Deer Season Has Finally Arrived!

Saturday’s forecast calls for a high of 90 degrees, 70 percent humidity, scorching sun and zero chance for precipitation.

Perfect weather for deer hunting!

By Alan Clemons, Managing Editor

What? Hunting? Already? But … bow season isn’t until, late September or sometime in October. No one should be hunting in July. That’s insane. It’s not … hunting season!

Well, that’s where a lot of hunters are wrong. Or maybe they just don’t know. We know it’s probably difficult for someone in Iowa, Washington, the Dakotas, Maine or, heck, even in Alabama or Looseyanna to comprehend that deer season really is here.

Ninety degrees with 70 percent humidity? Those conditions are what most hunters in Florida’s “Zone A” will be experiencing Saturday morning when the first deer season in America opens at dawn.

Welcome to deer season!

Zone A, known as the Everglades zone or “that hellish gator- and mosquito-infested swamp land,” spans the southern portion of the Florida. Sixteen counties or portions of counties are included in the zone. Among those are the biggest or among the biggest in the state: Collier, Hendry, Palm Beach, Dade and Monroe.

Those last two counties include the famed Keys, the spits of sandy islands along the southernmost coast. We won’t be in the Keys doing any fishing, though, although flinging something at barracuda might be a blast. Another day, however.

Don’t stink in the woods! Hide your odors!

Florida’s deer hunters have four zones and a season that lasts from July 28 until Feb. 17. You read that correctly. Six and a half months of deer hunting, starting with the archery season in Zone A down in the south and ending with a muzzleloader season in the northwest Panhandle. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission moved to the four-zone setup two years ago.

Why start in July? Because that’s when the deer are breeding in Zone A. The rest of the state’s seasons also follow the breeding periods. We’ll dig into the biology of that stretched-out rut a little deeper later this week.

Hunting in Florida's south Zone A can be challenging.

Florida outdoorsman, hunter and blogger Ian Nance of Lakeland described his state as having “one of the weirdest deer seasons in the nation.” I’d agree. It just seems flat-out strange to be bowhunting in late July, especially when many hunters have been pursuing bears in Canada or shooting 3D archery events, planting food plots and checking photos from trail cameras.

But the season is here. In just a few weeks, a portion of South Carolina will open, too.

We’ll be going hard this weekend from the first day of bow season – the first legal, real season opener in the United States! – until late February when we drag our weary butts into the woods one last time. Those final days could be in the Panhandle, or over in Arkansas or southeast Mississippi, if we’re still able to fathom going after one more deer and don’t have turkey season in mind.

By the way, the Zone A archery turkey season opens this Saturday, too. Anyone up for a whitetail and turkey combo?

Official sunrise Saturday is 6:49 a.m. See you in the woods.