index

Florida Public Hunting Laws and Regulations

Wildlife Management Area Permit Essentials

Hunting within wildlife management areas (WMAs) mandates the acquisition of a management area permit alongside a valid hunting license, with certain exemptions delineated under 'License and permit exemptions' on the Licenses & Permits page. Notably, there are specific locales where a management area permit is not obligatory; this includes military bases, such as Eglin, Avon Park, and Tyndall, as well as the Apalachicola River Wildlife and Environmental Area, Kissimmee River Public Use Area, and the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Area.

Furthermore, during select periods, hunters must also secure limited entry/quota permits to access WMAs, details of which can be found in the 'Limited entry/quota permits' section of the same resource. For hunters with disabilities seeking ADA accommodations, specific permits can be sourced under particular conditions at select WMAs. Comprehensive information regarding ADA-related permits is available at MyFWC.com/ADA.

Updated Regulations for Wildlife Management Areas

For a comprehensive understanding of the hunting regulations of various wildlife management areas (WMAs), hunters are advised to procure the corresponding WMA brochures. These brochures provide the most recent rule amendments, which are conveniently highlighted in bold print for easy identification. To access these vital resources, hunters must visit the exclusive online repository at MyFWC.com/WMAbrochures, as they are not available through any other means. Hunters must review these brochures before embarking on their hunting excursions to ensure adherence to the latest WMA regulations.

Public Small-Game Hunting Zones

Designated small-game public hunting areas afford hunters the chance to pursue a variety of game, including wild hogs, doves, waterfowl, and other small game species. To gain insight into the specific regulations, season dates, and other pertinent information for these areas, hunters need to reference the WMA brochures. These brochures, vital for anyone planning to engage in small-game hunting, are exclusively accessible through the MyFWC.com/WMAbrochures portal. Hunters need to avail themselves of these brochures to ensure legal and safe hunting practices.

Access to Florida's Military Base Hunting Grounds

Florida boasts three military bases that are open for public hunting, creating unique opportunities for hunters to explore these lands. Individuals seeking detailed information on how to pursue this opportunity can directly contact the below-listed points:

  • Eglin Natural Resources, Jackson Guard: Located at 107 Hwy. 85 North, Niceville, FL 32578. Hunters can gather information by calling 850-882-4165.

  • Avon Park Air Force Range, Hunt Information: Correspondence can be directed to 347 RQW, DET1, OLA/CEVN, situated at 29 South Blvd., Avon Park Air Force Range, FL 33825-5700. Inquiries can be made via phone at 863-452-4254.

  • Tyndall Air Force Base, Natural Resources Flight: Positioned at 325 CES/CEN, 119 Alabama Ave., Tyndall Air Force Base, FL 32403. For hunting inquiries, they can be reached at 850-527-2009.

These contacts provide hunters with the essential resources for obtaining permits, understanding specific regulations, and planning their hunting excursions on Florida's accessible military bases.

National Wildlife Refuges in Florida: Public Hunting Information

Florida offers a range of National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) where public hunting is permitted. These refuges fall under the management of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and for certain areas, hunting permits may be obtained through the FWC, as outlined in the 'National Wildlife Refuge hunts' section on the same page.

Below is the list of the NWRs in Florida open to public hunting, along with their contact information:

  • Chassahowitzka NWR: Situated at 1502 Southeast Kings Bay Dr., Crystal River, FL 34429, can be contacted by phone at 352-563-2088.

  • Ten Thousand Islands NWR: Located at 12085 State Road 29 South, Immokalee, FL 34142, reachable at 239-657-8001.

  • Florida Panther NWR: Sharing the address with Ten Thousand Islands NWR, it can also be contacted at the same number, 239-657-8001.

  • A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR: Based at 10216 Lee Road, Boynton Beach, FL 33437, can be reached by telephone at 561-732-3684.

  • Lower Suwannee NWR: Found at 16450 NW 31st Place, Chiefland, FL 32626, with a contact number of 352-493-0238.

  • Lake Woodruff NWR: Positioned at 2045 Mud Lake Road, DeLeon Springs, FL 32130, with a contact phone number of 386-985-4673.

  • Merritt Island NWR: Specific to waterfowl hunting at 1987 Scrub Jay Way, Titusville, FL 32815, inquiries can be made at 321-861-0669.

  • St. Marks NWR: Located at 1255 Lighthouse Road, St. Marks, FL 32355, can be reached by calling 850-925-6121.

  • St. Vincent NWR: Found at 3100 County Road 30A, Apalachicola, FL 32329, the contact number is 850-653-8808.

Hunters interested in these refuges must contact the respective offices to get the latest updates on hunting seasons, obtain necessary permits, and ensure compliance with refuge-specific regulations.

Limited Entry and Quota Permits Overview

Determining Permit Requirements

To ascertain the necessity of a limited entry permit for wildlife management areas (WMAs), hunters must reference the individual WMA brochures. During certain periods, a limited entry/quota permit may be required to engage in hunting activities.

Applying for Permits

Applications can be made online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or by submitting completed worksheets in person at a licensed agent or tax collector’s office. Resources and application worksheets are located at MyFWC.com/License, under the "Limited Entry/Quota Hunts" section. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) distributes a variety of limited entry permits throughout the year catering to species such as alligator, dove, quail, deer, waterfowl, wild hog, and wild turkey, as well as for camping on Green Swamp WMA.

Specific Permit Details

  • Alligator Permits: Each of these limited permits enables the holder to harvest two alligators within designated public water bodies or counties.

  • Green Swamp Camping Permits: Issued for various hunting seasons and activities, these permits enable camping in predefined areas within Green Swamp WMA.

  • National Wildlife Refuge Hunts: The FWC issues permits for hunting on NWR lands, coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Local NWR offices provide further details regarding their specific hunting opportunities.

Specific Hunts and Permits for NWRs

  • Lake Woodruff NWR: Offers archery, muzzleloading gun, and family spring turkey hunts.
  • Merritt Island NWR: Conducts waterfowl and archery hunts.
  • St. Marks NWR: Available hunts include archery, general gun, spring turkey, and mobility-impaired.
  • Lower Suwannee NWR: Hosts a variety of hunts, including archery, muzzleloading guns, general guns, and special hunts for families, seniors, disabled veterans, youth, and raccoon/opossum hunting.
  • A.R.M. Loxahatchee NWR: Allows for duck and coot hunting with airboat use and deer/wild hog hunts.
  • Florida Panther NWR: Conducts spring turkey hunts.
  • St. Vincent NWR: Offers Sambar and white-tailed deer hunts.

Quota Permits

Quota permits, a form of limited entry permit, come with distinct application rules. Information on how to apply for these quota permits is available at MyFWC.com/License, within the "Limited Entry/Quota Hunts" area.

Types of Quota Permits

There are multiple quota permits, each with specific rules and application processes. These include permits for archery, dove hunting, general gun, family hunts, mobility-impaired hunts, muzzleloading guns, quail hunting, spring turkey, track vehicle use, wild hog, youth hunting, and youth spring turkey. Some of these permit types also offer guest permits.

Recreational Use Permits

Meant to generate income for private landowners within the WMA system, recreational use permits incorporate a management area permit, usable on other public lands not within the recreational use program. These permits are only valid for the specific area listed and are not transferable to other areas within the program. Currently, two recreational use areas offer these permits, Grove Park WMA in Alachua County for $690 and Gulf Hammock WMA in Levy County for $432.

Waterfowl and Snipe Hunting Permit Details

Locations for Waterfowl Permits

Waterfowl hunting permits are accessible for both the early and regular seasons in various areas. Enthusiasts can obtain permits for these specific locations:

  • T.M. Goodwin and Broadmoor Marsh Unit: Renowned for its waterfowl population, offering opportunities for a fulfilling hunt.
  • Ocklawaha Prairie: A location that presents natural habitats suitable for waterfowl.
  • Guana River: Known for its waterfowl habitats, providing hunters with prospects of engaging in hunts.
  • Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs): Managed habitats that attract various waterfowl species.
  • A-1 Flow Equalization Basin (A-1 FEB): A waterfowl hunting locale designed to improve water quality and provide hunting opportunities.

Snipe Hunting Permits

Permits specifically for snipe hunting are also obtainable for the T.M. Goodwin/Broadmoor Marsh and Ocklawaha Prairie locations. These areas offer additional avian diversity for hunters seeking snipe game.

Merritt Island NWR Specifics

At Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, regular-season waterfowl permits are available to hunters for a fee of $27.50. This refuge, in particular, is a premium spot for waterfowl hunting, and the specified fee provides access to designated hunting areas during the regulated season.

Antlerless Deer Permit Essentials for WMAs

Availability and Transferability

On select wildlife management areas (WMAs), there is a restricted allocation of antlerless deer permits. These permits, characterized by their transferability feature, are conveniently distributed to recipients via mail in September.

Eligibility Criteria

To be considered for an antlerless deer permit, hunters must:

  • Affirmatively respond to the antlerless deer inquiry on their phase I quota permit application by checking "Yes."
  • Successfully acquired a quota permit during the phase I random drawing for WMAs that prescribe antlerless deer permits. This eligibility translates into automatic inclusion in a subsequent drawing specifically for antlerless deer permits.

Special Permit Holder Inclusion

Holders of special-opportunity and recreational use permits are also seamlessly entered into the antlerless deer permit drawing without the need for additional action, provided that such permits are in effect for the area in question.

Special-Opportunity Hunt Permits by FWC

General Overview

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) sanctions special-opportunity hunt permits, which grant access to extensive tracts of public land while maintaining low hunter quotas. Hunters interested in these premium experiences can expect fees for permits to range between $50 and $175. Unlimited applications can be submitted by hunters, however, a $5 non-refundable application fee is incurred with each application.

Specific Hunts and Fees

Special-Opportunity Fall Hunts

  • Fort Drum WMA: Features one seven-day general gun deer/hog hunt at $50 per permit, with 20 hunters sharing 20,858 acres.
  • Green Swamp WMA West Unit: Offers two archery and three general gun deer/hog hunts with each four-day hunt costing $100 per permit. A total of 54 hunters will utilize 34,335 acres.
  • Lake Panasoffkee WMA: Hosts eight archery deer/hog hunts, with each four-day hunt priced at $100 per permit. Each hunt is designated for 20 hunters over 8,676 acres.
  • Triple N Ranch WMA: Includes two seven-day general gun hunts and one four-day muzzleloading gun deer/hog hunt at $175 per permit, allowing 15 hunters to experience 16,295 acres.

Special-Opportunity Spring Turkey Hunts

  • Fisheating Creek WMA East: Arranges for two seven-day hunts each at $175 per permit, with a capacity of 10 hunters on 3,741 acres.
  • Fort Drum WMA: Schedules three seven-day hunts at $50 per permit, hosting five hunters on 20,858 acres each.
  • Green Swamp WMA West Unit: Divided into three units over 34,335 acres, with eight hunters per unit and five four-day hunts per unit, each carrying a fee of $100 per permit.
  • Homosassa WMA: Provides two seven-day hunts at $175 per permit, and five hunters on 5,675 acres for each hunt.
  • Lake George WMA Dexter/Mary Farm Unit: Consists of three zones over 14,377 acres, with four hunters per zone and three seven-day hunts per zone, each at $175 per permit.
  • Lake Panasoffkee WMA: Supports three four-day hunts at $100 each per permit with a permitted group of 10 hunters across 8,676 acres.
  • Triple N Ranch WMA: Organizes three seven-day hunts at $175 per permit, accommodating 10 hunters on 16,295 acres for each hunt.

Special-opportunity hunts are expertly crafted to provide an exclusive and less crowded hunting experience, ensuring optimal game hunting opportunities due to minimized competition and maximized land availability.

Limited Entry/Quota Permit Application Cycles

Annual Application Timelines

In Florida, application periods for a diverse array of limited entry/quota permits roll out across various times of the year. These permits cater to specific hunting activities and wildlife management areas.

Accessing Current Information

To stay informed regarding the exact application windows, hunters must visit MyFWC.com/License and refer to the "Limited Entry/Quota Hunts" section. This resource ensures that hunters can plan effectively and submit their applications within the designated timeframes. Ensuring that hunters have the most current and detailed information readily available is critical for those looking to obtain the necessary permits for their planned hunting excursions.

Wild Advisor Pro

Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.