Bear Hunting Permits Available In August

June 30, 2015

Permits to participate in Florida’s first bear hunt in more than 20 years will be available to licensed hunters starting August 3.

The hunt, approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission last Wednesday, begins October. 24 and will last from two to seven days, depending upon the number of bears killed. The state agency expects about 300 bears to be killed in the four regions of the state where hunting will be allowed. The state isn’t putting a limit on the number of special-use bear permit being sold, but hunters will be limited to killing a single bear during the week.

The cost for a permit is $100 for Florida residents and $300 for non-residents. The permits will be available through 11:59 p.m. on October. 23. People who purchased a Lifetime License prior to July 1, 1998 — when those license still covered bear hunting — must still obtain one of the new permits, but are exempt from the cost.

by The News Service of Florida

FWC: Summer Best Time To Take A Hunter Safety Class

June 29, 2015

With the dog days of summer almost upon us, it’s sometimes hard to even think about hunting. But if you’re age 16 to 40 and haven’t completed the state’s hunter safety course requirement, now’s a good time to be thinking about signing up. Don’t put it off – summer is the best time to take a class in your area.

Many of these classes, offered statewide, fill up fast during hunting season as people scramble to get certified. So the summer months offer smaller class sizes and a better opportunity for students to take a class, because they have more free time than they will once school cranks up and they get busy with homework and school-related activities.

People born after May 31, 1975, must complete the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) hunter safety class before they can buy the type of hunting license that allows them to legally hunt alone. A law passed a few years ago by the Florida Legislature enables individuals to hunt without having to complete the state’s hunter safety certification, but they may only hunt while under supervision.

It’s called the Hunter Safety Deferral, and it allows people the opportunity to purchase a license to hunt while under the supervision of a licensed hunter who is at least 21 years old and meets the hunter safety requirement. It’s designed to encourage experienced hunters to teach novice hunters safety, ethics, wildlife and hunting skills and respect for the great outdoors.

It’s a great incentive for getting more people to try hunting. Also, I hope, the experienced hunters among us can hook some new folks on the sport we love. However, to hunt by yourself unsupervised, you still have to take and pass a hunter safety class and purchase a regular hunting license.

If you’re a youngster and already a hunting fanatic, I suggest you go ahead and take a hunter safety class before you turn 16. Of course, until then, you may hunt under adult supervision without having to take the class or buy a license.

Even if you were born before June 1, 1975, and are exempt from having to take the class, it’s still a good idea, because you’ll learn so much. The FWC encourages beginning hunters to do so. Even the most experienced hunter will learn something new, which will help him or her become an even better hunter – and a safer one.

Also, if you’re new to our state, these classes will make you aware of Florida’s hunting laws. Or, if you just relocated from another town, the classes are a great way to meet other hunters. You can make some new hunting buddies or maybe even get a line on a great hunt club that’s looking for new members.

You can register for a hunter safety class by going to or by contacting your nearest FWC regional office. Also, for your convenience, there are two ways to take the course.

Two course options

There’s the traditional course, which is 12 hours of classroom instruction plus a four-hour skills day. If you’d prefer to get most of the classroom stuff out of the way from the convenience of your own home, you can opt for taking the online course. But, you’ll still have to sign up for the skills-day part of the course, which includes time at the shooting range.

The traditional course is offered during four weekdays or on a Saturday-Sunday. If you take it during the week, each session is three hours and offered after normal working hours. On the weekend, you’ll spend eight hours Saturday and four hours Sunday morning in the classroom. For the remainder of the Sunday session, you’ll move to the shooting range to complete your certification.

During the traditional hunter safety class, each segment is roughly 50 minutes long, followed by a 10-minute break. The first thing you’ll learn about is Florida’s hunting laws/regulations. An FWC law enforcement officer gives this introduction. Volunteer hunter safety instructors teach the remaining curriculum.

And speaking of that, if any of you reading this are older than 18 and would like to give something back to the sport of hunting, you might consider becoming a certified volunteer hunter safety instructor in your community. The FWC is always in need of people who possess good hunting and gun safety knowledge. If you’re interested in learning more about this great teaching opportunity, go to or call 850-413-0084 to find out how to get involved.

One segment of the program teaches ethics and hunter responsibility. You’ll also learn the parts of a firearm, gun and hunting lingo and the proper way to shoot a firearm. This is the longest section of the program, and you’ll spend approximately two hours going over all that.

You’ll learn the differences between all the various bullets, calibers and gauges and how to identify different animal species. You will also hear about wildlife conservation and discover best management practices for native game species.

In addition, you’ll find out about outdoor survival techniques and learn how to administer first aid in the field. You’ll gain knowledge of the parts of, and how to shoot, a muzzleloading gun. Furthermore, you’ll be taught archery and the fundamentals of how to hunt with a bow.

In your last hour in the classroom, you’ll be given a standardized test of true-or-false and multiple-choice questions. You need to score 80 percent or better, and then you get to move outside to the shooting range for the last part of the hunter safety certification – the skills day portion.

If you choose instead to take your hunter safety class online, you’ll learn all of the material that’s taught in the traditional classroom setting, and you’ll be given a practice test, which will go over what you’ve learned and prepare you for the last segment of the requirement – the skills day.

Skills day

Skills day takes about five hours to complete, which includes time on the shooting range and serves as the completion for both the traditional course and the online class.

Skills days start with a law enforcement officer discussing hunting laws and ethics. After that session, you’ll pass through four different stations. The first station reviews safety rules, then the students demonstrate proper firearms carry positions, safe zones of fire, how to cross obstacles with a firearm and tree-stand safety.

The second station covers safe, effective shot placement; then students walk down a trail where they are presented with shoot/don’t shoot scenarios. The third station discusses clearing, matching, loading and unloading.

After an instructor’s brief presentation, students practice selecting the proper ammunition, loading each of the five major firearms actions, and demonstrating how to properly clear the firearm of ammunition. At the last station, students review marksmanship skills and have different opportunities to practice or demonstrate their skills.

Most students shoot a rifle from various positions, many get to shoot clay pigeons with a shotgun, and others practice archery skills by shooting a bow. Most courses provide a muzzleloader demonstration, where you’ll have the chance to shoot one if you’d like. All guns, bows, targets and ammo are provided. All you have to do is take aim!

The last steps

After you complete the skills day, you’ll be given your hunter safety card. At that point, you can purchase your very first Florida hunting license and be ready for opening day. Youth under 16 – no matter how young – can purchase their first annual license that will be good until their 17th birthday. This allows the FWC to count the youth’s license in their annual license sales until the license expires on their 17th birthday. This benefits a wildlife restoration program by approximately $7 per year for the additional years the child holds a license.

Just a couple of things for parents to remember: The course is designed for youth ages 12 to 16. If your child is younger than 18 years old, you must fill out our parental release form and present it to the instructor at all courses. This will enable your child to participate in the live-shooting exercises. Also, if your child is younger than 16, you are required to accompany him or her to all classes.

Register for a hunter safety class today, ’cause the 2015-2016 huntin’ season is just around the corner.

Submitted by FWC.

Mississippi Tops Wahoos

June 29, 2015

The Mississippi Braves evened the series at two games apiece against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos with a 3-1 victory Sunday at Trustmark Park.

Mississippi went ahead, 2-1, in the sixth inning when center fielder Matt Lipka singled and stole second, his 11th of the year, and went to third on Pensacola catcher Cam Maron’s throwing error. Left fielder Kevin Ahrens then drove him in with a sacrifice fly to left field to tie the game, 1-1. The Braves added another run when shortstop Emerson Landoni tripled to right field to drive in third baseman Rio Ruiz, 2-1.

The Braves tacked on another run in the eighth inning to go up, 3-1, when Landoni hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Braves first baseman Matt Kennelly.

Pensacola scored first with a run in the second inning, 1-0, when center fielder Beau Amaral singled to drive in catcher Cam Maron, who hit a ground-rule double with two out.

Blue Wahoos right-hander Robert Stephenson lasted six innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits and three walks. He also struck out three batters to regain the Southern League lead with 89 on the season. His record fell to 4-7 with a 3.68 ERA.

Mississippi also relied on strong starting pitching with Tyrell Jenkins giving up three hits, five walks and one earned run in 5.1 innings of work, while striking out six.

Then three Braves relievers combined to shutout the Pensacola lineup allowing just three hits in 3.2 innings, while striking out four more batters. Tyler Jones pitched the ninth for his eighth save on the year.

Pensacola right fielder Jesse Winker went 1-4 and walked and is batting .467 (7-15) in the second half of the Southern League season. The Cincinnati Reds No. 2 prospect has had two hits in each of the first three games and one hit Sunday in the series against Mississippi. Winker has a homer, two RBIs, three runs scored and four walks against the Braves.

Blue Wahoos first baseman Marquez Smith was 2-4 with a double to extend his hit streak to six games and is batting .329 with four homers and 10 RBIs in June.

Both teams take the field at 7 p.m. Monday to decide the winner of the first five-game series in the second half of the Southern League season.

Aggies Tie Navarre, Beat Catholic In Milton Tourney

June 27, 2015

In summer baseball Friday, the Tate High School Aggie  A Team tied Navarre 7-7 in game one of the Milton Panther Tournament. In game two, the Tate Aggies beat Catholic 15-6.

Mississippi Beats The Wahoos

June 27, 2015

After giving up six runs in 4.1 innings in his last start against the Mobile BayBears, Pensacola righty Daniel Wright gave up just three hits and one earned run in seven innings of work against the Mississippi Braves Friday.

But the one run was all the Braves needed in a, 1-0, victory at Trustmark Park over Pensacola and Wright, who dropped to 3-6 on the season.

Wright struck out eight and his ERA dropped to 5.47. In the last three starts, Wright had given up 14 earned runs in 16.1 innings for a 7.83 ERA.

Mississippi got two of those hits in the sixth inning, which led to the Braves game-winning run. Catcher Braeden Schlehuber singled to left field and then ended up scoring on left fielder Matt Lipka’s single, which deflected off of Pensacola third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean’s glove to shortstop Zach Vincej.

Mississippi third baseman Rio Ruiz got the other hit off of Wright in the game.

One bright spot in the month of June has been Cincinnati Reds No. 2 prospect Jesse Winker, who is hitting .315 in June. He’s clubbed two homers and driven in eight runs.

On Friday, Winker went 2-3 with two walks to raise his season average to .257. Thursday against Mississippi, he went 2-5 with a homer and two RBIs.

Pensacola catcher Kyle Skipworth also got off to a fast start, coming off the disabled list and playing in his first game since May 27. He went 2-4 with a double Friday.

Wahoos Beat Mississippi

June 26, 2015

In the first game to start the second half of the Southern League season, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos scored nine runs on 14 hits.

Pensacola hit .240 in the first half of the season—the lowest in the league—but had four batters with multi-hit games Thursday in the Blue Wahoos, 9-3, victory over the Mississippi Braves.

Blue Wahoos right fielder Jesse Winker lead the way with a 2-5 night, including a two-run homer and scoring two runs. Lead-off batter Zach Vincej also went 2-5 and scored a run, while left fielder Sean Buckley went 3-5 and center fielder Beau Amaral was 2-4 and scored.

Pensacola went ahead, 6-0, scoring two runs in the second, third and fourth innings.

Blue Wahoos pitcher Wandy Peralta tripled in catcher Yovan Gonzalez and Amaral to put Pensacola up, 2-0, in the second.

In the third, first baseman Marquez Smith hit a two-run home run to left center that also scored third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean that gave Pensacola a 4-0 lead. It was Smith’s fourth homer in June. The 30-year-old Smith has driven in 10 runs, while hitting .333 and earning a .424 on-base percentage this month.

Then in the fourth, Winker crushed his fourth homer of the season, a two-run dinger to right center that brought in Vincej and put the Blue Wahoos on top, 6-0.

Mississippi cut the lead in the fifth inning to 6-3. Braves catcher Matt Kennelly smacked a double to centerfield that scored shortstop Emerson Landoni. Pinch hitter David Rohm then hit a soft liner to center that drove in second baseman Levi Hyams. Kennelly then ended up scoring when center fielder Matt Lipka grounded into a double play that cut Pensacola’s lead to 6-3.

Blue Wahoos pinch hitter Juan Silva then doubled with two outs. He stole third, his sixth of the season, and Kennelly made a throwing error on the play to score Silva, 7-3, in the eighth inning.

In the ninth, Pensacola added two more runs when Mejias-Brean tripled in Winker for an 8-3 lead. Then Blue Wahoos second baseman Juan Perez singled to left to drive in Mejias-Brean to go up, 9-3.

Peralta improved to 3-6 on the season with a 4.85 ERA. In five innings of work, he allowed  three earned runs on eight hits and three walks.

Jay Lindsey Named Tate Head Football Coach

June 25, 2015

Jay Lindsey has been named head football coach at Tate High School.

Lindsey was named interim coach in late March.

Lindsey was offensive coordinator  for the Aggies last season and led the team through the spring. He has nine years coaching experience, including his time at Tate and years at Pace High school.

Lindsey’s appointment follows the resignation of Ronnie Douglas, who stepped down to spend more time on his business ventures.

Tate, Jay Players Named To All State Softball Teams; Wyatt Coach Of Year

June 25, 2015

The Miracle Sports All-State softball teams were named Wednesday.

Tate High School’s Tori Perkins was named the 7A pitcher of the year, and Tate coach Melinda Wyatt was named the 7A coach of the year.

Perkins and Casey McCrackin were named 7A first team. Rachel Wright, Hayden Lindsay and Lauren Brennan were named to the state second team.

In 1A, Jay’s Destiny Herring, Michaela Stewart and Harley Tagert were named to the first team, while the Royals’ Dana Blackmon, Samantha Steadham, Avery Jackson and Emily Dobson were named to the second team.

Pictured: Tori Perkins (L) shortly after Tate won the Class 7A softball championship, and Coach Melinda Wyatt (right) tosses a ceremonial first pitch for the Blue Wahoos. Photos for, click to enlarge.

Northview Beats Washington

June 22, 2015

Coming off two losses on Saturday, the Northview Chiefs lost to Walton County 7-5 before bouncing back with a 7-3 win over Washington High School on Sunday at Escambia High School. Photos by Ramona Preston for, click to enlarge.

Mobile Beats Wahoos

June 22, 2015

Pensacola knocked two home runs Sunday while Mobile added five – which ties a franchise record – in an offensive explosion that saw ball flying out of Pensacola Bayfront Stadium like a disturbed flock of seagulls at rest on the beach.

Mobile defeated rival Pensacola, 11-4, in front of 4,005 fans and now have won eight of 10 games against the Blue Wahoos this season.

“We just couldn’t keep the ball in the park,” said Pensacola manager Pat Kelly. “This is a ballpark that’s not conducive to home runs. I didn’t expect to see a lot of balls in the air. I expected to see a lot of ground balls. It was as much of a surprise to me as the fans.”

Leading the way Sunday for the BayBears was centerfielder Gabriel Guerrero with a two-run and solo shot for three RBIs in his first two at bats. Guerrero, the nephew of nine-time All-Star Vladimir Guerrero, now has four homers on the season. Mobile shortstop Jack Reinheimer (2), left fielder Zach Borenstein (4) and third baseman Sean Jamieson (3) also knocked it out of the park.

This series, the BayBears hit 10 home runs in 25 innings off Pensacola pitching. For perspective, Pensacola only has 14 home runs at home this season.

Pensacola first baseman Marquez Smith clubbed his third home run of the month Sunday when he smashed a two-out, two-run line drive over the left field wall in the third inning that pulled Pensacola within one, 3-2. It was also the first hit of the game for Pensacola, which has seen its starting nine go hitless in their first appearances at the plate in the past three games against Mobile.

Few Blue Wahoos batters have hit as well as Smith has in June. The 30-year-old minor league veteran has driven in eight runs, while hitting .339 and earning a .405 on-base percentage.

Blue Wahoos second baseman Juan Perez then hit his first homer in Double-A just inside the left field foul pole in the fourth inning and Pensacola trailed Mobile, 4-3.

However, Mobile put the game away in the sixth inning with five runs to go up, 11-3. It got a three-run homer by Borenstein and a solo shot to the left-center gap to start off the inning by Jamieson.

Mobile jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning when Guerrero crushed a two-run homer high to left field. The BayBears are 23-13 when scoring first this season.

Mobile finished below .500 for only the third time in a half since 2009, going 34-35 in the Southern League.

Meanwhile, Pensacola finished the first half 25-43.

Kelly has a few goals to turn the Blue Wahoos season around in the second half—a better bullpen and better starting pitching.

Among the relievers, he would like to see Kyle McMyne, Ben Klimesh and Zach Weiss return to form.

“Our bullpen was our strength when you look at the first two months of the season,” Kelly said. “We got to solidify that bullpen. When we give them leads, they got to win them.”

Also looking into his crystal ball, Kelly would like to receive a starting pitcher or two. Currently, the Blue Wahoos have only four starters.

“Obviously, we’re short one,” Kelly said. “If we can get one or two guys to help solidify our staff, we’re good.”

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