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When is the rut in your area?

Central and South Florida deer hunters are encouraged to attend a public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 22 in Kissimmee to share their thoughts about possible changes to the state’s deer hunting zones and seasons.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) also wants hunters to tell them when the rut traditionally occurs in their area of the state. The FWC is using feedback from hunters to shape deer hunting zones and seasons, as part of its deer management strategic plan.

The meeting (to be held in the Extension Services Building, 1921 Kissimmee Valley Lane) is an opportunity for members of the public to learn about the possible changes and share their views with FWC staff.

The meeting will feature a presentation on the latest proposal, followed by a question-and-answer session. The FWC is using breeding-chronology data along with hunter input to draft changes to deer hunting zones and seasons.

The FWC has deer-breeding information from many counties and several of its wildlife management areas, but there are gaps in the biological data. Input from hunters on when the rut occurs in their area could help close those gaps.

The agency recognizes the value of local knowledge and is asking hunters familiar with when the deer rut historically occurs to attend the meeting or fill out an online survey.

During rutting periods, bucks are more active in daylight (shooting) hours and often less cautious, improving hunters’ chances of seeing them in the field.

“Deer hunters want to hunt during the rut, and we want to be able to share comprehensive information about when the rut occurs with the hunting public,” FWC biologist and deer team coordinator Cory Morea said. “We realize a lot of hunters know when the rut happens in their area, and we want to compare that information with our conception data. It would be great to be able to use any new data to help fill in the holes.

“At the very least, we think there is value in knowing what hunters perceive as the peak of the rut where they hunt,” Morea said.

To see the latest proposed deer zones and season dates, comment on the potential changes or fill out the deer rut survey, go to MyFWC.com/Deer or contact Morea at 850-410-0656, ext. 17256.