General gun season, also known as deer season, starts in November and continues into January, especially in the heart of backpacker territory, on the Florida Trail in our National Forests.
Every year, we get asked about how to hike safely in the woods during hunting season. Remember, hunters who walk through the woods to follow their targets – or to get to a remote deer stand – are hikers, too.
As hunting is a well-established traditional use of our forests in Florida – thinning the deer population and putting dinner in people’s freezers – it’s up to us as hikers to respect our fellow venturers in the outdoors and how they practice their craft.
- Wear a bright orange vest or shirt, as hunters do
- Use courtesy when walking past deer stands or hunt camps
- Walk softly but if you’re with folks, talk so hunters know where you are
- Don’t intentionally spook wildlife when you’re around hunters
- Don’t bother hunting dogs at work
- Be friendly in your interactions
Show respect, and you’ll receive respect in return.
If you’re uncomfortable with hunting as a sport, or uncomfortable about sharing the woods with hunters, there are plenty of other places you can play in Florida’s forests during hunting season.
Keep in mind that on some public lands, like ALL of the National Forests in Florida (Apalachicola, Osceola, and Ocala) your backpacking campsite options and sometimes even access to certain areas is restricted during general gun season.
For information on specific hunt dates and other hunting seasons throughout the year, see the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission website.
In general, county parks, city parks, and county natural lands are not open to hunting. For more information on hunting seasons and where you can hike during them, see our article on Hiking during Hunting Season.