Give thanks for hunting seasons galore
November means the 2009-10 huntin’ season’s in full swing. This month, general gun, fall turkey, quail and gray squirrel, snipe and the second phase of mourning and white-winged dove hunting seasons open.
The first thing you need to do is pick up a $17 Florida resident hunting license. Nonresidents pay $46.50 for a 10-day license or $151.50 for 12 months.
If you plan to hunt one of Florida’s many wildlife management areas (WMAs), you’ll also need a $26.50 management area permit, but don’t forget to study the brochure for the specific area you plan to hunt, because dates, bag limits and rules differ greatly from area to area.
You can get these brochures at tax collectors’ offices and regional Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) offices in close proximity to the WMA, or you can download them from MyFWC.com/Hunting.
You can buy your license and permits over the telephone by calling toll-free 888-HUNT-FLORIDA or online at www.wildlifelicense.com/fl. Just have your credit card ready. You also can purchase them from tax collectors’ offices and most retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing supplies.
The general gun season runs Nov. 14 – Jan. 24 in the Central Hunting Zone. In the Northwest Zone, it comes in Thanksgiving Day and lasts four days through Nov. 29. Two weeks later, the season reopens Dec. 12 and runs through Feb. 17. For readers hunting the South Hunting Zone, the general gun season’s already in and lasts through Jan. 10.
Hunters can take bucks having at least one antler 5 inches or longer. On private lands, the daily bag limit for deer is two.
On private lands, hunters can take wild hogs year-round with no bag or size limits. On most – but not all – WMAs, there’s also no bag or size limit on wild hogs, and hunters can take them during any hunting season except spring turkey. Check the WMA brochure to be certain.
The highly anticipated antlerless deer season, often called “doe week,” is Dec. 19-25 in the Northwest Zone, Nov. 21-27 in the Central Zone and Nov. 7-13 in the South Hunting Zone.
During doe week, the daily bag limit’s one buck and one doe, or two bucks. You may not take two does in one day like you may during archery season, and spotted fawns are never legal game. And by the way, WMAs do not have an antlerless deer season.
If you hunt with deer dogs anywhere in Florida, special rules and registration requirements may apply, so call the FWC for details.
Fall turkey season in the Northwest Hunting Zone is Nov. 26-29 and Dec. 12 – Jan. 17. In the Central and South zones, it’s Nov. 14 – Jan. 10. Only bearded turkeys and gobblers are legal game, and you must have a $5 turkey permit to hunt them. The bag limit’s one bird per day, and a total of two during the archery, crossbow, muzzleloading gun and fall turkey seasons combined.
It’s also against the law to hunt turkeys in Holmes County during the fall season.
Quail and gray squirrel season runs statewide Nov. 14 – March 7. There’s a daily bag limit of 12 for each, but shooting fox squirrels is against the law.
Shooting hours for deer, turkeys, quail and gray squirrels is a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. All legal firearms, muzzleloaders, bows, crossbows and handguns are legal for taking these resident game animals during the general gun, antlerless deer, fall turkey, and quail and gray squirrel seasons.
Snipe hunting in Florida ranks second in the nation in number of birds harvested each year, and the season runs Nov. 1 – Feb. 15 statewide. The second phase of the mourning and white-winged dove season also comes in this month and runs Nov. 14-29. Shooting hours for migratory game birds are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. The bag limit for snipe is eight; and for doves, the bag limit is 15.
You must get a no-cost migratory bird permit if you plan to hunt snipe, doves or any other migratory game birds.
The FWC even provides an online “Dove Hunters’ Hotline,” which gives up-to-date information on Florida’s public dove fields. The address is MyFWC.com/Dove, and it’s updated every Thursday throughout the dove season. Information includes dove densities, previous weeks’ harvests and field conditions.
Whether small-game hunting with friends and family or hunting solo, going after that monster buck, boar hog or big tom, November brings loads of great hunting opportunities.
Here’s wishing you a happy Thanksgiving and a successful hunting season.