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Old June 12, 2013, 08:27 AM   #1
Sea Buck
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Florida Hunting

I am contemplating retirement to the Winter Haven area. Any hunting opportunities in the area? Hogs? Turkey? Gator? I will be in the area this fall for a look-see of places to hang my hat. Any information will be appreciated.
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Old June 12, 2013, 09:41 AM   #2
Art Eatman
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Much good information in this magazine. Most of the photos of deer and hogs tell what county. Info about hunt leases as well as real estate.
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Old June 12, 2013, 09:47 AM   #3
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Hunting in FL is very tough to come by unless you are willing to shell out big bucks. Lease clubs in the S. Fl area run north of $6,000 per hunter. In the Orlando area, they are in the $4,000 range. You can get in a lease up in the Perry area for about $1,500.

There is some WMA hunting available in your area but it gets very crowded on weekends if it isn't a quota hunt area. If it is a quota area then you'll have to take your changes on getting drawn.

The pay hunt ranches that are advertised in the magazines are a good option, but they aren't cheap either.

Private land hunting is only an option if you can manage to get in good with the land owner - and that is a hit or miss situation. It isn't like the old days where large land owners would let people hunt there.
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Old June 12, 2013, 01:51 PM   #4
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Due East of Winter Haven, on the other side of Lake Kissimmee is the Bull Creek Wildlife Management Area. I grew up hunting deer and hogs there.

I agree with Doyle... Leases are expensive. Getting permission to hunt private property is about as difficult as passing a kidney stone...

The quota system Doyle was mentioning... read up on the current rules, as I've been out of FL for 19 years, but the first week of each season was restricted in each WMA. That week was broken up into 3 periods: first weekend, Mon-Wed, Thurs-Sun. You applied by a cutoff date each year for quota permits for the seasons you want (rifle, muzzleloader, bow). You could only get drawn for 1 in each season, but the permits were transferable with a restriction that they could not be sold... If you knew who to talk to, you could get permits... Only so many permits were issued for each WMA for each season, so it narrowed down the field quite a bit. Where I hunted, I rarely saw other hunters in the field.

Public land hunting on weekends (after quota) was an exercise in futility and could be dangerous. The friends I used to hunt with quit going after seeing vehicles shot up, tree stands stolen, people sitting in their tree stands, etc. Since you are going there to retire, you could probably take advantage of the weekdays when most people are working, especially late season when most folks have forgotten about hunting and are turning their attention to flats/bass fishing. Climbers work really well on the cabbage palm and pine trees. Use hang-ons for the oak trees and take the steps with you. I would not use ladders, as we always had a few stolen every season.

There is some good duck hunting to be done down there as well: bluewing, greenwing, cinnamon teal, widgeon, pintail, ringbill, mottled ducks. Highly recommend a boat, as the fishing opportunities are great as well!
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Old June 12, 2013, 02:43 PM   #5
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Globemaster, things have changed a little since you left - and not for the better. All of the good WMAs are stictly quota hunt now all season. Those that aren't quota hunt all sesason are either quota for most of the season or not worth using. You are right about the idiots that use WMAs on the weekends.

Waterfowl hunting isn't as good as when you left. Way too much development crowding out too few wetlands.

All this is why I'm working to get out. Fl isn't the same place I fell in love with as a kid almost 50 years ago.

For the original poster, your best bet for any serious hunting is to get in on one of the Perry leases. I know of one that is open right now. It's about a 4 hour drive from Winter Haven. If I were retired and could go during the weekdays, I would definitely be involved in one of those.
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Old June 12, 2013, 03:30 PM   #6
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Listen to what they are saying and keep this in you work north and west of where you are the cost and availability improves. It's almost as if there is a line across the state at about I-4.

We are in Putnam County about 40 miles due west of St. Augustine. Land leases here are in the $7-10 a year. They get lower as you go further to the west in the state.

Another thing to keep in mind is how the vegetation changes as you move north. Up here much of the land is in planted pines with mixed hardwoods and swamps and it is as flat as south Fl. Move west and it get a roll to it, even though it will still be pine plantations.

IMHO one of the first decision you have to make is HOW FAR you are willing to go on a regular basis to hunt. Does you little good to pay only $1500 a year for a nice place if you can only access it twice. Might be better to pay $5000 for one closer to home where you can use it more often.

And do factor in the travel costs............

Finally.....another thing to consider.....the WMAs in the north & west part of the state are a WHOLE lot less of a zoo than those in the south, not perfect but better. Find a motel near one and hunt cheap!

Last thing.....BUY LAND NOW! Cobble together a group and purchase rural timberland. Hunt it and lease to some folks and then work the timber to pay for it.
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Old June 15, 2013, 01:42 PM   #7
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Hunting in Florida sucks and I don't miss it. Public land is over-hunted and potentially dangerous. Private land mostly belongs to developers and is expensive.
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