Taking game

Legal Methods of Taking Game

Definition of Take:

The term shall include taking, attempting to take, pursuing, hunting, molesting, capturing, or killing any wildlife or freshwater fish, or their nests or eggs by any means whether or not such actions result in obtaining possession of such wildlife or freshwater fish or their nests or eggs.

Resident game birds and mammals:

Rifles, shotguns, pistols, longbows, compound bows, recurve bows, crossbows and birds of prey (falcons, hawks and great horned owls) may be used. Longbows, compound bows and recurve bows must have minimum draw weights of 35 pounds. Hand-held releases may be used. Arrows and bolts used to take deer, turkeys or bears must be equipped with broadheads having at least two sharpened edges with
minimum widths of 7/8 inch. Nonmigratory game can be taken from stationary vehicles.
Gray squirrels and rabbits are the only game animals that can be taken with air guns.

Hunting deer and bears with a muzzleloader:

Muzzleloading guns firing single bullets must be at least .40-caliber. Muzzleloading guns firing two or more balls must be 20-gauge or larger.

Migratory game birds:

Shotguns (not larger than 10-gauge) plugged to a three-shell capacity including a one-piece filler that cannot be removed without disassembling the gun and are incapable of holding more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined, birds of prey, bows and crossbows may be used.

Prohibited methods and equipment for taking game

  • This document doesn’t address or advise persons as to local ordinances prohibiting the discharge of firearms or as to the validity of such ordinances.
  • Taking migratory game birds with a shotgun capable of holding more than three rounds (plugged)
  • Centerfire semi-automatic rifles having magazine capacities of more than five rounds
  • Nonexpanding full metal case (military ball) ammunition for taking deer and bears
  • Firearms using rimfire cartridges for taking deer and bears
  • Rifles or pistols for taking migratory game birds
  • Fully automatic firearms
  • Explosive or drug-injecting arrows
  • Taking or attempting to take game with live decoys, recorded game calls or sounds, set guns, artificial lights, nets, traps, snares, drugs or poisons
  • Shooting from vehicles, powerboats or sailboats moving under power. Motors must be shut off or sails furled, and the vessel’s progress must cease from such motor or sail before hunters may take game.
  • Herding or driving game with vehicles, boats or aircraft
  • Hunting turkeys and bears with dogs
  • Taking turkeys while they are on the roost
  • Taking migratory game birds over baited areas
  • Taking turkeys when the hunter is within 100 yards of a game-feeding station when feed is present
  • Taking bears when either the hunter or bear is within 100 yards of a game-feeding station when feed is present
  • Taking spotted fawn deer or swimming deer
  • Using bows equipped with sights or aiming devices with electronic computational capabilities or light projection (laser) features during any archery season
  • Using bows with draw weights less than 35 pounds
  • Using dogs without collars that identify the owners name and address
  • Using dogs on private lands without written landowner permission (see Statewide deer-dog registration in General Information)
  • Taking game with modern firearms while hunting during any archery, crossbow or muzzleloading gun season
  • Placing, exposing or distributing soporific, anesthetic, tranquilizer, hypnotic or similar drugs or chemicals; preparation by baits; or by other means where game birds or game animals may be affected, unless authorized by permit from the FWC executive director

Areas closed to hunting

  • Taking or attempting to take wildlife is illegal on, upon or from rights-of-way of federal, state or county-maintained roads, whether paved or otherwise, except reptiles and amphibians may be taken without the use of firearms and raptors may be taken per Rule 68A-9.005, F.A.C. Casting dogs from rights-of-way is considered attempting to take wildlife and constitutes violation of this regulation.
  • Discharging firearms over paved public roads, rights-of-way, highways, streets or occupied premises is prohibited.
  • Shooting or propelling potentially lethal projectiles over or across private land without authorization in order to take game is considered criminal trespassing and is a felony.
  • Taking deer is prohibited by any method in the Florida Keys.
  • Taking deer is illegal in that portion of Collier County lying south of S.R. 84 (I-75), west of S.R. 29, north of U.S. 41 and east of the western boundary of Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve.
  • Hunting is prohibited on most sanctuaries and parks.

Antlerless deer permits — private lands

  • A person who owns, leases or has written permission to take antlerless deer on at least 640 acres or not less than 150 acres, if the property is adjoining land already receiving antlerless deer permits, may apply for permits. A group with adjoining lands also may apply together provided the total combined acreage is at least 640 acres.
  • Applications must be submitted no later than 30 days prior to the final day of general gun season in the hunting zone that the property is situated. Antlerless deer permit applications may be submitted at MyFWC.com/Deer.

On private lands, an antlerless deer permit is not required to take antlerless deer during the antlerless deer season, archery season and crossbow season (when it coincides with archery season).

Wildlife Alert Reward Program

Report fishing, boating or hunting law violations by calling toll-free 888-404-FWCC (3922); on cell phones, dial *FWC or #FWC depending on service carrier or text TIP@MyFWC.com (standard usage fees may apply); or report violations at MyFWC.com/WildlifeAlert.

Visit our Facebook page at Facebook.com/WildlifeAlert.

The residents of Florida have an opportunity to help protect our state’s fish and wildlife from poaching and wildlife and environmental violations and to help protect each other from boaters who are operating boats under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It’s called “Wildlife Alert.”

Wildlife Alert is a reward-based program for apprehending those who violate Florida’s fish and wildlife laws. Through the program, alert residents become the eyes and ears of fish and wildlife law enforcement officers and are rewarded for their efforts.

Callers can report any suspicious activity, supplying information such as the physical descriptions of violators, vehicles, license tag numbers, locations, etc. They should report it as soon as possible, but they should not put themselves in any dangerous situation. Callers remain anonymous and will not be required to testify in court.

To make an anonymous phone call to report fish and wildlife violations, call toll-free 888-404-3922 or visit MyFWC.com/WildlifeAlert.

FWC Facts:
According to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife-Associated Recreation, 66.1 million people engage in wildlife observation, spending about $38.5 billion per year.

Learn More at AskFWC