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Time to apply for quota permits!

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 general gun season.

After that, a multitude of 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 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Quota Hunt Program prevents overcrowding on such areas and provides quality hunts, as well as helps 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 when applying – unless exempt, you must have an up-to-date WMA permit (or a license that includes one) 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 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 of experiencing 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.

To increase hunting opportunities for youth, youngsters may accompany an adult quota permit holder on any WMA – even if the area doesn’t allow for exemptions. However, adults and youngsters must share a single bag limit.

This coming season, there will be family hunts on 17 different WMAs, including: Matanzas (St. Johns County), Andrews and Devil’s Hammock (Levy County), Dinner Island Ranch (Hendry County), Lafayette Creek (Walton County), Allapattah Flats (Martin County), Perdido River (Escambia County), Cary (Duval/Nassau counties), Okaloacoochee Slough (Collier/Hendry counties), Blackwater (Okaloosa/Santa Rosa counties), Belmore (Clay County), Four Creeks (Nassau County), Hatchet Creek (Alachua County), Thomas Creek Kings Road Unit (Duval County), Hilochee Osprey Unit (Polk County), Lafayette Forest (Lafayette County) and Babcock Ranch Preserve (Charlotte County).

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 hunts on nine of the state’s better public hunting areas: Blackwater Hutton Unit (Santa Rosa County), Dupuis (Martin/Palm Beach counties), Econfina Creek (Bay/Washington counties), Ralph E. Simmons (Nassau County), Holton Creek and Suwannee Ridge (both in Hamilton County), Seminole Forest (Lake County), Babcock Ranch Preserve (Charlotte County) and Hickory Hammock (Highlands County).

If any of this is starting to sound exciting to you, you’ll want to get ahold 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 through the Internet 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 online and check the results at MyFWC.com/Hunting – again, by clicking under “Limited Entry Hunts.”

If you don’t get drawn for a particular hunt type, you’ll get a preference point for next year’s drawing, which will better your chances of being selected.

And if you’re unable to use your quota permit, you can mail it back to Tallahassee, so it can be reissued to someone else. If it was issued in Phase I and it’s postmarked prior to the first day of the hunt, you’ll receive a preference point and have any preference points used to obtain it restored.

Here’s wishing you luck in drawing one of these great permits.

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By Tony Young

FWC Media Relations Coordinator,

Division of Hunting and Game Management