Florida Hunting Rule Changes 2020 – 2021

July 8, 2020

By: Staff Report

PASCO COUNTY Fla. – At the February 2020 meeting, Commissioners approved rule changes for 2020-2021 related to hunting and FWC-managed areas. Most rule changes will take effect July 1, 2020.

Photo By Roberts Ranch

Rule change proposals 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.

Listed below are rules approved at the February Commission meeting.

Statewide

68A-12.002 General Methods of Taking Game and Crows; Prohibitions – Rule amendment clarifies existing restrictions related to the use of semi-automatic centerfire rifles for hunting game and for the use of shotguns for hunting migratory game.

68A-12.007 Hunting Dogs; Molesting Game in Closed Season; Training; Field Trials; Prohibited for Certain Hunting – Rule amendment, which was requested by those who hunt with dogs, requires all free running dogs used for pursuing deer, wild hog, fox or coyote (except for dogs used to pursue wild hog, fox or coyote during sanctioned mounted field trial events) to be equipped and monitored with devices that allow remote tracking (Global Positioning System (GPS) or telemetry) and behavior correction. The device(s) must be attached by a collar or similar means and must be used to reduce the chance of dogs going into unauthorized areas. 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. To allow those who currently don’t use this technology time to acquire the new equipment and ensure their dogs are properly trained, the tracking collar requirement will take effect July 1, 2021 and the correction device requirement will take effect July 1, 2022.

Miscellaneous Areas

68A-15.006 Regulations Relating to Miscellaneous Areas – Rule amendments revise or establish specific area regulations on miscellaneous areas as follows:

Babcock Ranch Preserve Tier I – Allows 1 additional adult supervisor to participate during the family hunt to assist youth hunters, but the adult may not harvest game.

Babcock Ranch Preserve Tier II – Allows wild turkey to be hunted during muzzleloading gun and crossbow seasons and when general gun season overlaps with Zone A fall turkey season. 

Southwest Region

68A-15.061 Specific regulations for Wildlife Management Areas – Southwest Region – Rule amendments adjust season dates to conform to calendar year changes and revise specific area regulations on wildlife management areas (WMAs) in the Southwest Region as follows:

Chassahowitzka WMA – Removes reference to Swamp Grade when describing the dog hunt area (this road no longer exists); and allows wild turkey to be hunted in the Annuteliga Hammock (the area east of US Highway 19) during spring turkey season.

KICCO WMA – Allows 1 additional nonhunting guest on family and youth turkey hunts.

Hilochee WMA – Expands small game season by 7 days (from 17 to 24 days) at the beginning of the season; and establishes a 3-day general gun hunt opening the Saturday following the close of muzzleloading gun season (10 no-cost quota permits, no exemptions).

Hilochee WMA, Osprey Unit – Establishes a 3-day general gun hunt opening the Saturday following the close of muzzleloading gun season (10 no-cost quota permits, no exemptions).

Upper Hillsborough WMA – Changes the quota hunt for wild hog-dog from 20, no cost, quota permits (no exemptions) to 20, no-cost, daily quota permits available first-come, first-served at the check station each day of the season.

North Central Region

68A-15.062 Specific regulations for Wildlife Management Areas – North Central Region – Rule amendments adjust season dates to conform to calendar year changes and revise specific area regulations on wildlife management areas (WMAs) in the North Central Region as follows:

Bayard WMA – Allows each youth turkey quota permit holder to bring 1 additional nonhunting guest; and allows the youth turkey nonhunting guest to camp in Area 3 with the youth turkey quota permit holder.

Big Shoals WMA – Allows the use of dogs to hunt small game during small game season.

Camp Blanding WMA – Changes the general gun dog hunt from two 9-day hunts (320 no-cost quota permits each hunt, exemptions allowed) to one 10-day and one 11-day hunt (200 no-cost quota permits, exemptions allowed); during the wild hog-dog season, allows hunting only from 1½ hours after sunset until 1½ hours before sunrise, and shifts the January wild hog-dog season hunt to occur following the close of zonal deer season; and allows scouting the day before each youth spring turkey hunt.

Gulf Hammock WMA – Allows nighttime raccoon hunting with the use of dogs during small game season.

Hatchet Creek WMA – Allows each family and youth turkey quota permit holder to bring 1 additional nonhunting guest.

Holton Creek WMA – Moves the last (December) general gun mobility-impaired hunt to the 3rd weekend in November.

Mallory Swamp WMA – Removes the shoulder height requirement for hunting dogs.

Raiford WMA – Allows year-round access for fishing through designated entrances.

Thomas Creek WMA, Kings Road Unit – Allows each family and youth turkey quota permit holder to bring 1 additional nonhunting guest.

Troy Springs WMA – Establishes a spring turkey season with three 3-day hunts (no quota permit required, Friday-Sunday).

Twin Rivers WMA – Removes the zone tag requirement during the family hunt.

Northwest Region

68A-15.063 Specific regulations for Wildlife Management Areas – Northwest Region – Rule amendment adjusts season dates to conform to calendar year changes and revises specific area regulations on wildlife management areas (WMAs) in the Northwest Region as follows:

Aucilla WMA – Shifts the September wild hog-dog hunt to occur the first weekend in September (1 week earlier) to avoid overlapping the opening weekend of archery season.

Blackwater WMA – Allows dogs to be used for hunting deer in the dog hunt area during the 2-day family hunt; allows any dog for hunting small game (quail, rabbit, squirrel and migratory game) during small game season.

Eglin WMA – Limits shooting hours during spring turkey season to ½ hour before sunrise until 1 p.m.; increases antler point regulation for harvesting antlered deer in Jackson and Brier Creek units to at least 4-points on one side or a 14-inch main beam; and allows northern bobwhite quail to be released and taken by shotgun during the small game season (Sikes and Choctaw units only). A daily no-cost permit and proof the northern bobwhite quail were purchased from a licensed game farm are required for each individual or group participating.

Escambia River WMA – Establishes one 2-day family deer dog hunt to occur the last weekend in December (within the dog hunt area only).

Plank Road WMA – Increases antler point regulation for harvesting antlered deer to at least 3-points on one side or a 10-inch main beam; and establishes one 3-day wild hog-still hunt each month from May through September.

Perdido River WMA – Prohibits motor vehicle access on Frank Reeder Loop Road from May through September.

South Region

68A-15.064 Specific Regulations for Wildlife Management Areas – South Region – Rule amendment adjusts season dates to conform to calendar year changes and revises specific area regulations on wildlife management areas (WMAs) in the South Region as follows:

Allapattah Flats WMA – Allows harvested deer to be dismembered before leaving the area.

Big Cypress WMA – Establishes that hunters must check in and out when entering and leaving the area and check all harvested game when check stations are staffed.

Everglades and Francis S. Taylor WMA – Removes bag limit and 15-inch shoulder height restriction for hunting wild hog.

Holey Land WMA – Removes bag limit and 15-inch shoulder height restriction for hunting wild hog.

J.W. Corbett WMA – Establishes that tree stands, deer stands, and elevated shooting platforms may only be brought onto the area beginning 6 a.m. the day prior to archery season and must be removed no later than 6 p.m. the day following the close of general gun season; and during the August closure, allows campers to line up at an interior gate beginning 5 p.m. the Wednesday prior to the start of archery season.

Picayune Strand WMA – Increases the wild hog bag limit to 1 per person but no more than 2 per quota permit during muzzleloading gun and general gun seasons, removes 15-inch shoulder height restriction for hunting wild hog.

Rotenberger WMA – Removes bag limit and 15-inch shoulder height restriction for hunting wild hog.

Northeast Region

68A-15.065 Specific Regulations for Wildlife Management Areas – Northeast Region – Rule amendment adjusts season dates to conform to calendar year changes and revises specific area regulations on wildlife management areas (WMAs) in the Northeast Region as follows:

Charles H. Bronson WMA – Allows each youth turkey quota permit holder to bring 1 additional nonhunting guest.

Little Big Econ WMA – Allows each youth turkey quota permit holder to bring 1 additional nonhunting guest.

Little Big Econ WMA – Restricts vehicular access during scouting days and hunting seasons to 1 ½ hours before sunrise until 1 ½ hours after sunset.

Richloam WMA – Allows limited fishing (hook and line only) in designated areas at the fish hatchery.

Seminole Forest WMA – Prohibits public access during the mobility-impaired hunts except for individuals participating in the hunts, their assistants and through-hikers on the Florida National Scenic Trail.

Seminole Forest WMA  Lake Tracy Unit – Allows each youth turkey quota permit holder to bring 1 additional nonhunting guest.

Silver Springs Forest WMA – Establishes a full suite of hunting opportunities, open seasons and regulations for a new WMA (4,900 acres) in Marion County managed by the St. John’s River Water Management District. The area was initially established as a public small game hunting area. This rulemaking provides the following: one 16-day archery hunt (20 no-cost quota permits, no exemptions); one 3-day muzzleloading gun season (20 no-cost quota permits, no exemptions); one 9-day general gun hunt (quota of 20 no-cost quota permits, no exemptions); a 2-day youth turkey hunt (5 no-cost quota permits, no exemptions); two 4-day (Thurs – Sun) spring turkey hunts (5 no-cost quota permits, no exemptions); a small game season from the last weekend in November through the first weekend in January (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only, walk-in access only); each youth turkey quota permit holder may bring 1 additional nonhunting guest; fishing and frogging available year round; allows the take of all legal game, wild turkey, fish, frogs and furbearers excluding bobcat and otter; prohibits the harvest of antlered deer not having at least one antler with three or more points or a 10-inch main beam; prohibits hunting wildlife with dogs, other than bird dogs or retrievers, except any dog may be used to take small game (quail, rabbit, squirrel and migratory game birds) during the small game season; allows the take of wild hogs during the small game season; allows access year round from 1½ hours before sunrise until 1½ hours after sunset; and allows vehicles only on designated roads, only during quota hunts and only for individuals participating in the hunt (and their guests).

Three Lakes WMA – Allows wild hog to be taken during small game season.

Three Lakes WMA, Prairie Lakes Unit – Allows wild hog to be taken during small game season.

Wildlife and Environmental Areas

68A-17.005 Specific regulations for Wildlife and Environmental Areas – Rule amendment adjusts season dates to conform to calendar year changes and revises specific area regulations on wildlife and environmental areas (WEAs) as follows:

North Central Region

Suwannee Ridge WEA – Moves the last (December) general gun mobility-impaired hunt to the third weekend in November.

South Region

John G. and Susan H. Dupuis Jr. – Allows harvested wild hog to be dismembered before checking at the check station, and corrects an error related to missing hunt dates for the existing April wild hog-still hunt.

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