Where to Go?
October 18, 2012, QUESTION: I would like a little more detail on where to find public land. There are about a hundred areas on public land page but no map of exactly where they are located. You have the state divided into 5 areas to cover over 58,000 square miles. That is over 11,000 miles per area. How is someone supposed to know where to find the area closest to them? How about having each area broken down in a map of the area with the public hunting land pointed out with roadways and major citys. That way I can look at the map and see where I live and what is close by to me.
ANSWER: Brian, I used to share in your frustration as well trying to find public land to hunt. So let me give you the detail you're asking for, hopefully, in a simplified manner. When you open my website, scroll down the left-hand navigation bar to "Public Land." When that page opens, scroll down below the photos. Then click the link that says "Map Showing Florida Wildlife Management Areas." When you click that link, it will take
you to an FWC page that lists all 162 wildlife management areas that they either own or manage for either the federal government or water management districts or in conjunction with private land owners. Since you said you were from Gainesville, I was able to look on the map and it shows that you are in the North Central Region. Within about an hour's drive from Gainesville, I found four hunting areas. Follow the line out from the green management area shown on the map to it's corresponding number. Then go back to the region, in your case the North Central Region, and you will find Number 51 is Grove Park, Number 53 is Hatchet Creek, Number 59 is Lochloosa, Number 78 is Watermelon Pond. Also, ajacent, but a little south of Watermelon Pond, but still within driving distance of Gainesville, is the North East Region. In that area is Number 104 Orange Creek.
To Enlarge the map:
After you click onto the map page, if you scroll to the bottom of the page and move your curser to the bottom of the page, depending on your computer, you can see a bar in either the center or to the right that only highlights when you draw your curser near it. This bar will contain either a plus and minus sign or magnifying glass icons containing either a plus or minus in their center. So if you get a plus icon and wait for that to load if it's still not large enough, you may click it again. This will expand the edge of the map beyond the computer screen on the edges. Using the bar on the right-side or bottom of the page, you can guide the area that you are interested in to the center of your screen for easier viewing.
Now you're gonna have to go back to the top of the map page and close the map page because this is a Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) page. This is what FWC has come up with to be able to list all 162 hunting areas in some form so you can tell what zone it is in and the name of it.
Once you have these names and have closed that page, if you go back to my "Public Land" page, you will see the regions listed: North West, followed by North Central. Alphabetically, you go down through the list and you find the areas that you are interested in, such as Grove Park. When you click "Grove Park," the brochure for Grove Park will open. When you scroll to the bottom of the Grove Park brochure, after you go through all the rules and regulations, there is a map. That map stops pretty much at the border, as all the others do, of that particular management area. So what I do, since I am on the computer, I do an internet search for a map of either the county or the State of Florida, so that I can find the major roads that lead me into those areas.
After you go through the double-window system you will be able to look at a major road near that management area, find that number, go back to your other map, find that road and follow it in and out of that hunting area.
It's not always an easy thing to plow through the FWC website because they have so many pages. So I hope this is giving you a guide to help you find public land near your area. You can, also, use this same technique to find public land anywhere in the state if you know the area or county where you are interested in hunting, whether it be the northwest, north central, northeast, southwest, or south regions.
What I have tried to create with my website is a fairly comprehensive, yet easy-to-use, guide to finding public land to hunt in Florida. I hope this information has been of use to you. And I hope others that visit the website get use from it as well. Thank you, Brian, for your question. I hope this helps.
Public Hunting Land page.
Map Showing Florida Wildlife Management Areas.