Outta The Woods
by Tony Young
Every hunter knows you have the best 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 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, airboat and mobility-impaired quota hunt permits runs June 1-30, so you’ve got all month to get ’em in.
No costs are involved with quota permits, and during this period, you may turn in only one worksheet for each type of quota hunt. 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 the state’s South Region. 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 Andrews WMA in Levy County. If you have children ages 8-15, and you want them to have the chance of experiencing one of these great hunts, apply for a youth quota hunt permit. During these hunts, only the youngsters may hunt, and they and their adult supervisors are the only ones allowed on the area.
To increase hunting opportunities for youths, youngsters (under 16) may accompany an adult quota permit holder on any WMA – even if the area doesn’t allow for exemptions. However, in that case, adults and youngsters must share a single bag limit.
This coming season, there will be family hunts on 17 different WMAs. Those areas are: Matanzas, Andrews, Devil’s Hammock, Dinner Island Ranch, Lafayette Creek, Allapattah Flats, Perdido River, Cary, Okaloacoochee Slough, Blackwater, Belmore, Four Creeks, Hatchet Creek, Thomas Creek Kings Road Unit, Hilochee Osprey Unit, Lafayette Forest and Babcock Ranch Preserve.
You must have a family quota hunt permit to hunt these areas during specific time periods. Should you get drawn, the permit requires one adult to take one or two youths hunting. The adult may not hunt without taking a kid along.
Hunters certified by the FWC as mobility-impaired may apply for mobility-impaired quota permits. These permits allow exclusive access to general-gun hunting opportunities on nine of the state’s better public hunting areas.
If any of this is starting to sound exciting to you, you’ll want to get a hold of the correct quota hunt worksheet so you can apply for one or more of these great opportunities. All worksheets can be found at MyFWC.com/Hunting by clicking under “Limited Entry Hunts,” and at FWC regional offices.
Once you’ve completed the worksheet, you may submit it to any license agent or tax collector’s office, or you may apply online at www.fl.wildlifelicense.com.
The random drawings to decide who gets these quota hunt permits take place during most of July. To find out if you’ve been selected, you can go to MyFWC.com/Hunting – again, by clicking under “Limited Entry Hunts.”