Television personality Mehmet Oz spent months in a Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race touting a history of hunting in Florida. However the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has confirmed Oz never had a license to hunt in the Sunshine State legally.
Also, the vast majority of property Oz owns in Florida remains unsuitable for hunting.
It’s legal to do some hunting in Florida without a license, but the state limits what and where to hunt game. The absence of a Florida license for hunting indicates Oz’s sporting activities may have run afoul of legal requirements, or they were more limited than the Republican candidate asserted during his campaign.
Videos released through the campaign show Oz in a different setting than the one seen by talk show viewers. An April ad started with a close-up of Oz’s hands as he loaded and cocked a double-barrel shotgun and later fired a pistol. He discusses hunting as a child with his father and doing the same now with his son.
“When people say I won’t support guns, they’re dead wrong,” he says before firing a shell at a clay skeet.
That hunting would play a major role in the GOP Primary is no surprise to Pennsylvania political observers. According to Politics PA, the Pennsylvania Game Commission in 2020 issued more than 887,000 hunting licenses to residents — more than any other state. In such a sportsman-dominated culture, both Oz and Republican Primary opponent Dave McCormick carried long guns prominently in ads showcasing their Second Amendment support to voters.
During an interview with Newsmax the same month, Oz discussed where he currently hunts. A host asked about a hunting ranch in Montana, and Oz corrected the questioner.
“Well, the hunting ranch is in Florida, but it’s nice,” he said. “I’ll invite you down.”
But if Oz ever hunted in Florida, he never obtained a license to do so. Tammy Sapp, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, confirmed the state holds no record of him ever holding a hunting license in the state.
That doesn’t mean the agency lacks any knowledge of Oz’s activities. He did hold a fishing license for three days in 2013. Notably, he listed Princeton, New Jersey as his home at the time, a significant snippet considering the media personality has been dogged about state residency since entering the race.
Whether Oz ever needed a hunting license depends largely on what he intended to shoot. Florida requires a license for any hunters who intend to take any fur-bearing animals or game birds with a gun or bow. That covers hunting for turkey, deer, ducks, geese, coots, moorhens, rails, snipes, woodcocks, mourning doves and white-winged doves. Licenses for such targets are required, whether taken from public or private land.
There are some exceptions. Florida residents over the age of 65 are exempt from requirements, but at age 62, that wouldn’t cover Oz even if he lived in Florida. Members of the Armed Services on leave for 30 days can also hunt without a license, but that’s also a category that won’t cover Oz.
But, importantly, Florida will allow people year-round to hunt wild hogs regardless of whether they hold a license, so long as they use a light with their gun. The state allows seasonal hog hunting on some publicly managed lands, and any time on private land so long as the owners grant permission.
In the week since Florida Politics first broke the story, Oz has not addressed the situation or returned requests for comment.
But Democrats in Pennsylvania took aim at Oz’s hunting claims. “Carpetbagging fraud Mehmet Oz has made it clear time and time again that he will lie about anything,” Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesperson Jack Doyle said. “Pennsylvanians know they can’t trust this scam artist who isn’t even from here, and won’t be fooled by an out of touch TV millionaire who only cares about himself.”
Democratic opponent John Fetterman shared the Florida Politics story with his social media followers, quoting Oz’s claim of being a hunter his whole life and following that with a sarcastic response. “We totally believed you dude,” Fetterman tweeted.
The episode raises questions about Oz’s claim of owning a hunting ranch in Florida. The most notable home Oz claims in the state would be a Palm Beach County mansion. The Palm Beach Daily News in 2018 reported Oz was behind the purchase of the $18-million Louwana estate, and financial disclosures filed after Oz started his Senate race confirm his ownership through the Louwana Trust.
Oz’s wife, Lisa, has long had ties to the area through her family, the newspaper reported.
But that island home is no hunting ground. Located on a key east of West Palm Beach — incidentally on the same island as Mar-a-Lago — the only thing an owner would likely hunt at the estate would be prestige.
Disclosures do show Oz owns other property in the state, though most is commercial property and remains similarly unsuited for sports hunting. He holds a joint interest in Norwich Partners, which has commercial property on Sanibel, as well as commercial properties in Aventura, Clearwater, and Clearwater Beach.
The only possible hint at where this hunting ranch could be located lies with Oz’s ownership of Emerald Oaks, a cattle farm just purchased in December.
Okeechobee County property records show Emerald Oaks owns three pieces of property, all in the unincorporated county, and listing an ownership address in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. One of those appears to be a residential lot with a home on it in a neighborhood. Another has no address and appears to largely be pasture land.
Another property, though, does contain substantial, pristine wilderness. A large property on 128th Avenue is zoned as a rural estate, and records show a residence and mobile home on the property.
Bill Royce, planning director for Okeechobee County, said owners have not obtained permission to establish a commercial hunting camp. That would require a site plan approval through the county, and nobody has applied for such a use of the land.
Asked if the property owners could hunt on the land themselves, Royce said that’s likely: “I don’t see why not.”
But he stressed state laws still apply, and anyone hunting on the land must only take animals allowable for hunting. Licensing requirements remain in place. Royce did note a prevalence of hog hunting in the area.
July 12, 2022 at 4:22 pm
They have that much wildlife Left where we been
July 19, 2022 at 7:55 am
Vote RED for fascist police state and domestic anti-government terrorists.
Vote RED for far right gangs and bad culture
Vote RED for neo nazi propaganda by red state grifter politicians
Vote RED for low wage slavery for the rest of American history
Vote RED for lunatic theocracy and forced birth of crack babies
July 12, 2022 at 4:24 pm
Oz is who he seems to be, which is a shallow image of something we do not need in Congress
July 18, 2022 at 2:11 pm
A shallow image of what we need, but he can’t be any worse than what we have in there now…
July 12, 2022 at 4:48 pm
Much, maybe most hunting in Florida by well to do people takes place on private hunting preserves where no license is required.
July 12, 2022 at 7:39 pm
Did you even read the article? LOL dude. Unless they are hogs are varmint you still need a license.
July 21, 2022 at 2:27 pm
Once Tom makes up his own facts there’s no stopping him.
July 12, 2022 at 8:12 pm
Anyone who knows anything about Oz’s very public business persona ….. know he’s a fraud snake oil salesman.
This is not new. His very public grifting schemes are well known on television and YouTube. Oz has promoted pseudoscience, alternative medicine, faith healing, and 100% wacko paranormal beliefs,
Undoubtedly Oz is the perfect Republican scamming candidate …… undoubtedly he will go down in flames if he shows up for a debate.
Another Republican Senate seat down the drain is a good thing for America.
July 12, 2022 at 11:04 pm
A little bit wrong. If you own property and it is homestead, you don’t need a license
July 13, 2022 at 11:43 am
Under Florida law, to be a homestead, it needs to be a person’s primary residence. If Mehmet Oz resides in Florida, he would not be eligible to run for the Senate from Pennsylvania.
July 13, 2022 at 9:17 am
Maybe this is Oz’s ‘John Kerry moment,’ where he awkwardly makes a campaign attempt to look like a mainstream sportsman and gun owner.
July 13, 2022 at 11:34 am
Oz is probably a pretty good doctor. But selling beets are betterment
July 13, 2022 at 12:33 pm
That’s OK, the Trump morons in PA will still vote for this liar.
July 13, 2022 at 4:42 pm
Kudos to Jakob! This is the kind of “hunting” we need to see more of.
July 13, 2022 at 8:23 pm
It’s Florida Pythons for snake oil on his land with the yellow brick road.
July 15, 2022 at 8:39 am
he doesn’t even live in PA!
July 19, 2022 at 7:28 am
Vote RED for wealth and income inequality the likes of which the world has never seen.
Vote RED for a culture of greed, racism, incivility, and politicized religion.
Vote RED to perpetuate low wage exploitation and capitalist scams.
July 19, 2022 at 5:34 pm
You are 100% correct, Joe.
July 19, 2022 at 7:56 am
It’s the economy stupid
July 19, 2022 at 9:01 am
Maybe he came down for spring break and hunted “beaver” with Matt Gaetz and Rona DeSatan? I will buy him a temporary out of state hunting license if he can convince Rick the Alien and Little Marco to move to Jersey or Pennsylvania!
July 19, 2022 at 9:59 am
What I don’t understand is why he picked Florida of all places to say he hunted. Oz holds Turkish citizenship. Turkey has a long history of both firearms ownership, and game hunting. It would have been so easy to claim, and so much more difficult to cross check.
Instead he took the lazy answer, and now he’s being excoriated for it.
July 19, 2022 at 12:46 pm
Vote RED for hideous exploitation and abuse of the American worker…low wage slavery.
Vote RED for fusion of far right propaganda and mind bending religion
Vote RED for a far right police state and people insisting that they won elections when they didn’t.
Vote RED for rotten cheating, stealing, and lying.
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