The first phase of application for the Florida Limited Access Big Game Hunting ends June 15 at 11:59 pm This is the best chance for hunters to access key state public ownership opportunities for deer. and feral pigs.

While we are fortunate to have millions of acres of public land, some places are simply better than others, offering unique hunting experiences that cannot be replicated elsewhere. Below, I offer you three of my favorite hunts for this application period.

This is a very popular business. Do not apply this season hoping to get the license, unless you have accumulated several years of preference points. But that’s the point of this exercise – to put these adventures on your radar now.

Sambar deer from Saint-Vincent island

Wandering around the snake-infested barrier island of the Saint-Vincent National Wildlife Area is an exotic species of deer imported here from Southeast Asia known as the sambar deer. These are nearly six feet tall and weigh several hundred pounds. A hunt is organized per year to manage their number on the island.

Every aspect of this hunt is a test, from safe passage to the island to primitive camping. From there you can choose a bow or muzzle loader for hunting and have to cycle or hike across the island looking for a sign. Deer are mainly nocturnal and prefer to hide in swampy areas off-limits to hunters.

However, the lucky candidates carry several deer per season. It usually takes three years of preference points to be successful, and it is wise to apply in a group, as a lot of hands will make the job lighter in this adventure.

Bow hunting in the South Florida prairies

Think of the South Florida deer hunt, and Big Cypress Swamp often comes to mind. But, the former ranches now under FWC management and located southwest of Clewiston provide excellent archery opportunities, if you can handle the heat, mosquitoes and reptiles of these summer hunts.

Dinner Island and Spirit of the Wild Wildlife Management Areas are two of the most popular haunts. The deer will be easy to see – the trick will be to approach it. The widely open terrain lends itself to trolling, which is quite exciting while weaving your way through panther territory.

These properties are no secret and competition is stiff for the August hunts. The males are in heat, however, and this is one of the earliest deer hunting opportunities in the country.

Merritt Island NWR Hunts

Once again with archery gear, big game hunts at Merritt Island were introduced in 2015.

This is a premium Florida experience. Deer and pigs are prevalent throughout the refuge, but most of the hunting units are covered in vegetation, making it difficult to hang a stand. While you’re there, you can witness a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral, see a scrub jay pass by, and share the entry routes with other sportsmen to fish, kayak, bird watch, and swim. hiking. The whole region is bustling with outdoor activities.

However, expect four to five years, or even more, to get a license. Although new opportunities open up here every year, the number of permits is still low. But, this is definitely the one that you will want to plan for in the future.

For more information on limited access hunts, please follow

Ian Nance writes this monthly hunting column for The Ledger. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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