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Archery Season Tips and Info

by Tony Young

Even though you can hardly tell right now, summer is officially over. Finally, the time of year we’ve been waiting for is here – football season and the beginning of hunting season, specifically archery. Most of us (should) have finished our preseason scouting, and hung our treestands along well-traveled deer trails, hopefully next to a mature oak tree that’ll begin dropping acorns soon.

I'll let some of you early-season hunters in on a little secret – not all acorns are created equal when it comes to white-tailed deer. Most of us have heard that deer prefer acorns from a white oak tree. If you can find one, great – but those oaks aren’t so common in Florida. The reason deer prefer white oak acorns is because they contain the least amount of tannic acid.

So, you ask, which acorns contain the least tannic acid? Of the other oak tree varieties (besides the white oak), the next one that produces acorns with the least amount of tannic acid is the water oak, which Florida has tons of.

Next comes the red oak, black oak, burr oak, and lastly (which might surprise you) is the majestic live oak. This is information you definitely want to keep in mind when deciding “where” to hang your deer stands this archery season.

Bowhunting continues to be very popular in our state, accounting for more than 10% of all deer harvested, 15% of harvested does and 25% of the deer taken on wildlife management areas (WMAs). Last year, nearly 26,000 people bowhunted in Florida.

Besides hunting the rut, archery season provides a great opportunity to take a trophy whitetail and is arguably one of the best times to do so. In the Panhandle, it’s even better because bucks are still hangin’ out in bachelor groups. If you’re stealthy enough and do your homework, you’ve got a good chance of having a nice one come within range of your set-up.

A lot of the rutting in the Central Zone occurs during archery season, so your advantages are doubled when bowhunting while the rut is in full swing in Nassau, Duval, Clay, Bradford, Dixie, Levy and Highlands counties, as well as on Seminole Forest WMA, Rock Springs Run WMA and Tosohatchee WMA.

Most of us already know the rules regarding archery season, but for those folks wishing to pull back on a string for the first time, or any hunters who are new to Florida, here are a few tips on what you can – and can’t do.

First off, Florida is divided into three hunting zones, and you’ll need to know which zone you’ll be hunting in because season dates vary for each. Just turn back two pages to page 38 to see the Florida hunting zone map.

Archery season first comes in the South Zone (Sept. 12 - Oct. 11) located south of S.R. 70 – which runs east-west through Manatee, DeSoto, Highlands, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties.

In the Central Zone – which lies north of S.R. 70 – bow season runs Sept. 26 - Oct. 25. The boundary between the Central and Northwest hunting zones is a bit complicated, as it meanders through Leon, Jefferson and Wakulla counties.

If you hunt west of that line, you’re in the Northwest Zone where archery season runs Oct. 17 - Nov. 15. Before you go, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got your license and required permits up-to-date, unless you qualify for an exemption.

To hunt during archery season, you’ll need a Florida hunting license and an archery permit. An archery permit costs just $5 for all hunters, except those who have one of the "lifetime" or "sportsman" license.

All licenses and permits you’ll need can be obtained at county tax collectors’ offices, any retail outlet that sells hunting and fishing supplies, by calling toll-free 888-HUNT-FLORIDA or clicking www.wildlifelicense.com/fl.