The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) passed a new rule Sept. 1, 2010 in Pensacola Beach that will extend zonal crossbow seasons by a month, thereby running concurrently with archery season, beginning July 2011.
The FWC received requests from Florida hunters who want more crossbow-hunting opportunities – not only more hunting days, but also to be allowed to take deer of either sex, which is legal in many other states, including Georgia and Alabama.
Because of the request, the FWC checked with Florida’s hunters through an online poll, and more than 70 percent of those who responded supported increasing crossbow opportunities on private lands.
The new rule adds 30 days to the crossbow season in zones A, B and C, and it adds 33 days in Zone D, thereby making it coincide with the archery season.
Starting with the 2011-2012 hunting season, any hunter with a hunting license, deer permit and crossbow permit will be able to get in the woods a month early on private lands and use a crossbow (or a bow) to take deer of either sex.
This rule is intended to give hunters more opportunities and enable youths and others who have difficulty using a vertical bow to have more hunting days, thereby helping to recruit and retain more people into the tradition of hunting.
The Commission also passed another rule that limits the methods of take allowed during spring turkey hunts on FWC-managed areas beginning, with the next spring turkey season (March 2011). However, all legal bows and crossbows are still allowed.
The new rule restricts firearms to shotguns and muzzleloading shotguns only, using shot no larger than No. 2. All rifles, pistols, buckshot and slugs are now prohibited during spring turkey hunts on wildlife management areas (WMAs), except on Joe Budd WMA, Raiford WMA and Santa Fe Swamp Wildlife and Environmental Area. On these three areas, muzzleloading rifles will still be allowed, because spring turkey hunting on these areas is restricted to primitive guns only.
This rule came about after public-land turkey hunters and others expressed safety concerns, prompting the FWC to ask Florida’s hunters, again through an online survey. More than 75 percent of those who responded supported the restriction on firearms during spring turkey hunts on WMAs.
“If we can save one life by passing this rule, it’s certainly worth doing,” said Commissioner Ron Bergeron.