Deer Hunting in Florida

Back to All State Reports
  • D
  • 750,000

    Est. Whitetail Population

  • 110,000

    No. Licenses Sold Annually

  • $27 and up

    Hunting license is $17 and deer permit is $5. Hunters must also have applicable license for archery, muzzleloader or gun hunting and they are $5 each.

    Resident hunting license and deer permit

  • $161.50 and up

    Hunting license is $151.50 and deer permit is $5. Hunters must also have applicable license for archery, muzzleloader or gun hunting and they are $5 each.

    Non-resident hunting license and deer permit

  • None

    Record B&C Typical Stat

  • None

    Total B&C Typical Entries

  • 201 3/8"

    Taken by Clark Durrance in Wakulla County in 1941.

    Record B&C Non-Typical Stat

  • 2

    Record B&C Non-Typical Entries

Don't forget about Florida. They have deer, too. (Tony Campbell)

Season Dates (2020):

Florida deer hunting seasons are pretty complex. The state is divided into four zones, and dates and weapon types vary greatly for each one. Even within the zone parameters, there are other variances, as additional regulations apply. Check the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website to confirm.

The Grade: D

Unless you are a resident of Florida or live nearby, the Sunshine State is most likely not the first state that comes to mind when thinking about deer hunting. Bucks run small, hot weather is frequently a hindrance, and the zones, seasons, and bag limits are complex. 

Nonetheless, there are a lot of deer in Florida, with plenty of public land. There are some unique opportunities, including the chance to bowhunt rutting whitetails in early August in some areas of South Florida. Still, as whitetail destinations go, Florida gets a D. 

Antler Nation Knowledge:

There have only been two all-time trophies recorded in the Boone and Crockett record books and both were taken more than half a century ago. The No. 1 Florida buck was killed in 1941 and the No. 2 buck was bagged in 1959. Unsurprisingly, both deer came from the central part of the Panhandle where the largest bucks generally call home. If a good deer is what you’re looking for, the best ones comes from counties in or nearest to this region.

One good thing about Florida? It isn’t hard to find a place to hunt. With nearly 6 million acres of public, it has one of the largest WMA systems in the country. Don’t overlook National Wildlife Refuge hunts, either. There are also quota hunts and special-opportunity hunts. Just remember, while some locations don’t require permits, others do. Deer hunters can analyze valuable harvest data by reviewing the buck registry interactive map.

As for the rut, it’s pretty wacky in Florida. Depending on location, peak dates range from July to February. A long growing season and mild winters are partly to blame for this, which allows fawning to occur practically year-round, and can even shift a little from year to year.

Something else that changes? Regulations. According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Tammy Sapp, several changes were made for this season. She says the new annual statewide bag limit is set at five deer per hunter, and no more than two can be antlerless. All deer hunters must report their harvests. A youth deer hunt weekend is established in all four hunting zones. And to reduce the risk of chronic wasting disease (CWD) spreading into Florida, the FWC issued an executive order establishing special regulations related to importing deer carcasses. Then, in 2021, dogs being used to pursue game will be required to wear GPS or telemetry collars.

Florida Harvests

  • Matthew Neri

    Tierra Verde, Florida

  • Eric Neri

    FL, Florida

From the Realtree Trophy Den