Special Opportunity Hunts in Florida
Hunting articles by Tony Young, the media relations coordinator for the Florida Wildlife Commission’s Division of Hunting and Game Management. You can reach him with questions about hunting at Tony.Young@MyFWC.com.
Tony Young, FWC, 850-488-7867
If you haven't been seeing the quantity or quality of game you'd like, you may want to consider applying for special opportunity hunts. For the past 13 years, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has offered these unique fall-season hunts for deer, wild hog and released quail on the state's best public hunting lands. Maybe it's time you look into getting in on the action and experience the hunt of a lifetime.
These extraordinary special opportunity hunts offer large tracts of land with an abundance of game and low hunting pressure. All deer hunts enable you to take only mature bucks with at least one antler having four or more points, one inch or longer. Hunters can take does during archery hunts and, if they draw an antlerless deer permit, also during general gun hunts. This practice of quality deer management offers hunters excellent chances of taking quality bucks and the opportunity to take a doe on public land. Wild hogs also are legal to take, and there is no size or bag limit on hogs.
These special-opportunity deer and wild hog hunts take place on Fort Drum (Indian River County), Lake Panasoffkee (Sumter County), Triple N Ranch (Osceola County) and Green Swamp West Unit (Pasco County) wildlife management areas.
Fort Drum has 20 permits available for its seven-day general gun deer and hog hunt on 20,858 acres; they cost $50, should you get drawn. Besides taking 18 deer, hunters bagged 22 hogs there last year.
Lake Panasoffkee offers eight four-day archery hunts on the 8,676-acre tract. Hunters harvested 27 deer there last season.
Triple N Ranch has two seven-day general gun deer and hog hunts, and 16 deer were taken off the 15,391 acres last year, all of them being quality bucks.
Green Swamp West Unit is where James Stovall took the state's highest-scoring deer on record – a 25-point, nontypical that netted a 206 Boone-and-Crockett score. He took the trophy buck in 1999 after getting drawn for the special-opportunity archery hunt. The area offers archery and gun hunts on 34,335 acres. Last year, hunters bagged 87 deer and 288 hogs.
The FWC also has week-long released-quail hunts on Blackwater Carr Unit in Santa Rosa County. With these hunts, you must bring and release your own pen-raised quail. There's just one $100 permit available for each of the 16 weeks, and if you're lucky enough to draw one, you and up to three of your friends will have the entire 590 acres to yourselves.
If you'd like to apply for any of these great hunts, the first thing you'll need to do is get a 2010-2011 Special-Opportunity Fall Hunt Permit Worksheet – available at FWC offices and at MyFWC.com/Hunting (http://www.myfwc.com/license/limited-entry-hunts/).
Beginning at 10 a.m. (EDT) on May 4, you can submit your completed application at www.fl.wildlifelicense.com www.fl.wildlifelicense.com or at any county tax collector's office or license agent. The application period runs through midnight on June 10.
These coveted permits are issued by random drawing, and you may apply for as many hunts and dates as you like to increase your chances of being selected. You must include a $5 nonrefundable fee for each hunt you apply for, though hunters are limited to drawing only one permit per hunt.
If you're selected in the random drawing, and you have a valid e-mail address on file with the FWC, you should receive an e-invoice via e-mail about mid-June. You have until the deadline specified on the e-invoice to pay the cost of the selected hunt, if you get drawn. You can do this online at www.fl.wildlifelicense.com or at any license agent or tax collector's office.
Whether still hunting all by yourself or dog hunting with family and friends for deer, hogs or released quail, the FWC's special-opportunity fall hunts are just what the doctor ordered for a premium hunting experience.
Public Hunting Land (WMA)