I served in the Air Force decades ago, before moving to Florida. It’s weird to say it was that long ago but it was 1984-1988. I’ve mentioned a few times on this site about fishing in Hawaii and eating some great fish from the islands like ono (wahoo), ahi (tuna), marlin, and mahi. I was young when I joined, and it was exactly what I needed after high school. I did go to college afterward, so I feel like this was the best use of my time after graduation. I needed time to get out on my own and see something of the rest of the world. If you’re in a similar position, consider joining one of the branches of the military. I think the greatest benefit is that you learn to rely on yourself. You gain confidence in your abilities and you can stand on your own two feet.
OK, my pitch for joining the armed forces is over. Let’s cover the benefits for active-duty and retired military in Florida!
Florida has fishing benefits for vets and active duty, but you can also enjoy hunting privileges including discounts on licenses.
BENEFIT #1 – $20 Annual License, Military Gold Sportsman License
- freshwater fishing
- saltwater fishing – including snook and lobster permits!
- deer hunting (whitetail)
- muzzle loading gun use
- hog hunting
- turkey hunting
- Florida waterfowl hunting
Believe it or not, this program is real and many vets and active duty military members are ttaking advantage of it right now while you’re sitting at home. Note, while the program is generous, it isn’t comprehensive. There are still some benefits that it does not include. See below.
Military Gold Sportsman License Does NOT Include
- tarpon tags
- alligator trapping license
- limited entry hunt permits
- migratory bird permit
- federal duck stamp.
This program replaces the Military Gold Sportsman’s License from years past which cost $100.
The program is offered by the FLorida Fish and Wildlife Commission, the governing body for outdoors hunting and fishing in Florida.
Who Is Eligible for the Florida Military Gold Sportsman License?
- all active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces (all branches, including Florida National Guard, Coast Guard and Reserves)
- retired members of U.S. Armed Forces (all branches, including Florida National Guard, Coast Guard and Reserves)
You’ll need to prove Florida residency if retired, or show a current military identification card and orders for your leave to your home state of Florida.
To Buy your special license, or to find out more information, see the MyFWC.com website here.
BENEFIT #2 – Disabled Military Veteran Event License Exemption Permit
Another benefit that the military can take advantage of in Florida is this exemption permit for special field trips involving veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
A person organizing a rec event for the enjoyment or rehabilitation of disable vets or active or reserve duty military can apply for this permit. This gives an exemption from regular licensing requirements according to the terms of the permit.
The permit covers only a specified time that the exemption is good for, not longer.
Florida resident disabled veterans + spouse and children and 1-person whose function is to help the veteran with participation.
Non-resident disabled veterans + spouse and children and 1-person whose function is to help the veteran with participation.
Permit Covers Participants for
Hunting and Fishing without a regular license during the event
Hunting Florida waterfowl (birds), migratory birds, deer, turkey, archery season, crossbow season, muzzleloading season and hunting within managed areas.
Fishing for all regular freshwater and saltwater fish in season, snook, and spiny lobster.
- Other individuals not mentioned above.
- Does not cover tarpon tags, alligator trapping licenses or permits, federal duck stamp, and more. See link below.
Find out more about application here.
Benefit #3 – Florida State Parks Annual Pass Program for Military
Active duty and honorably discharged veterans of the US Armed Forces receive a 25% discount on Annual Florida State Park Entrance Passes for active duty and honorably discharged veterans of the United States Armed Forces, National Guard or reserve units of the U.S. Armed Forces or National Guard.
Honorably discharged vets who have service related disabilities can receive free lifetime military entrance passes.
Spouses and parents of deceased veterans of the United States Armed Forces, National Guard or reserve units of the U.S. Armed Forces or National Guard who have fallen in combat qualify for free lifetime military entrance passes
More information about proof of Identity can be found at this informational PDF about the Florida State Parks Annual Pass Program.
Benefit #4 – No-fee Florida state hunting and fishing licenses and permits for permanently disabled vets.
Florida residents who are VA certified as 100% totally and permanently disabled and for those who carry a disabled veteran ID card can enjoy the benefit of having no fees for hunting, saltwater, and freshwater fishing licenses for a lifetime.
It’s nice to know veterans aren’t forgotten in Florida. We have so many retirees and active duty military in our great state. I’m proud to have served, but I didn’t do anything special. There are men and women who made unbelievable sacrifices to keep us safe. Sacrifices to preserve our freedom… our state of existence. There’s nothing quite like living in a free country. I do hope it stays that way.