Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) commissioners have approved new deer hunting rules that take effect starting with the opening of archery and crossbow seasons in Zone A on Aug. 3.
One of the rules establishes a new annual statewide bag limit of five deer per hunter, with a maximum of two antlerless deer — which is defined as any deer, except a spotted fawn, without antlers or whose antlers are less than 5 inches in length. However, antlerless deer may still only be harvested during seasons when they are legal to take, such as during archery season and on antlerless deer days.
New rules require all hunters to report deer they harvest. However, deer taken with a deer depredation permit or from a game farm or licensed hunting preserve do not have to be logged and reported through the harvest report system.
All antlerless deer taken on lands enrolled in the antlerless deer permit program must be tagged with an issued antlerless deer tag, even if they are harvested on a day when the take of antlerless deer is otherwise allowed (such as archery season) within the zone in which the enrolled lands are located. In addition, the deer must be recorded on the harvest log of and reported to the FWC’s harvest reporting system by the hunter who harvested the deer.
After the season ends, permittees must report the total number of antlerless deer taken on his or her enrolled properties by April 1.
Beginning with the 2019-2020 hunting season, youth 15 years old and younger who are supervised by an adult (18 years or older) may participate in a new youth deer hunt weekend. This new Saturday-Sunday youth deer hunt coincides with the muzzleloading gun season in all four hunting zones and is not available on wildlife management areas.
Youth may harvest one antlered or antlerless deer (except spotted fawn) and the deer counts toward their annual bag limit. Youth are allowed to use any method of take legal for deer and may even use dogs to pursue deer on deer-dog registered properties.
No license or permit is required of youth hunters (15 years old and younger) or accompanying adults (18 years or older) who only supervise. Since the youth hunt coincides with muzzleloading gun seasons, supervising adults and other non-youth also may hunt but must use either a muzzleloader, bow or crossbow, and possess a hunting license, deer permit and muzzleloading gun permit, unless exempt.
If youth use dogs to pursue deer (only allowed on deer-dog registered properties), any person (16 years of age or older) participating in the hunt may not shoot or shoot at deer.