Joshua Cordray

When Is Hunting Season In Florida? Essential Dates for the Avid Hunter

Florida is a great place to hunt, with warm weather all year round and plenty of game to get in your sights. Before you get out in the field, let's equip you with the information you need to plan your hunt. You'll want to know the statewide bag limit and the daily bag limits for your chosen legal method. You'll also want to know when deer season starts and when it's time to brush off your turkey permit.

Here’s what we’ll show you in this article:

  • Florida hunting season start and end dates
  • Permit and regulation information
  • Where to go to find the best game

Let’s get started with a quick look at Florida’s hunting season in general and an overview of Florida’s hunting zones.

When is Hunting Season in Florida? TL;DR

In Florida, hunting seasons vary by region and game. Deer hunting typically occurs from late summer to early winter, while turkey hunting is mainly in the spring. Here are some highlights:

  • Zone A, in the south of Florida, has a summer hunting season for deer. This is a little unusual, so hunters who can’t wait for fall in their home state can book a summer hunt down south.
  • Zones B, C, and D have fall hunting seasons, with start dates in October.
  • Youth Deer Hunt Weekend is a great time to get young people involved in hunting. There is one weekend per month starting in September in Zone A.

Other game, such as ducks, other waterfowl, turkey, and even alligators, have their own hunting seasons. 

Florida’s Hunting Zones Overview

Florida is divided into four main hunting zones: A, B, C, and D. Each zone has unique characteristics and timelines for hunting seasons, influenced by the local climate and wildlife patterns.

Florida Hunting Zone A

In Florida’s Hunting Zone A, white-tailed deer stand out as the most prevalent game, with about 12,000 harvested in 2022, indicating a stable population. Deer hunting success rates vary by respective methods, season, and location. Wild turkey hunting is also popular here, with an increasing population and around 3,000 turkeys harvested in 2022.

The Apalachicola National Forest, covering 680,000 acres of diverse habitats, is a prime hunting ground for deer, turkey, quail, dove, raccoon, and black bear, offering access through numerous trails and campsites. Another notable area, the Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park, spans 24,000 acres of unique ecosystems, including mangrove swamps and tidal flats, and is known for duck and snipe hunting.

The city of Clewiston, on the shores of Lake Okeechobee, acts as a gateway to Hunting Zone A, providing amenities and access to several wildlife management areas. Similarly, Fort Myers, just south of the zone, offers cultural attractions and access to hunting locations, enhancing the region’s appeal to hunters seeking diverse experiences and abundant game.

Lake Okeechobee: Source	http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=5031
Lake Okeechobee

Florida Hunting Zone B

In Hunting Zone B, white-tailed deer reign as the predominant game species, with a stable population and an 8,000-deer harvest in 2022. Wild turkey hunting here mirrors this popularity, with an ascending population and about 2,500 turkeys harvested in 2022. The Big Cypress National Preserve, sprawling across 724,000 acres, provides a hunting haven for deer, turkey, bear, raccoon, and otter amidst its marshes, swamps, and forests, accessible via trails and campsites.

Florida Hunting Zone B: Wild turkey hunting here mirrors this popularity, with an ascending population and about 2,500 turkeys harvested in 2022.

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, encompassing 196,000 acres of grasslands and marshes, offers a habitat for deer, turkey, quail, and dove, with hiking and horseback riding for an immersive wildlife experience. Ocala National Forest’s 660,000 acres of diverse ecosystems, including pine forests and springs, support hunting for deer, turkey, bear, raccoon, and bobcat, complemented by recreational hiking and swimming.

Lastly, the Lake Apopka Wildlife Management Area, a 46,600-acre landscape of forests and lakes, attracts hunters for deer, turkey, duck, and snipe, while also offering boating and fishing, making Zone B a superb destination for hunters seeking variety and adventure.

Florida Hunting Zone C

Hunting Zone C, a beacon for white-tailed deer hunting, reported a stable deer population with a notable harvest of around 14,000 in 2022. Similarly, wild turkey hunting thrives here, with a rising population and approximately 5,000 turkeys harvested in 2022.

The Osceola National Forest, stretching over 640,000 acres of ridges, flatwoods, and swamps, is a hunter’s paradise for deer, turkey, quail, and bear, enhanced by trails, camping sites, and scenic views. The Aucilla River Wildlife Management Area, a 20,000-acre blend of swamps, hammocks, and ridges, offers hunting for deer, turkey, duck, and snipe, with canoeing and kayaking as popular pursuits in its waterways.

Suwannee River State Park, covering 18,500 acres of riverine landscapes, is a haven for hunting deer, turkey, bear, and bobcat, and also offers fishing and paddling opportunities. Lastly, the Apalachee Bay Wildlife Management Area, a 14,000-acre coastal ecosystem, is known for waterfowl hunting, including dove and duck, and is a favoured spot for birdwatching and photography. Zone C stands out for its rich diversity of ecosystems, game species, and outdoor activities, making it an attractive destination for hunters and nature enthusiasts alike.

Duck hunting in Louisiana

Florida Hunting Zone D

Hunting Zone D is a hub for white-tailed deer, the most prevalent game species in the area, with a stable population and an impressive 2022 harvest of approximately 11,000 deer. Wild turkey hunting is also a significant draw in Zone D, with the 2022 season yielding around 4,500 turkeys and an upward trend in the turkey population.

The Apalachicola National Forest, a sprawling 680,000-acre wilderness of pine forests, hammocks, and marshes, is a favored hunting ground for deer, turkey, quail, dove, raccoon, and black bear, made accessible through numerous hiking trails and campsites. Wakulla Springs State Park, known for its crystal-clear springs and spanning 2,600 acres, is another prime hunting locale for deer, turkey, bear, and otter, with scuba diving and snorkeling as additional attractions.

The Econfina River Wildlife Management Area, covering about 17,000 acres, offers diverse landscapes of swamps, hammocks, and prairies for hunting deer, turkey, dove, and waterfowl, complemented by canoeing and fishing opportunities. Lastly, the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, a 155,000-acre coastal ecosystem, is a haven for hunting waterfowl like dove and duck, and is also a popular spot for birdwatching and wildlife viewing, making Zone D a diverse and appealing destination for hunters and nature enthusiasts alike.

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida, United States
St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Wakulla County, Florida, United States

Deer Hunting Seasons in Florida

Florida might not be the first state you think of for hunting deer. Texas, Alabama, and other states come to mind. But Florida hunters harvest more than 45,000 deer every year. The biggest buck ever killed was a huge 26 point buck killed by James Stovall near the Green Swamp.

To find your next trophy, here are the dates to get out in the field.

Hunting ZoneArchery SeasonCrossbow SeasonMuzzleloading Gun SeasonGeneral Gun SeasonBag Limits
Zone A – South FloridaJuly 29 – Aug. 27July 29 – Sept. 1Sept. 2-15Sept. 16 – Oct. 15, Nov. 18 – Jan. 7Daily limit of 2 deer, only one of which can be antlerless
Zone B – Central-Florida, Osceola and Orange CountiesOct. 14 – Nov. 12Oct. 14 – Nov. 17Nov. 18 – Dec. 1Dec. 2 – Feb. 18Similar to Zone A, with specific dates for antlerless deer
Zone C – Central to Northern Regions of FloridaSept. 16 – Oct. 15Sept. 16 – Oct. 20Oct. 21 – Nov. 3Nov. 4 – Jan. 21Follows the general state regulations, with some specific rules for different management units within the zone
Zone D – Panhandle and shared counties with Zone COct. 21 – Nov. 22Oct. 21 – Nov. 22, Nov. 27 – Dec. 1Dec. 2-8, Feb. 19–25Nov. 23–26, Dec. 9 – Feb. 18Similar to other zones, with additional considerations for certain counties

Deer hunting in Florida is a huge sport and many people get involved. To make sure you’re there on the right days, be sure to check your specific public or private hunting land for the best season dates and regulations information.

Turkey Hunting Seasons in Florida

Turkey hunting is a celebrated outdoor activity in Florida, attracting enthusiasts to its distinct zones, each with specific hunting seasons. While the fall season doesn’t apply to turkey hunting in the state, the spring season is eagerly anticipated by hunters.

Here are the turkey hunting dates for Florida’s zones:

  • Zone A:
    • Spring Season: March 2 – April 6
    • Youth Hunt: Feb. 22-23
  • Zones B, C, and D:
    • Spring Season: March 16 – April 20
    • Youth Hunt: March 14-15

Spring emerges as the prime turkey season for hunting across Florida. This time offers hunters the thrilling experience of pursuing these birds during their most active period. Take note of the youth turkey weekend, scheduled before the general spring season. This is a great opportunity for young hunters to develop their skills. Under the guidance of seasoned adults, these early Florida turkey hunts serve as both a learning experience and a way to instill a lifelong appreciation for hunting and wildlife conservation in the next generation.

Small Game and Other Species

If you are looking for other game, there are seasons for other small game animals and birds. Quail is the most popular, with bird hunting season dates in the fall through the spring throughout the state. There are also hunting seasons for rabbits, wild hogs, and squirrels. 1

Here are specific dates:

  • Gray Squirrel: Open season from Oct. 14 to March 3.
  • Quail: Nov. 11 to March 3.
  • Rabbits and Wild Hogs: Open season throughout the year.
  • Raccoons, Opossums, Skunks, Nutrias, Beavers, and Coyotes: Also have open seasons.

These species can be hunted throughout the state, but hunters should always check local regulations and any specific rules within wildlife management areas. Hunting small game provides an excellent opportunity for beginners to learn and for experienced hunters to enjoy a different type of hunting experience.

Licensing and Permits

To legally hunt in Florida, obtaining the appropriate licenses and permits is mandatory. Residents and non-residents must buy a Florida hunting license, which can be acquired online, at county tax collectors’ offices, or at authorized retailers. Additional permits may be required for specific game species, such as an antlerless deer permit.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) offers several license options, including annual and short-term licenses. Special licenses are available for seniors, military personnel, and disabled hunters.

It’s crucial to understand and comply with these requirements to ensure a lawful hunting experience.

Hunting Equipment and Methods

Florida’s hunting regulations permit various equipment and methods, depending on the season and game. During archery season, only bows are allowed, while crossbow season permits both bows and crossbows. Muzzleloaders are used in their specific season, and general gun season allows rifles, shotguns, and pistols. It’s important to note that using bait, electronic calling, or artificial light is generally prohibited. Hunters should familiarize themselves with the specific regulations for their chosen game and hunting zone to ensure compliance.

Safety and Ethical Considerations

Before the beginning of the firearm hunting seasons, it’s a good idea to refresh your memory about safety and hunting ethics. We’ve made a list of some obvious points to remember:

  • Hunters should always handle firearms responsibly, be aware of their surroundings, and ensure they have a clear line of sight before shooting.
  • Wearing hunter orange is advisable for visibility.
  • Ethical hunting involves respecting wildlife, following regulations, and practicing fair chase principles. This includes not shooting young or nursing animals and avoiding wasteful practices.
  • Hunters should also respect private property and seek permission where necessary.

If everyone follows these simple guidelines, the firearm seasons will be safe and profitable for every hunter.

Public Hunting Land in Florida

You can find a rich variety of public hunting lands in Florida, offering diverse environments and game species for hunters of all experience levels. Some prominent areas include the Apalachicola National Forest, renowned for its expansive pine forests and marshes, the Osceola National Forest with its unique sandhill ridges and swampy areas, and the sprawling Ocala National Forest, known for its pine forests and clear springs.

These areas, along with many others, provide ample opportunities for hunting deer, turkey, waterfowl, and other game. For detailed information on regulations, seasons, and specific hunting opportunities, hunters are encouraged to visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website, which serves as a comprehensive resource for hunting in Florida. You can find more detailed information at Florida Wildlife Commission.

Private Hunting Land in Florida and Florida Hunting Leases

Hunting on private land offers numerous advantages, making it an appealing option for many hunters. Private lands, such as those available through hunting leases in Florida, typically experience less hunting pressure compared to public lands. This often leads to a healthier and more abundant game population, providing a more rewarding and successful hunting experience. Additionally, private land hunting allows for more control over the environment and management practices, ensuring a sustainable and ethical hunting experience. You can explore a variety of private hunting leases in Florida at hunting leases in Florida.

Establishing a hunting lease agreement is crucial for both landowners and hunters. It clearly defines the terms of use, responsibilities, and expectations, ensuring a respectful and lawful hunting experience. A well-crafted hunting lease agreement protects the interests of the landowner while providing hunters with the assurance of a secure and legal hunting arrangement. For more insights on the importance and contents of such agreements, check out our hunting lease agreement article. This ensures a mutually beneficial relationship, fostering responsible hunting practices and land stewardship.


What is the best time to hunt deer in Florida?

The best time varies by zone but generally falls within the general gun season, from September to February.

Can I use dogs for hunting in Florida?

Yes, but there are specific regulations for using dogs, particularly for deer hunting. Check the FWC guidelines for more details.

Is night hunting allowed in Florida?

Night hunting is generally prohibited for most game species, especially deer. However, exceptions exist for certain species like wild hogs and predators.

Do I need a permit to hunt on private land?

While a hunting license is always required, additional permits may not be necessary on private land. However, landowner permission is a must.

Can non-residents hunt in Florida?

Yes, non-residents can hunt but they need to purchase a non-resident hunting license and any relevant permits.

What are the bag limits for turkey in Florida?

The bag limit is usually two turkeys per hunter per spring season, but this can vary by zone.

Are there any restrictions on the type of ammunition used?

Florida has specific regulations on ammunition, especially for waterfowl hunting, where only non-toxic shot is allowed.

Wrap Up

Understanding the hunting seasons in Florida is crucial for a successful and legal hunting experience. From obtaining the right licenses and permits to following safety and ethical guidelines, hunters must be well-prepared and informed. Whether pursuing deer, turkey, or small game, Florida’s diverse landscapes offer rich hunting opportunities. By respecting wildlife, adhering to regulations, and practicing safe hunting methods, hunters can enjoy the bountiful hunting experiences that Florida has to offer.

Want more information? Check out these articles for tips and info about hunting other species in Florida:

If you want some help getting your hunting lease sorted, get in touch with our experts. We can guarantee a successful lease in 48 hours or less.

Joshua Cordray
I'm Josh. I love getting outdoors, hiking, camping, and enjoying the beauty of this beautiful earth. I'm also passionate about writing, and love creating stories, guides, and helpful articles about everything to do with being an outdoorsman.