The Sunshine State is not regarded as a mecca for trophy whitetails. Gorgeous beaches, sun, and sand are far more common here. Handsome mature trophy whitetail bucks are more often a dream rather than reality to most hunters in Florida. However, Florida`s trophy buck status has improved by leaps and bounds over the years thanks greatly to Florida sportsman`s employment of highly effective whitetail range management techniques, such as the Tecomate year round food plot system. The application of quality deer management concepts by Florida sportsman has played a vital role in the overall increase in production of both quality and quantity of impressive trophy whitetail racks here in my home state.
With more, bigger, healthier, and older age class bucks roaming the swamps, scrubs, and dense forests of Florida, more hunters are harvesting better bucks as dividends created by investment in their Florida whitetail hunting turf. And Florida sportsmen are becoming more selective with regard to harvest. For many the idea of simply taking “a buck” has been replaced by the lofty goal of taking “the buck”. Many hunters have significantly raised their harvest bar in the Sunshine State deer woods!
A quick look into the Florida FWC`s Trophy Buck Registry shows that not only do we grow oranges and alligators in great State of Florida, we also grow some impressive whitetail bucks that could be considered trophies if taken anywhere in the Tecomate Whitetail Nation.
*Florida Buck Registry records verify harvest of the following 20 trophy whitetail bucks. Note that all scores in the following table are “B&C net” scores:
Name -_ Date Taken - Weapon - County of Harvest- Typical/Non-Typical Net Score
Robert C Partin, 11/25/10 RIFLE ALACHUA 170 6/8 Non-Typical
Brandon C Alday, 10/23/10 ARCHERY JACKSON 167 5/8 Non-Typical
Roland Walsingham, 11/27/10 RIFLE WASHINGTON 154 Typical
David Sanders, 2/14/2011 SHOTGUN FRANKLIN 152 6/8 Typical
Jeremy Free, 12/7/2010 MUZZLE LOADER HOLMES 151 3/8 Typical
John Bradley, 9/19/2010 ARCHERY INDIAN RIVER 149 Typical
Michael Conner, 12/25/2010 RIFLE HOLMES 147 4/8 Typical
Kyle Magenheimer, 10/23/2010 MUZZLE LOADER HARDEE 146 5/8 Non-Typical
Leslie Sharp, 9/19/2010 ARCHERY COLUMBIA 146 3/8 Non-Typical
TIMMY 'MAC' BUTLER, 11/7/2010 RIFLE SUWANNEE 144 1/8 Typical
Samuel E Mock, 12/29/2010 RIFLE LEON 143 7/8 Non-Typical
Brandon D Wilkes, 2/14/2011 RIFLE JACKSON 142 4/8 Typical
Steve Shea, 1/22/2011 RIFLE GULF 141 7/8 Typical
John Moore, 12/10/2010 PICKED UP LAKE 141 6/8 Non-Typical
Donnie Feagle, 11/8/2010 RIFLE HAMILTON 141 2/8 Typical
Chuck Durden, 11/18/2010 RIFLE CITRUS 140 5/8 Non-Typical
Jacob T Harwell, 1/25/2011 RIFLE POLK 140 5/8 Non-Typical
Kenneth Goodijohn, 11/27/2010 RIFLE BAY 140 1/8 Typical
David Moody, 11/18/2010 RIFLE HAMILTON 139 6/8 Typical
AUSTIN LONG, 10/23/2010 MUZZLE LOADER SUWANNEE 139 5/8 Typical
*Information from Florida FWC website 5/31/201
During the 2010/2011 Fl deer season a whopper 18-point non-typical buck that tallied 186 B&C gross inches of antler was taken by a fortunate Florida hunter. Another non-typical free ranging 15-point buck that stretched the tape to 179 B&C gross was also taken several years prior in the same area. Typical bucks gross scoring 160 B&C are not common in Florida, but neither are they unheard of lately. These days’ bucks wearing racks that gross 120 B&C to 140 B&C gross are expected to be brought into camps across Florida with some degree of regularity.
While Florida hunters may not be blessed with the quantity of trophy bucks produced in other states that you may hunt, we Floridians do enjoy some terrific advantages over those that are unable to join us for Florida`s extraordinarily long deer season.
Most hunters around the country who live the year-round whitetail lifestyle might be planting Tecomate food plots. Or maybe they are sprucing up the hunting cabin for this coming fall. It`s summertime - that’s what scores of dedicated hunters do this time of year. But enthusiastic South Florida hunters are preparing themselves for opening morning of deer season, less than 30 days away.
It’s true that Florida deer hunters must overcome numerous unique obstacles en route to taking their trophies. But they are afforded more time to get the job done. Florida`s 2012-2013 whitetail deer hunting season begins this coming July 28th. And the season spans days during eight continuous months in specific regions of the state, starting in South Florida and extending north and west through Central Florida, then finally through the Panhandle. Florida`s Southern zone opens its pine flat-woods, hammocks, and cypress swamps first to archers that seek our nation`s #1 big game animal right in the middle of hurricane season. And there`s more. Perhaps the most incredible part of this sunny scenario is that not only will die-hard Florida hunters likely be hot and wet afield, the rut will be heating up as well in parts of South Florida on opening day.
Florida`s whitetail rut is truly atypical as illustrated by the FWC`s published statewide map of “Mean Conception Dates of White-tailed Deer in Florida”. If you study the Florida FWC`s rut map you may conclude that the timing of Florida`s rut is possibly the most complex in the whitetail universe. It`s hard to imagine trophy bucks, some in velvet, bird- dogging hot does amid an ordinary summer afternoon Florida thunder-buster. But it happens. The rut is in full swing in at least a portion of the Southern Zone of Florida during the dog days of summer and the early South Florida archery season. In contrast, Florida Panhandle whitetails are possibly six months away from the torrid activities inspired by the peak of their rut.
Mr. Lee Taylor, District Wildlife Biologist with the Florida FWC was kind to inform me last season (2011) that an early August 2011 FWC sponsored weekend bow hunt conducted at one of Florida`s well managed FWC Southern Zone WMA`s, produced the harvest of at least one mature trophy buck and several does. As expected some of the does taken during this short 3-day early August hunt were already carrying fawns. Lee reported that backdating of fetus obtained from these early August harvested does confirms rut activity has occurred as early as mid-July.
Mean Conception Dates of White-tailed Deer in Florida: http://myfwc.com/media/1360457/Rut_map_20APR11.pdf
Many dedicated Florida whitetail hunters will endure the sultry buggy conditions this coming July 28th, 2012, in hopes of taking their best trophy. The miserable heat and humidity of the Florida summer will not deter them. There may be a shortage of thermo-cells to go around, but rest assured that mosquitoes and cottonmouths, along with the rutting whitetails of Florida summertime promise to provide excitement and opportunity in the sun for the sportsmen that dare endure the adverse elements.
Whitetail devoted hunters will be present in numbers at daylight the first morning of this 2012 early-season Florida opener. Our nation`s most beloved game animal`s evokes that sort of action from its faithful. Some fortunate Florida hunters will likely meet with success this summer because the rut is on and because they are well prepared. So don`t be too surprised to hear stories around the coffee shop detailing encounters with South Florida trophy bucks, noses pressed to the ground while pursuing a hot doe at high noon in an open Florida cow pasture. Florida hunters, don your shorts, t-shirts, and crocs. Grab your thermo-cells, bows and arrows, and soon your rifles. Don`t forget your Code Blue scent eliminator - you will need it. You are going to sweat. But if you hunt in Florida you are fortunate. You can be hunting trophy whitetail bucks in the rut just weeks from now, while most others across our expansive Tecomate Whitetail Nation are still only day dreaming in anticipation of their own season opener many months away!
Good Hunting! Be safe!
Posted by David Shashy