2015 Florida bear hunting rules and regulations

Private land hunting

With landowner permission, bears may be hunted in the East Panhandle, North, Central and South bear management units (BMUs):

Open BMUs Map

East Panhandle BMU– Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington counties

North BMU– Baker, Columbia, Duval, Hamilton, Nassau, Suwannee and Union counties

Central BMU– Alachua, Bradford, Brevard, Clay, Flagler, Lake, Marion, Orange, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter and Volusia counties

South BMU– Broward, Collier, Hendry, Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties

Public hunting– The following wildlife management areas (WMAs) will have bear hunting opportunities in 2015.  Please note that when hunting bears on WMAs, hunters are required to follow all regulations for the area in which they hunt.  Methods of take allowed for hunting bear include archery equipment, firearms and ammunition as allowed for deer, unless otherwise designated on the list below (e.g., “archery only” or “muzzleloading gun only”).

East Panhandle BMU 

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA

HUNTING DATES

METHOD OF TAKE RESTRICTIONS

QUOTA PERMIT REQUIRED

Apalachee

Oct. 24-30

Rifles prohibited

No

Apalachicola

Oct. 24-30

None

No

Apalachicola Bradwell Unit

Oct. 24-30

Archery only

Yes

Apalachicola River

Oct. 24-30

None

No

Aucilla (excluding Pinhook still hunt area)

Oct. 24-30

None

No

Aucilla - Pinhook still hunt area

Oct. 24-26

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Beaverdam Creek

Oct. 24-30

None

No

Big Bend - Hickory Mound Unit

Oct. 24-30

None

No

Big Bend - Snipe Island Unit

Oct. 24-25

Archery only

No

Big Bend - Snipe Island Unit

Oct. 30

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Big Bend - Spring Creek Unit

Oct. 24-30

None

No

Big Bend - Tide Swamp Unit

Oct. 24-30

None

No

Box-R

Oct. 24-30

Archery only

Yes

Chipola River (excluding Altha Tract)

Oct. 24-30

None

No

Chipola River - Altha Tract

Oct. 24-30

Archery only

Yes

Econfina Creek (excluding Fitzhugh Carter, Cat Creek and mobility-impaired areas)

Oct. 24-30

None

No

Econfina Creek - Fitzhugh Carter and Cat Creek areas

Oct. 24-30

Archery only

Yes

Lower Econfina

Oct. 24-25

Archery only

No

Middle Aucilla

Oct. 24-30

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Ochlockonee River

Oct. 24-25, 30

Archery only

No

Pine Log

Oct. 24-30

Archery only

No

Talquin

Oct. 24-25, 30

None

No

Tate's Hell

Oct. 24-30

None

No

Tate's Hell - Womack Creek Unit

Oct. 24-30

Archery only

Yes

Twin Rivers

Oct. 24-26

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Tyndall External Website

Oct. 24-30

Contact Tyndall for details

Tyndall permit required

Wakulla

Oct. 24-25, 30

Archery only

Yes

 

North BMU 

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA

HUNTING DATES

METHOD OF TAKE RESTRICTIONS

QUOTA PERMIT REQUIRED

Cary

Oct. 24-26, 30

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Cypress Creek

Oct. 24-26

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Four Creeks

Oct. 24-26

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Little River

Oct. 24-26

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Osceola

Oct. 24-30

None

No

Ralph E. Simmons

Oct. 24-30

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

 

Central BMU

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA

HUNTING DATES

METHOD OF TAKE RESTRICTIONS

QUOTA PERMIT REQUIRED

Bayard

Oct. 24-30

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Belmore

Oct. 24-26

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Lochloosa

Oct. 24-25

Archery only

No

Lochloosa

Oct. 30

Muzzleloading gun only

No

Etoniah Creek

Oct. 24-26, 30

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Jumper Creek

Oct. 24-26

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Lake Monroe

Oct. 24-30

None

No

Marshall Swamp

Oct. 24-25

Archery only

Yes

Ocala (excluding Church Lake Unit)

Oct. 24-30

None

No

Ocala Church Lake Unit

Oct. 24-29

None

No

Ocala Church Lake Unit

Oct. 30

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Raiford

Oct. 24-26

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Rock Springs Run

Oct. 24-26, 30

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Seminole Forest (mobility-impaired hunt)

Oct. 24-25

None

Yes

Seminole Forest

Oct. 30

Muzzleloading gun only

Yes

Tiger Bay

Oct. 24-30

None

No

 

South BMU 

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA

HUNTING DATES

METHOD OF TAKE RESTRICTIONS

QUOTA PERMIT REQUIRED

Okaloacoochee Slough

Oct. 24-30

None

No

Picayune Strand

Oct. 24-25

None

Yes

Spirit-of-the-Wild

Oct. 24-30

None

No

Bear season dates and harvest objectives

The 2015 bear hunting season will run up to seven days in each of the four BMUs that are open to bear hunting.  The season begins on Saturday, Oct. 24, and permitted hunters must verify with the FWC after each day of the hunt to determine whether the harvest objective (number of bears killed by hunters) in any of the BMUs has been met.  Updated information on BMU closures will be made available daily during the season around 9 p.m. Eastern Time.  Hunters can learn of these possible closures after 9 p.m. by:

Keep in mind that each BMU has its own harvest objective, so while one BMU may close, others may remain open.  In any BMU where the harvest objective is not met, the hunt will continue through Oct. 30. 

Bear Management Unit (BMU)

Harvest objective for 2015 season

East Panhandle

40

North

100

Central

100

South

80

 Bear In Woods

License and permit requirements

Hunters will need a hunting license and a bear permit ($100 for residents; $300 for nonresidents).  Youth, seniors and disabled persons who are interested in hunting bears will also need to buy a bear permit.  Only those who have a Florida lifetime hunting license purchased before July 1, 1998, are exempt from paying for the permit, but they still must have the permit to hunt bear.  The bear permits go on sale Aug. 3, and the last day you can purchase one is Oct. 23.

If you are hunting on a WMA, you also will need a management area permit.  And depending on the WMA and what other season may be overlapping the bear season, you may also need a quota permit, and/or an archery or muzzleloading gun permit.

All licenses and permits can be purchased at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, county tax collectors’ offices and most retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing supplies.

Legal methods of take for bears 

  • Shooting hours are the same as for most game animals – a half-hour before sunrise until a half-hour after sunset.
  • Bows and crossbows may be used.  Bows must have minimum draw weights of 35 pounds.  All arrows and bolts must be equipped with broadheads having at least two sharpened edges with minimum widths of 7/8 inch.
  • Muzzleloaders – Guns must be at least .40-caliber if firing a single bullet.  Guns must be at least 20-gauge if firing multiple balls.
  • Rifles, pistols and revolvers – Must use centerfire rounds.  No rimfire cartridges or full metal jacket ammunition is allowed.  It is illegal to use semi-automatic rifles that have magazine capacities of more than 5 rounds.
  • Shotguns – No restrictions.
  • It is prohibited to use fully automatic firearms.
  • Dogs may not be used to hunt bears, however, you may use a leashed dog to blood trail and help find a bear that has been shot.
  • It is prohibited to shoot a bear while moving under power of a vehicle or vessel, or to herd or drive bears with vehicles/vessels.
  • Like when hunting any game animal, recorded game calls or sounds may not be used.

Baiting and feeding

  • The use of bait or feed for any wildlife is prohibited on WMAs. This does not include scented sprays or aerosols and scent powders.
  • On private lands, feeding stations intended to feed game animals other than bears are allowed.  In BMU’s that are open to bear hunting, there are additional restrictions on what type of feed can be used in game feeding stations:
    • No processed food products may be used. This does not include scented sprays or aerosols and scent powders.
    • Only pelletized feeds, flavored corns or other grains and mineral or vitamin supplements specifically and exclusively produced or marketed for feeding deer and hogs may be used.
    • For a bear to be legally taken, the hunter AND bear must both be at least 100 yards away from any feeding station when feed is present.

Minimum size requirement

You may take either sex, but the bear must weigh at least 100 pounds (live weight) and cannot be with any cubs (a cub is defined as a bear that is less than 100 pounds).

Bag limit

One bear per person for the season

Mandatory checking of harvested bears

Whether taken on private of public land, you must check your bear at any of the established bear check stations within 12 hours of recovering it.  You may field dress it, but do not remove evidence of sex, quarter, skin, or otherwise dismember it until you have checked your bear.  Most check stations are located so that no matter where you are hunting within the four open BMUs, you are about 30 miles or less from one. 

NOTE - The specific locations for each of these check stations will be made available before the hunt.

No selling of bear parts or hide

The sale (includes trade, barter and exchange) or purchase of bear meat or parts is prohibited, but you may keep or give away any of the parts, meat or hide.



FWC Facts:
To receive a no-cost Resident Disabled Person's Hunting and Fishing License, applicants must provide proof of being totally and permanently disabled.

Learn More at AskFWC