FAQs About Deer Hunting Rules
Licenses and Permits
To hunt during archery season, hunters must have a Florida hunting license, deer permit and an archery season permit. If hunting a wildlife management area, a management area permit is required. In addition, a quota hunt permit may be required to participate in designated hunts on select wildlife management areas.
To hunt during crossbow season, hunters must have a Florida hunting license, deer permit and a crossbow season permit. On most wildlife management areas, only those with a Persons With Disabilities Crossbow Permit are allowed to use crossbows during archery season and a management area permit also is required (review the WMA regulations brochure for the area you want to hunt).
To hunt during muzzleloading gun season, hunters must have a Florida hunting license, deer permit and a muzzleloading gun permit. If hunting a wildlife management area, a management area permit is required. In addition, a quota hunt permit may be required to participate in designated hunts on select wildlife management areas.
To hunt during general gun season, hunters must have a Florida hunting license and a deer permit. If hunting a wildlife management area, a management area permit is required. In addition, a quota hunt permit may be required to participate in designated hunts on select wildlife management areas.
Hunters can buy licenses and permits at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, through the Fish|Hunt Florida mobile app, at a county tax collector’s office, at retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing supplies, or by calling 888-HUNT-FLORIDA.
Hunters can apply for limited entry/quota hunts at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com by logging in and choosing “Apply for Limited Entry/Quota Permit” or by completing an application worksheet and presenting it to any license agent or tax collector's office.
The annual statewide bag limit is 5 deer per hunter of which no more than 2 deer can be antlerless (any deer, except a spotted fawn, without antlers or whose antlers are less than five inches in length). The annual statewide bag limit for deer applies to all hunters, including those exempt from hunting license/permit requirements (hunters 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).
An antlerless deer is any deer, except a spotted fawn, without antlers or whose antlers are less than five inches in length.
An antlered deer is any deer having one or more antlers at least five inches in length.
The annual statewide bag limit was developed through extensive collaboration with staff and stakeholders and aligns with the goals and objectives outlined in the Commission-approved strategic plan for deer management. This adaptive approach to deer management is intended to improve hunting opportunities, by encouraging harvest among more hunters as well as promoting greater selectivity, while helping maintain a healthy and reasonably balanced deer herd.
The annual statewide bag limit includes the combined total of all deer harvested on private lands and public lands, which includes public hunting areas (e.g., wildlife management areas) in all four hunting zones. The limit also includes deer harvested under permits issued for public hunting areas (quota, special opportunity, antlerless, track vehicle, airboat, recreational use permits, etc.) and during any and all seasons (e.g., archery, crossbow, muzzleloading gun, and general gun).
Youth (15 years and younger) have their own, individual bag limit, and it may include only 1 antlered deer (any deer having one or more antlers at least five inches in length) that does not meet Deer Management Unit antler regulations.
The possession limit is 4 and the daily bag is as follows:
- Two (2) antlered deer during the general gun, crossbow (last 5 days), muzzleloading gun or archery/muzzleloading gun seasons.
- One (1) antlered and 1 antlerless deer or 2 antlered deer during the antlerless deer season.
- Two (2) antlerless deer, or 2 antlered deer, or 1 antlered and 1 antlerless deer during the archery and crossbow (except the last 5 days).
IMPORTANT: On public hunting areas, hunters are required to adhere to bag limits and other regulations specific to the area they are hunting.
Deer harvested under a Private Lands Deer Management Program permit are excluded from annual statewide bag, daily bag and possession limits. Hunters who harvest deer under this permit must comply with harvest reporting requirements.
Antlerless deer harvested under the Antlerless Deer Program permit are excluded from annual statewide bag, daily bag and possession limits. Hunters who harvest antlerless deer under these permits must comply with harvest reporting requirements.
Deer harvested on licensed game farms and hunting preserves are also excluded from annual statewide bag, daily bag and possession limits. In addition, harvest reporting requirements do not apply to deer harvested on licensed game farms or hunting preserves.
The harvest of non-native deer and road-killed deer are excluded from annual statewide bag, daily bag and possession limits. In addition, harvest reporting requirements do not apply to harvested non-native deer or road-killed deer.
No. Antlerless deer (any deer, except a spotted fawn, without antlers or whose antlers are less than five inches in length) may only be harvested: 1) when they are legal to take, such as during archery season, and on antlerless deer days or under permit i.e., antlerless deer permit issued on land in the wildlife management area system, Antlerless Deer Program Permit, or Private Lands Deer Management Program Permit.
Logging and Reporting Harvested Deer
Hunters have the following options for logging and reporting harvested deer:
Option A – Log and Report (Steps 1 and 2) on a mobile device with the FWC Fish|Hunt Florida App or at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com prior to moving the deer.
Option B – Log (Step 1) on a paper deer harvest log prior to moving the deer and then report (Step 2) at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or Fish|Hunt Florida App or calling 888-HUNT-FLORIDA (888-486-8356) within 24 hours.
All persons must comply with harvest reporting requirements including hunters under 16 years of age, resident hunters 65 years and older, those who possess a Florida Resident Disabled Person's Hunting and Fishing License, military personnel home on leave for 30 days or less, and those hunting on their homestead in their county of residence.
Learn how to log and report harvested deer.
New Rules to Protect Florida Deer from Chronic Wasting Disease
If you're planning to hunt outside of Florida, be aware of rule changes that prohibit importing or possessing whole carcasses or high-risk parts of deer, elk, moose, caribou and all other species of the deer family originating from any place outside of Florida.
Under these rules, people may import into Florida:
- De-boned meat
- Finished taxidermy mounts
- Clean hides and antlers
- Skulls, skull caps and teeth if all soft tissue has been removed
The only exception to this rule is deer harvested from a property in Georgia or Alabama can be imported into Florida if the property is bisected by the Florida state line and is under the same ownership. See this infographic about the new rules.
These rules go into effect July 1, 2021, and replace FWC Executive Order 19-41. The new rules do NOT include the permit option allowed under FWC Executive Order 19-41 to import whole deer or high-risk parts from properties in Georgia or Alabama provided certain requirements are met.
These rule changes continue the FWC’s work to protect Florida’s deer populations by reducing the risk of chronic wasting disease spreading into the state. CWD has not been detected in Florida.
Clean hides or capes of deer, elk, moose, caribou and other members of the deer family harvested outside of Florida may be imported into Florida if the skull has been removed. Hides do not need to be scraped prior to being imported into the state.
A cape is the length of hide from the nose of the animal to just behind the front shoulders.
Beginning July 1, 2021, dogs pursuing deer, wild hog, fox or coyote must have collars equipped and monitored with devices that allow remote tracking (GPS or telemetry). This rule change, which was requested by dog hunters, requires theses device(s) be attached by a collar or similar means.
Per rule 68A-12.007, removing, tampering, or otherwise interfering with any collar or tag (including remote tracking devices and behavior correction collars) of a dog used for hunting without the owner’s permission is prohibited. Violating this rule is a second degree misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $500.
On July 1, 2022, an additional corrective device will also be required on the collars of such hunting dogs.
Allowed Methods of Take on Lands Outside of the WMA System
The following methods of take apply to lands outside of the wildlife management system (WMA) system. Also, see 2021-2022 season dates and bag limits for lands outside of the WMA system.
- Archery season — Only bows may be used.
- Crossbow season — Only crossbows and bows may be used.
- Muzzleloading gun season — Only muzzleloaders fired by wheel lock, flintlock, percussion cap or centerfire primer (including 209 primers) and crossbows and bows may be used. Muzzleloading guns designed to allow accelerant (gun powder) to be loaded at the breech may be used during muzzleloading gun seasons.
- General gun season — Centerfire rifles, shotguns, centerfire pistols, muzzleloaders, precharged pneumatic air guns, crossbows and bows may be used.
NOTE: For WMA regulations, please see the specific WMA brochure for the area you're interesed in hunting because season dates, shooting hours and other regulations can vary.
All people hunting deer on public lands or accompanying someone hunting deer on public lands must wear a minimum of 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange material as an outer garment. Hunter orange clothing must be worn above the waistline and can include a head covering. This rule does not apply during an archery-only season, or when hunting on private lands at any time.
Antlerless Deer Permit Program
The Antlerless Deer Permit Program is intended to provide flexibility in managing deer populations. Tag issuance rates will be set by Deer Management Unit and are designed to allow sustainable harvests while minimizing overharvest of antlerless deer, particularly females, on permitted lands. Additionally, harvest information provided by antlerless deer permittees will help improve the FWC’s science-based deer management decisions.
An antlerless deer is any deer, except a spotted fawn, without antlers or whose antlers are less than five inches in length.
All antlerless deer taken on lands enrolled in the Antlerless Deer Permit Program must be tagged with an issued antlerless deer tag, even if they are harvested on a day when the take of antlerless deer is otherwise allowed within the zone in which the enrolled lands are located (e.g., archery season). In addition, they must be recorded on the harvest log of and reported to the FWC’s harvest reporting system by the hunter who harvested the deer. After the season ends, permittees must report the total number of antlerless deer (any deer, except a spotted fawn, without antlers or whose antlers are less than five inches in length) taken on his or her enrolled properties by April 1.
The application periods for 2021-2022 permits and associated tags are as follows:
Zone A: May 15 – July 19, 2021
Zone B: May 15 – Oct. 4, 2021
Zone C: May 15 – Aug. 30, 2021
Zone D: May 15 – Oct. 11, 2021
Learn more about the Antlerless Deer Permit Program.
No. The Antlerless Deer Permit Program only allows taking antlerless deer during the established deer hunting season on the property identified in the permit as specified in the conditions of the permit.
Only youth 15-years-old and younger who are supervised by an adult (18 years or older) can participate in a youth deer hunt weekend. This Saturday-Sunday youth deer hunt coincides with the muzzleloading gun season in all four hunting zones and is not available on wildlife management areas. Youth are allowed to harvest 1 antlered or antlerless deer (except spotted fawn), and the deer counts toward the annual bag limit. Youth only are allowed to use any method of take legal for deer including the use of dogs to pursue deer (only allowed on deer dog registered properties).
No license or permit is required of youth hunters (15-years-old and younger) or accompanying adults (18 years or older) who only supervise. If adult supervisors or any persons 16 years of age or older participate in the hunt, they are required to have a hunting license, deer permit and muzzleloading gun permit unless exempt. However, if youth hunters on the property are using dogs to pursue deer (only allowed on deer dog registered properties), anyone 16 years of age or older may not take or attempt to take deer.
Zone A: Sept. 11-12, 2021
Zone B: Nov. 27-28, 2021
Zone C: Oct. 30-31, 2021
Zone D: Dec. 4-5, 2021
Providing these Youth Deer Hunt opportunities early in the season is expected to provide youth a better hunting experience when more deer are available and hunting pressure is relatively low.
Yes. Since the youth hunt coincides with muzzleloading gun seasons, supervising adults and other non-youth also may hunt but must use either a muzzleloader, bow or crossbow, and possess a hunting license, deer permit and muzzleloading gun permit unless exempt. However, if youth hunters on the property are using dogs to pursue deer (only allowed on deer dog registered properties), anyone 16 years of age or older may not take or attempt to take deer.
Youth 15-years-old and younger may harvest only 1 antlered deer (any deer having one or more antlers at least five inches in length) annually that does not meet antler point regulations for the deer management unit being hunted, and it counts toward the youth’s annual bag limit.
Public Hunting Opportunities
Florida has one of the largest WMA systems in the country at 6 million acres and offers a wide range of hunting opportunities from quota hunts, special-opportunity hunts, and areas you can hunt without a quota permit. The FWC also issues permits for recreational hunting on several U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges in Florida.
To find public hunting opportunities, including areas where quota permit isn’t needed, visit MyFWC.com/WMAbrochures.
NOTE: Before visiting a wildlife management area (WMA), always check the WMA's open/closed status.
The FWC’s WMA Finder is an online tool you can use to search for wildlife management areas by location, season, species, and type of hunt (youth, family or mobility-impaired). If you know which WMA regulations brochure you want to review, search by "specific area" and use the drop-down menu to navigate directly to that area’s brochure.
Get other tips for using WMA Finder by watching the video tutorial. Also, learn how to use Avenza Maps,* a free mobile app that lets you to track your location in real-time on FWC’s wildlife management area maps.
WMA regulations brochures and maps are only available online and access to WMA regulations brochures is through the WMA Finder only. Users can take brochures and maps with them, even to places internet access isn’t available, by taking a screenshot with their smartphone, downloading the files to their mobile device or printing them.
Before visiting a wildlife management area (WMA), always check the WMA's open/closed status.
*DISCLAIMER: Graphical representations of WMA maps in the Avenza App are provided for informational purposes and should not be considered authoritative for navigational, engineering, legal, and other uses.
People born after May 31, 1975, are required to complete a state certified hunter safety class before they can buy the type of hunting license that allows them to legally hunt unsupervised in Florida.
Hunter safety courses are designed to help students become safe, responsible and knowledgeable hunters and learn about conservation.
Find hunter safety course options.