 200 available permits for each hunt at $15 each.
The two general gun hunts are both three days long and take place on the area’s two units: Wakulla (Dec. 9-11) and Panacea (Dec. 16-18). There are 150 permits available for the Wakulla Unit and 80 for the Panacea Unit. These permits cost $15, if you are drawn.
The three-day mobility-impaired gun hunt is for hunters certified as mobility-impaired by the FWC. It is on the Panacea Unit Dec. 10-12, and 15 permits are available – again, $15 if drawn. Click here to continue
More than 265,000 acres of fishing and hunting await the outdoor enthusiast at Eglin Air Force Base Reservation
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.
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.
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:
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.
Food plots planted in Point Washington State Forest encourages wildlife habitats
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.
Opening day of general gun season productive for local hunter
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.
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…
Outta The Woods: Safe hunting is NO Accident
With 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