Message from the FWC

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A message from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission about new deer hunting rules

New deer hunting rules taking effect in 2019-2020 will help support the goals and objectives in the Commission-approved strategic plan for deer management. Our thanks for this progress goes to stakeholders for their willingness to collaborate with FWC staff throughout the rulemaking process to achieve regulations based on hunter preference and sound science to ensure sustainability.

One of the new rules establishes an annual statewide bag limit. Beginning this season, the annual statewide bag limit is five deer per hunter, of which no more than two can be antlerless (any deer, except a spotted fawn, without antlers or whose antlers are less than five inches in length). Antlerless deer may still only be harvested during seasons when they are legal to take, such as during archery season and on antlerless deer days. This adaptive approach to deer management is intended to improve hunting opportunities by encouraging harvest among more hunters as well as greater selectivity, while helping maintain a healthy and reasonably balanced deer herd. Before this limit was established, Florida was the only state in the Southeast without a specified annual bag limit.

New rules also require all hunters – including youth under 16 years of age, resident hunters 65 years and older, those with a disability license, military personnel, and those hunting on their homestead in their county of residence – to report deer they harvest. A harvest reporting system is expected to foster bag limit compliance and give the FWC another source of deer harvest data.

Another rule change established a new youth deer hunt weekend for youth 15-years-old and younger who are supervised by an adult (18 years or older). This Saturday-Sunday youth deer hunt coincides with the muzzleloading gun season in all four hunting zones. Youth can harvest one antlered or antlerless deer (except spotted fawn), and the deer counts toward their annual bag limit. Youth are allowed to use any method of take legal for deer hunting.

The new youth deer hunt weekend is not available on wildlife management areas, which have hosted youth and family deer hunts for years. This newly established youth deer hunt weekend is a way to encourage youth deer hunting on other lands. It supports the FWC’s commitment to igniting interest in hunting and creating the next generation of conservation stewards.

For more information about the new hunting rule changes, visit MyFWC.com/Deer and click on “New Hunting Rules.”