Hunting News

April 19, 2014
Florida Fish & Wildlife News Release

FWC makes changes for 2014-2015 deer-hunting in northwest Florida

February 12, 2014:
FWC modifies some hunting zones; adjusts turkey bag limit on private lands

Outdoor enthusiasts at odds with military over possible training in Tate's Hell

New River, pictured here, is one of three primary rivers in water-rich Tate's Hell State Forest. The Air Force is considering asking the Florida Forest Service to use the forest for non-hazardous military training. / Leslie Cox/Special to the Democrat

Tate’s Hell State Forest, best known for its swamp, seclusion and signature species, may become the site of weekly helicopter drops of up to 50 men, careening Humvees with blacked-out headlights and foraging soldiers made to subsist off the land for seven days.

Link to article.

Florida Alert: Leon County Commissioners Considering Gun Control!

As reported by the Tallahassee Democrat, uber-liberal Commissioner, Mary Ann Lindley, is leading the Leon County Commission in an effort to have Leon County Commissioners join liberal anti-gun south Florida counties in imposing gun control restrictions on their citizens.

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Stay safe, be responsible on public lands
FWC News Media Release, October 28, 2013
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Across the nearly 6 million acres in Florida’s wildlife management area (WMA) system, officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) can be found atop buggies, operating all-terrain vehicles, in patrol trucks and on foot. One part of their job is to patrol public lands. . . .

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DEADLINE FOR PUBLIC INPUT: September 12, 2013!

DEADLINE FOR PUBLIC INPUT: September 12, 2013!

Today I was made aware of the intent of the US Air Force to use Tate’s Hell State Forest for military training exercises.  The deadline for public input to the US Air Force is September 12, 2013.  I urge all my readers to contact the Air Force, Senator Bill Nelson, Senator Marco Rubio, and Congressman Steve Southerland and voice your concerns.  Below is a copy of my letter.  At the end of my letter I have placed important links for your information regarding this important proposal.

September 7, 2013


Mr. Michael Spaits, Gulf Regional Airspace Strategic Initiative (GRASI), Eglin AFB
Senator Bill Nelson
Senator Marco Rubio
Congressman Steve Southerland

Dear Sirs:

RE:  Opposition to the inclusion of Tate’s Hell State Forest in the US Air Force’s Gulf Regional Airspace Strategic Initiative (GRASI) Landscape Initiative

I am writing to express my concerns and opposition to the use of Tate’s Hell State Forest for military training exercises.  I was born and raised in the panhandle area of Florida.  This is my home.  I cherish its forests, wetlands, rivers, and wildlife.  I feel that they should be protected for future generations to enjoy and cherish as well.  I would like to bring to your attention a few of my concerns regarding this matter.

Deer population concerns:

The State of Florida has identified that the current deer population of younger bucks is over harvested.  Therefore, for the 2014-2015 deer seasons in northwest Florida, they have proposed an antler restriction to be implemented using Interstate 10 as a dividing line.  This means that the supposedly over harvested younger-aged class of bucks in the Tate’s Hell State Forest and the Apalachicola National Forest are to be further impacted due to the increased military incursion into their habitat that will disrupt their lives both day and night.  Instead of allowing the hunters more land to hunt on, reducing the impact on the deer herd in a given area, this military training initiative is going to further concentrate the deer herd into smaller areas both reducing the available food source and creating an environment for disease. 

Florida is one of the few states to thus far not have a documented case of chronic wasting disease and has restricted the importation of deer from out of state.  One of the contributing factors to this disease it has been said is crowding many deer together.  This disease not only spreads from close contact with infected deer but contaminates any area that a deer has eliminated his bodily waste in where it will precipitate both in nearby vegetation and water until another unaffected deer just happens to drink or feed.  To make matters worse we have an increasing problem with bears and coyotes preying on deer.  If an animal feeds on an infected deer, that animal now becomes a carrier and anywhere that animal eliminates his bodily wastes, the nearby vegetation and water also becomes infected.   Therefore, to further concentrate the deer numbers into a smaller area just doesn’t make sense. 

Bear population concerns

Florida’s Bear Management Plan utilizes the Tate’s Hell State Forest to be set aside for the bears.  If we lose even one acre to a military footprint in this area, where would the new bear habitat come from?  If due to the military presence the bears are displaced from these training areas that would mean that nearby towns, such as Carrabelle and Eastpoint, will see an additional population increase to their bear problem not to mention the nearby residents that live on three sides around Tate’s Hell State Forest that already are burdened by the local bear population. 

Limiting or prohibiting public access:

I know of seven State-designated camping areas along New River in Tate’s Hell State Forest north of Gully Branch Road that are utilized by hunters every hunting season.  The reason I mention these seven campsite areas in particular is that these seven campsites fall within one to three miles of one of the proposed airstrips.  A lot of these campers hunt adjacent to these areas which would place them right in the middle of any military training.   There is a concern whether the animals would remain in these areas due to the increased burden, both night and day, of a military presence by both vehicles and air traffic.  So if this airstrip placed any burden on the wildlife, it would have a direct impact on these camper hunters.  With the already limited access to public hunting lands due to many other state wildlife concerns, these people would no longer be able to feed their families the wonderful bounty they are able to harvest on our Florida public lands.  The hunters would have to go somewhere else to hunt and compete for space with the other hunters that are using other areas of public land that may already be overburdened.  

Imagine this scenario:  You worked all week.  You’ve planned and prepared.  You stayed up late Wednesday and Thursday nights moving in your camper and setting up a pristine campsite in anticipation of a beautiful family weekend adventure.  After you get off work on Friday and get everybody gathered up and drive to your campsite at the turnoff of the paved road there is a roadblock and you’re informed that this area is closed to public access for the next two weeks.  So you have to turn around and go home disappointed while your camper and other possessions just sit there at the campsite.  Hopefully, your possessions are safe; but you never know.  As previously mentioned, this area has been designated by the State as a part of the bear management area.  This is only one scenario; but I’m sure you can come up with more on your own.

Damage to the ecosystem:

Traffic from the supplies, equipment, and military personnel entering and leaving the wildlife areas and the on-going training would greatly damage the ecosystem. Since I am familiar with this area, I know that they will need to build new roads to access the training areas.  And since this area is very wet to start with, the construction of an airstrip will require both removal and new fill of dirt to be brought into the area to support the weight of an airstrip.  This area supports plant life which is protected, such as pitcher plants and orchards, some of which are found nowhere else.

Everything that lives in the wildlife area is dependent on each other for a healthy and balanced ecosystem.  When one element is damaged or destroyed it affects everything else down the line.   For example, if all the vegetation is destroyed, then the animals that feed on it die.  Then that causes the animals that would have fed on those animals to die and then it goes on and on.

Decline of health and well being of population:

There are many people who gain great benefits, both spiritually and mentally, by their connection to the outdoors and wilderness areas.  By limiting of the public’s use of the State Forests it would contribute to the decline in the overall health of the general population.

Power line hazard:

The southern border of the Apalachicola National Forest is only one mile north of the proposed most northern airstrip in the Tate’s Hell State Forest.  Running along this southern border of the Apalachicola National Forest is a power line which will be in close proximity to the airstrip and could create an aviation hazard or possibly cause an accident with low-flying aircraft such as the proposed helicopters.

As a side note, some of the numbered roads in the Apalachicola National Forest would not be there had it not been for military aircraft that had crashed in the Apalachicola National Forest in the past.  At the time of the accidents, this created a great disruption to the serenity of the forest as well as ecological damage.  However, we did receive a benefit of new roads being built to the crash sites which increased our access to the interiors of some of the large blocks of land.

Increased road maintenance costs due to traffic:

The increase in heavy vehicle traffic, i.e. heavy trucks as well as the number of vehicles, on the paved and unpaved roads that will be utilized by the military vehicles will impact the condition of the road surfaces that the counties and State are already challenged trying to maintain with their limited budgets.


The surrounding area, as well as Tate’s Hell State Forest, already fall within a training zone that the military fighter planes use for dog fighting.  I have had many an outing disrupted by low-flying military aircraft some of which were so close to the ground that on one occasion when a fighter made a tight turn over our heads we were able to see him wave at us on the ground.  Any increase in this air traffic, day or night, would greatly diminish the enjoyment of time spent in the outdoors on our public land.

Night training would also disturb people in the area who are trying to sleep.  This is not just hunters during hunting season, but people that camp and fish throughout the year as well as those living in nearby towns.  They will not only have to deal with the air traffic but also the vehicle traffic driving through their towns, neighborhoods, or the camping areas while they’re trying to sleep. 

For all these reasons, as well as many more that I have not mentioned, I am adamantly opposed to the use of Tate’s Hell State Forest for military training exercises.  


Kenny Presnell


Important Links:

Gulf Regional Airspace Strategic Initiative (GRASI) Landscape Initiative (website regarding details of the military training proposal):

Senator Bill Nelson:

Senator Marco Rubio:

Congressman Steve Southerland:

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FWC to Meet September 5-6, 2012 in Tampa, Florida
News Release, August 27, 2012
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will meet Sept. 5 and 6 in Tampa to discuss the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program; gopher tortoise, panther and falconry issues; the anchoring and mooring program; marine life and saltwater fisheries; and modifications to management of Atlantic sea bass and reef fish, among other topics.

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U.N. ATT Conference Comes to an Impasse
News Release, July 27, 2012
NRA - Institute for Legislative Action

The Conference on the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (U.N. ATT) has has broken down and will not report a draft treaty to the member nations. This is a big victory for American gun owners, and the NRA is being widely credited for killing the U.N. ATT.

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FWC, DEP, DACS enhance service to Floridians
News Release, June 26, 2012
FWC contact: Katie Purcell, 850-459-6585
DEP Contact: Patrick Gillespie, 850-245-2115

On July 1, officers and staff from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services (DACS) will be combined with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in a move directed by the Florida Legislature and approved by Gov. Rick Scott.

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FWC approves black bear plan to conserve Florida’s largest land mammal
News Release, June 27, 2012
Media contact: Diane Hirth, 850-251-2130
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

A plan for long-term conservation of the Florida black bear, whose population is estimated at more than 3,000 today, compared with as few as 300 in the 1970s, was approved today by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

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License-free saltwater, freshwater fishing fun coming June 2 and 9, 2012.
News Release, May 29, 2012(saltwater) Amanda Nalley, 850-410-4943;
(freshwater) Bob Wattendorf, 850-488-0520
Florida Wildlife Commission

The first week of June is National Fishing and Boating Week. This year, start and end the week’s festivities by taking advantage of one of Florida’s license-free fishing days. Saltwater recreational anglers can fish without a license on June 2 and freshwater recreational fishers on June 9. There couldn’t be a better time to get out on the water and try your hand at some of Florida’s fine fishing on these two Saturdays. More . . .

FWC to meet May 2-3 in Crystal River, Florida.
News Release, April 17, 2012
(Marine fisheries issues) Amanda Nalley, 850-410-4943;
(Other issues) Susan Smith, 850-488-8843
Florida Wildlife Commission

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will meet May 2-3 at The Plantation Inn, Crystal River, to discuss several fish-and-wildlife conservation issues, including red snapper and roundscale spearfish management, anchoring and mooring, wild hog management and manatee zones. The May 2-3 dates reflect a change of schedule, but the location is the same. More . . .

FWC Florida black bear draft management plan revised, ready for public input
News Release, April 13, 2012
Media contact: Diane Hirth, 850-410-5291
Florida Wildlife Commission

The Florida black bear population has increased from as few as 300 bears in the 1970s to more than 3,000 bears today, and now the draft plan that will guide continued conservation of this species has been revised by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). More . . .

FWC moves forward on plan to manage, conserve Florida black bears
News Release, February 9, 2012
Media contact: Diane Hirth, 850-410-5291
Florida Wildlife Commission

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is moving ahead on its plan to manage and conserve Florida black bears so they are never again at risk of extinction. With the bear population rebounding from about 300 to 3,000 over the past 40 years, the FWC recognizes Florida’s conservation success with bears and recommends the state’s largest land mammal be removed from the threatened species list. More . . .

FWC kicks off 2012 Commission meetings in Havana, Florida.
News Release, February 3, 2012
Media contacts:
(Marine fisheries issues) Amanda Nalley, 850-410-4943;
(Other issues) Susan Smith, 850-488-8843
Florida Wildlife Commission

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will meet Feb. 7-9 in Havana to discuss several fish-and-wildlife issues, starting with an afternoon workshop Tuesday, Feb. 7, on marine fisheries stock assessments. The Commission will not be taking action on specific regulatory issues that day. More . . .

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