Tips on applying for fall quota hunt permits
May “Outta’ the Woods”
By Tony Young
The FWC’s Quota Hunt Program is designed to provide quality hunting opportunities while meeting conservation objectives. A quota, which is the maximum number of hunters allowed on a particular wildlife management area during a hunt, prevents overcrowding and helps manage game harvests. The FWC’s Division of Hunting and Game Management sets quotas based on an area’s size, habitat, game populations and hunter preference.
The FWC’s Office of Licensing and Permitting also plays an important role by administering the quota and limited entry hunt application process, including conducting random drawings and issuing permits. Its mission, under Director Tindl Rainey, is to connect people with opportunities to experience Florida’s fish and wildlife.
“Application periods give hunters an opportunity and reasonable timeframe to apply for hunts, and random drawings provide a fair and equitable way to award permits,” Rainey said.
A standard lottery process gives all applications a random number. Then, beginning with random number one, the lottery process evaluates the application with the hunt choices selected, starting with choice one. If the choice is available based on the allotted quota for each hunt unit, the lottery will assign the application a successful status for that choice. If choice one is not available, the lottery will move on to evaluate choice two, and so on. This happens until the application is assigned a successful status for a choice or is instead assigned an unsuccessful status due to no choices having available quota.
“Applicants who put the same hunt for all choices do not increase their odds of getting drawn,” Rainey said. “So there is no benefit to listing a choice more than once on an application.”
Once a random drawing process is completed, the results are posted on a customer account at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com. Any limited entry/quota permits with a claim deadline must be obtained by the last day of the claim period. More information on random drawings including how preference points, group applications and pre-authorizations and special-opportunity lotteries work can be found at MyFWC.com/License.
Fall deer and hog quota hunt permits
Hunters may apply for each of the hunt types, and there is no fee to do so. But unless exempt, applicants must have an up-to-date $26 management area permit (or a license that includes one) when applying for a quota permit. The system won’t accept an application without this, and applicants will be prompted to purchase one first.
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 hunts, apply for a youth quota hunt permit. During these hunts only the youngsters may hunt, and they, along with their adult supervisors, are the only people allowed on the area. And note that applications must be submitted under the child’s customer account.
There will be family quota hunts on 29 WMAs this season and, if drawn, the permit allows one adult to take one or two youths hunting. The adult may not hunt without taking along a youngster.
Hunters certified by the FWC as mobility-impaired can apply for Mobility-impaired Quota Permits, which allow exclusive access to general gun hunts on 10 of the state’s public hunting areas.
To get the jump on one of these hunts, apply May 15–June 15 at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, or have a license agent or tax collector’s office apply for you. To find out if you’ve been selected, log onto your customer account at that same web address after 10 a.m. on June 19.
Those who don’t get drawn for a particular quota hunt in phase I will get a preference point for next year’s drawing, which will improve future chances of being selected. Those unable to use their quota permit may return it at least 10 days prior to the hunt once phase III opens. Preference points plus one additional point are restored to hunters who return a permit issued in phase I.
Special-opportunity fall hunts
Another great option is applying for special-opportunity fall hunt permits. These hunts offer large tracts of land with an abundance of game and low hunting pressure. All deer hunts allow you to take only mature bucks with at least one antler having four or more points, 1 inch or longer. Wild hogs also are legal to take during the deer hunts, and there is no size or bag limit on hogs.
These special-opportunity deer and wild hog hunts take place in central Florida on Fort Drum, Lake Panasoffkee, Triple N Ranch and Green Swamp West Unit WMAs. Camping is legal on all areas.
There is one seven-day general gun deer and hog hunt on the 20,858-acre Fort Drum WMA in Indian River County. The hunt costs $50 for those drawn.
Lake Panasoffkee, in Sumter County, has eight four-day archery hunts for deer and hog on 8,676 acres. The permits are $100 for each hunt.
There are two seven-day general gun and one four-day muzzleloader hunt for deer and hog on the 16,295-acre Triple N Ranch in Osceola County. The permit costs $175 for each of the hunts.
Pasco County’s Green Swamp West Unit, where the state’s highest-scoring deer on record was taken, has two archery hunts for deer and hogs on its 34,335 acres. There are also three general gun hunts for deer and hogs. All are four-day hunts costing $100.
All special-opportunity permit holders may bring one non-hunting guest during the deer and hog hunts.
Special-opportunity hunt permits are transferable by simply giving the permit to another person. Permit holders under age 16, or those who are certified mobility-impaired, may have a non-hunting assistant accompany them during all special-opportunity hunts.
Hunters who would like to take part in one or more of these hunts, can apply beginning at 10 a.m. on May 15 at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or at county tax collectors’ offices or most retail outlets that sell hunting and fishing supplies. The application period runs through midnight of June 15.
Applicants may apply for as many special-opportunity hunts and dates as they’d like to increase their chances of being selected but must include the $5 nonrefundable application fee for each one. Hunters are limited to drawing only one permit per hunt area, though.
Special-opportunity results are available in rounds, with payment for the cost of the selected hunt available at GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or at any license agent or tax collector’s office. Those who don’t claim a permit by paying for it in full by the claim deadline for each round, forfeit it, and it’ll be available to the next customer waiting in line in the next round.
National Wildlife Refuge hunts
There are also several fall hunts on five national wildlife refuges that hunters can apply for during the same phase I application period of May 15 – June 15. These National Wildlife Refuge hunts offer another opportunity to hunt on well-managed habitat with healthy game populations and low hunting pressure. However, no guest permits are available for any of these hunts. Those drawn must pay for the permit by the claim deadline, or it is forfeited and made available during the next application period which is first-come, first-served.
On the 21,574-acre Lake Woodruff NWR in Volusia and Lake counties, hunters can apply for archery and muzzleloading gun hunts for deer and hog. There is no fee to apply, but if drawn, the permit costs $27.50.
Hunters can apply for archery hunts on Brevard County’s 140,000-acre Merritt Island NWR. There is no cost to apply, but if drawn, the permit is $27.50.
Just south of Tallahassee, hunters can apply for archery, general gun and mobility-impaired hunts on the 32,000-acre St. Marks NWR. Each of these hunts cost $5 to apply for and if you get drawn, the permits are $27.50.
Lower Suwannee NWR, in Dixie and Levy counties, has a $15 permit that allows you to hunt the entire fall and spring season on the 53,000-acre refuge. Hunters can purchase this permit anytime between May 15 and up to the last day of spring turkey season.
Because St. Vincent NWR’s sambar deer hunt was canceled last season due to Hurricane Michael, those who were awarded a permit last year will be provided a new permit by mail for the Dec. 5-7, 2019 primitive weapons hunt by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If you have any questions, you can contact the refuge at 850-925-6121.