OBTAIN ANTLERLESS DEER PERMITS FOR PRIVATE LANDS
September 10, 2003
Hunters who see plenty of deer on their property may want to apply for antlerless deer permits.
Landowners or hunting clubs may qualify in one of several ways under rules set up by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). They’re eligible to take part in the program if they have a minimum of 640 contiguous acres; join with contiguous neighboring landowners to have at least 640 acres; or, have at least a 150-acre parcel that adjoins a neighboring land already receiving antlerless deer permits.
Regardless of how they plug into the program, private landowners or clubs generally have one of two motives for applying for permits.
“They usually say they’re seeing lots of does and not very many bucks and want to balance their deer herd somewhat,” said Arlo Kane, a FWC technical services biologist. “Or, they feel like they’ve got plenty of deer and want to improve their chances of killing a deer during the hunting season. Both are valid reasons.”
Anyone obtaining antlerless permits can fill their permits any time during the gun season by taking does or antlerless bucks. The only stipulation is the deer must be immediately tagged, and the tags cannot be re-used.
Interest in the FWC’s antlerless deer program has grown considerably over the last decade. In 1990-91, 167 landowners or hunting clubs enrolled in the program and represented approximately 300,000 acres. Last year, the 2002-03 season, that figure reached 623 hunting groups and 1.5 million acres of private property.
“Some people wait until after Thanksgiving to apply and that’s the wrong thing to do,” Kane said. “By then does become more wary and fawns lose their spots and become more difficult to distinguish from does, increasing the chance of harvesting a fawn buck, which most hunters want to protect.
“The bottom line is it’s easier to fill the permits early in the hunting season than by waiting.”
Kane said some landowners may not care for hunting but suffer losses to farm crops from deer depredation or feeding. While permits can be issued when the damage occurs to destroy deer causing the damage, he said it makes much better sense where there’s been crop damage in the past to participate in the antlerless deer program.
The turn-around time for the application process is 1-2 weeks according to Kane. Although the actual deadline for applying is in mid-January, he encourages anyone interested in the program to apply early.
Applications are available from the FWC’s Panama City office.
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