UPDATED ON: May 1st, 2015
About the time cabin fever kicks in for many hunters across the country, Florida hunters are already kicking off some of their most exciting hunting days of the year. Ever thought of tackling the many opportunities Florida’s spring hunting season offers? I will have to admit that living in Florida during March, April and May is not so bad. Especially right now with all of the snow storms that most everyone else in the U.S. are experiencing. And what makes these months even more attractive are the ample opportunities for hunting Florida’s “spring-time slam” with hog hunting, bowfishing, and chasing longbeards.
Wild hogs are not native to Florida and are pretty much seen as a nuisance to all who have ever had them come on to their private property. That’s also a reason why if you have private property, or simply permission to hunt private property, hunting in Florida is open year-round in all 67 counties, during daylight or night hours. There is no bag or size limit, and either male or females can be taken at any time during the hunt. An easy visual indicator that hogs are within the area is rooting. Rooting takes place when hogs use their broad snouts to root up the soil and ground which leaves the area looking like a plowed field and leaves the ground open to loss of moisture and any new plants or vegetation growing. For those who do not have access to private property, no worries. There are an abundance of Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) in Florida. Hogs can be taken during most open hunting seasons in these areas except for Spring turkey. However, no lights and no night hunting is allowed. It’s always recommended to check the specific hunting guidelines on www.myfwc.com for WMA regulations.
Early Season Bowfishing
Bowfishing is another great late Winter and early Spring activity here in Florida. Most shooters in other parts of the country will have to wait until the lakes thaw out enough to chase fish with bows. This can often be mid-spring for some states. Not in Florida. Bowfishing opportunities in this beautiful state rarely slow down. Opportunities abound both on the coast, as well as on in-land lakes and rivers. Though a boat is nice to have to move from spot to spot, you can be just as successful hunting from the bank of a lake or river to shoot fish. There are some restrictions on types of fish you cannot take, however it seems that most of those fall into the saltwater category and not fresh water species. Bowfishing from the bank also gives you more room and freedom to move about instead of everyone piling to the front of the boat to try and get a shot off. Florida offers one of the greatest varieties of fish species for bowfishing. Carp, gar, bowfin, shad, catfish, bullhead, oscar, tilapia perch, sucker, snakehead, and many more. And if that’s not enough, sting-rays have been the latest rage for bowfishermen shooting the waters along this great state.
Florida’s Lord of the Spring
Of course my favorite Spring activity here in Florida is turkey hunting! Our season starts as early as February 28, with Youth Season kicking off in the south zones, and goes thru April 26th. There is a daily bag limit, as well as season and possession limit of 2 birds. If you plan on hunting WMAs for Spring turkey, most areas require prior permit submission. Some locations do allow limited walk-ins. Those limited walk-in areas are available on a daily basis only and you must check in at each location for availability. If you plan on turkey hunting in Florida, you won’t want to forget to bring your ThermaCELL and snake-proof boots. These items are a must when it comes to hunting warm spring weather in Florida. Don’t leave the truck without them!
Of course no matter which early Spring hunting activity you may participate in here in Florida, the rule of thumb is to be prepared for any weather. However, I can be confident in saying, at least there won’t be snow to contend with and you can focus on enjoying the hunt.