Hunting In The Northwest Region With Capt. Jeff Hagaman


Capt. Jeff HagamanWith the exception of archery and the early duck season, there’s not much going on in the way of hunting on public land in my region until November. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be in the woods. This is the time that you want to start putting together your hunting stands and getting them placed in different areas for different wind and weather scenarios. 

I like to get all my hunting gear out and go through it, look for wear and holes and problems so I don’t have to deal with them in the field or spend time last-minute searching for replacements. I’ll get my firearms and ammunition out and go through that as well, and also all my safety gear. The time to make sure all your gear is in tip-top shape is before you ever step into the woods. 

If you plan to shoot any firearm that has a scope mounted on it, this is a good time to go out and sight in your firearm and do a little shooting practice. You can never do too much practice, whether you shoot archery, rifle or shotgun, the more you practice the more everything becomes second nature when you get out into the field. If you haven’t touched your firearms since last season and the first time you do it is when you arrive at your hunting area, you’re not going to be as comfortable and familiar with it as you would if you handled it several times before the season event started. 

You’ll also want to do some early season scouting, which will give you an idea of the health of the terrain and any changes that have taken place since the last time you were in the woods. Scouting will also give you are idea which areas the animals are using the most, so you know where to set your stands and concentrate your efforts once the season does open. 

In my region, we have some outstanding public hunting land. The Green Swamp Wildlife Management Area is probably the largest at just over 50,000 acres. A lot of people don’t know this, but the largest white-tailed deer ever harvested in Florida came out of the Green Swamp WMA. There’s a wide variety of Florida Wildlife Management Areas where you can hunt, some of which are only about 1,500 acres, and many of which require you to apply for a permit to hunt. All of them require a state Wildlife Management Stamp along with your hunting license. 

The first of the cold fronts will start passing through in October, but the temperatures won’t really drop much until we get into November, which is when most of the serious hunting begins in my area. We’ll have a lot of opportunities to get to the woods before then to chase small game, and in October a lot of the wingshooters will start seeing dates for quail and dove. 

By far the best dove hunting takes place in the center of the state around the private citrus farms. If you know someone who has access to one of these areas, you want to buddy up with them, as a lot of doves gather where the barren citrus trees are. 

Wild hog season is open all year on private land, and there will be a lot of hunters who take advantage of that in September, but the majority of hunters in and around my area tend to wait until we start seeing some cooler weather before they really think of heading to the woods. When it’s still warm out like it is now, the mosquitos are so bad, that most people don’t want to deal with them. Cold fronts will kill a lot of those off, and the winds that come through will keep the others from flying. 

All the information about hunting in Florida can be obtained at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website

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