Two new rules in place on the 187,700-acre Tate's Hell Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Franklin and Liberty counties this hunting season are designed to improve the quality of the hunting experience.
The first new rule requires that legal buck deer must have at least one antler with two or more points. Each point has to be at least 1 inch long, and the antler has to be a minimum of 5 inches long.
Under the second rule, no one can shine or look for deer from midnight until 30 minutes before sunrise. There is an exception to the light-shining rule for raccoon or opossum hunters.
Both rules were put in place after numerous requests from members of the hunting public, according to Adam Warwick, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wildlife biologist.
"The two-points-on-a-side antler rule is an effort to improve the quality of deer available to hunters on Tate's Hell," Warwick said. "Also, we'll be collecting harvest data from deer killed on the area and conducting deer track counts on designated area roads. The goal is to improve the deer herd."
The "no-shining rule" is in place on Tate's Hell and the nearby 582,700-acre Apalachicola WMA this season.
"This is one of those things where a lot of hunters felt like those trying to shine or locate deer after midnight and during the wee hours of the morning were gaining an unfair advantage over other hunters. This is just to make sure there's a level playing field," he said.
General gun season hunting dates for both Tate's Hell and Apalachicola WMAs are Nov. 27-30 and Dec. 13 - Feb.4. A quota permit is required for anyone hunting on Tate's Hell through Dec. 21.