Even though you can hardly tell, summer is almost over. Kids have returned to school, football is back on TV, and hunting season has already been going on for a month now in south Florida. Finally, the time of year we’ve been waiting for is here. And although some of us still have to wait just a bit longer for our season to come in, most of us have already finished our preseason scouting, and we’ve hung our tree stands along well-traveled deer trails, next to a mature oak that’ll soon begin dropping acorns. I don’t know about y’all, but I got a bad case a BUCK FEVER!
Hunting season always comes in first in Zone A in south Florida. Archery and crossbow seasons there started Aug. 2. But the boundary line between zones A and C has changed this year.
Hunting zones map:
This year, archery and crossbow seasons in Zone B start Oct. 18.
If you hunt in Zone C, archery and crossbow seasons open Sept. 13. In Zone D, archery and crossbow seasons begin on Oct. 25 this year.
To hunt during archery season, you’ll need a Florida hunting license and an archery permit. During crossbow season, you’ll need a hunting license and crossbow permit. If you’re a Florida resident, an annual hunting license will cost $17. Nonresidents have the choice of paying $46.50 for a 10-day license or $151.50 for 12 months. Archery and crossbow permits cost just $5 each, and all deer hunters must have the $5 deer permit. Anyone planning on hunting one of Florida’s many WMAs must purchase a management area permit for $26.50.
And don’t forget to pick up the WMA brochure for the area you wish to hunt, because hunting season dates on many of the areas often differ from zonal dates. You can pick up a copy of WMA brochures at your local tax collector’s office or read them at MyFWC.com/Hunting.
During archery season and that part of crossbow season that runs concurrent with archery, you can take both legal bucks and antlerless deer (except for spotted fawns). But after archery ends, during the remaining portion of the crossbow season, only legal bucks may be taken. The daily bag limit on deer is two. Bag limits for deer on WMAs can differ, so check the specifics of the area before you hunt.
You can hunt wild hogs on private lands year-round with no bag or size limits. On most WMAs, there’s also no bag or size limits, and hogs are legal to take during most hunting seasons except spring turkey. On a few WMAs though, bag and size limits do apply, so be sure to check the brochure for the specific area to be certain.
It’s also legal to shoot gobblers and bearded turkeys during archery and crossbow seasons, assuming you have a turkey permit ($10 for residents, $125 for nonresidents). You can now take two turkeys in a single day on private lands, but the two-bird fall-season limit still applies, and the daily bag limit for turkeys is still one on WMAs. It’s against the law to hunt turkeys in Holmes County in the fall, and it’s illegal to shoot them while they’re on the roost, over bait, when you’re within 100 yards of a game-feeding station when bait is present or with the aid of recorded turkey calls.
The archery permit allows you to bow hunt during the archery season. On private property, a crossbow permit enables you to hunt during the crossbow season with either a crossbow or a bow. On WMAs, only hunters with a disabled crossbow permit are allowed to use crossbows during archery season. All bows must have a minimum draw weight of 35 pounds, and hand-held releases are permitted. For hunting deer, hogs and turkeys, broadheads must have at least two sharpened edges with a minimum width of 7/8 inch.