While this year’s hunting season is winding up, it’s never too early to think about getting ready for next year. Whether it’s deer, squirrel, ducks, dove or turkey, there are important hunting rules and guidelines both youth and adults must follow. Organizations like the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and your local UF/IFAS Extension Office provide programs to keep you on target each hunting season!
Each hunter must take some version of the Hunters Safety Education course. Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, and 16 years or older, must pass a hunter safety course before a hunting license can be purchased. There are four options to complete this requirement:
- Traditional Course and Skills Day
– Face-to-face instructor led course
– Hands-on skill day – register here
- Online Course and Skills Day (two part process)
– Complete one of the online courses
– Hands on skill day – register here
- Florida Virtual School Outdoor Education
– FREE to Florida students in grades 9-12 or ages 12-18
– Apply here
– Earn 0.5 credit for high school
- Firearms Safety Certification and Online Course
– Adults only
– Must have completed previous firearms training
– Must complete one of the online classes in Option 2
– Follow procedures outlined in the Application for Hunter Safety Certification
If you’re using the Hunter Safety Mentoring Exemption and hunting under the supervision of a qualified hunter, you are exempt from this requirement.
Find Your Zone
Hunters should strive to be good stewards of Florida’s resources to keep this sport a tradition for generations to come. Take the time to determine what hunting zone you live in. Your zone determines your hunting season – meaning the appropriate time you can collect specific game in that area. You can find the Florida Hunting Zones Map here: http://myfwc.com/hunting/season-dates/zone-map/. Next, check the annually updated hunting season dates and bag limits related to your zone to stay in compliance with FWC regulations: http://myfwc.com/hunting/season-dates.
4-H Shooting Sports
Find your local UF/IFAS Extension Office and determine if there is a 4-H Shooting Sports program in your county. Participation in a 4-H Shooting Sport program provides year-round opportunities for youth to not only practice their discipline but also to explore other disciplines in a safe, inclusive, environment with 4-H volunteers/mentors!
4-H Shooting Sports includes air rifle, small bore rifle, archery, shotgun, muzzleloading and hunting and develops important life skills in a safe and educational environment. Shooting sports day camps are popular during the summer, so ask you 4-H Agent if one will be scheduled for you county.
Would you like to become become 4-H Level 1 Certified to coach and teach youth shooting sports? If you are already enrolled as a 4-H volunteer, log in to your profile and register for the February 16th hands-on training in shotgun and archery. You’ll also complete five online learning modules as part of your training. If you’re new to 4-H, enroll at florida.4honline.com, and let your county 4-H Agent know that you are interested in teaching shooting sports.
Explore the links below to see how you and your youth can get involved in 4-H and stay up to date on the hunting regulations for your area:
- Florida 4-H Shooting Sports: http://florida4h.org/programsandevents_/shootingsports/
- FWC Hunting Safety and Education: http://myfwc.com/hunting/safety-education/
- Florida Hunting Zones Map here: http://myfwc.com/hunting/season-dates/zone-map/
- FWC regulations: http://myfwc.com/hunting/season-dates