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Whitetail Deer Hunting Help

kzkydhkzkydh MichiganPosts: 1 Greenhorn
Looking for some help. I have lived in Michigan my entire life. I plan to retire next year and move to Florida. I am 54 years old and an avid deer hunter. I am trying to decide where to hunt for the largest bucks and high success rate. Trying to determine if I need to buy a couple hundred acres to have success or if public land is as good. The research I've done to date shows many larger bucks and all from public land. Do hunters in FL generally respect private land or would I have issues with trespassers when not on the property? I have many questions, but looking for early guidance to get me started. Any guidance appreciated.

Thanks, 
Michael Petit
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Replies

  • needtohuntmoreneedtohuntmore MelbournePosts: 494 Deckhand
    You will want to check your expectations at the door.  If you want to kill lots of deer and not deal with other people then buy the land or put in for NNN ranch.  Or just enjoy the weather and travel to hunt, that’s what I mostly do.  Hunting in the oak hammocks is fun but the only other place that has more hunting pressure is elk hunting Colorado.
  • louislouis Posts: 54 Deckhand
    First not to hinder your expectation.  But, Florida deer are smaller, antlers not normally anywhere near as heavy as Michigan.  If you want to have a little input into what kind of deer you hunt get yourself the couple hundred acres.  You control who and how many people are on your property.  I had patterned a nice 10 point preseason on a large Military base in NW Florida pre-season.  Had seen no other human traffic in the area.  Opening day someone entere the area I had been patterning and ended up getting the deer.  Can't be mad was on public land.  The only reason I had been there was I had seen the deer during a fishing trip.  I had private land to hunt just nothing of that caliber on those places.  Finally got an 11 pointer on private didn't have to compete with anyone took two years of following sure did enjoy the quiet, enjoyble process.
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 4,103 Captain
    Average mature buck weight for a deer on the peninsula is 120-140lbs. 

    Not very many good bucks come off of public land. They are present but very hard to see due to surviving many years of hunting and poaching pressure. 

    The deer hunting in North Florida is superior to South Florida.  

    The woodsman culture of North Florida is defined by poaching. Poaching is as normal as breathing. You can expect any tract you buy in North Florida to be pillaged by the locals when you aren’t present. All the more if they find out you’re from “up North.”

    You’ll have to sit somewhere around one-two weeks worth of hunting days to get a shot at a deer on average. You will likely only get a shot at a mature buck once every 1-2 years. 
  • swampdogswampdog Central FloridaPosts: 2,341 Captain
    What Class of deer are you taking in Michigan. Friend of mine from the UP hunted private with friends and family. They did drives mostly and never killed any really big bucks. I saw some really great bucks killed in Florida this season.


  • Turner River TerrorTurner River Terror Posts: 8,890 Admiral
    It's not how much land you have..It's who are your neighbors..
    Bigger Bucks , N. Florida Farm Country.
    You'll never hunt there unless you buy because the local farmers are not going to let you.
    But we have Hogs..Lot's of Hogs..and they eat good too.
    Way more fun to hunt than deer
    Killin and Grillin :grin
  • altuckaltuck TallahasseePosts: 136 Deckhand
    Only move half way to Florida, stop in Tennessee or Kentucky, maybe North Alabama
  • Panhandler80Panhandler80 Posts: 8,624 Moderator
    Average mature buck weight for a deer on the peninsula is 120-140lbs. 

    Not very many good bucks come off of public land. They are present but very hard to see due to surviving many years of hunting and poaching pressure. 

    The deer hunting in North Florida is superior to South Florida.  

    The woodsman culture of North Florida is defined by poaching. Poaching is as normal as breathing. You can expect any tract you buy in North Florida to be pillaged by the locals when you aren’t present. All the more if they find out you’re from “up North.”

    You’ll have to sit somewhere around one-two weeks worth of hunting days to get a shot at a deer on average. You will likely only get a shot at a mature buck once every 1-2 years. 
    Defined by poaching?   

    A little harsh.  
    "Whatcha doin' in my waters?"
  • louislouis Posts: 54 Deckhand
    Defined by poaching? FB what part of Florida are you from?  I grew up in NW Fl.  Only person I knew that knocked off a deer and didn't care when was an old farmer that tried to do it legal but, the then Fl freshwater fish and wildlife told him they would issue a permit to kill deer that were basically eating crops he was growing to feed his family but he would have to kill them leave them laying and call them and they might come pick them up.  So he said the heck with that and put some food in his families freezer.  Only poacher i knew of.
  • louislouis Posts: 54 Deckhand
    Forgot to mention if he ha an additional 70 acres he could have killed them and calle noone.
  • JohnnyBanditJohnnyBandit Posts: 8,771 Admiral
    Average mature buck weight for a deer on the peninsula is 120-140lbs. 

    Not very many good bucks come off of public land. They are present but very hard to see due to surviving many years of hunting and poaching pressure. 

    The deer hunting in North Florida is superior to South Florida.  

    The woodsman culture of North Florida is defined by poaching. Poaching is as normal as breathing. You can expect any tract you buy in North Florida to be pillaged by the locals when you aren’t present. All the more if they find out you’re from “up North.”

    You’ll have to sit somewhere around one-two weeks worth of hunting days to get a shot at a deer on average. You will likely only get a shot at a mature buck once every 1-2 years. 
    Defined by poaching?   

    A little harsh.  
    Yes as a fifth generation Cracker, I find that offensive.... Did previous generations of my family poach? under the common definition,Yes...... . But when you live in a shack with no screens on the windows, and your only source of meat is what you manage to kill....... Silly rules and definitions do not mean much....
    Feeding your family is what is important......

    That being said.... In my lifetime, my Great Grandfather, Grandfather and Father were always staunch defenders of natural resources....
  • needtohuntmoreneedtohuntmore MelbournePosts: 494 Deckhand
    It’s true, very few hunters in Florida follow the rules, at least the minor stuff.  As far as going into private and poaching that’s rare.  It’s a felony and most aren’t that dumb.  Taking deer at night along roadsides and public is common.  TBH there are only one or two states where hunting is worth the price of admission, but I will never divulge them.  
  • JohnnyBanditJohnnyBandit Posts: 8,771 Admiral
    It’s true, very few hunters in Florida follow the rules, at least the minor stuff.  As far as going into private and poaching that’s rare.  It’s a felony and most aren’t that dumb.  Taking deer at night along roadsides and public is common.  TBH there are only one or two states where hunting is worth the price of admission, but I will never divulge them.  
    How about some data to back that up...

  • needtohuntmoreneedtohuntmore MelbournePosts: 494 Deckhand
    Kind of like people driving the speed limit in Florida...
  • JohnnyBanditJohnnyBandit Posts: 8,771 Admiral
    Kind of like people driving the speed limit in Florida...

    Apples and oranges.....

    I do not drive the speed limit in any state...
    But that has Zero to do with breaking hunting regulations.

    I am not saying there are not specific places/properties that have an issue with poaching..... Always have and always will....  The spots near me that are currently a problem, were a problem 40 years ago.... One known poaching spot near here was a known poaching spot when my 81 year old father was a boy. And there are MORE deer in the area than there were when I was a kid...

    But your statement that "very few hunters in florida follow the rules" is false...
  • needtohuntmoreneedtohuntmore MelbournePosts: 494 Deckhand
    Ok dude, you know of a ages old poaching spot and you claim it’s not common practice lol 
  • JohnnyBanditJohnnyBandit Posts: 8,771 Admiral
    Ok dude, you know of a ages old poaching spot and you claim it’s not common practice lol 

    You provided no proof of your statement because there is none and your statement is incorrect...

    Keep spinning...
  • Turner River TerrorTurner River Terror Posts: 8,890 Admiral
    I've poached a bit..
    It was a rite of passage as a young Cracker boy growing up.
    We didn't have many fences , No Leases and a Check Station was just plain weird.
    Quotas...What !
    Deer didn't have a lot of value back in the day. Mossy Oak was all over the swamps..every old Oak had it.
    There's still and always will be Poaching to a degree. 
    You head to the Real Florida and young folk still get some now and then..
    Lot's of deer in rural Florida.
    Killin and Grillin :grin
  • needtohuntmoreneedtohuntmore MelbournePosts: 494 Deckhand
    There are no stats on it really.  FWC is way outnumbered and they don’t do anything of value unless it’s a snook, red snapper, or spiny lobster.  Then they get excited, otherwise turn your left over alligator tags in and you can do whatever you want.
  • JohnnyBanditJohnnyBandit Posts: 8,771 Admiral
    There are no stats on it really.  FWC is way outnumbered and they don’t do anything of value unless it’s a snook, red snapper, or spiny lobster.  Then they get excited, otherwise turn your left over alligator tags in and you can do whatever you want.

    So we agree..... you made a statement that is both incorrect and you cannot prove...
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 4,103 Captain
    louis said:
    Defined by poaching? FB what part of Florida are you from?  I grew up in NW Fl.  Only person I knew that knocked off a deer and didn't care when was an old farmer that tried to do it legal but, the then Fl freshwater fish and wildlife told him they would issue a permit to kill deer that were basically eating crops he was growing to feed his family but he would have to kill them leave them laying and call them and they might come pick them up.  So he said the heck with that and put some food in his families freezer.  Only poacher i knew of.
    I can’t speak to NW Florida. That’s really Alabama that got caught behind an artificially drawn state line. 

    The big bend is where my family is from. We’ve been slinking around those woods from the 1830s-1860s depending on which branch of the family you trace back. So I’m somewhere around 8th generation. Not one drop of Northern or non-Cracker blood in my veins. My grandpappy that raised me was a high up in the GFC. He arrested his own family for poaching if that tells you anything. 

    I’m not sure why some of y’all are getting your panties twisted now. We’ve had a hundred discussions about the prevalence poaching in this sub forum. It doesn’t mean that everyone who hunts in north Florida is a poacher. But I would submit that every piece of deer holding habitat down to every several hundred acres, does in fact get poached. And the poachers take more deer than the legal hunters. 

    If you want numbers, in the Osceola NF for every deer killed legally, at least two are poached. That’s the FWC’s internal number. So poachers overwhelmingly dominate the take in the Osceola. Just imagine what they do on the private properties in the region. 

    So that you all will calm your half-yankee selves down a bit, I’ll reword:

    Poaching is so prevalent in north Florida that you’re certain to be impacted by it. That doesn’t mean every local is a poacher. But there are enough local poachers that they will hit your land if you aren’t there to police it. 


  • JohnnyBanditJohnnyBandit Posts: 8,771 Admiral
    louis said:
    Defined by poaching? FB what part of Florida are you from?  I grew up in NW Fl.  Only person I knew that knocked off a deer and didn't care when was an old farmer that tried to do it legal but, the then Fl freshwater fish and wildlife told him they would issue a permit to kill deer that were basically eating crops he was growing to feed his family but he would have to kill them leave them laying and call them and they might come pick them up.  So he said the heck with that and put some food in his families freezer.  Only poacher i knew of.
    I can’t speak to NW Florida. That’s really Alabama that got caught behind an artificially drawn state line. 

    The big bend is where my family is from. We’ve been slinking around those woods from the 1830s-1860s depending on which branch of the family you trace back. So I’m somewhere around 8th generation. Not one drop of Northern or non-Cracker blood in my veins. My grandpappy that raised me was a high up in the GFC. He arrested his own family for poaching if that tells you anything. 

    I’m not sure why some of y’all are getting your panties twisted now. We’ve had a hundred discussions about the prevalence poaching in this sub forum. It doesn’t mean that everyone who hunts in north Florida is a poacher. But I would submit that every piece of deer holding habitat down to every several hundred acres, does in fact get poached. And the poachers take more deer than the legal hunters. 

    If you want numbers, in the Osceola NF for every deer killed legally, at least two are poached. That’s the FWC’s internal number. So poachers overwhelmingly dominate the take in the Osceola. Just imagine what they do on the private properties in the region. 

    So that you all will calm your half-yankee selves down a bit, I’ll reword:

    Poaching is so prevalent in north Florida that you’re certain to be impacted by it. That doesn’t mean every local is a poacher. But there are enough local poachers that they will hit your land if you aren’t there to police it. 



    LOL
  • needtohuntmoreneedtohuntmore MelbournePosts: 494 Deckhand
    JohnnyBandit is probably from NYC.  He thinks the government has stats on everything.  Ha, that’s not true anywhere.  
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 4,103 Captain
    Let me add this concerning poaching and its impact on a new absentee landowner; your land has probably been poached continuously for decades and whatever you see deer wise on your property is there in spite of the poaching. The deer don’t just adapt to the legal hunters but to the poachers too. So if you see a huge buck on trail cam, it probably means he’s been too smart even for the fire hunters. The Osceola National Forest is full of huge bucks. Good luck seeing one without putting many hours of time in. They know how to duck a spot light as good as they know how to skirt a tree stand. 

    I’m not saying you can’t have good hunting in North Florida. I’m just saying expect your land or the immediate vicinity to be poached.  
  • needtohuntmoreneedtohuntmore MelbournePosts: 494 Deckhand
    Most states have lots of poaching.  I’m sure Michigan had its share. 
  • MissedMissed O-townPosts: 424 Deckhand
    This is more the forum I knew.   LOL!  I aint no Yankee - then you poach - no i don't, but know where folks used to poach....

    The older generation used to poach - there were loose trespass laws.  They'd trespass shoot stuff and be happy.  It is now felony trespass if you trespass with a gun in hand.  Kinda stopped a lot of that trespassing stuff.

    This is an interesting state to hunt in and where hunting has come to die.  FL deer hunting is tougher than most every other state.  

    It is diff.  It is crowded.  Get ready. 

    Plus side - You'll see how good you really are.
  • needtohuntmoreneedtohuntmore MelbournePosts: 494 Deckhand
    It’s no where near as crowded as Wisconsin or NY.  If you are from the NE seaboard Florida is open lol.  It’s really bad up there.  With that said poaching is real.
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 4,103 Captain
    I just sped home to confront a trespasser on my farm this morning...
  • josh_scott84josh_scott84 Palm HarborPosts: 763 Officer
    edited May 3 #29
    How were you made aware? How did you make him/her aware :)
  • 2times2times AlvaPosts: 154 Deckhand
    Poaching is very real in Florida...not just north FL but all of FL.
    On my property and 3 of my neighbor's properties we typically harvest 6 or 7 bucks and maybe 2 does per year between us but I bet poachers take another dozen from this area...which is less than 10+ years ago when they were taking twice that number or more. 
    We hear shots in the middle of the night occasionally and I let my dogs loose and drive out to investigate.   On one occasion they ended up leaving in real hurry and left the deer behind.  I also drive around at night when I can't sleep with all my truck lights on.
     

      
  • cracker4112cracker4112 Posts: 893 Officer
    2times said:
    Poaching is very real in Florida...not just north FL but all of FL.
    Agreed.  We have had problems (some large/some small)on every piece of property we have hunted in my lifetime.  And overall it hasn't really gotten better over the years. From timber in N. Florida to Lykes leases in S. Florida and quite a few spots in between, trespassers and poachers are a regular issue. And all of my examples are private land. I can only imagine what goes on on some of the WMAs near population centers i.e. Richloam, and out of the way WMAs i.e. Etoniah Creek.

    To the OP, IMO what you are looking for is probably only found in the panhandle area, or will cost $$$.
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