Best Hunting in Florida

Man Hunting in Florida
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Florida’s diverse landscapes make it an exceptional destination for hunting enthusiasts like yourself. From the hardwood hammocks and pine flatwoods of the north to the vast marshes and pastures of the central region, Florida offers a variety of terrains teeming with game. The state is a hunting haven, where you can pursue a wide range of species including white-tailed deer, wild hogs, alligators, and Osceola turkeys, making it a unique spot for both novice and experienced hunters.



Apalachicola National Forest

Tall pine trees stand in the foreground, with a dense underbrush. A deer grazes in the distance, while a hunter sets up a tree stand

Spanning over half a million acres, the Apalachicola National Forest is your expansive playground for hunting in Florida. Located in the Panhandle, it is the state’s largest national forest and an integral part of the Apalachicola Wildlife Management Area (WMA).

Wildlife: If your intent is to pursue deer or turkey, the region offers vast habitats that support healthy populations of these game animals.

  • Deer Hunting: With vast tracts of land, Apalachicola boasts a significant deer population, making it a preferred destination for deer hunting enthusiasts.
  • Turkey Hunting: Come spring or fall, turkey hunters can expect to find Eastern Wild Turkeys roaming the landscapes of Apalachicola WMA.

Regulations: Before heading out, familiarize yourself with the specific hunting seasons, permits, and limits for the area. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission provides a regulations summary brochure for your convenience.

Accessibility:

  • Road System: Apalachicola is navigable with the state road system, allowing for easier access to various parts of the forest.
  • Campsites: You can find nearly two dozen campsites within its boundary, facilitating multi-day hunting expeditions.

Remember, when planning your hunting trip to Apalachicola, always follow safety guidelines and adhere to conservation regulations to ensure a sustainable hunting experience for future generations.

Ocala National Forest

Situated in Central Florida, the Ocala National Forest offers a rich tapestry of natural resources perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, particularly hunters. The region boasts nearly 400,000 acres, encompassing Lake, Marion, and surrounding counties, making it an expansive area to explore for game.

When you venture into this wilderness, your hunting experience is set against a backdrop of some of the best-preserved stands of longleaf pine in Florida. In addition, the forest offers the world’s-largest concentration of sand pine scrub, an ecosystem unique to the region.

Your hunting journey in Ocala National Forest might include:

  • Archery: This ancient practice is supported with seasons typically designated for archery hunters seeking native game such as white-tailed deer.
  • Wild Hog Hunting: For those interested in hunting hogs, this forest is known for a robust population of wild hogs, providing a challenging and rewarding pursuit.

Ocala WMA:
The Ocala Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is integral to the national forest and helps in managing hunting activities. Before you embark on your hunting trip, ensure you’re familiar with the WMA’s regulations and requirements, such as permits.

Hunting Seasons and Licenses:
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) manage the hunting seasons, and you’re required to obtain proper licenses and permits. Since specific dates and regulations can change, always check the latest information from the FWC before planning your hunt.

Hunting Etiquette:
While in the forest, always maintain a respectful distance from other hunters and practice safe hunting ethics to protect yourself, others, and the forest’s ecology.

The Ocala National Forest offers you a challenging but potentially rewarding hunting experience amidst a unique and beautiful Floridian landscape.

Big Cypress National Preserve

In the heart of Florida, you will find the expansive Big Cypress National Preserve, a sprawling wilderness area that offers some of the most rewarding hunting experiences in the state. At over 728,000 acres, this preserve encompasses a vast range of wetlands, offering unique habitats for a variety of wildlife.

One of the key species you can hunt within the preserve is the wild hog, an animal that presents both a challenge and an opportunity for seasoned hunters. Hunting in Big Cypress is managed to ensure sustainability and the protection of the ecosystem.

Hunting Seasons at Big Cypress:

  • Archery Season: Specific dates vary, focusing on the management of deer and turkey populations.
  • General Gun Season: Typically includes a period for hunting game like white-tailed deer and hogs.

Big Cypress WMA (Wildlife Management Area) regulations are distinct, with certain areas and seasons for specific game. It’s important to check the current regulations before planning your hunting trip, as these can change to reflect the health of animal populations and preserve conservation aims.

Check for updates and detailed information on hunting within Big Cypress:

For a successful and responsible hunt, ensure you’re familiar with the licensing requirements, specific dates for the hunting season, and any limits on game. The experience of hunting in Big Cypress is enhanced by the knowledge that you are participating in a tradition that respects the balance of this unique ecosystem.

Osceola Wildlife Management Area

Lush wetlands teeming with diverse wildlife, surrounded by tall pine forests and tranquil lakes, make up the Osceola Wildlife Management Area, known for its exceptional hunting opportunities in Florida

Your pursuit of the best hunting experiences in Florida might lead you to the expansive Osceola Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Nestled within the Osceola National Forest, the WMA spreads over more than 266,000 acres and is home to a diverse array of wildlife and habitats.

As a hunter in the Osceola WMA, you can expect a well-managed area that offers opportunities for deer, wild hog, and turkey hunting. The management strategies in place ensure sustainable game populations and preserve the natural ecosystem.

  • Hunting Seasons: Dates vary for different game, so be sure to check regulations for the specific season you’re planning to hunt.
  • Habitats: From pine flatwoods to sandhills and cypress swamps.
  • Access: More than 21 miles of the Florida National Scenic Trail traverse through the area.

Your experiences in the Osceola WMA are not just about the hunt. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in the wild beauty Florida has to offer and to engage in responsible and ethical hunting practices.

To further contribute to conservation efforts, take note that a white-tailed deer study is underway during the 2023-2024 seasons. Any harvested collared or ear-tagged deer should be reported to aid in this research.

Remember, as with all wildlife management areas, you must follow any specific rules and regulations set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to ensure a safe and legal hunting experience.

Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Wildlife Management Area

The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Wildlife Management Area (WMA) offers a variety of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, this area is known for its diverse habitats and wildlife.

Hunting Seasons and Species

You will find a range of game in this area. Hunting seasons vary by species:

SpeciesSeason
DeerCheck regulations brochure
Waterfowl
Typically during winter
Wild Hog
Year-round
TurkeyYear-round

Licenses and Permits

It’s crucial for you to possess the appropriate licenses, permits, and stamps. You may be exempt from certain requirements if you are a Florida resident over the age of 65. For more detailed information, review the FWC’s regulations summary brochures.

Area Regulations

Stay aware of area-specific rules to ensure a safe and legal hunting experience. Regulations may include limits on the number of animals you can take, the type of equipment you can use, and access restrictions.

Remember, always check the latest regulations before you head out, as they can change from year to year. Whether you’re aiming for a trophy buck or looking for waterfowl, the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes WMA could be your next hunting destination in Florida.

Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge

At the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, you experience more than just a typical hunting trip. Encompassing 53,000 acres, this treasure provides a habitat where diverse wildlife thrives. The estuary where the majestic Suwannee River meets the Gulf of Mexico offers a unique backdrop for your hunting adventure.

What You’ll Find:

  • A rich variety of game, including whitetail deer, wild turkey, and waterfowl.
  • A habitat teeming with wildlife like manatees, alligators, and rare bird species such as the swallow-tailed kite.

Hunting Seasons: You enjoy access to the refuge for hunting over 200 days per year confirming the area is a hunter’s haven.

Permits and Regulations:
Before you set out, make sure you obtain your Lower Suwannee Hunt Permit from Go Outdoors Florida. Always review and follow the refuge’s rules and regulations.

Access: With 194 miles of trails, access is available for vehicles, on foot, or by bicycle, ensuring you can traverse this diverse terrain with ease.

Hunting at the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge offers you a chance to immerse in nature while pursuing a variety of game in an ecosystem that not only values the hunter but places a high importance on conservation and respect for wildlife.

Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area

Location and Size
Located in Osceola County, Florida, Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area is a massive tract of land encompassing approximately 63,000 acres. This area offers you a glimpse of Florida’s unique habitats including dry prairie, cypress swamps, freshwater marshes, and pinelands.

Biodiversity and Wildlife
Your visit to Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area provides an opportunity to observe a diverse array of plant and animal life. Notably, it is home to over 180 species of birds, making it a haven for bird watchers. The area forms part of the Great Florida Birding Trail and is essential for the protection of various bird species.

Hunting Seasons and Regulations
To ensure a sustainable hunting experience, the area adheres to specific seasons and regulations. You are required to carry appropriate licenses, permits, and stamps. Exemptions are in place for certain individuals, but it is crucial to stay informed and up to date with the latest information provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Recreational Opportunities
While the area is famed for its hunting prospects, you can also engage in other recreational activities such as hiking and wildlife viewing. Routes and trails are accessible, offering you the chance to immerse yourself in the serene natural surroundings.

ActivitiesDetails
HuntingRegulated seasons, requires permits
Bird WatchingPart of the Great Florida Birding Trail
HikingTrails available through diverse ecosystems
Wildlife ViewingOpportunity to see a variety of animals and plant life

Visiting Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area can be a rewarding experience if you respect the local conservation efforts and enjoy the natural beauty Florida has to offer.

Everglades Ecosystem

The Everglades ecosystem, a natural region of tropical wetlands in Florida, is one of the most unique environments in the world. As a hunting enthusiast, you may be intrigued by the opportunities this area holds.

Everglades National Park is the largest tropical wilderness in the U.S. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that sprawls across 1.5 million acres, harboring a complex network of habitats. Within these expanses, enthusiasts like you can find alligator hunting seasons regulated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to ensure sustainable practices.

Moving north towards Miami-Dade County, the Southern Glades Wildlife and Environmental Area (WMA) offers varied hunting experiences. Here, you can pursue game such as whitetail deer and feral hogs during designated seasons.

For a unique hunting backdrop, Fisheating Creek WMA lies to the west of Lake Okeechobee. This area provides you with lush landscapes where game like turkeys roam. As you explore, remember that specific regulations apply to ensure a balance between recreation and conservation.

Lake Okeechobee itself, often referred to as Florida’s inland sea, is an angler’s haven. Though not primarily known for hunting, the lake’s surrounding areas contribute to the Everglades’ diverse ecosystem.

  • Hunting Summary:
    • Everglades National Park: Restricted hunting, celebrated for alligator seasons.
    • Miami-Dade County: Access to Southern Glades WMA, diverse game.
    • Western Regions: Fisheating Creek WMA offers a varied hunting landscape.
    • Lake Okeechobee: Renowned for fishing rather than hunting.

When you plan your hunting trip in the Everglades region, ensure that you are well-versed in the specific regulations and seasons set to maintain the area’s ecological balance. Your awareness and adherence to these rules help preserve the Everglades for future generations to experience and enjoy.

Upper St. Johns River Basin Wildlife Management Area

Your adventures in Florida aren’t complete without a visit to the Upper St. Johns River Marsh Wildlife Management Area (WMA). This WMA hosts more than 120,000 acres straddling Brevard and Indian River counties, offering you an expansive playground for a variety of outdoor activities, with an emphasis on waterfowl hunting.

  • Hunting Seasons: Each hunting season, you have the opportunity to hunt various game species. The area is especially renowned for its high-quality waterfowl habitat, so if you’re looking to bag ducks, this is your spot.
  • Access: Keep in mind, hunting is restricted to Tuesdays and Saturdays. A quota permit is required except during youth hunts, ensuring you have the quality experience you deserve.
  • Levee System: Spanning 62 miles, the levee system presents you with not just hunting access, but also fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Enjoy interacting with the diverse flora and fauna thanks to the active restoration efforts improving this habitat.

Remember, whenever you’re planning a hunting trip to the Upper St. Johns River Basin Wildlife Management Area, it’s essential to check the most current regulations. You owe it to yourself to be well-informed on seasonal changes, specific area rules, and any required permits. Ensuring a responsible and ethical hunt guarantees the conservation and enjoyment of this natural treasure for years to come.

Joe Budd Wildlife Management Area

Nestled near Tallahassee along the north shore of Lake Talquin, Joe Budd Wildlife Management Area is a prime destination for hunting enthusiasts. With 11,039 acres of varied ecosystems, you will find an environment teeming with wildlife and lush vegetation.

Key Features:

  • Old-Growth Forests: One significant attribute of this area is the stand of old-growth longleaf pine, a rare sight that adds to the beauty and ecological value of this WMA.
  • Diverse Habitats: Range includes slope forests, where in spring, you might spot the bloom of the rare orange azalea or silky-camellia.

Hunting Opportunities:

Joe Budd provides a plethora of game for hunting:

  • White-tailed Deer
  • Wild Hog
  • Turkey
  • Migratory Birds

To ensure a fruitful hunting experience, familiarize yourself with the area’s hunting regulations. Licenses, permits, and stamps are necessary, with certain exemptions. Detailed information can be found at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Remember, safe hunting practices are paramount. Respect the seasons and the rules set to maintain sustainable wildlife populations and habitats within the WMA. Be attentive to the sounds of hooded and Swainson’s warblers; your hunting trip at Joe Budd can also be an opportunity to enjoy the natural chorus of Florida’s wildlife.

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