Last Updated: 14th May 2023
Are you curious about what’s there when hunting in Florida? Well, worry no more because I got you covered!
While the state may not be known for trophy hunting, it makes up for it with long hunting seasons and the opportunity to hunt certain species year-round. From alligators to white-tailed deer, turkeys, and small game, Florida offers a diverse range of hunting experiences.
In this guide, we’ll explore the opportunities when hunting in Florida in a single click. Let’s start!
Table of Contents
Florida Hunting Seasons
Did you know that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is responsible for setting hunting seasons in Florida? Their main goal is to ensure that wildlife populations remain sustainable while providing hunters with plenty of opportunities.
Plus, they’re always working to increase conservation funding, so everyone wins! Here’s the rundown of the general hunting seasons in the state:
|Deer Hunting||Archery: Late July to late November|
Crossbow: Late July to early December
Muzzleloader: Early September to early December
General Firearm: Mid-September to mid-February
|Early August to late November|
|Turkey Hunting||Fall-Archery: Late July to late November|
Fall-Crossbow: Late July to Early December
Fall-Muzzleloader: Early September to early December
Fall-Firearm Early October to late January
Spring Season: Ealy March to late April
|Wild Hog Hunting||Open Season|
|Upland Game Bird Hunting||Quail: Mid-November to mid-March|
Snipe: Early November to late February
Woodcock: Early December to late January
Rails, Gallinules & Moorhens: Early September to late November
|Small Game Hunting||Squirrel: Early October to early March|
Rabbit: Mid-November to early March
Bobcat: Early December to late March
Open Seasons in Florida
The hunting seasons aren’t just dates on a calendar; they’re a passport to some of the most exciting and rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. And lucky you, Florida has loads of hunting seasons that are open year-round.
Here’s a look at some of the ever-ready species you can hunt year-round, along with the reasons why their seasons never close:
Wild Hog Hunting
Wild hogs are non-native to Florida and are considered invasive. To help control their population and reduce the damage they cause, wild hogs can be hunted on private lands anytime, with no bag limits.
They are known for their rooting behavior: turning up the ground in search of food. This not only gives away their location but also significantly damages the environment and agricultural fields. Their rapid reproduction rates amplify their impact, so they’re open to hunting year-round.
Coyotes and Armadillos
On private lands, both coyotes and armadillos can be hunted all year long as they are viewed as pests. Hence, allowing year-round hunting helps manage their populations and mitigate conflicts.
First off, coyotes are everywhere in Florida. And these opportunistic predators are known to impact wildlife populations significantly. They’re known to get into brawls with pets and occasionally livestock, so they’re on the year-round hunting list.
On the other hand, armadillos are quirky creatures that have a habit of burrowing, which can lead to significant property damage, particularly to lawns and gardens.
Beavers, Otters, Skunks, Nutria, and Raccoons
It is possible to hunt these particular species throughout the year on private lands as long as the landowner grants permission.
Hunting these species year-round helps keep their populations in check and mitigate the impacts they can have on the environment and human property. Plus, it offers hunters diverse experiences, challenges, and opportunities to explore Florida’s rich ecosystems.
Popular Hunting in Florida
Welcome to the thrill and excitement of hunting in the Sunshine State. Florida provides an exceptional hunting experience with its varied terrains, encompassing verdant forests, expansive wetlands, extensive prairies, and coastal habitats.
Here’s what you can expect when hunting in Florida:
First off, let’s talk about the star of the show – the Florida white-tailed deer. This subspecies is unique to the region and is known for its smaller size and distinct behavior than other white-tailed deer.
Sadly, Florida fell short in deer trophy-ness to its surrounding states like Alabama. But its robust and thriving population of white-tailed deer makes up for it!
In order to hunt deer in Florida, it’s necessary to possess a deer permit and a valid hunting license. Further permits are necessary if you intend to use a muzzleloader or crossbow.
Note that hunting deer with dogs is permitted in some areas of Florida, while in others, still hunting (hunting without dogs) is the only legal method.
Wild Turkey Hunting
Florida is home to the Osceola wild turkey, also known as the Florida turkey. Osceola turkey is unique to the state, and its distinct behavior and habitat make turkey hunting an exciting and sought-after experience.
Florida has two turkey hunting seasons – spring and fall. The spring season is particularly popular, as it coincides with the turkey mating season when the gobblers (male turkeys) are most vocal and active.
All turkey hunters must have a Florida hunting license and a turkey permit. If hunting in a Wildlife Management Area (WMA), a management area permit is also required.
Limited Alligator Hunting
Alligator hunting, while not for the faint of heart, is a unique and thrilling Florida experience. It’s a chance to pit your wits against one of nature’s most iconic predators in their natural habitat.
Thanks to successful conservation efforts, Florida’s American alligator population is robust and healthy. The annual public waters alligator hunt is a popular management tool to maintain this population sustainably.
Notably, these permits are in high demand and are only distributed via a random drawing system. To participate in the lottery, you must apply for an Alligator Trapping License/permit.
The application process typically begins around May or June each year, and permits are distributed through a random drawing. There’s a non-refundable application fee, and successful applicants must pay for the license.
Top Hunting Places in Florida
Apalachicola National Forest
Picture yourself amidst a sprawling forest, the largest of its kind in Florida, a haven for deer and wild hog hunters. Yes, you’re now in the Apalachicola National Forest, spanning over half a million acres of pristine wilderness.
Here, you’ll find an abundance of white-tailed deer and wild hogs, plus a healthy population of turkeys waiting for the spring season. With its varied terrain and vast hunting grounds, it’s no wonder why hunters can’t resist the allure of Apalachicola.
Remember that hunting in the Apalachicola National Forest requires a permit in addition to a Florida hunting license. Always check the specific hunting regulations for the area, as they can vary year by year.
Kissimmee River Public Use Area
This gem is a favorite among waterfowl and small-game hunters. But the real star of the show? The majestic alligator!
Spanning around 30,000 acres, the Kissimmee River Public Use Area is a mosaic of wetlands, floodplain marshes, and upland habitats. This diversity makes it a haven for a wide variety of wildlife, offering hunters an array of thrilling opportunities.
With miles of wetlands at your disposal, the Kissimmee River area is a thrilling spot for those willing to go toe-to-toe with these prehistoric predators. Remember, hunting alligators is a unique experience, so prepare for an unforgettable adventure.
Osceola Wildlife Management Area
Osceola Wildlife Management Area, nestled in North Central Florida, is named after the famous Seminole leader.
This area is home to the elusive Osceola turkey, a subspecies unique to the state. Come spring, hunters flock here to try their luck at bagging this prized bird. The area also boasts a healthy population of white-tailed deer, making it a favorite among both turkey and deer hunters.
Florida Hunting License and Permits
All hunters in Florida, unless exempt, are required to possess a valid Florida Hunting License, and in some cases additional permits, such as a deer permit, migratory bird permit, or a turkey permit.
In Florida, FWC offers different types of hunting licenses to promote an inclusive hunting experience among all. The license varies depending on your residency status, age, and preferences.
Here’s the rundown of Florida hunting licenses:
|Adult Hunting||Annual: $17.00|
On top of a hunting license, hunters must also obtain hunting permits for a legal hunt. These permits help to boost the conservation efforts of the state’s wildlife.
Here’s the additional requirement to hunt in Florida.
(Archery, Crossbow, Muzzleloader)
|Waterfowl Permit||Annual: $5.00|
|Management Area Permit||Annual: $26.50|
|Alligator Harvest Permit||$272.00||$1,022.00|
Hunter Safety Course
The hunting safety course, also known as the Hunter Education Course, is designed to provide hunters with the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure their safety and the safety of others while engaging in hunting activities.
The FWC offers several options to complete the hunter education course. These options include traditional classroom courses, online courses, and a home-study option. The courses cover topics such as firearms safety, wildlife conservation, hunter ethics, and hunting laws and regulations.
And great news: Florida recognizes hunter education certification from other states and Canadian provinces. So, if you have completed an approved hunter education course in another jurisdiction, you will be eligible for reciprocity in Florida.
Hunting in Florida offers a diverse experience for hunters to explore the wilderness of the state. With its generous hunting seasons, a vast selection of game species, and top hunting locations, hunters would surely come back for more.
Looking to expand your hunting horizons? Our hunting-by-state guide has got you covered with a wide range of US-state hunting guides to choose from. Take a dive into the world of hunting and explore your options with us today!