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Fall hunting season in high gear

The 2003-04 fall resident game-hunting season for the southwest region of Florida gets into full swing in late October and finishes with the spring turkey season April 25.

Hunters look forward to fall like most people look forward to birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Fall brings fond memories of past seasons _ time spent with fathers and friends in the field, your first quail or duck, any number of cherished hunting memories.

Florida is one of the best states in which to hunt. It has wild turkeys, pigs, deer, alligators, quail and ducks. All are available in our region.

Specifics of hunting dates, times and species are extremely detailed. You are best served by getting the Florida Fish and Wildlife brochure. It is available at all facilities that sell Florida hunting licenses. You also can access the FWC Web site at www.floridaconservation.org for extensive information on hunting and wildlife management areas.

Florida has three wildlife management zones: northwest, central and south. The Tampa Bay area is located in the central zone.

Some of the key upcoming dates for this area are:

Gun, general, antlered deer and wild hog season: Saturday-Jan. 18.

Antlerless deer: Nov. 15-21.

Fall turkey: Saturday-Jan. 4 (bearded turkeys or gobblers only).

Quail and gray squirrel: Saturday-Feb. 2.

Spring turkey: March 20-April 25 (bearded turkeys or gobblers only).

Hunters who are looking for a location to sight in their rifles or handguns should contact the Wyoming Antelope Club in Pinellas Park. The club allows non-members to use the facilities. They have pistol ranges and a 100-yard range for high-powered rifles.

For information on hours of operation and club activities, call (727) 573-3006.

Florida also has some outstanding duck hunting. The dates, times and proven duck hunting locations will be provided in the next two weeks.

Until then, happy hunting!

_ Larry "Huffy" Hoffman is an avid hunter and outdoorsman and also charters boats out of John's Pass, Treasure Island. Call (727) 709-9396.

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