Apply for fall quota permits in June!
By: Tony Young
How many of us hunters are on Facebook? Well, did you know that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) now has its own “HuntFlorida” Facebook page? Next time you log in, go to Facebook.com/HGM.FWC and give us a “like,” so you can stay abreast of the many advertised hunting opportunities and hear about any upcoming regulation or quota application changes. And please “share” the page with your hunting buddies too!
Speaking of quotas, 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. After that, multitudinous gunshots often break out, and those mature bucks start feeding mostly at night, making hunting ’em a lot more difficult.
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 FWC’s 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. This year there’s been a change: The wild hog application periods will now be grouped with the other fall quota hunts. The first-phase application period – for archery, muzzleloading gun, general gun, wild hog, 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 submit your application.
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.
This coming season, there will be family quota hunts on 25 WMAs scattered throughout the state. 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.
To find out if you’ve been selected, you can simply log into your customer account at License.MyFWC.com. Drawing results will be posted after 10 a.m. on July 8.
If you don’t get drawn for a particular hunt type, you’ll get a preference point for next year’s drawing, which will improve your chances of being selected. If you’re unable to use your quota permit and you return it in time, you’ll get your preference point restored.
You can only return your unwanted quota permit online, and you can’t do so until Phase III begins on July 30 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.Returns will be accepted online only and will be reissued every Tuesday throughout the season during the Phase III application period. If you return a permit that was awarded to you in Phase I, you will receive a preference point as well as the restoration of your preference points used to obtain the permit.
Here’s wishing you luck in drawing one of these great permits!