June 05, 2013
Every hunter knows you have a better chance of catching a monster buck off-guard during the first part of hunting season. That's why many of us enjoy hunting the archery and muzzleloading gun seasons – and why we can't miss opening weekend of the general gun season.
If you hunt public land, you should know that many of Florida's wildlife management areas (WMAs) require a quota permit to hunt during archery, muzzleloading gun and all or part of the general gun season.
A quota is the maximum number of hunters allowed on a particular WMA. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Quota Hunt Program prevents overcrowding on such areas and provides quality hunts. Quotas also help control game harvests. The FWC sets quotas based on an area's size, habitat, game populations and regulations.
There are several types of quota permits, and most are issued by random drawing. The first-phase application period for archery, muzzleloading gun, general gun, youth, family, track vehicle (a swamp buggy with tank treads), airboat and mobility-impaired quota hunt permits runs June 1-30, so you've got all month to get 'em in.
You may submit one application for each of the hunt types, and there is no fee to apply. One thing to remember though: Unless exempt, you must have an up-to-date management area permit (or a license that includes one) when applying for a quota permit, or the system won't accept your application.)
Two of these quota hunts are unique to south Florida. An airboat quota permit is required for anyone wishing to hunt out of an airboat on Everglades and Francis S. Taylor WMA in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. But, if you'd rather hunt off a track vehicle there, or on Rotenberger or Holey Land WMAs in Palm Beach County, you'll need a track vehicle quota permit.
The FWC offers youth deer hunts on Camp Blanding WMA in Clay County and on Andrews WMA in Levy County. If you have children between the ages of 8 and 15, and you want them to have a chance to experience one of these great hunts, apply for a youth quota hunt permit, because only 160 kids will get to participate. During these hunts, only the youngsters may hunt, and they and their adult supervisors are the only people allowed on the area.
To increase hunting opportunities for youths, youngsters may accompany an adult quota permit holder on any WMA – even if the area doesn't allow for exemptions. However, adults and youngsters must share a single bag limit.
This coming season, there will be family quota hunts on 25 WMAs. You must have a family quota hunt permit to hunt these areas during specific time periods. If you are drawn, the permit requires one adult to take one or two youths hunting. The adult may not hunt without taking along a kid.
Hunters certified by the FWC as mobility-impaired may apply for mobility-impaired quota permits. These permits allow exclusive access to general-gun hunts on nine of the state's better public hunting areas.
If you want to get the jump on one of these hunts, make sure you have the correct quota hunt application worksheet so you can apply for one or more of these great opportunities. All application worksheets can be found at MyFWC.com/License by clicking on “Limited Entry/Quota Hunts” and then looking under “Quota Hunts.”
Once you've completed the application worksheet, you may use it to apply at License.MyFWC.com or submit it to any license agent or tax collector's office.
The random drawings to decide who gets these quota hunt permits take place in July. To find out if you've been selected, you can simply log in to your customer account at License.MyFWC.com to view your results.
But there's been a change in how the preference system works. From now on, you can only return your unwanted quota permit online, and you can't do so until Phase III begins and up until 10 days prior to your hunt date. To do this, log in to your customer account at License.MyFWC.com, and click the “Return” link next to the hunt you wish to turn in.