Florida hunters need to be aware of two new hunting regulation changes for the 2019–2020 deer season: The implementation of a statewide bag limit on deer and a mandatory reporting requirement for all harvested deer.
The state’s new annual deer bag limit is set at five deer and allows only two of those five deer to be antlerless. The new bag limit applies to all hunters, including those who are exempt from hunting licenses and permit requirements, and includes the combined total of all deer taken on private and public lands. Youth hunters’ bag limits can also now include one antlered deer that doesn’t meet the state’s deer management unit antler regulations.
The antlerless deer permit program, the deer depredation program and the private lands deer management program are exempt from the new bag-limit rule.
“This adaptive approach to deer management is intended to improve hunting opportunities by encouraging harvest among more hunters as well as greater selectivity, while helping maintain a healthy and reasonably balanced deer herd,” explained Cory Morea, Florida’s deer management program coordinator.
Prior to the regulation change, Florida was the only state in the Southeast without a specified annual bag limit for deer.
The other regulation requires all hunters, regardless of age and license type, to report all deer killed and enter specific information in their harvest logs before moving any deer from the point of harvest. This includes deer killed on private property. Log information must then be reported to the FWC’s harvest reporting system within 24 hours of harvesting. Harvest log information must be submitted before the final processing of the deer or any parts of it are transferred to a processor or a taxidermist, or before the deer leaves the state. Deer taken with depredation permits, from a game farm or from a licensed hunting preserve are the only exceptions.
“A harvest reporting system will foster bag limit compliance and give the FWC another source of deer harvest data,” Morea said.
The new rules go into effect statewide Aug. 3. Possession limits and daily bag limits are still in effect and hunters are encouraged to check with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for specific regulation guidelines and details.