Deer-Dog Training Season Nears

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Hunters who use dogs to hunt deer on private lands in Florida must now register their deer-dogs for the 2005-06 hunting season.

This new statewide, no-cost registration program is not only mandatory during any open deer-hunting season when taking deer with dogs is permitted, but also during the upcoming deer-dog training season.

The deer-dog training season opens Oct. 1 and runs through Oct. 20 in the central and south hunting zones. In the Northwest Hunting Zone, the training season runs Oct. 29 – Nov. 17.

Registration may be issued to hunting clubs or landowners for anyone who wants to hunt deer with dogs on a particular tract of land. A unique registration number will be issued from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and that number must be affixed or attached to the collars of dogs used to hunt deer on registered properties.

To comply with this new rule, a representative from each hunting club must complete the appropriate application which is available from regional FWC offices and at Proof of landowner permission or a copy of the written lease agreement must be provided along with a general map of the property showing boundary lines and a legal description.

Hunters must possess copies of their registration while they are hunting, and they must keep their dogs on registered properties, as required by the Hunter Responsibility Rule.

“This new statewide registration program is a direct result of last year’s successful pilot program in northwest Florida, where our commissioners tried to balance the rights of property owners while preserving the long-standing tradition of deer-dog hunting in Florida,” said Nick Wiley, director of the Division of Hunting and Game Management.

“Seventy individual properties, representing 55 deer-dog hunt clubs, participated. Those properties ranged from 40 to 31,000 acres and were situated in 14 of the 16 counties within the FWC’s Northwest Region,” Wiley said.

With the pilot program in place, complaints dropped 27 percent, compared to the average of the previous four hunting seasons. More importantly, only five complaints were associated with registered deer-dog hunting clubs.

In comparison, a review of last season’s complaint data for the North Central and Northeast regions, where registration was not required, showed an increase in deer-dog hunting complaints from the average of the previous four hunting seasons.