Most of us have moved on from deer hunting and into other pastimes in the field. I personally have been doing quite a bit of small game and predator hunting, as well as beginning my scouting routines in preparation for turkey season. But then again, after our Fish and Wildlife Commissioners put restrictive harvest limits on us this year, I haven’t deer hunted since mid-November when my quota was reached and I miss it. But, I was reminded this past weekend that although the season has ended locally in Zone C — as geographically determined by our commissioners — the whitetail season in Zone B is still in full swing.
Zone B, a small area compared to the size of the other seven established zones, is made up of portions of Hernando, Sumter, Lake, Pasco, Polk and Hillsborough counties. The north and south borders of the zone are I-75 to the west and US-441 to the east, while the east and west borders are US-50 to the north and US-60 in the south. That makes for a very short drive to some mighty fine hunting grounds if you’ve not yet filled your quota. The season finally comes to an end on Feb. 23 and the rut is in full swing, so don’t put away your gear just yet.
Last Saturday I was attending the Wild Turkey Extravaganza in Sumter County, visiting with some true legends of the sport of turkey hunting. I spent a great deal of my time hanging out with local call makers and telling a few tall turkey tales and admittedly, deer hunting wasn’t at all on my mind until I got a text from his wife that a family member, Benton Geer, had just filled a cooler. He’d taken an invitation to hunt the Alston Tract, owned by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, which had yet to reach a quota of antlerless deer and Benton helped them out with that.
Not having had an opportunity to hunt much due to work obligations, Benton was eager to take advantage of the opportunity, and when a fat doe arrived nearby his stand that morning, she was invited home for supper. But, his hunt was far from over. After the Wild Turkey Extravaganza I was driving through the Richloam WMA, noting that all of the toms are remaining in bachelor groups so far when my phone rang.
I tell ya folks, I’ve known Benton a good many years and I’ve never heard his voice crackle with excitement as it did that Saturday afternoon. He’d returned to his stand after packing away his doe on ice and grabbing a bite to eat and was settled in when a buck came running fast through an open area along the edge of a large pond. He recognized it as a legal buck at first glance and wasted no time in sending 150 grains of .30 caliber dinner invitation his way.
Benton was so excited, not only to have taken a whitetail double on the same day, but that afternoon buck turned out to the be the biggest buck he’d ever taken, both in rack and body size. That 11-point buck, estimated to weigh in at more than 150 pounds, filled a second cooler and put an exclamation point on the end of a fantastic weekend of deer hunting.
As always, if you have any comments, questions or just want to share your success from the woods, give me a shout out at RebelYellOutdoors@Gmail.com. God bless, good hunting!