Big Cypress WMA
This brochure is designed to provide the public with information and a summary of regulations pertaining to hunting and other recreational use on the Big Cypress 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 at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com 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:
Archery (Addition Unit) – 30, no-cost, quota permits (no exemptions).
Muzzleloading Gun (Addition Unit) – 30, no-cost, quota permits (no exemptions).
Muzzleloading Gun (Bear Island Unit, first 9 days) – 200, no-cost, quota permits.
General Gun (Addition Unit) – 30, no-cost, quota permits (no exemptions).
General Gun (Bear Island Unit, first 9 days) – 200, no-cost, quota permits.
General Gun (Turner River Unit, first 9 days) – 500, no-cost, quota permits.
Spring Turkey (Addition Unit) – 30, no-cost, quota permits (no exemptions).
Permit applications: Hunters must submit electronic applications for quota and special-opportunity permits at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com 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, and spring turkey quota permit issued through GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, a quota permit holder (host) may take a guest hunting 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.
Vehicle operators must be state licensed (regular or learner’s permit) and obtain an ORV operator’s permit from the NPS for all vehicles, including airboats, used off-road on the Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area. All ORVs and their operators must be permitted and the vehicles inspected prior to operation in the preserve. The ORV permit is issued for the vehicle, but NPS maintains a record of applicant and ownership information for each permitted ORV. Vehicle operators are responsible for knowing NPS regulations that apply to ORV use in the preserve. Please contact the Big Cypress National Preserve ORV Office, 33100 Tamiami Trail East, Ochopee, FL 34141, 239-695-1205, regarding vehicle use regulations or at nps.gov. The NPS ORV permit is available at the Oasis Visitor Center.
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 under 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.
- 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.
- Construction of buildings or other structures is prohibited, unless permitted by the National Park Service.
- Cutting or damaging fences used to contain animals (including cattle fences) is a felony of the third degree.
- The collection of plants, rocks, minerals, animal life or other natural objects is allowed only in accordance with written permits obtained in advance from the National Park Service.
- Open to public access year round.
- All vehicles and airboats used off-Road on the Big Cypress Wildlife Management Area shall have a National Park Service ORV permit. See National Park Service Off-road Vehicle (ORV) Permit section, page 1.
- To access the Bear Island Unit, all persons shall enter and exit the area at the Bear Island check station on the north end of Turner River Road or at the I-75 walk-in only access check station, located north of I-75 in the southeast portion of the Bear Island Unit.
- Access into the Addition Unit is walk-in only from the facilities located on Interstate 75 at mile markers 51 and 63, the L-28 Interceptor Canal levees, and from adjacent management units.
- The use of motor vehicles is prohibited in the Addition Unit except licensed and registered vehicles may be operated on portions of the L-28 Interceptor Canal levees north of Interstate 75.
- Vehicle use on Eleven-mile Road or the Florida Trail is prohibited; however, vehicles may cross Eleven-mile Road at marked designated crossing points. Maps are available at the Oasis Visitor Center.
- On Jetport Road, only vehicles with pneumatic tires may be operated and parked vehicles are prohibited.
- Parked vehicles may not obstruct a road, gate or firelane.
- No motor vehicle shall be operated in areas designated as closed to vehicular traffic.
- All airboats must be equipped with an orange flag at least 10 inches wide and 12 inches long and displayed at a minimum height of 10 feet above the bottom of the vessel.
- Public access inside any fenced portion of the Jetport property is prohibited.
- Hunting deer in Zone 4 of the Stairsteps Unit is prohibited.
- Hunters in the Jetport Property must follow the Big Cypress WMA season dates, bag limits, and methods of take as applicable to the Corn Dance Unit.
- Hunters must check in at a designated check station upon entering the area, retain in their possession a check station pass while hunting and check out at the same check station when exiting the area and shall check all game harvested.
- All deer harvested must be reported to the harvest reporting system within 24 hours of harvest in addition to checking all game at a check station. See Florida Hunting Regulations handbook for deer harvest reporting instructions.
- Deer, wild hog and turkey may be divided or consumed in the field, but each portion shall be identified with the license number of the person who took the game and be readily traceable to the portion of the animal bearing sex identification.
- Deer jawbones shall be saved and brought to the check station.
- 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, but see #4 and #16 under the National Park Service Rules and Information section.
- Licensed hunters are allowed to take Conditional Reptiles incidental to lawful hunting activities during established hunting seasons. Conditional reptiles shall not be transported alive from the area. Persons that take any Conditional Reptiles shall report the take within 36 hours, and shall provide all data requested. Report all take of Conditional Reptiles at 888-IVE-GOT1 (888-483-4681) or at IveGot1.org.
- Hunting on or from the rights-of-way of Burns Road; County Roads 839, 841, 837; State Roads 84 (I-75) or 94; U.S. 41; or L-28 Interceptor Canal levees is prohibited.
- In the Stairsteps (zones 1-3), Loop and Deep Lake units only muzzleloading guns, bows or falconry may be used for hunting. In the Deep Lake Unit, muzzleloading guns may only be used for hunting during the small game season.
- Hunting at night with a gun is prohibited.
- Muzzleloading guns used for taking 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 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 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.
- Hunting deer or wild hog with dogs is prohibited.
- The possession of dogs is prohibited, except bird dogs or retrievers are allowed for hunting purposes only.
- Dogs are prohibited in the Loop Unit.
- No person shall allow any dog to pursue or molest any wildlife during any period in which the taking of wildlife by the use of dogs is prohibited.
- Dogs may not be used for trailing wounded game.
- Camping is allowed in accordance with the regulations of the National Park Service. See the National Park Service Rules and Information section for additional camping rules.
- Camping is prohibited on the L-28 Intercptor Canal levees.
- Primitive camping is allowed throughout the area except in Bear Island Unit and in Zone 4 when the campsite is accessed by airboat.
- Camping on Bear Island Unit is allowed at designated campsites only; only tents, trailers and self-propelled camping vehicles may be used in the Bear Island Campground. Only tents may be used in the Gator Head and Pink Jeep designated campsites.
- Draining or dumping refuse or waste from any trailer or other vehicle is prohibited.
- Fires are allowed only on designated camping areas or in backcountry campsites and must be completely extinguished prior to the user leaving the campsite.
A guest hunter must share the host’s bag limit, and the host is responsible for violations that exceed the bag limit. No person shall exceed statewide bag limits.
- Area Limits - Daily limit 1, annual limit 2 (all seasons combined), except in Stairsteps (zones 1-3) and Loop units where the bag limit for deer is 1 annually, combined.
- 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 (except in Stairsteps (zones 1-3) and Loop Units).
- Wild hog - Daily limit 1, annual limit 2 (all seasons combined).
- Turkey - No person shall exceed statewide bag limits.
- Area limits - Daily limit 1
- Statewide limits - 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 - Prohibited.
- Migratory birds - See Florida Hunting Regulations handbook.
August 31 through September 29 (all Units). November 16 through January 1 in Stairsteps (zones 1-3), Loop and Deep Lake units only.
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Quota Permit (if hunting in the Addition Unit), check station pass, hunting license, management area permit, archery 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 2 or more points (each point 1-inch or more in length) and having at least 1 antler 5-inches or more in length length except in Stairsteps (zones 1-3) and Loop units where only deer with at least 1 antler having 4 or more points may be harvested, wild hog with shoulder height of 15 inches or more, gray squirrel, 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) is prohibited, except that centerfire shotguns are allowed for taking migratory birds in all units except Deep Lake Unit.
- Duck hunting is prohibited in the Addition, Bear Island and Deep Lake units during the special September season.
- Hunting deer in Zone 4 of the Stairsteps Unit is prohibited.
October 12-27 (except Deep Lake Unit).
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Quota permit (if hunting in the Addition Unit or if hunting October 12-20 in the Bear Island Unit), check station pass, 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 2 or more points (each point 1-inch or more in length) and having at least 1 antler 5-inches or more in length except in Stairsteps (zones 1-3) and Loop units where only deer with at least 1 antler having 4 or more points may be harvested, wild hog with shoulder height of 15 inches or more, gray squirrel, 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 taking migratory birds in all units except Deep Lake Unit.
- Hunting deer in Zone 4 of the Stairsteps Unit is prohibited.
November 16 through January 1 except in Stairsteps (zones 1-3), Loop and Deep Lake units).
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Quota permit (if hunting in the Addition Unit or if hunting Nov. 16-24 in the Bear Island or Turner River Units), check station pass, 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 2 or more points (each point 1-inch or more in length) and having at least 1 antler 5-inches or more in length, wild hog with a shoulder height of 15 inches or more, gray squirrel, quail, rabbit, raccoon, opossum, armadillo, beaver, coyote, skunk, nutria and migratory birds in season.
Regulations Unique to General Gun Season -
- Hunting deer in Zone 4 of the Stairsteps Unit is prohibited.
January 2 through February 1.
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements – Check station pass, 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 - Gray squirrel, quail, rabbit, raccoon, opossum, armadillo, beaver, coyote, skunk, nutria and migratory birds in season.
Regulations Unique to Small Game Season-
- In the Deep Lake Unit, only muzzleloading guns, bows or falconry may be used.
- Hunting with centerfire rifles is prohibited.
March 7 through April 12.
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements – Quota Permit (if hunting in the Addition Unit), check station pass, hunting license, management area permit and wild turkey permit.
Legal to Hunt - Bearded turkey or gobbler.
Regulations Unique to Spring Turkey Season-
- In the Deep Lake Unit, only muzzleloading guns, bows or falconry may be used.
- 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 #2 or smaller shot size may be used for hunting.
Ducks may be hunted during the September season in all units except Addition, Bear Island and Deep Lake units. Rail, common moorhen, mourning dove, white-winged dove, snipe, ducks, geese, coot, woodcock and crow may be hunted during statewide migratory bird seasons that coincide with the seasons listed in this brochure.
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Quota permit (if hunting during any quota period), check station pass, 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 book.
Regulations Unique to Migratory Bird Seasons – All Migratory Bird Regulations shall apply.
- Hunting with bird dogs or waterfowl retrievers is allowed except in the Loop Unit.
- Hunting ducks, geese and coot with lead shot is prohibited.
- Centerfire shotguns are allowed for hunting during established area seasons when 1 or more migratory birds are legal to hunt, except in the Deep Lake Unit.
- 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. Frogs may be taken by gig only. See #’s 13, 14 and 15 in the National Park Service Rules and Information section.
- 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 South Region Office at 561-625-5122 (TDD 800-955-8771).
- 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.
- Small tracts of private property are located within the boundary of the wildlife management area. These lands may be posted against trespass and should not be considered to be part of the wildlife management area.
National Park Service Rules and Information:
This area is a national preserve and Big Cypress National Preserve regulations shall apply. For further information visit www.nps.gov/bicy/.
- Time limits apply to camping. Please contact Big Cypress NP for current camping regulations and limitations on the maximum number of days an individual may camp.
- Backcountry camping in the Bear Island Unit is allowed only at designated campsites: Gator Head and Pink Jeep sites.
- Backcountry camping in Zone 4 is allowed as follows: Airboat users must camp in designated campsites only. Those gaining access by foot or non-motorized vessels may camp anywhere as long as the campsite is at least ½ mile from Loop Road and ¼ mile from any designated campsite or airboat trail.
- Except for Zone 4, during archery, muzzleloading gun, general gun and spring turkey hunting seasons, an individual may camp or leave camping gear unattended for the length of the season in backcountry areas and the designated campsites in Bear Island, Gator Head and Pink Jeep, provided such equipment / camps are marked with the owner’s name, address and telephone number. Sites / equipment may be occupied after 8 a.m. 1 day before the opening of the season and must be removed by 6 p.m. 1 day after the close of that season.
- Dead wood lying on the ground may be collected as fuel for campfires within the preserve. This wood cannot be removed from the Preserve.
- Primitive campsites must be located at least ½ mile from and out of sight of designated state or county roads.
- All backcountry users are required to a have a backcountry use permit (free).
- All food, lawfully taken fish or wildlife products, and equipment used to cook or store food must be kept sealed inside an enclosed vehicle (not in the bed of a pickup truck), or in a camping unit that is constructed of solid, non-pliable material (not tents or popups), suspended at least 10 ft. above the ground and 4 ft horizontally from a tree trunk, shall be stored inside a bear resistant food locker provided at campgrounds, or in an IGBC certified bear resistant container.
- Hunting, discharge of a gun, and dressing game is prohibited within 1,600 ft. (0.3 miles) of all designated campgrounds.
- Consumption of alcohol or possession of an open container of alcohol in or on a motor vehicle, including off-road vehicles and airboats, is prohibited.
- The preserve is closed to the viewing of wildlife with an artificial light, except that artificial lights may be used during frogging activities.
- It is prohibited to destroy, injure, deface, remove, dig or disturb from their natural state living or dead wildlife, fish, plants, non-fossilized and fossilized paleontological specimens, cultural or archaeological resources or the parts of each thereof.
- The taking, feeding or intentional disturbance of wildlife (including snakes and other reptiles) is prohibited except as authorized by specific hunting regulations.
- Frogging regulations: 1) Commercial frogging is prohibited; 2) frogs may be taken by gig only; 3) the daily bag limit is 1 five-gallon bucket per vessel or individual; and 4) the possession limit is 18 lbs of dressed frog legs. Recreational frogging for personal use is allowed.
- Fishing in freshwater must be by hook and line.
- Fishing is prohibited in the canal on the north side of U.S. Highway 41 in front of the Oasis Visitor Center for a distance of 200 yards east and west from a midpoint located directly opposite of the front door of the building and the Turner River Canal from the bridge on U.S. Highway 41 to 1/10 of a mile North.
- During archery, muzzleloading, general gun and spring turkey seasons an individual may leave treestands or similar devices unattended for the length of the specific season provided such equipment is marked with the owner’s name, address and telephone number. Individuals may bring this equipment into the preserve after 8 a.m. 1 day before the opening of the specific season and must be removed by 6 p.m. 1 day after the close of that season.
- Off-road vehicle use is prohibited between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
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.