Hunting

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).

Click here to download 2013/2014 Hunting Season Regulations

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.”

Duck Hunting

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

Season Brochures

Regulations

Quota Permits

ADA Duck Blind

FWC and Other Hunt Areas

Helpful Links

Report Duck Bands

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National wildlife refuges offer special hunts

Sambar deer. Photo courtesy USFWS

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.

Click here for permit info.

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

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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

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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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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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.

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

Tony Young’s an avid sportsman and native Floridian.  He’s the media relations coordinator for the FWC’s Division of Hunting and Game Management and lives in Tallahassee with his family.

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

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