The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wants to hear from hunters around the state regarding "when" they think the white-tailed deer rut happens in their neck of the woods.
The FWC, along with its deer management stakeholder group, is considering making possible changes to Florida's deer hunting zones and corresponding season dates. The first goal of the "Strategic Plan for Deer Management in Florida 2008-2018" is to manage deer at a more local level and better align hunting season dates with peak rutting (breeding) activity.
The FWC has deer-breeding information from many counties and several of its wildlife management areas, but there are gaps in the biological data. The deer management stakeholder group would like to obtain rut information from hunters to try and close gaps in the data.
The agency recognizes the value of local knowledge and is asking hunters who are familiar with when the deer rut historically occurs in the areas where they hunt to fill out an online survey. The FWC would like to take this information to compare hunters' perceptions of the rut with scientifically known conception data.
During rutting periods, bucks are more active during daylight (shooting) hours and often less cautious, making the chances of seeing them in the field better.
"Deer hunters want to hunt during the rut, and we want to be able to share comprehensive information about when the rut occurs with the hunting public," FWC biologist and deer team coordinator Cory Morea said. "We realize a lot of hunters know when the rut happens in their area, and we want to take this information and compare it with our conception data to see if they are similar. It would be great to be able to use any new data to help fill in the holes in what we already know.
"At the very least, we think there is value in knowing what hunters perceive as the peak of the rut where they hunt," Morea said.
To fill out the deer rut survey, see the latest updates on proposed deer zones and season dates or to comment on these potential changes, go to MyFWC.com/Deer.