New deer rules: what you need to know

Hunting Hot Sheet masthead


FWC’s Hunting Hot Sheet

The latest hunting and conservation news and events from the
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Information about new deer hunting rules

Deer hunt

At its February meeting, the Commission approved rule changes for 2019-2020 regarding FWC-managed public hunting areas and statewide hunting, including many dealing with deer hunting. 

Visit the new FAQs webpage for information about the new rules including the annual statewide bag limit for deer, harvest reporting, youth-related deer hunting rules, Antlerless Deer Permit Program adjustments as well as other statewide rules.

Rule changes are based on requests from staff, cooperators and stakeholders. Stakeholder input on proposed changes was sought throughout the rulemaking process to achieve regulations based on hunter preference and sound science to ensure sustainability.

Wild Turkey Registry

Wild turkey registry

While a cluster of modified feathers and a pointy nub of fibrous protein doesn’t sound like anything to get excited about, just about every good turkey hunting story includes a reference to those attributes – better known as beards and spurs!

If you harvest a turkey with an 11-inch beard or longer and at least 1¼-inch spurs, you can get your name listed in our Wild Turkey Registry by applying for an Outstanding Gobbler Certificate.

There's also a First Gobbler Certificate awarded to hunters under age 16 who harvest their first gobbler, regardless of beard or spur measurements.

Photo courtesy of Jim Turlington

Buy a license, support conservation

Buy a  license

Did you know when you buy a hunting or fishing license you’re supporting conservation? Every licensed participant increases the amount of federal grant funding we receive through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program. WSFR is funded by the fishing, boating, sporting arms and archery industries and the people who participate in these outdoor activities. Buy your license online at or in-person at an agent location and you, too, can contribute to science-based conservation!

Partnering for wild turkey management

Wild turkey

The wild turkey cost-share program provides a framework for the FWC, the Florida Forest Service and the Florida State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation to pool their resources and improve habitat on our wildlife management areas. Projects such as creating wildlife openings benefit wild turkeys and other species including red-cockaded woodpeckers, gopher tortoises and more. Learn about wild turkey management projects and check out the 2018-2019 Wild Turkey Cost-Share Projects map.

Practice your archery skills at Triple N Ranch Shooting Range

Triple N Shooting Range

New 3-dimensional and field archery targets at the Triple N Ranch Shooting Range give bowhunters and those who want to fine tune their competitive archery shooting skills a great place to practice. There’s a 10-station course featuring life-size 3D targets including deer, turkey, and elk! The shooting distances at the 3D range vary to accommodate different skill levels and mimic various hunting scenarios. The archery range also features 5 stationary field targets. Access to the new archery range costs $12.00 plus tax for all-day use. Find location, hours of operation and more about the Triple N Ranch Shooting Range.

This new addition to the FWC-managed Triple N Ranch Shooting Range was supported by federal grant funds from the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration program and a donation from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Several other FWC-managed public shooting ranges across the state offer archery targets so you can practice shooting your bow. 

Remind friends and family to be alligator aware

Alligator basking

With the weather warming up, now is a good time to remind friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors about how to safely co-exist with alligators. Serious injuries caused by alligators are rare in Florida. However, if you know someone who is concerned about an alligator, ask them to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) toll-free Nuisance Alligator Hotline at 866-392-4286. The FWC will dispatch one of its contracted nuisance alligator trappers to resolve the situation.

Following are simple safety tips you can share:

  • Never feed an alligator and keep your distance if you see one
  • Swim only in designated swimming areas during daylight hours
  • Keep pets on a leash and away from the water

Learn more about living with alligators

Short Cuts

Hunting seasons dates for private lands

Spring turkey season runs March 2 – April 7 south of State Road 70 and March 16 – April 21 north of S.R. 70

Public land hunting opportunity deadlines

Returned quota hunt permits may be applied for throughout the season during weekly application periods. These reissue drawings can be applied for between noon on Saturdays through noon on Tuesdays, with results posted at

Check permit availability for all limited entry/quota hunts throughout the hunting season.

Hunter safety courses

Hunter safety courses cover firearms safety, wildlife conservation, responsible hunting and more. Students can attend a no-cost traditional classroom course. Or they can complete the classroom portion online. FWC’s website offers several online courses including a FREE option. After the online classroom portion is complete, students must sign up and attend a skills day. Learn more about Florida’s hunter safety course options.

Youth Opportunities

Youth Hunter Education Challenge (YHEC) events teach youth aged 18 and younger about leadership, safety and conservation while building skills and knowledge related to hunting, map and compass, wildlife identification and target shooting. Participants must have successfully completed a hunter safety course. Find and register for YHEC events.

The Youth Hunting Program provides opportunities for hunter safety graduates between 12 and 17 years old to experience hunting through safe, educational, mentored youth hunts.

The FWC’s summer camps are a fun and safe way for kids who have completed 3rd grade and up to experience the outdoors. Youth can receive their hunter safety certification, expand on archery and bowhunting basics, practice their target shooting skills and learn about everything from wildlife conservation to outdoor skills such as fishing and paddling. Spots are limited, so register your kids today.


Outdoor Experience  

Free event for youth and families to try outdoor skills such as archery, fishing, and shooting sports and learn about wildlife conservation

When: Saturday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Beau Turner Youth Conservation Center, 9194 South Jefferson Highway, Lamont, FL 32344 (short drive from Tallahassee)

Notes: Registration is not required to participate. Expert instructors and equipment are provided. For more information, call 850-404-6124

Welcome to the Woods

Free event for youth and families to experience outdoor skills such as archery, fishing, hiking, and kayaking

When: Saturday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Seminole Forest Wildlife Management Area, located off State Road 46 just west of the Wekiva River in northeast Lake County.  At the intersection of State Road 46 & Wekiva River Road, turn north into the forest and follow road down to entrance gate

Register: Call 352-732-1225

Notes: Participants should wear suitable clothing for light hiking and bring bug spray, sun block, snacks and water. The program is sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Forest Service.

2nd Annual Longhorn Sporting Clays Tournament

When: Saturday, April 27 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Triple N Ranch Shooting Range

Register: Contact Michael Burgess at 407-931-6992 or

Note: Sporting Clays course will be open to the public at the conclusion of the tournament