2013-14 hunting dates for Franklin County

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has announced the following dates for Franklin County’s 2013-14 hunting season.

Deer-dog training is allowed from Oct. 26 until Nov. 14.

Archery season runs from Oct. 26 to Nov. 27.

Crossbow hunting is allowed from Oct. 26 through Nov. 27 and Dec. 2-6.

Muzzleloading guns may be used Dec. 7-13 and Feb. 24 – March 2.

General gun season takes place Nov. 28 – Dec. 1 and Dec. 14 – Feb. 23.

Take of antlerless deer is allowed Dec. 26 – Jan. 1.

Turkey season is Nov. 28 – Dec. 1 and Dec. 14 – Jan. 19 in the fall and winter and March 15 through April 20 in the spring. The youth turkey hunt is March 8-9, 2014. Quail may be taken Nov. 9 through March 2.

Gray squirrels may be hunted Oct. 12 – March 2. Bobcat and otter season takes place from Dec. 1 through March 1.

Wild hogs, rabbits, raccoons, opossums, skunks, nutrias, beavers and coyotes may be taken year-round. Seasons and dates do not apply to wildlife management areas.


New limits for triggerfish

Recreational and commercial harvest opened Aug. 1 with new limits in effect.

New bag and trip limits for grey triggerfish are in effect in Gulf state and federal waters. The recreational bag limit is two fish per person, per day, and the commercial limit is 12 fish per trip.

The minimum recreational and commercial size limit for gray triggerfish in Gulf of Mexico state and federal waters is 14 inches fork length, which is measured from the tip of the fish’s closed mouth to the center of the fork in the tail.

Triggerfish inhabit hard bottom ledges and artificial reefs in water depths that exceed 80 feet. Because they prefer the same type of habitat, they are usually found in association with red snapper. Triggerfish feed primarily on crabs, sea urchins, shrimp, sand dollars and mollusks. Recreational anglers commonly catch triggers on squid or cut bait. They are also harvested by spear fishing. Triggerfish are notorious bait stealers and often frustrate anglers targeting larger snapper and grouper. Because triggerfish have a hard, bony mouth, it is very important to use a small, very sharp hook. Light to medium bottom fishing equipment with 20 to 50 pound test line is sufficient for triggerfish, which average two to four pounds.    

The state record for triggerfish was a 12-pound 7-ounce fish, caught near Pensacola on July 15, 2001.


Recreational fishing leads to other outdoor fun

The 2012 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report, recently published by the Outdoor Foundation, indicated that 46.2 million Americans fished in 2011. Approximately 18 percent of youths (6 to 24 years old) and 16 percent of adults enjoyed fishing, making recreational fishing the most popular “gateway activity” in the country. The Outdoor Foundation defines gateway activities as those that often lead to other outdoor participation.

What makes this important is the knowledge that active, nature-based recreation leads to happier, healthier and more productive lifestyles (see GetOutdoorsFlorida.org; neefusa.org/health). Moreover, the future of Florida’s environment and recreational activities such as fishing, hunting, camping and wildlife viewing are interwoven with people’s personal passion for nature.