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Hunting Rule Changes

Hunting Rule Changes for 2021-2022

At the February 2021 meeting, the Commission approved 2021-2022 rule changes related to hunting and FWC-managed areas. See an overview of the rule changes below. Most rules will take effect July 1, 2021.

Rule changes are based on requests from staff, cooperators and stakeholders. The FWC seeks input on proposed changes throughout the rulemaking process to achieve regulations based in hunter preference and sound science to ensure sustainability. Learn more about the rulemaking process.

Summary of Hunting Rule Changes

68A-1.004 Definitions

  1. Bows, Minimum Draw Weight – removes the minimum draw weight requirement for bows when taking game.
  2. Muzzleloading Gun Definition – muzzleloading guns designed to allow accelerant (gun powder) to be loaded at the breech may be used during muzzleloading gun seasons.
  3. Common Moorhen/Common Gallinule – changes all references of “common moorhen” to “common gallinule.”

68A-13.001 Open Season for Taking Game; Bag and Possession Limits – allows free-ranging, unprotected non-native deer of either sex to be harvested without antler, bag and possession limitations during established seasons for taking deer. 

68A-13.004 Hunting Regulations for Non-Migratory Game and Issuance of Antlerless Deer Permits and Private Lands Deer Management Permits – during the youth deer hunt weekend, adult supervisors are allowed to participate in the youth deer hunt provided the adult supervisors do not take wildlife with a gun except according to muzzleloading gun season regulations. 

68A-13.008 Hunting Regulations for Migratory Birds Other than Ducks and Coots – changes all references of “common moorhen” in 68A to “common gallinule.”

 68A-15.004 General Regulations Relating to Wildlife Management Areas – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during established small game seasons, but only on WMAs where hunting with centerfire rifles is already allowed during other seasons, and except as otherwise specified by area-specific rule. This rule change does not apply to areas where hunting with centerfire rifles is currently prohibited.

 68A-15.006 Regulations Relating to Miscellaneous Areas – adjusts how season dates are described to better conform to calendar year changes on miscellaneous areas and adjusts specific area regulations regarding centerfire rifles during small game season in response to changes in rule 68A-15.004, F.A.C.

68A-4.0053 Importation and Possession of Carcasses from Species in the Family of Cervidae – prohibits importing or possessing whole carcasses and certain parts thereof of any species in the family Cervidae (deer family) originating from any place outside of Florida except for de-boned meat; finished taxidermy mounts; antlers; hides; and skulls, skull caps, and teeth if all soft tissue has been removed. Exempt from these carcass importation and possession limits are white-tailed deer legally harvested from any property in Georgia or Alabama that is bisected by the Florida state line and under the same ownership. This rule replaces requirements as established by Executive Order 19-41.

Northwest Region

68A-15.063 Specific regulations for Wildlife Management Areas – adjusts how season dates are described to better conform to calendar year changes, adjusts specific area regulations regarding the use of centerfire rifles during small game season in response to changes in rule 68A-15.004, F.A.C., and revises specific area regulations on wildlife management areas (WMAs) in the Northwest Region as follows:

Aucilla WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Apalachicola WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Apalachicola WMA, Bradwell Unit – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Beaverdam Creek WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Blackwater WMA - removes quota requirement for each of the four 2-day Field Trial Area quail hunts; and change the four 2-day quail hunts in the Field Trial Area from 2 consecutive hunts every other week in February to one hunt weekly during February; and adjusts dog collar rules conflicting with 68A-12.007.

Blackwater WMA, Hutton Unit – shifts the September wild hog-dog hunt to occur the second weekend of the month each year (instead of the third weekend) to avoid overlapping with dove field hunts.

Box-R WMA – establishes a bag limit of 1 antlerless deer per quota permit during archery season; establishes that mourning and white-winged dove may be hunted each Saturday and Sunday during Phase 1 of mourning and white-winged dove season; and allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Chipola River WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season except in the Hayes Spring Run and Waddell Mill Creek areas.

Choctawatchee River WMA – removes all check station requirements during spring turkey season; and allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Econfina Creek WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Econfina Creek WMA, Fitzhugh Carter Tract – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Escambia River WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Escribano Point WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Flint Rock WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Joe Budd WMA – establishes that mourning and white-winged dove may be hunted the first and second Saturdays during Phase 1 of mourning and white-winged dove season.

Lafayette Creek WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Perdido River WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Plank Road WMA – prohibits public access during the mobility-impaired general gun hunt except for individuals permitted to participate in the hunt (including guest hunter and non-hunting assistant); and during the mobility-impaired general gun hunt allows mobility-impaired hunters to harvest antlerless deer (1 antlerless deer per quota permit).

Point Washington WMA – changes reference of “common moorhen” to “common gallinule.”

Yellow River WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

North Central Region

68A-15.062 Specific regulations for Wildlife Management Areas – adjusts season dates to conform to calendar year changes, adjusts how some season dates are described to better conform to calendar year changes, and revises specific area regulations on wildlife management areas (WMAs) in the North Central Region as follows:

Andrews WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Belmore WMA – allows the use of any dog to hunt small game (quail, rabbit, squirrel and migratory birds) during small game season.

Big Bend WMA, Hickory Mound Unit – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Big Bend WMA, Jena Unit – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season; allows the use of dogs for hunting wild hog during the first 9 days of general gun season; and removes the 17-inch shoulder height requirement for dogs used to hunt deer.

Big Bend WMA, Snipe Island Unit – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Big Bend WMA, Spring Creek Unit – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Big Bend WMA, Tide Swamp Unit – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season; allows the use of any dog to hunt small game (quail, rabbit, squirrel and migratory birds) during small game season.

Citrus WMA – establishes that part of Withlacoochee State Forest that lies south of County Road 480, north of U.S. 98 and west of the power line (1,000 acres) as part of Citrus WMA and allows hunting there only during small game season (quail, rabbit, squirrel and migratory bird hunting only) and youth turkey and spring turkey seasons.

Devil’s Hammock WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Grove Park WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season; prohibits vehicle access on Prison Farm, Ivey and Johnson Roads by persons not in possession of a Grove Park WMA Recreational Use Permit.

Gulf Hammock WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Jennings Forest WMA – allows the use of any dog to hunt small game (quail, rabbit, squirrel and migratory birds) during small game season.

Little River WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Log Landing WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Mallory Swamp WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Middle Aucilla WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Osceola WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season only on the U.S. Forest Service-managed portion of the area.

PotashCorp, White Springs WMA – changes area name from PotashCorp – White Springs WMA to Nutrien – White Springs WMA.

Potts WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Steinhatchee Springs WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Northeast Region

68A-15.065 Specific Regulations for Wildlife Management Areas – adjusts season dates to conform to calendar year changes, adjusts specific area regulations regarding the use of centerfire rifles during small game season in response to changes in rule 68A-15.004, F.A.C., adjusts how season dates are described to better conform to calendar year changes and revises specific area regulations on wildlife management areas (WMAs) in the Northeast Region as follows:

Bull Creek/Herky Huffman WMA – allows wild hog to be hunted during small game season; and prohibits the use of dogs for hunting wild hog during small game season.

Caravelle Ranch WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season; prohibits camping except in designated campsites from 8 a.m. one day prior to each established hunt through 6 p.m. one day after each established hunt (except dove hunts).

Gores Landing WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Guana River WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season; changes all references of “common moorhen” to “common gallinule.”

Half Moon WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season; shifts the January wild hog-still hunts 6 weeks earlier into December, shifts the December small game season into January, and allows wild hog to be hunted during small game season.

Herky Huffman/Bull Creek WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Lake Panasoffkee WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season; changes the wild hog-still hunt into a small game hunt; allows wild hog to be hunted during small game season; prohibits the use of dogs for hunting wild hog during small game season; and shifts the small game hunts 4 weeks earlier to better overlap the waterfowl season.

Little Big Econ WMA – allows vehicular access through the Winding River Lane entrance during the September duck season.

Matanzas WMA – removes the quota requirement for the wild hog-still season.

Ocala WMA – removes the requirement that no deer or turkey shall be dismembered or transported out of the hunt area until checked at a check station.

Salt Lake WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Three Lakes WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Three Lakes WMA, Prairie Lakes Unit – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Triple N Ranch WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Southwest Region

68A-15.061 Specific regulations for Wildlife Management Areas – adjusts how season dates are described to better conform to calendar year changes, adjusts specific area regulations regarding the use of centerfire rifles during small game season in response to changes in rule 68A-15.004 F.A.C., and revises specific area regulations on wildlife management areas (WMAs) in the Southwest Region as follows:

Arbuckle WMA – allows the use of any dog to hunt small game (quail, rabbit, squirrel and migratory game) during small game season; and removes 15-inch shoulder height restriction for dogs used for hunting.

Avon Park Air Force Range WMA – prohibits hunting equipment except from 8 a.m. seven days prior to the opening of archery season until 6 p.m. seven days following the close of general gun season, unless otherwise authorized by the Installation Commander or a designee.

Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Everglades Headwaters WMA, Hatchineha Unit – shifts small game season to open the weekend following the close of general gun season; and allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Green Swamp WMA – allows camping at the Rock Ridge Road campground during small game season; and allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Green Swamp WMA, West Unit – shifts the special-opportunity general gun hunts two weeks earlier to open the first and third Thursdays in January and the first Thursday in February; schedules each of the three 4-day hunts Thursday through Sunday; and allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Hickory Hammock WMA – allows the use of any dog to hunt small game (quail, rabbit, squirrel and migratory game) during small game season; and establishes two 5-day wild hog-still hunts (one in late April and one in late May) and removes the three existing 3-day wild hog-still hunts (two in September and one in January). The April and May wild hog-still hunts will run concurrently with the adjacent Kissimmee River Public Use Area wild-hog dog season.

Hilochee WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Hilochee WMA, Osprey Unit – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

KICCO WMA – removes quota requirement for wild hog-still hunts; allows the use of any dog to hunt small game (quail, rabbit, squirrel and migratory game) during small game season; and establishes two 5-day wild hog-still hunts (one in late April and one in late May). The April and May wild hog-still hunts will run concurrently with the adjacent Kissimmee River Public Use Area wild-hog dog season.

Lake Marion Creek WMA – allows the use of any dog to hunt small game (quail, rabbit, squirrel and migratory game) during small game season.

Orange Hammock WMA – establishes open seasons and regulations for a new WMA (5,777 acres) in Sarasota County as follows:

Seasons:

  • Archery: 9-day season (three 3-day hunts, 15 no-cost, quota permits for each hunt, no exemptions)
  • Muzzleloading gun: 3-day season (15 no-cost, quota permits, no exemptions)
  • Mobility-impaired general gun: 2-day hunt (8 no-cost, quota permits, no exemptions)
  • General gun: 6-day season (two 3-day hunts, 15 no-cost, quota permits for each hunt, no exemptions)
  • Small game: 18-day season (six 3-day hunts, no quota)
  • Youth turkey: 2-day hunt (5 no-cost, quota permits, no exemptions)
  • Spring turkey: 9-day season (three 3-day hunts, 5 no-cost, quota permits for each hunt, no exemptions)
  • Fishing and frogging: allowed year-round
  • Trapping: prohibited

Legal to Hunt:

  • Allows hunting of all legal game, turkey (gobbler or bearded turkeys only), fish, frogs, and furbearers
  • Deer bag limit will be 1 antlered deer per quota permit except during the mobility impaired hunt when the bag limit for deer will be 1 antlered or one antlerless deer per permit (only mobility-impaired hunters may take antlerless deer)
  • Turkey bag limit will be 1 per day during archery season and 1 per quota permit during the youth turkey hunt and spring turkey season
  • Prohibits the harvest of antlered deer not having at least 1 antler with 3 or more points or a 10-inch main beam
  • Prohibits the harvest of antlerless deer during archery season
  • Allows take of turkey during archery, youth turkey, and spring turkey seasons only (gobbler or bearded turkeys only)
  • Allows take of wild hog during small game season and all quota hunts (except youth and spring turkey) with no bag limits or size restrictions
  • Allows 1 antlered deer per quota permit during the archery, muzzleloading gun and general gun seasons
  • Allows 1 antlered or 1 antlerless deer per quota permit during the mobility-impaired hunt (only mobility-impaired hunters may take antlerless deer)
  • Allows 1 turkey per day during archery season and 1 turkey per quota permit during the youth turkey and spring turkey season

General Area Rules:

  • Allows public access from 1.5 hours before sunrise to 1.5 hours after sunset
  • Allows access by foot, horseback, or bicycle, except that vehicular access is allowed only on Main Grade to Parking Area 3 during non-quota hunt periods
  • Allows vehicle access on Main Grade south of Parking Area 3 for authorized hunters and their guests only, from 5 hours before sunrise to 1.5 hours after sunset one day prior to and during each archery, muzzleloading gun, mobility-impaired general gun hunt, general gun hunt and from 4:30 a.m. until one hour after sunset during spring turkey hunts
  • Prohibits the use of tracked vehicles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), swamp buggies, recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs) or unlicensed and unregistered motorcycles, except ATVs and ROVs may be used by certified mobility-impaired hunters during the mobility-impaired hunt
  • Allows entry into and exit from the area at designated entrances only
  • Allows hunting equipment on the area 8 a.m. one day before each hunt and removed by the last day of each hunt
  • Prohibits horses during periods open to hunting
  • Allows horses only on named and numbered roads and designated trails
  • Allows bicycle access on Main Grade and designated trails only
  • Restricts access to certified mobility-impaired hunters and their guests during the mobility-impaired hunt
  • Requires mobility-impaired hunters to attend a pre-hunt orientation meeting
  • Prohibits hunting with dogs except any dog may be used to hunt small game (gray squirrel, quail, rabbit and migratory birds) during small game season
  • Prohibits hunting deer and wild hog with dogs
  • Prohibits camping

Walk in the Water WMA – allows the use of any dog to hunt small game (quail, rabbit, squirrel and migratory game) during small game season; and removes 15-inch shoulder height restriction for dogs used for hunting.

South Region

68A-15.064 Specific Regulations for Wildlife Management Areas – adjusts how season dates are described to better conform to calendar year changes, adjusts specific area regulations regarding the use of centerfire rifles during small game season in response to changes in rule 68A-15.004, F.A.C., and revises specific area regulations on wildlife management areas (WMAs) in the South Region as follows:

 Big Cypress WMA, Corn Dance Unit – establishes that only deer having at least one antler with 4 or more points can be harvested; and establishes a bag limit for deer of 1 annually (all seasons combined) in Corn Dance, Loop, and Stairsteps units (all units combined). 

  • These changes regarding the antler point restriction and bag limit for the Corn Dance Unit are consistent with existing deer hunting regulations within the Stairsteps and Loop units.
  • These conservation measures are necessary based on the declining deer population as shown by trends in harvest data within this portion of Big Cypress WMA.

Big Cypress WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season except in the Deep Lake, Corn Dance, Loop, and Stairsteps units; allows wild hog to be hunted during small game season; removes the 15-inch shoulder height restriction for wild hog; removes the bag limit for wild hog; and eliminates the check station pass requirement.

Dinner Island Ranch WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season; allows wild hog to be dismembered before checking at the check station; removes the bag limit for wild hog; shifts the first family hunt to occur on the opening weekend of the zonal antlered deer season; and shifts each of the three 3-day general gun hunts to occur 1 week later.

Everglades and Francis S. Taylor WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Everglades Headwaters WMA, Kissimmee Bend Unit – establishes open seasons and regulations for a new WMA (3,992 acres) in Okeechobee County as follows: 

Seasons:

  • Archery:  16-day season (four 4-day hunts, 10 no-cost, quota permits for each hunt, no exemptions)
  • Muzzleloading gun:  3-day season (10 no-cost, quota permits, no exemptions)
  • Family hunt:  3-day hunt (5 no-cost, quota permits, no exemptions)
  • General gun:  6-day season (two 3-day hunts, 10 no-cost, quota permits for each hunt, no exemptions)
  • Small game season: opening the day after the last day of general gun season and closing the first Sunday in March (no quota)
  • Youth turkey:  2-day hunt (5 no-cost, quota permits, no exemptions)
  • Spring turkey:  9-day season (three 3-day hunts, 5 no-cost, quota permits for each hunt, no exemptions)
  • Fishing and frogging:  allowed year-round

Legal to Hunt:

  • Allows hunting of all legal game, turkey (gobbler or bearded turkeys only), fish, frogs, and furbearers (excluding bobcat and otter)
  • The bag limit for deer will be 1 antlered deer per quota permit except during the family hunt when the bag limit will be 2 antlered deer per quota permit but no more than 1 per person
  • The bag limit for turkey will be 1 per quota permit
  • Prohibits the harvest of antlered deer not having at least 1 antler with 3 or more points or a 10-inch main beam (except by persons less than 16 years of age)
  • Prohibits the harvest of antlerless deer
  • Allows take of turkey during archery, youth turkey, and spring turkey seasons only (gobbler or bearded turkeys only)
  • Allows take of wild hog during small game season and all quota hunts (except youth and spring turkey) with no bag limits or size restrictions

General Area Rules:

  • All persons must enter and exit the area at a designated entrance
  • Allow public access year-round except during quota hunts when public access is prohibited except for persons participating in a hunt and their guests
  • Vehicular access is prohibited except licensed and permitted hunters and their guests may operate licensed and registered vehicles on designated roads and trails beginning 15 days prior to the opening of archery season and ending the day after spring turkey season ends
  • Airboats, off-highway vehicles, swamp buggies, and tracked vehicles are prohibited except during quota hunts when only persons participating in a hunt may operate all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs), and swamp buggies only on designated roads and trails
  • Prohibits hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season
  • Hunting with dogs is prohibited, except bird dogs and retrievers may be used to hunt migratory birds in season and any dog may be used to hunt small game (gray squirrel, migratory game, quail, and rabbits) during small game season
  • Allows camping by permit only and only in designated campsites

Fisheating Creek WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Holey Land WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

J.W. Corbett WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season; allows wild hog to be dismembered before checking at a check station; allows wild hog to be hunted during small game season; removes the bag limit for wild hog; and removes 20-inch shoulder height restriction for wild hog.

Okaloacoochee Slough WMA – in response to the establishment of 5,528 new acres into the WMA, increases the quota from 125 to 145 permits (for each archery, muzzleloading gun, and general gun hunt), from 40 to 45 permits for the family hunt, and from 50 to 55 for each spring turkey hunt; establishes a 2-day youth spring turkey hunt opening the last Saturday in February (10 no-cost, quota permits, no exemptions); and expands the small game season from 65 days to 121 days (opening the second Saturday in October and closing the first Sunday in February).

Picayune Strand WMA – removes the bag limit for wild hog; allows wild hog to be hunted during small game season; and prohibits public access from 1.5 hours after sunset until 1.5 hours before sunrise, except for permitted campers at designated campsites and individuals participating in a hunt during established seasons.

Rotenberger WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

Spirit-of-the-Wild WMA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season; allow wild hog to be dismembered before checking at the check station; and remove the bag limit for wild hog.

Wildlife and Environmental Areas

68A-17.005 Specific regulations for Wildlife and Environmental Areas – adjusts how season dates are described to better conform to calendar year changes, adjusts specific area regulations regarding the use of centerfire rifles during small game season in response to changes in rule 68A-17.004, F.A.C., and revises specific area regulations on wildlife and environmental areas (WEAs) as follows:

Southwest Region

  • Lake Wales Ridge WEA – allows each youth turkey quota permit holder to bring 1 additional non-hunting guest.

North Central Region

  • Fort White WEA – allows each youth turkey quota permit holder to bring 1 additional non-hunting guest.
  • Lafayette Forest WEA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.
  • Watermelon Pond WEA – allows camping on the Goethe State Forest portion of the area by permit from the Florida Forest Service.

Northwest Region

  • Apalachicola River WEA – allows hunting with centerfire rifles during small game season.

South Region

  • Southern Glades WEA – establishes that, for purposes other than hunting, dogs are allowed but must be kept under physical restraint at all times.
  • CREW WEA – allows only permitted hunters to use the designated entrance at Sand and Vincent roads.