FWC Offers Special Opportunity Hunts on Eight Public Lands

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Applications to participate in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) special-opportunity hunts will be available May 1 at FWC offices and online at MyFWC.com/hunting/.

The FWC offers special-opportunity hunts on eight wildlife management areas (WMAs) selected for their outstanding populations of the featured species.

Surveys indicated many hunters were looking for a better quality hunting experience on public lands. Special-opportunity hunts are geared toward harvesting older deer with minimum hunting pressure.

Results have been very good. Most of the older deer harvested under this program have had impressive antlers, and the limited number of hunters on each hunt makes for a great hunting experience.

Here’s what a couple of hunters had to say about previous years’ special-opportunity hunts:

Brooksville resident Marc Rivenbark hunted the Lake Panasoffkee WMA and reported, “I fully enjoyed my hunt. I was able to spend time with my son doing something we both enjoy.”

After hunting on Green Swamp West WMA, Gary Youngblood of Ruskin wrote, “It was a great hunt, with a lot of game and other wildlife. There were quality bucks in an area not crowded with other hunters. All management areas should be operated this way!”

Historically, the demand for permits for these hunts has far exceeded supply. There is a $5 non-refundable application fee, and hunters can apply as many times as they like at $5 per application. The cost for permits for selected applicants ranges from $50 to $175. The deadline for inclusion in the special-opportunity random selection is June 15.

Recreational use permit renewal reminders will be mailed May 1. Recreational use permit holders eligible for renewal will have until May 30 to pay their fees for the 2004-2005 hunting season.

There are some changes to several WMAs in the recreational use program. The Nassau WMA was reduced in size. The number of recreational use permits available for Nassau WMA will also be reduced. The number of recreational use permits available for Gulf Hammock WMA has been increased by 50. The cost of a recreational use permit for Blue Water Creek WMA has increased from $180 to $200. Hunters not eligible to renew may apply for available recreational use permits beginning July 15.

Quota hunt applications for archery, muzzleloading gun and general gun hunts on most WMAs will be available June 1 from tax collectors, FWC offices and most places that sell hunting and fishing licenses. Applications must be received by June 11 to be included in the quota hunt random selection.