This article is about hunting rules, regulations and available hunting opportunities in Florida. Here, I’ve accumulated all the information from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website and from other online resources. I hope, it’ll help my fellow hunters to get all necessary information in one piece.
Hunter safety course in Florida
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Hunter Safety Course is the primary requirement and the first step to hunt legally in Florida for anyone who was born on and after 1st June, 1975. Even a hunter safety course certification card, which one will get after successful completion of hunter safety course, is mandatory before applying for hunting license.
As stated in the commission’s official site, for any Florida resident who got exemption from having a hunting license will be automatically excused from this obligation of completing hunter safety course. However, exemption from completing the Hunter Safety Course will not be applicable for disabled residents of Florida who are already been excused from a hunting license.
A non-resident of Florida will also require having a hunter safety course certification card for hunting. However, similar certification acquired from other states of USA is also acceptable in Florida.
One important thing should also be mentioned here, an amateur hunter is allowed to hunt even without competing in the hunter safety course who are accompanied by a legal hunter at least 21 years old.
More information on this topic is available here.
Where and how to get hunting license in Florida
License is the second mandatory requirement for hunting legally in Florida after completing the first step. However, before purchasing a hunting license you should check two things firts –
a. Florida residency: if you are a permanent resident in Florida then you will get some great deal from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. You may even be exempted from hunting license if you meet some specific criteria. So, check here first if you really need a license or not.
You will need to prove your residency to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to get any special favor as a resident. Check this link to how you can prove your residency to the commission.
Permits and Stamps for hunting license in Florida
Different categories of permits are required for certain types of animal and bird hunting in addition to a valid hunting license. These permits are mandatory as well for legal hunting. Hunting permit is applicable for deer hunting, turkey hunting, migratory bird hunting, duck and waterfowl hunting etc. Apart from hunting specific species, permit is also required for some hunting weapons such as bow, crossbow, muzzleloader etc.
License fees for Hunting in Florida
Fees for all the categories of resident and non-resident hunting license is given here: http://myfwc.com/license/recreational/hunting/#prices
Places for Purchasing Hunting License in Florida
A verified resident of Florida can purchase a license from here: https://www.gooutdoorsflorida.com/ or over phone at 888-HUNT-FLORIDA(486-8356).
Besides, everyone, including non-residents, can purchase license from tax collector offices and other hunting license agent’s offices.
Hunting season and bag limits
Check detailed information here.
Available hunting games in Florida
Deer Hunting in Florida
Florida is a great place for deer hunters. This is a haven for the white-tailed deer. Millions of these gorgeous animals are spread all over Florida. White-tailed deer is the most popular game animal here, draws hundreds of hunters each year in this state. Not only hunters, white-tailed deer are appreciated by many tourists as well.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has strict rules for hunting white-tailed deers. Hunters are allowed to hunt during a specific hunting season as long as they maintain the permitted bag limit.
Hog hunting in Florida
Wild hogs or feral hogs are the second most popular big hunting game in Florida. Like the white-tailed deer, a huge number of wild hogs are also available in the woods of Florida. Hunting regulations for wild hogs is much more flexible here. Hunters don’t even need a hunting license to hunt hogs in private lands if the land owner allows. Hunters can hunt with any weapon of their choice inside a public land all year round, no bag limits exists for hogs. This means, you can hunt as much as you want, whenever you want in a private land.
However, in public land managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission puts some regulations for hog hunting. Hunters can hunt in any permitted hunting seasons using the appropriate weapon allowed for a particular hunting season.
Hunters are not allowed to hunt wild hogs at night in wildlife management area which is for sure a bad news for many hunters! But, still Florida is one of the best places for hunting hog, no doubt about that.
Some of the best public areas for hog hunting are northwest region, north central region, northeast region, southwest region, south region etc.
Waterfowl and Duck Hunting in Florida
Wide varieties (around 20 species) of waterfowls migrate to Florida during winter every year which makes it a great place for hunting ducks, swans and other kinds of waterfowls. Except few species, most of the waterfowls are considered as game birds here. These migrated game birds can be found in wetlands all over Florida during winter. Most of these wetlands are owned by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Management Commissions. Some of the areas are also managed by the water management district (WMD) lands, and the national wildlife refuges (NWRs) as well.
Some of the ducks are found here all year round i.e. mottled ducks, wood ducks, black-bellied whistling ducks and fulvous whistling ducks etc.
Although ducks and other waterfowls are allowed to hunt here, strict rules regarding weapons, hunting seasons and bag limits are still enacted by the states and the federal laws. Violation of any of these rules and regulations during hunting the ducks may cause you significant penalties. Therefore, before go for hunting in Florida, you should consult the official sites of FWC.
Hence, you can enjoy hunting here in Florida tremendously if you keep those rules on check. Some of the greatest places for hunting waterfowls are Northwest Florida Coast, Lake Wimico, Lake Seminole, Tallahassee area lakes (Miccosukee, Iamonia, Jackson, Carr), Hickory Mound Impoundment, PotashCorp – White Springs WMA , Alligator Lake, Orange Creek Basin Lakes, Guana River WMA, Rodman Reservoir (Lake Ocklawaha, Ocklawaha Prairie Public Small Game Area, Emeralda Marsh Small Game Area, Merritt Island NWR, Tampa Bay, Central and South Florida Lakes, Lake Okeechobee , Holeyland/Rotenburger/Everglades WMA’s and Stormwater Treatment Areas (STA’s) etc.
Small game hunting in Florida
Florida is great for hunting rabbits. They are allowed to hunt all-year round with a bag limits of 12 and possession limits of 24.
Grey squirrels are allowed to hunt from 14th October to 4th March with all legal weapons e.g. rifles, shotgun, muzzleloader, bow, crossbows and pistols. Bag and possession limits for squirrel is 12 and 24 respectively.
Quail is another popular small game in Florida, allowed to hunt from November to March with all legal weapons. The bag limits and possession limits are the same as rabbits and squirrels.
Apart from them, Florida is also a good place for hunting raccoons, opossums, coyotes, beavers, skunks, nutria with all legal weapons, year-round with no bag limits. Raccoons and opossums are also allowed to hunt at night with .22 caliber rimfire and .410 gauge shotguns.
Turkey hunting in Florida
Florida is famous for Osceola, a rare subspecies of turkey, found only in the peninsula portion of Florida. Apart from Oscela, gobbler and bearded turkeys are also available here. Turkey hunting season is divided into fall turkey and spring turkey seasons. In both season, bag limits for turkey hunting is 2 per day.
Finally, Florida has versatile game species, makes it one of the best places for hunting. Hunters all over the USA come here for hunting turkeys and white-tail deer. Apart from wide verities of hunting options, hunter friendly laws also attract many hunters each year in Florida.