Latest hunting date info from FWC
Outta The Woods by Tony Young, FWC
Football season is in full swing, and the 2012-13 hunting season is cranking up. Heck, in Zone A, they’re already into general gun season. But for the rest of us, I’d like to cover some things you should know regarding three hunting seasons that are just around the corner: muzzleloading gun, gray squirrel and the first phase of dove.
Immediately following the close of crossbow season in each zone, the muzzleloading gun season begins. Season dates run Nov. 17-30 in Zone B, Oct. 20 – Nov. 2 in Zone C and Dec. 1-7 in Zone D.
During muzzleloading gun season, bows and crossbows are also legal methods of taking game on private lands, in addition to muzzleloaders. But on wildlife management areas (WMAs), only muzzleloaders may be used.
The most common types of game to take during muzzleloader season are deer and wild hog. In the deer category, only bucks may be taken, and one antler must be at least 5 inches long above the hairline. The daily bag limit on antlered deer is two. You can hunt wild hogs year-round on private lands, and there are no bag or size limits.
For hunting deer, muzzleloaders firing single bullets must be at least .40-caliber. Guns firing two or more balls must be 20-gauge or larger. During muzzleloading gun season, you may not use muzzleloaders that take smokeless powder, ones that can be loaded from the breech or those with self-contained cartridge ammunition capabilities.
It’s also legal to shoot gobblers and bearded turkeys during muzzleloading gun season. You may take only one per day, and there’s a two-bird fall-season limit. But you can’t hunt turkeys in Holmes County during the fall and winter. On WMAs, bag limits and antler/size restrictions can differ, so check the specifics of the area before you hunt.
New this year: Gray squirrel season has been extended statewide on private lands, and from now on, it opens a month earlier. This year, it starts Oct. 13. This new rule didn’t go into effect until after the 2012-13 Florida Hunting Regulations Handbooks were printed – that’s why the old November opening date is listed. There’s a daily bag limit of 12 gray squirrels, and shooting fox squirrels is still against the law. Click here to continue
Squirrel season opens statewide Oct. 13 on private lands
In previous years, the squirrel season always opened in early November. Last spring, however, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) decided to provide squirrel hunters another month of hunting, similar to dates in other southeastern states. The change came after the 2012-13 hunting dates had gone to the printer.
“This change means more opportunity for squirrel hunters,” said Paul Scharine, FWC public hunting areas biologist. “The message we’re trying to get out is this change only applies to private property.”
For hunting dates on public lands, Scharine said hunters should consult the printed 2012-13 wildlife management area (WMA) regulations or go online for specific area dates at MyFWC.com/Hunting and select “WMA Brochures.”
The daily bag limit is 12 gray squirrels.
FWC announces 2012-13 hunting season dates
Please note: The statewide hunting season for gray squirrel on private lands has been extended. From now on, it will open the second Saturday in October and close the first Sunday in March. This season, the dates will be Oct. 13 – March 3.
Northwest Florida is Zone D
2012-2013 Florida Hunting Season Dates
(Seasons and dates do not apply to wildlife management areas)
|Season||Zone A||Zone B||Zone C||Zone D|
|Archery||July 28 – Aug. 26||Oct. 13 – Nov. 11||Sept. 15 – Oct. 14||Oct. 20 – Nov. 21|
|Deer-dog training||Aug. 11-30||Oct. 27 – Nov. 15||Sept. 29 – Oct. 18||Oct. 27 – Nov. 15|
|Crossbow||July 28 – Aug. 31||Oct. 13 – Nov. 16||Sept. 15 – Oct. 19||Oct. 20 – Nov. 21and Nov. 26-30|
|Muzzleloading gun||Sept. 1-14||Nov. 17-30||Oct. 20 – Nov. 2||Dec. 1-7 andFeb. 18-24|
|General gun||Sept. 15 – Oct. 14 andNov. 17 – Jan. 6||Dec. 1 – Feb. 17||Nov. 3 – Jan. 20||Nov. 22-25 andDec. 8 – Feb. 17|
|Antlerless deer||Nov. 17-23||Dec. 26 – Jan. 1||Nov. 17-23||Dec. 26 – Jan. 1|
|Fall turkey||Oct. 8-14 andNov. 17 – Jan. 6||Dec. 1 – Jan. 27||Nov. 3 – Dec. 30||Nov. 22-25 andDec. 8 – Jan. 13 *|
|Quail||Nov. 10 – March 3||Nov. 10 – March 3||Nov. 10 – March 3||Nov. 10 – March 3|
|Gray squirrel||Oct. 13 – March 3||Oct. 13 – March 3||Oct. 13 – March 3||Oct. 13 – March 3|
|Bobcat and otter||Dec. 1 – March 1||Dec. 1 – March 1||Dec. 1 – March 1||Dec. 1 – March 1|
|Youth spring turkey hunt **||Feb. 23-24||March 9-10||March 9-10||March 9-10|
|Spring turkey||March 2 – April 7||March 16 – April 21||March 16 – April 21||March 16 – April 21 ***|
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 16-31.
2012-2013 Wildlife Management Area brochures
For more locations, click here
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