Go hog wild this spring and summer!

April “Outta’ the Woods” by Tony Young

Did you know the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) offers late spring and summer hog hunts on several wildlife management areas across the state? And you don’t even need a hunting license to participate in these great opportunities.

Wild hogs, also called wild pigs, wild boars and feral pigs, are not native to Florida but were introduced over 500 years ago by Spanish explorers. They can be found in all of Florida’s 67 counties within a wide variety of habitats, but prefer oak-cabbage palm hammocks, freshwater marshes, sloughs and pine flatwoods.

Wild hogs are not protected by law as a game species but are the second most popular large animal hunted in Florida (second only to the white-tailed deer). Wild hogs can weigh more than 150 pounds and be 5-6 feet long. They eat plants and animals, and feed by rooting with their broad snouts, which can damage native habitats and ground cover vegetation. It’s easy to spot where hogs have been because they often leave areas looking like plowed fields.

Because of their destructive nature and prolific breeding, and because hunters want more hog hunting opportunities, the FWC, along with help from other public land managers, have been establishing more hog hunts over the past few years. This spring and summer, there will be numerous hog hunts (mostly on weekends) on several WMAs – two of which kick off this month, with the majority of these hunts starting in May. Some offer still hunting for hogs during daylight hours, others are nighttime hog-dog hunts – and half of them offer both.

Most of the areas are walk-in and don’t require a quota permit. All that is needed to hunt hogs on the following areas during these listed spring and summer dates is a $26.50 management area permit, which can be purchased in Florida at county tax collectors’ offices and at most retail outlets that sell hunting/fishing supplies, and with a credit card by calling 888-HUNT-FLORIDA (486-8356) or at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

But before you go, be sure to go online at MyFWC.com/WMAbrochures and check out the area’s regulations brochure to find out all the specific details on the hunt, including access, allowable methods of take, hunting hours, rules on camping and more.

North Florida

Andrews WMA

(Levy County)

Still hunting only

25 daily quota permits available each day at check station on first-come basis

May 4-6, 11-13

Apalachicola WMA Bradwell Unit

(Liberty County)

Dog hunt                   Still hunt

May 4-6                      May 18-20

June 1-3                    June 15-17

July 13-15                 July 20-22

Aug. 3-5                     Aug. 17-19

Sept. 7-9                    Sept. 21-23

Apalachicola River WEA

(Franklin and Gulf counties)

Dog and still hunting

May 18-20

June 15-17

July 20-22

Aug. 17-19

Sept. 21-23

Aucilla WMA

(Jefferson and Taylor counties)

Dog and still hunting

May 11-13

June 8-10

July 13-15

Aug. 10-12

Sept. 7-9

Beaverdam Creek WMA

(Liberty County)

Dog and still hunting

May 11-13

June 8-10

July 13-15

Aug. 10-12

Sept. 14-16

Blackwater WMA

(Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties)

Dog and still hunting

May 4-6, 18-20

June 1-3, 15-17

July 6-8, 20-22

Aug. 3-5, 17-19

Sept. 7-9, 21-23

Blackwater WMA Hutton Unit

(Santa Rosa County)

Dog and still hunting

May 18-20

June 15-17

July 20-22

Aug. 17-19

Sept. 21-23

Chipola River WMA

(Jackson and Calhoun counties)

Still hunting only

May 11-13

June 8-10

July 13-15

Aug. 10-12

Sept. 14-16

Escambia River WMA

(Escambia and Santa Rosa counties)

Still and dog hunting

May 11-13

June 8-10

July 13-15

Aug. 10-12

Sept. 14-16

Ochlockonee River WMA

(Leon County)

Still hunting only

May 4-6

June 1-3

July 6-8

Aug. 3-5

Sept. 7-9

Yellow River WMA

(Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties)

Still hunting only

July 13-15

Aug. 10-12

Sept. 7-9

Central Florida

Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Area

(Osceola and Polk counties)

Still and dog hunting

Open to year-round hog hunting

Management area permit not required

Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Area Rolling Meadows Unit

(Polk County)

Still and dog hunting

Open to year-round hog hunting

Management area permit not required

Richloam WMA

(Sumter and Lake counties)

Dog hunting only

April 27-29

Royce Unit – Lake Wales Ridge WEA

(Highlands County)

Still hunting only

May 5-6, 12-13

South Florida

John G. and Susan H. DuPuis Jr. WEA

(Martin County)

Still hunting only

April 14-22

May 12-20

The following are two additional WMAs that require a wild hog quota permit to hunt hogs during these listed spring and summer three-day weekends. These permits can be applied for online at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com.

Box-R WMA

(Franklin and Gulf counties)

Dog hunting only

May 11-13

June 8-10

July 13-15

Aug. 10-12

Sept. 14-16

Jennings Forest WMA

(Clay and Duval counties)

Still hunting only

May 4-6, 18-20

June 1-3

As always, have fun, hunt safely and ethically, and we’ll see ya in the woods!