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Hunter Safety

Hunting Regulations Icon Florida Hunting

Hunter safety requirement

Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975 must complete a hunter safety course before purchasing a hunting license enabling them to hunt without supervision. Children under age 16 may hunt with adult supervision without having to take a hunter safety course. Persons 16 and older who have not completed a hunter safety course can use a Mentoring Exemption enabling them to purchase a license and hunt within the supervision of a mentoring adult who is at least 21 years old. Persons needing proof of course completion can print a duplicate certification card at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety.

Hunter safety course

Everyone born on or after June 1, 1975 must pass an approved hunter safety course before purchasing a Florida hunting license that enables you to hunt without adult supervision. To learn more about these and other programs, visit us at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety.

Hunter Safety Deferral Mentoring Exemption

Anyone 16 years old or older and born on or after June 1, 1975 can hunt under the direct supervision of a licensed hunter, 21 years old or older, without having to complete the state’s hunter safety certification.

Individuals taking advantage of this try-before-you-buy approach must complete a hunter safety class to be eligible to hunt on their own.

Legal methods of taking game mammals and resident game birds

Definition of take

The term shall include taking, attempting to take, pursuing, hunting, molesting, capturing, or killing any wildlife or freshwater fish, or their nests or eggs by any means whether or not such actions result in obtaining possession of such wildlife or freshwater fish or their nests or eggs.

Resident game birds and game mammals

Rifles, shotguns, pistols, longbows, compound bows, recurve bows, crossbows and birds of prey (falcons, hawks and great horned owls) may be used. Longbows, compound bows, recurve bows must have minimum draw weights of 35 pounds. Hand-held releases may be used. Arrows or bolts used to take deer or turkeys must be equipped with broadheads having at least two sharpened edges with minimum widths of 7/8 inch. Air guns may be used to take gray squirrel and rabbit.

Hunting deer with a muzzleloader

Muzzleloading guns firing single bullets must be at least .40-caliber or larger. Muzzleloading guns firing two or more balls must be 20-gauge or larger.

Prohibited methods and equipment for taking game mammals and resident game birds

  • This document doesn’t address or advise persons as to local ordinances prohibiting the discharge of firearms or as to the validity of such ordinances.
  • Centerfire semi-automatic rifles having magazine capacities of more than five rounds
  • Nonexpanding full metal case (military ball) ammunition for taking deer
  • Firearms using rimfire cartridges for taking deer
  • Fully automatic firearms
  • Air guns except when taking gray squirrel and rabbit
  • Explosive or drug-injecting arrows
  • Taking or attempting to take with live decoys, recorded game calls or sounds, set guns, artificial lights, nets, traps, snares, drugs or poisons
  • Shooting from vehicles, powerboats or sailboats moving under power. Motors must be shut off or sails furled, and progress must cease from such motor or sail before taking game.
  • Herding or driving game with vehicles, boats or aircraft
  • Hunting turkeys with dogs
  • Taking turkeys while they are on the roost
  • Taking turkeys when the hunter is within 100 yards of a game-feeding station when feed is present
  • Taking spotted fawn deer or swimming deer
  • Hunting with bows equipped with electronic computational (rangefinder) or light projection (laser) sights or aiming devices during archery season
  • Hunting game using bows with draw weights less than 35 pounds
  • Using dogs without collars that identify the owners name and address
  • Using dogs on private lands without written landowner permission
  • Placing, exposing or distributing soporific, anesthetic, tranquilizer, hypnotic or similar drugs or chemicals; preparation by baits; or by other means where game birds or game animals may be affected
  • Shooting or attempting to shoot or harass any bird, fish or other animal from aircraft, except as specifically authorized by a Federal or State issued license or permit

Areas closed to hunting

  • Taking or attempting to take wildlife is illegal on, upon or from rights-of-way of federal, state or county-maintained roads, whether paved or otherwise, except reptiles and amphibians may be taken without the use of firearms and raptors may be taken per Rule 68A-9.005, F.A.C. Casting dogs from rights-of-way is considered attempting to take wildlife and constitutes violation of this regulation.
  • Discharging firearms over paved public roads, rights-of-way, highways, streets or occupied premises is prohibited.
  • Shooting or propelling potentially lethal projectiles over or across private land without authorization in order to take game is considered criminal trespassing and is a felony.
  • Taking deer is prohibited by any method in the Florida Keys.
  • Taking deer is illegal in that portion of Collier County lying south of S.R. 84 (I-75), west of S.R. 29, north of U.S. 41 and east of the western boundary of Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve.
  • Hunting is prohibited on most sanctuaries and parks.

Trespassing

The possession of a hunting license does not authorize a person to trespass onto private land. Obtain landowner’s permission before entering private land. Trespassing while possessing a firearm or other dangerous weapon is a felony punishable by imprisonment up to five years and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Use of firearms by felons

It is illegal in Florida for convicted felons to possess firearms, including muzzleloading guns, unless the convicted felon has had his/ her civil rights restored by the state’s Clemency Board or the firearm qualifies as an antique firearm under Florida Statute 790.001(1). Properly licensed convicted felons may hunt with bows, crossbows or antique firearms per Florida Statute 790 during hunting seasons when such devices are legal for taking game. The 2015 Florida Statutes Title XLVI, Section, 790.001(1) states “Antique firearm means any firearm manufactured in or before 1918 (including any matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap or similar early type of ignition system) or replica thereof, whether actually manufactured before or after the year 1918, and also any firearm using fixed ammunition manufactured in or before 1918, for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in the United States and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade.” Convicted felons should be aware that being in a location where a firearm is present may constitute constructive possession of that firearm. Constructive possession occurs when the person knows about the firearm and is in a position to exert control over that firearm or where they have concealed the firearm. Possession may also be joint, that is, two or more persons may jointly possess a firearm, exercising control over it, each person is considered to be in possession.

Antlerless deer permits — private lands

  • A person who owns, leases or has written permission to take antlerless deer on at least 640 acres or not less than 150 acres, if the property is adjoining land already receiving antlerless deer permits, may apply for permits. A group with adjoining lands also may apply together provided the total combined acreage is at least 640 acres.
  • Applications must be submitted no later than 30 days prior to the final day of general gun season in the hunting zone that the property is situated. For more information, visit MyFWC.com/Deer.

Wild hogs

On private property with landowner permission, wild hogs may be hunted year-round day or night without restriction (i.e., by all lawful methods with no bag/possession limits, no size limits and no licenses/permits required). They also may be trapped but cannot be transported alive without a Feral Swine Dealer Permit from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services by calling 850-410-0900. Wild hogs can only be taken on WMAs during specified seasons, where bag and size limits may apply. For more information on hunting wild hogs on WMAs, consult the specific WMA brochure for the area you want to hunt.

Shooting hours for resident game birds, crows and game mammals

One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset except when hunting turkeys during spring turkey season. Shooting hours during spring turkey season on private lands are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. On WMAs, spring turkey shooting hours may differ.

Hunter orange requirement

It is unlawful to hunt deer or to accompany another person hunting deer on public lands unless each person is wearing a minimum of 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange material as an outer garment. Such clothing must be worn above the waistline and can include a head covering. This rule does not apply during archery season, or when hunting on private lands at any time.

Hunting dogs

Dogs may be used as an aid in taking game mammals and game birds, unless otherwise prohibited. Persons owning or using dogs shall not knowingly or negligently permit such dogs to trail, pursue or otherwise molest wildlife during closed seasons. When using archery equipment and muzzleloaders during their respective archery, crossbow and muzzleloading gun seasons, the taking of deer by the use or aid of dogs is prohibited. Dogs on leashes may be used to trail wounded game mammals during all seasons. Taking turkeys by aid of dogs at any time is prohibited. Hunters, who use dogs for hunting, including bird dogs or retrievers, are required to have their dogs wear collars that identify their owner’s name and address. This regulation also requires dog hunters to possess landowners’ written permission before using their dogs to pursue game on private property. On private land rabbit, raccoon, opossum, skunk, nutria, beaver, coyote, hog, fox and bobcat may be chased throughout the year with free running dogs. For more information, contact an FWC regional office.

Deer dogs: Deer dogs can be trained during closed seasons when dogs are constantly attached to leashes or ropes in the hands of their trainers for training purposes. Deer dogs are permitted to run free for training purposes only during deer-dog training seasons. Taking deer or any other wildlife with a gun is prohibited while training deer dogs.

Statewide deer-dog registration: Deer hunters using dogs on private properties in Florida must obtain a no-cost registration from the FWC. Registration requirements apply to the deer-dog training season and during any open deer hunting season when it is legal to take deer with dogs. Applications must be submitted no later than 30 days prior to the final day of general gun season in the hunting zone where the property is situated. To comply with the registration rule, deer-dog hunters on private lands must have registration numbers on their dogs’ collars; possess copies of the registration; and keep their dogs on registered properties. For more information and to apply go to MyFWC.com/Deer.

Bird dogs: On private lands during closed seasons, bird dogs may be trained with pistols firing blanks or balls or by taking pen-raised quail (with shotguns only), when birds have been banded with owners’ names prior to releasing them. Fox dogs: Foxes cannot be killed, but may be chased year-round with dogs.

Feeding game

Taking game on lands or waters upon which corn, wheat, grain, food or other substances have been deposited by means other than normal agricultural harvesting or planting is prohibited, except as noted below.

  • Non-migratory game may be hunted in proximity of year-round game-feeding stations on private lands, provided the feeding station has been maintained with feed for at least six months prior to taking game.
  • Wild turkey may not be taken if the hunter is less than 100 yards from a game feeding station when feed is present.
  • Placing, offering or allowing the placement of feed or garbage that is likely to create or creates a public nuisance by attracting bears is prohibited after receiving written notification from the FWC. The intentional feeding of bears is prohibited.

Buying or selling game

Selling or purchasing game is prohibited except for game produced on licensed game farms that is lawfully identified and handled. When lawfully taken, the feathers or skins of resident game birds or the skins of deer, squirrels, or rabbits may be sold.

Dividing deer and turkey in the field

Deer and turkeys may be dismembered in field or camp, however tags must be attached to each portion identifying names, addresses and hunting license numbers (if hunting licenses are required) of the persons who harvested them with date and location at which they were taken. These tags must be readily traceable to the portion of the animal bearing sex identification.

Sex evidence

Positive evidence of sex identification, including the head, shall remain on deer taken or killed within the state and on all turkeys taken during any gobbler season when taking of turkey hens is prohibited, so long as such deer or turkey is kept in camp or forest or is in route to the domicile of its possessor or until such deer or turkey has been cooked or stored at the domicile of its possessor.

Transport of game

  • A person may transport the possession limit of lawfully taken game.
  • A person may at any time possess mounted specimens of lawfully taken game, including the heads, antlers, hides/skins, feathers or feet.
  • Lawfully taken game may be shipped by the person who took such game provided that each package shall be marked on the outside to show the names and addresses of both the shipper and the addressee, and the numbers and kinds of game contained therein.

What is legal to bring back when hunting out of state for deer, elk or moose

It is illegal for persons to bring into the state or possess carcasses of any species of the family Cervidae (deer, elk and moose) from 24 states and two Canadian provinces where CWD has been detected. These areas are: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming and Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. Visit www.cwd-info.org or MyFWC.com/CWD for a list of CWD positive states and provinces and further information. When hunting out of state, check that state’s current status for CWD. Hunters can bring back de-boned meat from any CWD-affected region, as well as finished taxidermy mounts, hides, skulls, antlers and teeth as long as all soft tissue has been removed.

Littering

It is unlawful for anyone to throw or dump trash or in any way litter highways, public lands and waters of the state or private properties.

Motor vehicles

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) purchased after July 1, 2002 must be titled with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. ATVs and OHMs must be titled when used for recreational purposes on lands within the state that are available for public use and that are owned, operated or managed by federal, state, county or municipal governmental entities. Applications for title may be made at county tax collectors’ offices.

Tree stands

Using tree stands to take wildlife is permitted.

Do you need a duplicate hunter safety card?

You can now obtain a duplicate hunter safety card at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety. If you do not have Internet access or are unable to print the duplicate card, contact an FWC regional hunter safety office.