White-tailed Deer Management Program
About White-tailed Deer in Florida
White-tailed deer management in Florida is a conservation success story. By the 1930s deer were absent from much of Florida, however, today they are found throughout the state thanks to science-based wildlife and habitat management.
White-tailed deer are the most popular game species in Florida. In addition to being valued by hunters, deer are appreciated by hikers, wildlife photographers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.
FWC’s Hunting and Game Management Division applies scientific expertise to manage Florida’s hunting activities and associated wildlife resources, ensuring that conservation objectives are met and hunting opportunities are sustainable. FWC also provides training and information to encourage safe, responsible hunting.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has partnered with University of Georgia to conduct a large-scale white-tailed deer research project in South Florida. The research investigates several aspects of deer ecology in Big Cypress National Preserve and Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. To learn more about the project please visit the South Florida Deer Research Project website.
Deer Breeding Chronology Study
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) has been collecting biological data since 2009 from white-tailed deer to estimate the breeding dates for deer across the state. These data have been used to inform management decisions regarding hunting season dates and location of zonal lines. In addition, the data provides local information on peak breeding, something that is of interest to white-tail enthusiasts. In the northern U.S., the duration of the breeding season (or rut) is short and there is little variation from area to area. Breeding occurs in the fall, and fawning occurs in the spring. In the southeast, with mild winters and long growing season, the timing of fawning is not as critical and deer breeding activity is more variable.
However, Florida has more variability in breeding than any other state -- from July in southern Florida to February in northwest Florida. During this ongoing study, FWC biologists have documented breeding to occur in every single month except May. FWC will continue to collect breeding chronology data as needed. Maps are updated as additional information is collected.