Big Shoals WMA

Regulations Summary and Area Map
July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015

Brochure Adobe PDF | Map Only Adobe PDF

This brochure is designed to provide the public with information and a summary of regulations pertaining to hunting and other recreational use on the Big Shoals Wildlife Management Area.Regulations that are new or differ substantially from last year are shown in bold print.Area users should familiarize themselves with all regulations. For exact wording of the wildlife laws and regulations, see the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s wildlife code, on file with the Secretary of State and state libraries. This brochure, the Florida Hunting Regulations handbook, and quota permit worksheets should provide the information necessary for you to plan your hunting activities. These publications are available from any Commission office, county tax collector and at MyFWC.com.

Persons using wildlife management areas are required to have appropriate licenses, permits and stamps. The following persons are exempt from all license and permit requirements (except for quota permits when listed as “no exemptions”, recreational use permits, antlerless deer permits and the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp [federal duck stamp]): Florida residents who are 65 years of age or older; residents who possess a Florida Resident Disabled Person Hunting and Fishing Certificate; residents in the U.S. Armed Forces, not stationed in Florida, while home on leave for 30 days or less, upon submission of orders; and children under 16 years of age. Children under 16 years of age are exempt from the federal duck stamp. Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975 and 16 years of age or older must have passed a Commission-approved hunter-safety course prior to being issued a hunting license, except the Hunter Safety Mentoring exemption allows anyone to purchase a hunting license and hunt under the supervision of a licensed hunter, 21 years of age or older.

Licenses and permits may be purchased from county tax collectors, license agents, at MyFWC.com/license or by telephone at 888-486-8356. A no-cost Migratory Bird Permit is available when purchasing a hunting license. Any waterfowl hunter 16 years of age or older must possess a federal duck stamp; available where hunting licenses are sold, at most post offices or at www.duckstamp.com.


Quota Permit Information:

Archery - 35, no-cost, quota permits (no exemptions) for each of 3 hunts.
Muzzleloading Gun - 20, no-cost, quota permits (no exemptions) for each of 2 hunts.
Youth Turkey - 20, no-cost, quota permits (no exemptions).
Spring Turkey - 20, no-cost, quota permits (no exemptions) for each of 2 hunts.

Permit applications: Hunters must submit electronic applications for quota permits through the Commission’s Recreational License Issuance Services (RLIS). Worksheets listing hunts, application periods, deadlines and instructions are available at county tax collector’s offices, FWC offices or MyFWC.com. Quota application periods occur throughout the year beginning April 1; please refer to the hunting handbook or MyFWC.com for specific dates. Worksheets will be available about 2 weeks prior to each application period.

Guest hunters: For each non-transferable archery, muzzleloading gun, general gun, wild hog, spring turkey and mobility-impaired quota permit issued through the Commission’s RLIS, a quota permit holder (host) may take a guest hunter by obtaining a guest permit. Guest hunters are not allowed during youth turkey hunts. A guest hunter must possess a completed guest permit while hunting except the following persons may be a guest hunter without a guest permit: a youth under 16 years of age, a youth supervisor, a mentor license holder or a mentor license supervisor. A host may only bring 1 guest hunter at a time and may only use 1 guest permit per day. The following persons are not considered to be guest hunters: other quota permit holders, non-hunters and exempt hunters (on areas and during seasons that allow exemptions). The host must share the bag limit with the guest hunter and the host is responsible for violations that exceed the bag limit. The guest hunter and host must enter and exit the area together and must share a street-legal vehicle while hunting on the area. The guest hunter may hunt only while the host is on the area and must hunt in the same zone to which the host is assigned. Refer to the quota hunt worksheets for additional information.

Youth and mentor license holders: A youth hunter (less than 16 years of age) must be supervised by a person at least 18 years of age. A mentor license holder must be supervised by a licensed hunter at least 21 years of age. Unless exempt, only those supervisors with proper licenses and permits may hunt. If the supervisor is hunting during any hunt for which quota permits are issued, at least 1 person in the party must be in possession of a quota permit. A non-hunting supervisor is allowed to accompany a youth or mentor license holder during any hunt.

Transfer of permits: Quota and guest permits are not transferable. A positive form of identification is required when using a non-transferable permit, except for a youth under 16 years of age. The sale or purchase of any quota permit or guest permit is prohibited.

Zone tags - Zone tags will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis at the check station. Zone tags may not be transferred from 1 hunter to another. If available, 1 zone tag may be exchanged for another at the check station. While on the area, the hunter must have in his or her possession a zone tag and must hunt only in the zone corresponding to that tag. Zone tags must be returned to the check station at the end of each hunt day. The designated hunter quota is divided among zones (see map): archery – A-17, B-18; muzzleloading gun and spring turkey – A-10, B-10.


General Area Regulations:

All general laws and regulations relating to wildlife and fish shall apply unless specifically exempted for this area. Hunting or the taking of wildlife or fish on this area shall be allowed only during the open seasons and in accordance with the following regulations:

  1. Any person hunting deer or accompanying another person hunting deer shall wear at least 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent-orange material as an outer garment, above the waistline. These provisions are not required when hunting with a bow and arrow during archery season.
  2. Taking of spotted fawn, swimming deer or roosted turkey is prohibited. Species legal to hunt are listed under each season.
  3. It is illegal to hunt over bait or place any bait or other food for wildlife on this area.
  4. Driving a metal object into any tree, or hunting from a tree into which a metal object has been driven, is prohibited.
  5. No person shall cut, damage or remove any natural, man-made or cultural resource without written authorization of the landowner or primary land manager.
  6. Taking or attempting to take any game with the aid of live decoys, recorded game calls or sounds, set guns, artificial light, net, trap, snare, drug or poison is prohibited. Recorded calls and sounds can be used to hunt wild hog and crows.
  7. The wanton and willful waste of wildlife is prohibited.
  8. Hunting, fishing or trapping is prohibited on any portion of the area posted as closed to those activities.
  9. People, dogs, vehicles and other recreational equipment are prohibited in areas posted as “Closed to Public Access” by FWC administrative action.
  10. Taking or herding wildlife from any motorized vehicle, aircraft or boat, which is under power is prohibited until power, and movement from that power, has ceased.
  11. Most game may be hunted from ½ hour before sunrise until ½ hour after sunset (see exceptions for each season).
  12. The release of any animal is prohibited, without written authorization of the landowner or primary land manager.
  13. The head and evidence of sex may not be removed from the carcass of any deer or turkey on the area.
  14. The planting or introduction of any non-native plant is prohibited, without written authorization of the landowner or primary land manager.
  15. Wild hog may not be transported alive.
  16. A hunting license is not required for the take of wild hog.
  17. Littering is prohibited.
  18. It is unlawful to set fire to any forest, grass or woodlands.
  19. A Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Law Enforcement Officer may search any camp, vehicle or boat, in accordance with law.
  20. Falconers may hunt during the statewide falconry season anytime a management area is open for public access. Falconers are not exempt from quota permits during hunts requiring them.

Public Access and Vehicles:

  1. Open to public recreational access year round but only from 8 a.m. until sunset, except during hunting seasons when access is allowed only from 1½ hours before sunrise until 1½ hours after sunset.
  2. An entrance fee is required when entering Big Shoals State Park.
  3. Vehicular access for recreational use other than hunting is off of CR 135 (State Park Entrance: Little Shoals) and Old Godwin Bridge Road (State Park Entrance: Big Shoals).
  4. Vehicles may be operated only on portions of numbered roads.
  5. The use of airboats, all-terrain vehicles, tracked vehicles and unlicensed and unregisteredmotorcycles is prohibited.
  6. Horses are only allowed on roads open to vehicle use and on designated horse trails.
  7. Parked vehicles may not obstruct a road, gate or firelane.
  8. No motor vehicle shall be operated on any part of any wildlife management area that has been designated as closed to vehicular traffic.

Hunters and Check Stations:

  1. Hunting is prohibited in Big Shoals State Park (see map).
  2. During hunting periods, hunters must enter and exit the area only through the check station on CR 135.
  3. Except during the small game season, hunters must check in at the check station upon entering and check out upon leaving the area, obtain a zone tag and check all game harvested.
  4. Check station hours are 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. during Eastern Daylight Saving Time and 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. during Eastern Standard Time, except during the spring turkey season when hours are 5 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  5. Hunting equipment may not be taken onto the WMA until after 8 a.m. the day before the opening of a season and shall be removed by 6 p.m. 1 day after the end of the season.

Guns:

  1. Hunting at night with a gun is prohibited.
  2. Muzzleloading guns used for taking deer must be .40 caliber or larger, if firing a single bullet, or be 20 gauge or larger if firing 2 or more balls.
  3. Air guns may be used to hunt gray squirrel and rabbits during small game season only.
  4. Children under the age of 16 hunting with a firearm or air gun must be in the presence of a supervising adult.
  5. No person shall discharge a firearm or have a loaded firearm in hand while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  6. For hunting non-migratory game, only shotguns, rifles (muzzleloading and rimfire only), pistols, bows, crossbows or falconry may be used.
  7.  Hunting with full automatic or silencer-equipped firearms, centerfire rifles, explosive or drug-injecting devices and set guns is prohibited.
  8. The discharge of a firearm outside of periods open to hunting or in areas closed to hunting is prohibited per s. 790.15 FS.

Dogs:

  1. Hunting with dogs is prohibited.
  2. No person shall allow any dog to pursue or molest any wildlife during any period in which the taking of wildlife by the use of dogs is prohibited.
  3. Dogs on leashes may be used for trailing wounded game.
  4. For purposes other than hunting, dogs are allowed (except in areas posted as Closed To Pets), but must be kept under physical restraint at all times.

Bag and Possession Limits:

A guest hunter must share the host’s bag limit. No person shall exceed statewide bag limits.

  1. Deer -
    1. Archery season - daily limit 2, possession limit 4. This limit may include any combination of antlered and antlerless deer.
    2. Muzzleloading gun season - daily limit 2, possession limit 4. Only antlered deer may be taken.
  2. Wild hog - No size or bag limit.
  3. Turkey - Daily limit 1, season limit 2, possession limit 2.
  4. Gray squirrel and rabbit - Daily limit 12, possession limit 24 for each.

Archery Season:

September 22-27, September 29 through October 4 and October 6-11.

Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Quota permit, zone tag, hunting license, management area permit, archery permit, deer permit (if hunting deer) and wild turkey permit (if hunting wild turkey).
Legal to Hunt -Any deer (except spotted fawn), wild hog, turkey of either sex, gray squirrel and rabbit.
Regulations Unique to Archery Season - Hunting with guns or crossbows (except by disabled crossbow permit) is prohibited.


Muzzleloading Gun Season:

October 24-26 and October 31 through November 2.

Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Quota permit, zone tag, hunting license, management area permit, muzzleloading gun permit and deer permit (if hunting deer).
Legal to Hunt - Deer with at least 1 antler 5 inches or more in length, wild hog, gray squirrel and rabbit.
Regulations Unique to Muzzleloading Gun Season - Hunting with archery equipment or guns, other than muzzleloading guns, is prohibited.


Small Game Season:

December 15-20 and 22-27.

Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Hunting license and management area permit.
Legal to Hunt - Wild hog, gray squirrel and rabbit.
Regulations Unique to Small Game Season - Hunting with centerfire rifles is prohibited.


Trapping:

Prohibited.


Spring Turkey Season:

Youth Turkey: March 14-15.
Spring Turkey: March 26-28 and April 16-18.

Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Quota permit, zone tag, hunting license, management area permit and wild turkey permit.
Legal to Hunt - Bearded turkey or gobbler.
Regulations Unique to Spring Turkey Season -

  1. Legal shooting hours are ½ hour before sunrise until 1 p.m.
  2. Hunting other animals is prohibited.
  3. Only bows, crossbows and shotguns using a #2 or smaller shot size may be used for hunting.
  4. During the youth turkey hunt, only youth under 16 years of age may hunt and must be under the supervision and in the presence of an adult not younger than 18 years of age. Adults with required licenses and permits for taking wild turkeys may participate when in the presence of a youth, but may not harvest a wild turkey.

Fishing:

Allowed year round.
Permit, Stamp and License Requirements - Fishing license.
Legal to Take - See Florida Freshwater Fishing Regulations Summary.
Regulations Unique to Fishing - All General Freshwater Fishing Regulations shall apply. Frogging is prohibited.


General Information:

  1. Information for persons with disabilities can be found at MyFWC.com/ADA.
  2. This land was acquired under the Conservation and Recreation Lands (CARL) program and the Save Our Rivers (SOR) program. The purpose of CARL and SOR is to conserve and protect unique and irreplaceable lands and water resources, restore areas to their original condition as much as possible, and allow controlled multiple recreational and educational uses consistent with this purpose.
  3. If you have any questions about this material, please call the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 386-758-0525 (TDD 800-955-8771).
  4. The FWC is not responsible for protection of personal property and will not be liable for theft of or damage to personal property.
  5. Please report the location of any sick or extremely skinny deer to the Chronic Wasting Disease hotline, toll free at 866-293-9282.

Florida Forest Service Rules and Information:

  1. The Florida Forest Service requires a fee at some day-use areas and all campgrounds. Hunters are exempt from paying day-use fees 2 weeks prior to and during schedules hunts. All campground and other fees apply. For information on general recreation and fees, please contact the Florida Forest Service at 386-208-1460.
  2. Florida Forest Service management includes prescribed burning and timber management during most months of the year, including hunting seasons. Area users should contact the Florida Forest Service for information and location of burn areas, 386-208-1461.

Suwannee River WMD Rules and Information:

  1. Public use of Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) lands is regulated by Chapter 40B-9, Florida Administrative Code, in addition to the FWC rules listed above. For detailed information regarding public use rules and recreational opportunities on SRWMD lands, please visit mysuwanneeriver.com or contact the Land Management Specialist at 386-362-1001, 800-226-1066 (FL only) or recreation@srwmd.org.
  2. The SRWMD management activities include prescribed burning and timber harvesting during most months of the year. For personal safety reasons, area users should contact the SRWMD for information and locations at 386-362-1001 or 800-226-1066 (FL only). Notices are posted on the SRWMD website mysuwanneeriver.com.
  3. Hunters are requested to use the parking areas identified on the map, when feasible.
  4. Dogs are prohibited in areas posted as “Closed To Pets”.
  5. The possession of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.

Cooperation Requested:

If you see law violators or suspicious activities, contact your nearest Commission regional office or call 888-404-FWCC. You may qualify for a cash reward from the Wildlife Alert Reward Association.

The U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in any program, activity or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to: The Office for Human Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. 20240. The project described in this publication is part of a program funded by federal dollars under the Wildlife Restoration Act. Federal funds pay 20 percent of the cost of the program.



FWC Facts:
The FWC's Bowhunter Education Course offers traditional or distance-learning opportunities.

Learn More at AskFWC