Last week I was telling you about how I have been actively scouting the local Wildlife Management Areas. It’s something I love to do; explore the wild places while studying the wildlife, especially the game species most of us will be targeting this upcoming archery season. And folks, I’m finding some really positive signs that this season could be one for the record books. I’d like to share with you about my experiences in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area. It’s right on US19, just a handful of minutes north of our county line.
As far as the properties in our state’s Wildlife Management Areas go, the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area is a mid-sized unit, just a bit shy of thirty-five thousand acres here in the northwest corner of our county. The area is a management unit of the Withlacoochee State Forest and consists of natural flatwoods dotted with cypress heads, planted pines, and pasture on the eastern side and thick tangled hammocks and scrub marsh on the side bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Our Florida Wildlife Commission closely controls the harvest by allocating periods of hunting as well as limiting the number of hunters via the use of a quota permit system. Each of the three quota hunt periods for whitetail, for instance, allows one hundred and fifty permitted hunters, each welcome to carry along one guest hunter to share the harvest.
Our Florida Forest Service does a fantastic job of maintaining the roadways as well as conducting a strict system of prescribed burns to keep the underbrush at bay. The deer especially, which I’ve been seeing quite a few, are all fat and healthy and several of the does I’ve seen are still escorted by spotted fawns despite the very high presence of invasive coyotes.
I know that with such an early start to my scouting, the patterns of feeding and travel are all going to change once the high waters recede, acorns begin to drop and the rut periods begin. But, right now is a great time to get a good idea of the herd demographics as they’re spending all of their time browsing the high, more open ground. Surprisingly, I didn’t see high numbers of hogs or hog sign, although the WMA does host a specific hog hunting season after the whitetail hunts.
Overall, the Chassahowitzka WMA is in great shape and I expect to hear some fine feedback once the season is underway from any of you lucky enough to have drawn a permit. But, all of my non-hunting friends, I hope each of you will take the time to visit the property; it’s open year-round for a variety of outdoor recreations and it’d be a shame if more folks don’t pay the place a visit. It’s not just a great place to acquire some organic protein for your dinner table, but a beautifully unspoiled glimpse at old Florida, that is far too quickly disappearing.
If any of you would like to share a picture from your own adventures, or a story of your success on the hunt, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. God bless and good hunting!