The 2019-2020 hunting season is already underway in south Florida’s Zone A and will soon be opening in the other three hunting zones. This season, there are new statewide rule changes that hunters need to understand, especially when it comes to hunting deer.
New annual bag limit for deer
“There is now a five-deer annual bag limit, of which no more than two may be antlerless. This applies to all hunters and is the maximum number of deer that any one hunter may take in the state throughout the entire deer hunting season,” said Cory Morea, FWC biologist and deer management program coordinator.
Deer harvested on licensed game farms/hunting preserves and those taken through the deer depredation program, private lands deer management program and antlerless deer program permits do not count as part of a hunter’s five-deer annual bag limit. However, antlerless deer taken on wildlife management areas using antlerless deer quota permits/tags do count toward a hunter’s five deer (of which two may be antlerless) annual bag limit.
“This annual bag limit was developed through extensive collaboration with staff and stakeholders and aligns with the goals and objectives outlined in our Commission-approved strategic plan for deer management,” Morea said. “It 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.”
Until now, Florida was the only state in the Southeast without a specified annual bag limit.
New harvest reporting requirement for deer hunters
All hunters, regardless of age or license requirement, must now log their harvested deer prior to moving the deer from the point where the hunter located it. They can do so using the new FWC Deer Harvest Reporting App or a paper deer harvest log.
The app is called “Survey123 for ArcGIS” and can be downloaded for free onto a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, from the Apple App Store, Google Play Store or Amazon AppStore. At MyFWC.com/HarvestReport, hunters can learn how to find and download the app and install the FWC Deer Harvest Report Form. In addition, there’s a separate set of instructions for using the app. Once a hunter inputs the required data in the app and successfully submits the harvest record, a confirmation number will be saved in the hunter’s “sent” folder within the app, and the log/reporting process is complete. If no cell service or Wi-Fi is available, the harvest record will be saved in the “outbox” folder and the hunter may send the report once service is available.
If hunters do not have a mobile device or, if hunters prefer, they may choose to log their harvest on a paper deer harvest log. The FWC provides a courtesy deer harvest log that hunters can print from MyFWC.com/HarvestReport. If hunters use a paper harvest log, they will need to report their harvest by either calling the toll-free Deer Harvest Reporting Hotline at 844-392-DEER (3337) between 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET or by using the FWC Deer Harvest Reporting App. A confirmation number will be given once successful submission is completed, and hunters must write that number on their paper harvest log to complete the harvest reporting process.
The reporting step must be done within 24 hours of harvest, before final processing of the deer, before any of the deer is transferred to a meat processor or taxidermist, or before leaving the state with the deer.
Deer harvested on licensed game farms/hunting preserves or those possessed that were killed by motor vehicles do not have to be reported.
“The harvest reporting system will foster bag-limit compliance and give us another source of deer harvest data,” Morea said. “In addition, we will continue conducting our annual hunter phone survey after the end of each season.”