Florida’s Winter Hunting Opportunities
Bob McNally 02.01.16
Too many late-season Florida hunters hang up their firearms after deer season closes. That’s a big mistake because there’s still plenty of great gunning available for game other than whitetails.
Gray squirrel hunting is largely overlooked throughout the state, and with an open season thru Mar. 6 and a daily bag limit of 12, tremendous opportunities exist for prime bushytail gunning. Virtually any hardwood creek or river bottom in most state WMAs offer excellent late-season hunting. Some of the very best occurs once trees begin to “bud,” as squirrels take to the tree tops looking for fresh green growth forage (maples are a favorite). And with leaves still thin in the timber, squirrels are easy to spot in February and March.
Snipe are another neglected late-season game target. These bullet-quick birds are migratory and offer superb hunting in public lake-shore and riverside areas in the central and southern parts of the state. The upper St. Johns River, the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes and Lake Okeechobee all can have great near-water shoreline snipe shooting through mid-February.
Ducks and geese also are open to gunning through late January (check federal waterfowl season dates). Ducks are especially easy to target in virtually every public waterway in the state open to public-access hunting. Geese tend to be in more park-like and golf course regions in the northern and central areas of Florida. But in many regions they’re considered a nuisance and permission to hunt can be easy to secure.
Finally, Florida has no close season on rabbits and wild hogs. Cottontails and marsh rabbits abound in brier-like regions statewide. Wild hogs are found throughout Florida, too, in marsh, river, and upland areas, many on public land.