Big Game Hunting

White-Tailed Deer and Hog


 The Big Game Hunt is an archery only white-tailed deer hunt which allows unlimited harvest of feral hogs during the permitted hunt.   Permits will be sold under the limited entry permit system through Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). All hunters, 16 years of age and older must obtain a Merritt Island NWR Archery permit as required through FWC’s permitting system. The season will consist of one three-day hunting period and is limited to 30 permitted hunters. Crossbows are not allowed without a state disabilities crossbow permit.  


Hunt Zones

The hunt zones include 5,000 acres of upland habitat along State Road 3, north of Haulover Canal between the Indian River Lagoon and Mosquito Lagoon. The zones lie within Volusia and Brevard Counties, FL. The lands east of State Road 3, are in the joint management area between the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Pine Flatwoods hiking trail and WSEG Boat Ramp will be closed to all public use during the hunt except for permitted hunters.  There are five zones within the hunt area named: (1) Shiloh (2) Gomez Grant Line (3) WSEG (4) Pine Flatwoods (5) Beacon 42. The zones will be posted with the appropriate zone number. Accesses to the following zones are limited to permitted hunters.

See  map  for defined zones.


Zone (1) Shiloh- area includes north of Patillo Creek Road to south of road #132

Zone (2) Gomez Grant Line- area includes north of Fred’s road to south of Gomez Grant Line

Zone (3) WSEG- area includes north of WSEG road to south of Fred’s road

Zone (4) Pine Flatwoods- area includes north of Pine Flatwoods road to south of WSEG road  

Zone (5) Beacon 42- area includes north of road #152 to south of Pine Flatwoods road


Note - Some roads are boundaries and there is NO HUNTING allowed on any roads. We prohibit hunting from or within 100 yards of all refuge roads open to public vehicle travel or within 200 yards of a building or KSC facility. We prohibit shooting over any dike or roadway.


Hunter Requirements

All adult hunters must possess and sign:

  • Valid government issued ID 
  • Florida hunting license with required permits (i.e. deer, archery) 
  •   Merritt Island NWR Archery permits from FWC (cost is $27.50)  
  • A self-issuing Merritt Island NWR Big Game Regulations/Permit
  • Hunters Safety Course 

Persons with disabilities must have a crossbow permit.

Hunters under the age of 16 do not need a permit but must be accompanied by a permitted adult.  



Federal Rules and Regulations

The refuge specific Big Game Hunting regulations can be found in the Big Game Hunting Brochure



Hunters will be allowed to scout their permitted hunt zone seven days prior to the hunt during normal refuge hours. Hunters must obtain and possess all required permits and license prior to scouting. Scouting is not allowed during the quota hunt. Scouting will be authorized only within your permitted zone and only within seven days prior to your permitted hunt.



The Refuge bag limit is two white-tailed deer per quota hunt in any combination as legal per state regulations.  It is illegal to take spotted fawns. Permitted hunters may also harvest feral hogs using legal archery equipment only. There is no size or bag limit for feral hogs. All game is subject to inspection by Refuge staff, Federal, State, or County Law Enforcement Officers. Our State FWC hunt area is C-4 and the antler point regulations are as follows: (1) Antlered deer are defined as having 3 points on one side or a 10 inch main beam; (2) Antlerless deer are defined as any deer with antlers less than 5 inches above the hairline.


Feral Hog Diseases Health Warning

Feral Hogs (Sus scrofa) carry various diseases. Hunters should educate themselves and adhere to advisories to reduce the possibility of disease transmission. For more information on feral hog diseases, see FWC’s website on feral hog diseases  and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC)


Check-Out Stations

There are no requirements for check-in but hunters cannot enter the refuge until 5am. Hunters must be off the Refuge two hours after sunset. There are two check stations: one check station is located on the northwest corner of Haulover Canal at the kiosk. The second check station is the large kiosk at the north end of SR3, west side of the road. Check-out at one of two check stations is MANDATORY for both successful and unsuccessful hunters and must be completed on each day hunted. If there is not an employee present at the checkout station please follow the instructions on the kiosk. These check stations will become a self-checkout station in the future. The mandatory check-out is to obtain information which will assist in maintaining high quality white-tailed deer and feral hog hunts.


Note - You must gain consent from a Federal Wildlife Officer to track wounded wildlife beyond one hour after legal sunset. During weekends and after hours contact FWC law enforcement dispatch at 1-407-275-4150 extension 7 and request a Federal USFWS officer to respond. A reasonable effort must be made to retrieve all wounded wildlife. 


Hunt Days

The 2017 hunt season: October 6-8 (antler and antlerless) and December 1-3 (antler only)


Limited Entry/ Quota Permits

All State and Federal hunting regulations apply. If you wish to hunt white-tailed deer or feral hogs you will need to purchase a Merritt Island NWR Archery Permit, this is a limited entry permit through the FWC’s Recreational Licensing Issuance Services (RLIS).  All hunters 16 years of age or older must purchase a Merritt Island NWR Archery Permits and are available under a lottery system. One youth (under 16) is allowed to hunt, without obtaining a Merritt Island NWR Archery Permit, while supervised by an adult hunter (18 or older) who holds all applicable permits and licenses. Each adult may supervise one youth hunter and must remain within sight and normal voice contact and the pair must share a single bag limit.


How to Apply

To apply online for a Merritt Island NWR Archery permit go to (log into your account and choose “Apply for Limited Entry/Quota Permit”) or completing the Application Worksheet and presenting it to a license agent or tax collector office.  Florida residents applying through the Internet must have a valid Florida issued Driver License or ID card to be considered a resident.  Children, active duty military, resident disabled customers, and residents age 65 or older that do not have an active Florida Driver license or ID Card must apply at a license agent or tax collector office to show an alternate proof of Florida residency.


Preference Points

Applicants who apply during Phase I and are unsuccessful will be awarded one Merritt Island NWR Archery preference point for the next season (even if they are issued a permit in Phase II).  Preference points are cumulative and one Merritt Island NWR Archery preference point will be accrued each year they are unsuccessful in Phase I.  Once an applicant is successful for a permit in Phase I, the Merritt Island NWR Archery preference points will be reset to zero, even if the successful applicant fails to purchase the permit by the deadline.  No preference points are awarded for neglecting to apply in Phase I.  If applicants fail to apply during Phase I for two consecutive years, their preference points will be reset to zero.


To report a refuge law enforcement violation please call FWC dispatch at (407) 275-4150 extension 7 and request a USFWS officer respond. Please provide as much information as possible, i.e. license plate number, color and/or make model of the vehicle, description of individuals, etc.

In case of an emergency on the refuge dial (321) 867-7911.

For big game hunt specific questions: Monday through Thursday 9am to 4pm call (321) 861-2352

For visitor services questions 9am to 4pm daily call (321) 861-0669