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October 24, 2007

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100 Best Public-Land Hunts: Florida

Richloam Wildlife Management Area
: central Florida
Size: 58,146 acres
ZIP: 34601

In 2005 Richloam produced the second biggest public-land buck in Florida history, a 16-point nontypical that scored 156 5/8 Boone and Crockett. One of seven tracts that make up the massive Withlacoochee State Forest, Richloam is right next door to Green Swamp West, which in 1999 gave up Florida's state-record buck, a 206-scoring 25-point nontypical taken with a bow. But where Green Swamp West is open only to a select few drawn in a lottery, Richloam takes all comers after the conclusion of a nine-day lottery hunt that opens the general gun season in November. Bowhunters can beat the rush during the September 22 to October 21 archery season. Jason Burton, who manages public lands for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, says Richloam benefits from the sanctuary provided by Green Swamp West and the Baird Unit, an 8,000-acre management area within Richloam where access is strictly controlled. Pine flatwoods with some palmettos and scattered oak hammocks, bottomland hardwoods, and cypress swamp cover this table-flat land.

Blue Water Creek Wildlife Management Area
Location: northwest Florida
Size: 21,048 acres
ZIP: 32568

A high percentage of bucks taken at Blue Water are 3 1/2 years old or better, according to Cory Morea, a regional public lands biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. This private timber land is opened to public hunting on a first-come, first-served permit system, and Morea says permits usually are available until December. Pine plantation is the dominant habitat type, with some hardwood areas along the many creek bottoms that crisscross the tract. The soil here in northwest Florida (just south and east of Alabama) is the best in the state, and it shows. "Blue Water has plenty of opportunities and a high hunter success rate," Morea notes, "plus a number of deer that came out of here in recent years have been pretty nice bucks." You'll need a deer with a Boone and Crockett score of 100 typical or 125 non-typical to make the Florida Buck Registry, and Blue Water is capable of producing them.

Blackwater Wildlife Management Area
: northwest Florida
Size: 191,148 acres
ZIP: 32531

"Blackwater is old Florida," says Morea, "picture good quail habitat." Indeed, this big WMA (which is located within the Blackwater River State Forest, among the largest state forests in Florida) contains one of the country's last remaining stands of longleaf pine and wiregrass, an ecosystem that used to cover much of the southeast United States. It's good deer habitat, too, as the upward trend in deer numbers here in the past few years attests. A draw permit is required during the first 13 and last 17 days of the still-hunt season, but the four weeks in between are wide open-as are the archery and muzzleloader seasons. "The area gets very little hunting pressure during archery season," Morea says, "so it really stands out as an excellent place to bowhunt."


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Green swamp west if a 206 buck was taken there, It has to be good!


Tring to find manufacture of a hang on tree stand called the T-Rack. It's basicly a swing stand a combination between a swing seat and the Guido Web stand. Please send Phone # and/or address to [email protected]


is there a person out there who would aid an old vet. get a deer this year? (my last time to hunt perhaps). am able to walk,drag it out,etc.

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100 Top Public Lands
Field & Stream reporter Steven Hill spent two months interviewing state game agency officials, deer biologists, and whitetail experts to identify the absolute best public whitetail hunting grounds in the nation.

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