December's traditions include holiday hunting
Outta' the Woods
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Media contact: Tony Young
There's finally a chill and a certain festiveness
in the air as most of us try to take time off from work to enjoy
spending quality time with family and friends and reflect on the
passing year. Children will be out of school on winter break
soon, and while the holiday season is upon us, so are several
traditional hunting opportunities.
The second phase of waterfowl and coot season comes
in statewide Dec. 11 and runs through Jan. 30. In addition to
the usual hunting license and permit requirements, duck hunters
also must have a Florida waterfowl permit ($5) and a federal duck
The daily bag limit on ducks is six, but you need
to know your ducks before you pull the trigger, because there are
different daily limits for each species. For instance, within
the six-bird limit there may be only one black duck, one mottled
duck, one fulvous whistling-duck and one canvasback.
Only two of your six-bird limit may be pintails,
redheads or scaup, and three may be wood ducks. And you may
have no more than four scoters and four mallards (of which only two
may be female) in your bag. All other species of ducks can be
taken up to the six-bird limit, except harlequin ducks.
The daily limit on coots is 15, and there's a
five-bird limit on mergansers, only two of which may be hooded.
When hunting waterfowl, hunters may use only
non-toxic shotgun shells. In fact, it's illegal for hunters
even to possess lead shot when waterfowl hunting. Only iron
(steel), bismuth-tin and various tungsten-alloys are
For something different, try woodcock
hunting. Woodcock season runs Dec. 18 - Jan. 16.
Woodcocks are excellent game birds because they hold well for
pointing bird dogs and provide a challenging shot when
flushed. The daily bag limit is three.
The third phase of mourning and white-winged dove
season opens Dec. 11 and runs through Jan. 9. The daily bag
limit is 15 birds.
From November on, shooting hours for all migratory
birds are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. You must
get a no-cost migratory bird permit where you purchase your hunting
license before you hunt any of these birds, though.
The only firearm you can use to hunt migratory game
birds is a shotgun, no larger than 10-gauge. Shotguns must be
plugged to a three-shell capacity (magazine and chamber
combined). Bows also are legal.
Retrievers and bird dogs can be useful in hunting
migratory game birds. Artificial decoys, as well as manual or
mouth-operated bird calls, also are legal and essential gear for
You may hunt migratory game birds over an
agricultural field, as long as the crop's been planted by regular
agricultural methods. However, don't even think about
"sweetening" the field by scattering agricultural products over it
- or anywhere near it - or you could wind up in serious
trouble. It doesn't matter if you aren't the one who
scattered the bait. If you knew or should've known that such
bait was present, you're accountable under federal law.
Some other things you can't do while hunting
migratory game birds include using rifles, pistols, crossbows,
traps, snares, nets, sinkboxes, swivel guns, punt guns, battery
guns, machine guns, fish hooks, poisons, drugs, explosive
substances, live decoys and recorded bird calls, sounds or
electrically amplified bird-call imitations. It is also
against the law to shoot from a moving automobile or boat and herd
or drive birds with vehicles or vessels.
Bobcat and otter hunting season is Dec. 1 - March
1, and there's no daily bag or season limit on either species.
Like foxes, bobcats may be chased year-round with
dogs, but possessing firearms during the closed season, between
March 2 and Nov. 30, is prohibited. On a few wildlife
management areas, bobcats and otters may not be taken, so please
consult the specific area brochure before you hunt.
Whether upland bird hunting with friends and
family, shooting ducks on the pond with your favorite lab or taking
that big bobcat as he slips up behind an unsuspecting fawn,
December has the hunting opportunities you're looking for.
Here's wishing you happy holidays and a successful
hunting season. If you can, remember to introduce someone new
to our great sport. As always, have fun, hunt safely and
ethically, and we'll see you in the woods!