While Florida is best known as a fishing destination for the outdoorsmen, it also offers some excellent hunting.
The state is home to several national forests, state and national preserves, and plenty of wildlife management areas (WMAs). “Florida has one of the largest wildlife management area (WMA) systems in the country at nearly 6 million acres. Florida’s WMAs offer a wide range of hunting opportunities including quota/limited entry hunts, special opportunity hunts, and public hunting areas where people can walk on to hunt,” says the Florida Wildlife Commission. Get all the rules and license information needed to hunt in the Sunshine state.
Some small game hunting in the Sunshine State is year-round with generous bag limits. Small mammal game include gray squirrel, bobcat, raccoon, opossum, coyote, beaver, skunk, nutria, and rabbit.
Unusually, Florida has no season on rabbit. It does have a 12-rabbit bag limit and a 24-rabbit possession limit.
While the coyote population is not as big as some states, less hunting pressure on Sunshine State song dogs means your chance of putting one down is excellent. You can use electronic calls to bring the coyotes to you. Rifles are the preferred way to get these varmints because they can hang up just out of shotgun or bow range.
“The Osceola turkey, also known as the Florida turkey, is one of the most sought-after game species in Florida. This unique bird is one of five subspecies of wild turkey in North America,” says the National Wild Turkey Federation. “The Osceola lives on the Florida peninsula and nowhere else in the world, making it popular with out-of-state hunters. It’s similar to the eastern subspecies (found in the Panhandle) but tends to be slightly smaller and darker with less white barring on the wings’ flight feathers.”
Florida has a spring and fall turkey season. The best hunting is in the northern part of the state. As you head south, the population drops until you hit the west side of the Everglades where turkeys again have strong numbers.
Pursuing longbeard or one of the ladies, depending on the season, is a challenge. You need to camouflage everything, be handy with a variety of calls, and pack enough weapons to get the job done. For the shotgun crowd, three-inch turkey loads are recommended. Turkey-specific broadheads are a top choice for bowhunters.
Florida’s big game are deer and alligator.
Florida has two huntable deer subspecies, the Odocoileus virginianus osceola, and the Odocoileus virginianus seminolus, .
Don’t expect a trophy. As Wide Open Spaces says, “Every deer hunter knows two things: that almost every state or region has the potential to produce a trophy deer, and that one place that doesn’t is Florida.” The best hunting is in the central counties, away from the coastline counties, and along the panhandle.
Gator hunts are a draw permit. The state estimates some 10,000 people apply for 6.000 permits each year. A permit is good for two swamp lizards and includes the necessary CITES tags. Deer rifles and crossbows are recommended for taking gators at a distance. Close work is done by spearing the reptile and bringing it in to shoot with a gun or bang stick.
If you do not get a permit, you can connect with a nuisance alligator trapper and pay a license fee to be his assistant. In this case, the guide has everything you need to harvest the gator. Florida hunting guides and outfitters are your best chance of bagging a trophy gator.
Florida is in the top 10 nationally for wild hog population. Hunts can be done over bait or with dogs. The greatest success comes from guided hunts with baying and catch dogs. With dogs, the hunter has a wide choice of weaponry starting with a rifle and going to a knife. In a knife hunt, the dogs bay up the hog and someone rushes in and catches the wild porker. The hunter comes in and stabs the hog with a sharp, long knife through the chest cavity.
Other huntable imports are the various constrictor snakes and iguanas. The state actually offers a bounty on Burmese pythons at times.
“Iguanas are not native to Florida and are not a protected species. They can be removed from private property year-round and with landowner permission – no permit required. Additionally, a new Executive Order passed this year allows for the removal of iguanas from 22 public lands in South Florida. Iguanas can be removed and humanely killed on these properties year-round and without a permit,” the FWC says. These reptiles are best hunted with rimfire, air rifles, snatched with hooks, or caught with a loop at the end of a really long pole. They are delicious when cooked properly. They make awesome wall hangers because of the amazing color patterns.
Florida Hunting Trips
When you are ready to hunt, HuntAnywhere.com is the place to start. We know where your best chances of bagging your target are located and we have the best Florida hunting guides and outfitters to put on the animals.