OUTTA THE WOODS: Expect changes for hunting zones A, D this fall

Special to the News Bulletin
Published: Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 11:20 AM.

If you hunt in Zone D (which includes Okaloosa and Walton counties), there are several major changes this year to fall hunting regulations that you need to know about. And, if your hunting spot was in the northern portion of Zone A, you might be hunting in Zone C now.

If you hunt in the Panhandle in Zone D, that zone has now been divided into two deer management units (DMUs), each with its own unique set of antler regulations and antlerless deer harvest days.

This new change is part of a larger, statewide project aimed at managing deer on a more local level and providing hunters, landowners and other stakeholders a greater say in deer management.

The FWC conducted a public outreach and input process in northwest Florida during the first quarter of 2013. During that period, the Commission received input and comments from hunters, farmers and the general public regarding how they would like to see deer managed in the newly proposed DMUs. A technical assistance group made up of deer enthusiasts was then formed, and this team developed goals and objectives for the two DMUs.

As a result of this outreach process and ideas provided by the group, the FWC passed rules for both public and private lands in both of the newly created DMUs in Zone D, with Interstate 10 being the dividing line between the two DMUs. North of I-10 is DMU-D2, and south of I-10 is DMU-D1.

The new regulations require that bucks harvested north of I-10 in DMU-D2 must have antlers with at least 3 points (each point having to be at least 1 inch long) on one side OR have an antler with a main beam length of at least 10 inches. 

South of I-10 in DMU-D1, the minimum antler requirement is now two points (each point having to be at least 1 inch long) on one side. The antler regulations in each DMU are intended to protect most 1.5-year-old bucks from being shot, while allowing the harvest of most 2.5-year-old and older bucks. Since antler development is different within the units, different antler regulations were needed to accomplish this goal.

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