April 30, 2018
As hunting pressure on Florida's public lands has increased, so has the number of limited entry hunts. The purpose of limiting access is to provide a quality experience for as many hunters as possible, but the resulting tangle of application dates and regulations is as complex as anything in the western states.
Limited entry hunts can be divided into eight basic categories: alligator hunts; antlerless deer hunts; dove hunts; Green Swamp camping hunts; National Wildlife Refuge hunts; quota hunts; recreational use permits; special opportunity hunts; and waterfowl hunts. Within each of those eight categories, there are individual application dates and deadlines, fees to be paid (for some hunts but not all), and pickup deadlines.
In general, the process works this way. Identify what and where you want to hunt, then download and read the regulations for that area. This is an important first step, because some areas have specific regulations. For example, St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge is only accessible by boat; if you apply expecting to drive to the island, you're going to have a problem.
Next, during the application period for your chosen hunt, download and fill out a worksheet and take it to your county tax collector's office, or apply online. The application process is through the
same portal where you purchase your hunting license every year see http://myfwc.com/license/limited-entry-hunts/. Then, you wait.
When the drawing results are available, you will be able to check them online, also through the same portal. If you were successful in drawing a permit, you can print it directly from the application website; many permits are no longer mailed.
Late spring is the time to apply for many hunts. The application period for Statewide Alligator Harvest Permits opens May 18 and runs for only ten days.
The application period for most National Wildlife Refuge hunts opens May 15 and runs through June 15. Most Quota Hunt permits are on the same schedule, as are fall Special Opportunity hunts. Application periods for dove hunts are stag- gered; the first date for Dove Club applications is July 6, but Daily Dove permits are available starting August 17.
As you might expect, applications for spring turkey hunts are on a completely different schedule. The application for Special Opportunity Spring Turkey hunts begins November 1 and runs through November 30; Spring Turkey Quota Hunts follow the same calendar.
One special category of limited entry hunts is recreational use permits. These permits are available for only three Wildlife Management Areas: Flint Rock, Grove Park and Gulf Hammock. These permits allow you what amounts to private access to these areas for not only hunting, but other outdoor recreation activities as well. FS