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, recurve bows and crossbows must have minimum draw weights of 35 pounds. Hand-held releases may be used. Arrows used to take deer, turkeys or hogs 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. Air guns may be used to take gray squirrel and rabbit only.


Hunting deer 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 when hunting deer
  • Nonexpanding full metal case (military ball) ammunition for taking deer
  • Firearms using rimfire cartridges for taking deer
  • Rifles or pistols for taking migratory game birds
  • Fully automatic or silencer-equipped 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 wildlife.
  • Herding or driving wildlife with vehicles, boats or aircraft
  • Hunting turkeys with dogs
  • Taking turkeys while they are on the roost
  • Taking migratory game birds over baited areas
  • Taking turkeys over baited areas
  • Taking turkeys when the hunter is within 100 yards of a game-feeding station when feed is present
  • Taking spotted fawn deer or swimming deer
  • Hunting with bows equipped with sights or aiming devices with electronic computational capabilities or light projection (laser) features during archery season
  • Hunting resident game using bows and crossbows 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 archery, crossbow and 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. Casting dogs from rights-of-way is considered attempting to take wildlife and constitutes violation of this regulation. The exception to this rule is amphibians or reptiles may be taken without the use of firearms from the above mentioned rights-of-way.
  • 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

The residents of Florida have an opportunity to help protect our state’s fish and wildlife from poaching and wildlife 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,” and everyone who has access to a telephone or the Internet can participate in this important effort.

Wildlife Alert is a reward-based program created in 1979 to increase resident participation in apprehending those who violate Florida’s fish and wildlife laws. The program is administered by a 13-member committee appointed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s executive director. This committee oversees direction of the program and manages the reward payment schedule.

Through the program, alert residents become the eyes and ears of fish and wildlife law enforcement officers and are rewarded for their efforts. Many times residents’ calls are the only way law enforcement officers find out about some violations.

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 reporting potential violators do not have to give their names or e-mail addresses. They 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:
White-tailed deer are the most important game species in Florida.

Learn More at AskFWC