This brochure is designed to provide the public with information and a summary of regulations pertaining to hunting and other recreational use on the Osceola Wildlife Management Area. Regulations that are new or differ substantially from last year are shown in bold print. Area users should familiarize themselves with all regulations. For exact wording of the wildlife laws and regulations, see the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s wildlife code, on file with the Secretary of State and state libraries. This brochure, the Florida Hunting Regulations handbook, and quota permit worksheets should provide the information necessary for you to plan your hunting activities. These publications are available at MyFWC.com.
Persons using wildlife management areas are required to have appropriate licenses, permits and stamps. The following persons are exempt from all license and permit requirements (except for quota permits when listed as “no exemptions,” recreational use permits, antlerless deer permits and the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp [federal duck stamp]): Florida residents who are 65 years of age or older; residents who possess a Florida Resident Disabled Person Hunting and Fishing Certificate; residents in the U.S. Armed Forces, not stationed in Florida, while home on leave for 30 days or less, upon submission of orders; and children under 16 years of age. Children under 16 years of age are exempt from the federal duck stamp. Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975 and 16 years of age or older must have passed a Commission-approved hunter-safety course prior to being issued a hunting license, except the Hunter Safety Mentoring exemption allows anyone to purchase a hunting license and hunt under the supervision of a licensed hunter, 21 years of age or older.
Licenses and permits may be purchased from county tax collectors, license agents, by telephone at 888-486-8356 or through the Commission's Recreational License Issuance Services (RLIS). A no-cost Migratory Bird Permit is available when purchasing a hunting license. Any waterfowl hunter 16 years of age or older must possess a federal duck stamp.
Quota Permit Information:
General Gun (first 9 days in the dog hunt area) - 900, no-cost, quota permits.
Permit applications: Hunters must submit electronic applications for quota permits through RLIS. Worksheets listing hunts, application periods, deadlines and instructions are available at county tax collector’s offices, FWC offices or MyFWC.com. Quota application periods occur throughout the year beginning April 1; please refer to the hunting handbook or MyFWC.com for specific dates. Worksheets will be available about 2 weeks prior to each application period.
Guest hunters: For each non-transferable archery, muzzleloading gun, general gun, wild hog, spring turkey and mobility-impaired quota permit issued through RLIS, a quota permit holder (host) may take a guest hunter by obtaining a guest permit. A guest hunter must possess a completed guest permit while hunting except the following persons may be a guest hunter without a guest permit: a youth under 16 years of age, a youth supervisor, a mentor license holder or a mentor license supervisor. A host may only bring 1 guest hunter at a time and may only use 1 guest permit per day. The following persons are not considered to be guest hunters: other quota permit holders, non-hunters and exempt hunters (on areas and during seasons that allow exemptions). The host must share the bag limit with the guest hunter and the host is responsible for violations that exceed the bag limit. The guest hunter and host must enter and exit the area together and must share a street-legal vehicle while hunting on the area; ATVs may be ridden independently. The guest hunter may hunt only while the host is on the area. Refer to the quota hunt worksheets for additional information.
Youth and mentor license holders: A supervisor is required to accompany a youth or mentor license holder during any hunt. A youth hunter (less than 16 years of age) must be supervised by a person at least 18 years of age. A mentor license holder must be supervised by a licensed hunter at least 21 years of age. Unless exempt, only those supervisors with proper licenses and permits may hunt. If the supervisor is hunting during any hunt for which quota permits are issued, at least 1 person in the party must be in possession of a quota permit. During a hunt that allows exemptions, a non-exempt supervisor of a youth must have a quota permit to hunt.
Transfer of permits: Quota and guest permits are not transferable. A positive form of identification is required when using a non-transferable permit, except for a youth under 16 years of age. The sale or purchase of any quota permit or guest permit is prohibited.
All general laws and regulations relating to wildlife and fish shall apply unless specifically exempted for this area. Hunting or the taking of wildlife or fish on this area shall be allowed only during the open seasons and in accordance with the following regulations:
- Any person hunting deer or accompanying another person hunting deer shall wear at least 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent-orange material as an outer garment, above the waistline. These provisions are not required when hunting with a bow and arrow during archery season.
- Taking of spotted fawn, swimming deer or roosted turkey is prohibited.
- It is illegal to hunt over bait or place any bait or other food for wildlife on this area.
- Driving a metal object into any tree, or hunting from a tree into which a metal object has been driven, is prohibited.
- No person shall cut, damage or remove any natural, man-made or cultural resource without written authorization of the landowner or primary land manager.
- Taking or attempting to take any game with the aid of live decoys, recorded game calls or sounds, set guns, artificial light, net, trap, snare, drug or poison is prohibited. Recorded calls and sounds can be used to hunt furbearers, wild hog and crows.
- The wanton and willful waste of wildlife is prohibited.
- Hunting, fishing or trapping is prohibited on any portion of the area posted as closed to those activities.
- People, dogs, vehicles and other recreational equipment are prohibited in areas posted as “Closed to Public Access” by FWC administrative action.
- Taking or herding wildlife from any motorized vehicle, aircraft or boat, which is under power is prohibited until power, and movement from that power, has ceased.
- Most game may be hunted from ½ hour before sunrise until ½ hour after sunset (see exceptions for each season).
- The release of any animal is prohibited, except by permit from FWC or written authorization from the landowner or primary land manager.
- The head and evidence of sex may not be removed from the carcass of any deer or turkey on the area.
- The planting or introduction of any non-native plant is prohibited, without written authorization of the landowner or primary land manager.
- Wild hog may not be transported alive.
- A hunting license is not required to hunt wild hog.
- Littering is prohibited.
- It is unlawful to set fire to any forest, grass or woodlands.
- An FWC Law Enforcement Officer may search any camp, vehicle or boat, in accordance with law.
- Falconers may hunt during the statewide falconry season anytime a management area is open for public access. Falconers are not exempt from quota permits during hunts requiring them.
- Open to public access year round.
- Motorized vehicles and bicycles are allowed only on designated, named or numbered roads and mixed-use roads, except all-terrain vehicles and unlicensed and unregistered vehicles (including motorcycles) are allowed only on designated motorized trails and mixed-use roads. See the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Motor Vehicle Use Map for Osceola National Forest at www.fs.usda.gov/osceola. All-terrain vehicles and unlicensed and unregistered vehicles are prohibited on John M. Bethea State Forest.
- Parked vehicles may not obstruct a road, gate or firelane.
- No motor vehicle shall be operated in areas designated as closed to vehicular traffic.
- A marked footpath called the Florida Trail traverses the area. This trail is open to hikers throughout the year.
- Hunting equipment may not be taken onto the WMA until after 8 a.m. the day before the opening of a season and shall be removed by 6 p.m. 1 day after the end of the season.
- All deer harvested must be reported to the harvest reporting system within 24 hours of harvest. See Florida Hunting Regulations handbook for deer harvest reporting instructions.
- Hunting on or from the rights-of-way of Interstate 10, and County Roads 250, 250A, 229, 127, 125, McCloskey Avenue and State Road 2 is prohibited.
- Hunting at night with a gun is prohibited (see exception for fox, raccoon, opossum and bobcat season).
- Muzzleloading guns used for hunting deer must be .30 caliber or larger, if firing a single bullet, or be 20 gauge or larger if firing 2 or more balls.
- Hunting deer with rimfire or non-expanding, full metal jacket (military ball) ammunition is prohibited.
- Hunting wildlife (other than migratory birds) with air guns is allowed. See Florida Hunting Regulations handbook for details.
- Hunting deer with air guns is prohibited, except pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air guns propelling a bolt, arrow or bullet .30 caliber or larger are allowed.
- Hunting turkey with air guns is prohibited, except PCP air guns propelling a bolt or arrow are allowed.
- Children under the age of 16 hunting with a firearm or air gun must be in the presence of a supervising adult.
- No person shall discharge a firearm or have a loaded firearm in hand while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- For hunting non-migratory game, only shotguns, rifles, pistols, air guns, bows, crossbows or falconry may be used.
- For hunting migratory game, only shotguns, bows, crossbows or falconry may be used. Shotguns shall not be larger than 10-gauge and shall be incapable of holding more than 3 shells in the magazine and chamber combined.
- Hunting with full automatic firearms, centerfire semi-automatic rifles having a magazine capable of holding more than 5 rounds, explosive or drug-injecting devices and set guns is prohibited.
- The discharge of a firearm outside of periods open to hunting or in areas closed to hunting is prohibited per s. 790.15 FS.
- Hunting deer and wild hog with dogs is allowed, but only in the dog hunt area (see map).
- During the deer-dog training, general gun, and fox, raccoon, opossum and bobcat seasons, the possession of dogs other than bird dogs and waterfowl retrievers is prohibited, except on roads adjacent to the dog hunt area, all land within the dog hunt area and Interstate 10; State Road 2; County Roads 125, 229, 250, 250A, Eddy Grade and Baxter Grade; and Forest Roads 231, 233, 236 (west of the dog hunt area only), 237, 262, 263 and 285.
- Deer dogs may be trained from October 27 through November 5, from ½ hour before sunrise until ½ hour after sunset only, in the dog hunt area only.
- Leashed or caged dogs may be kept at the East Tower hunt camp during general gun season.
- No person shall allow any dog to pursue or molest any wildlife during any period in which the hunting of wildlife by the use of dogs is prohibited.
- Dogs on leashes may be used for trailing wounded game.
- For purposes other than hunting, dogs are allowed, but must be kept under physical restraint at all times.
- On lands designated as Osceola National Forest, camping is allowed year round but only for periods no longer than 14 consecutive days, except during general gun season when camping is allowed only at designated campsites (see map). See the U.S. Forest Service Rules and Information section below for additional rules and regulations about camping on the National Forest.
- On lands designated as the John Bethea State Forest, camping is allowed year round but only when in possession of a permit from the Florida Forest Service (FFS) and only at designated campsites (see Florida Forest Service Rules and Information below).
A guest hunter must share the host’s bag limit, except bag limits specified as per person, and the host is responsible for violations that exceed the bag limit.
- Deer - No person shall exceed statewide bag limits.
- Area limits - See statewide limits below.
- Statewide limits - Annual limit 5 deer (only 2 of which may be antlerless), daily limit 2, possession limit 4.
- As part of the statewide annual deer limit, youth less than 16 years of age may harvest 1 deer annually not meeting antler point requirements but having at least 1 antler 5 inches or more in length.
- Wild hog - No size or bag limit.
- Turkey - No person shall exceed statewide bag limits.
- Area limits - Daily limit 1.
- Statewide limits - All fall seasons combined limit 2, spring season limit 2, daily limit 2, possession limit 2.
- Gray squirrel and rabbit - Daily limit 12 per person, possession limit 24 for each.
- Quail - Daily limit 12, possession limit 24.
- Raccoon, opossum, armadillo, beaver, coyote, skunk and nutria - No bag limits.
- Bobcat and otter - Possession limit 1 unless in possession of a trapping license.
- Migratory birds - See Florida Hunting Regulations handbook.
September 21 through October 13.
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Hunting license, management area permit, archery permit, deer permit (if hunting deer), wild turkey permit (if hunting wild turkeys), migratory bird permit (if hunting migratory birds), and state waterfowl permit and federal duck stamp (if hunting waterfowl).
Legal to Hunt - Deer with at least 1 antler having 3 or more points (each point 1-inch or more in length) OR a main beam length of 10 inches or more, antlerless deer (which includes does and bucks with antlers less than 5 inches in length, but not spotted fawn), wild hog, turkey of either sex, gray squirrel, quail, rabbit, raccoon, opossum, armadillo, beaver, coyote, skunk, nutria and migratory birds in season.
Regulations Unique to Archery Season - Hunting with guns or crossbows (except by disabled crossbow permit) is prohibited, except that centerfire shotguns are allowed for hunting migratory birds.
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Hunting license, management area permit, muzzleloading gun permit, deer permit (if hunting deer) and migratory bird permit (if hunting migratory birds).
Legal to Hunt - Deer with at least 1 antler having 3 or more points (each point 1-inch or more in length) OR a main beam length of 10 inches or more, wild hog, gray squirrel, quail, rabbit, raccoon, opossum, armadillo, beaver, coyote, skunk, nutria and migratory birds in season.
Regulations Unique to Muzzleloading Gun Season - Hunting with archery equipment or guns, other than muzzleloading guns, is prohibited, except that centerfire shotguns are allowed for hunting migratory birds.
November 9 through January 5.
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Quota permit (if hunting in the dog hunt area during November 9-17), hunting license, management area permit, deer permit (if hunting deer), migratory bird permit (if hunting migratory birds), and state waterfowl permit and federal duck stamp (if hunting waterfowl).
Legal to Hunt - Deer with at least 1 antler having 3 or more points (each point 1-inch or more in length) OR a main beam length of 10 inches or more, wild hog, gray squirrel, quail, rabbit, raccoon, opossum, armadillo, beaver, coyote, skunk, nutria and migratory birds in season. Bobcat and otter beginning December 1.
Regulations Unique to General Gun Season - Hunting with dogs, other than bird dogs and waterfowl retrievers, is prohibited in the still hunt area.
November 9 through March 1.
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - General gun season quota permit (from 1 hour before sunrise until 1 hour after sunset during November 9-17 only), hunting license and management area permit.
Legal to Hunt - Fox, raccoon, opossum and bobcat. Bobcat may be killed from December 1 through March 1 only. Killing fox is prohibited.
Regulations Unique to Fox, Raccoon, Opossum and Bobcat Season -
- Fox, raccoon, opossum and bobcat may be pursued with dogs during the day and at night.
- Only raccoon or opossum may be hunted at night with the aid of a light and dogs and only with .22 rimfire firearms other than .22 magnum, or with a single-shot .410 gauge shotgun using shot no larger than No. 6. Hunting raccoon or opossum by display or use of a light from a moving vehicle, boat or animal is prohibited.
January 6 through March 1.
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Hunting license, management area permit, migratory bird permit (if hunting migratory birds), and state waterfowl permit and federal duck stamp (if hunting waterfowl).
Legal to Hunt - Wild hog, gray squirrel, quail, rabbit, raccoon, opossum, armadillo, beaver, coyote, skunk, nutria and migratory birds in season. Bobcat and otter through March 1.
Regulations Unique to Small Game Season -
- Hunting with centerfire rifles is prohibited.
- Hunting with dogs, other than bird dogs and waterfowl retrievers, is prohibited in the still hunt area.
January 6 through March 1.
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Trapping license and management area permit.
Legal to Trap - Raccoon, opossum, armadillo, beaver, coyote, skunk, nutria, bobcat and otter.
Youth Turkey: March 14-15.
Spring Turkey: March 21 through April 26.
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Hunting license, management area permit and wild turkey permit.
Legal to Hunt - Bearded turkey or gobbler.
Regulations Unique to Spring Turkey Season -
- Legal shooting hours are ½ hour before sunrise until sunset.
- Hunting other animals is prohibited.
- Only bows, crossbows, PCP air guns propelling a bolt or arrow and shotguns using a #2 or smaller shot size may be used for hunting.
- During the youth turkey hunt, only youth under 16 years of age may hunt and must be under the supervision and in the presence of an adult not younger than 18 years of age. Adults with required licenses and permits for taking wild turkeys may participate when in the presence of a youth, but may not harvest a wild turkey.
Rails, common moorhen, mourning dove, white-winged dove, snipe, ducks, geese, coot, woodcock and crows may be hunted during statewide migratory bird seasons that coincide with the seasons where migratory birds are listed as legal to hunt in this brochure. Ducks may be hunted during the September duck seasons.
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Quota permit (if hunting during any quota period), hunting license, management area permit, migratory bird permit, and state waterfowl permit and federal duck stamp (if hunting waterfowl).
Legal to Hunt - See Florida Hunting Regulations handbook.
Regulations Unique to Migratory Bird Seasons - All Migratory Bird Regulations shall apply.
- Hunting ducks, geese and coot with lead shot is prohibited.
- Centerfire shotguns are allowed for hunting during established area seasons when migratory birds are legal to hunt.
- Shooting hours for mourning and white-winged dove are noon until sunset during Phase 1 and ½ hour before sunrise until sunset during Phases 2 and 3.
Allowed year round.
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Fishing license (if fishing) or management area permit (if frogging).
Legal to Take - See Florida Freshwater Fishing Regulations Summary.
Regulations Unique to Fishing and Frogging - All General Freshwater Fishing Regulations shall apply. Shooting frogs is allowed only during the listed open hunting seasons and only with the legal methods of take during each particular season.
- Information for persons with disabilities can be found at MyFWC.com/ADA.
- If you have any questions about this material, please call the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 386-758-0525 (TDD 800-955-8771).
- The FWC is not responsible for protection of personal property and will not be liable for theft of or damage to personal property.
- Please report the location of any sick or extremely skinny deer to the Chronic Wasting Disease hotline, toll free at 866-293-9282.
U.S. Forest Service Rules and Information (Osceola National Forest only):
- Damaging roads is prohibited.
- It is prohibited to ride all-terrain vehicles or any unlicensed motor vehicle from 1½ hours after sunset until 1½ hours before sunrise.
- Cross-county travel (across land where no road, trail or travel way exists) by motorized vehicles is prohibited.
- The use of permanent tree stands is prohibited. Portable stands are encouraged.
- Constructing, placing or maintaining any kind of structure or other improvement is prohibited without a written permit from the District Ranger in Olustee. The permit must be posted on the structure at all times.
- Discharging a firearm across or on a Forest Road or within 150 yards of a designated campground or residence is prohibited.
- Depositing sewage or other waste, except into receptacles provided for that purpose, is prohibited.
- Camping for periods of more than 14 consecutive days is prohibited, except during general gun season. Persons camping during general gun season for more than 14 consecutive days must vacate designated campsites and remove camping equipment at the end of general gun season and must wait until January 21 before camping again on the National Forest, per 36 CFR 261.58(a). A user fee is required at some campsites.
- If you have questions about Forest Service rules, please call the USFS at 386-752-2577.
Florida Forest Service Rules and Information (John M. Bethea State Forest only):
- Most Florida State Forest campsites are reservable on any mobile device or computer by visiting FloridaStateForests.ReserveAmerica.com, or by calling ReserveAmerica at (877) 879-3859. For your convenience, most locations also have walk up, first-come, first-served campsites.
- The FFS requires a fee at some day-use areas and all campgrounds. Hunters are exempt from paying day-use fees 2 weeks prior to and during scheduled hunts. All campground and other fees apply. For information on general recreation and fees, please contact the FFS at 904-259-2157.
- No person shall operate a motorized vehicle on state forest land unless the vehicle displays a valid license tag and is operated by a properly licensed driver.
- Certain roads will be closed after the spring turkey season and will reopen prior to the next hunting season.
- Forest management includes prescribed burning and timber management most months of the year, including hunting seasons. Area users should contact the FFS for information and location of burn areas, 904-259-2122 or 904-259-2157.
Suwannee River Water Management District Rules and Information:
The Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) management activities include prescribed burning and timber harvesting during most months of the year. For personal safety reasons, area users should contact the SRWMD for information and locations at 386-362-1001 or 800-226-1066 (FL only). Notices are posted online at mysuwanneeriver.com.
If you see law violators or suspicious activities, contact your nearest Commission regional office or call 888-404-FWCC. You may qualify for a cash reward from the Wildlife Alert Reward Association.
The U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in any program, activity or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to: The Office for Human Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. 20240. The project described in this publication is part of a program funded by federal dollars under the Wildlife Restoration Act. Federal funds pay 20 percent of the cost of the program.