From the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
-- Florida hunters who have not seen the quantity or quality of game they would like, may want to consider applying for a special opportunity hunt. For the past 14 years, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has offered unique fall hunts for deer, wild hog and released quail on public hunting lands.
These extraordinary hunts offer large tracts of land with an abundance of game and low hunting pressure. All deer hunts enable hunters to take only mature bucks with at least one antler having four or more points, 1 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.
The special opportunity deer and wild hog hunts are 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. Lake Panasoffkee offers 8 four-day archery hunts on the 8,676-acre tract, which cost $100 each. Triple N Ranch has 2 seven-day general gun deer and hog hunts on its 15,391 acres, and each permit costs $175.
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, and permits cost $100 each.
The FWC also has week-long released-quail hunts on Blackwater Carr Unit in Santa Rosa County. With these hunts, hunters must bring and release their own pen-raised quail. There's just one $100 permit available for each of the 16 weeks. Hunters who draw one and up to three friends can hunt on the have the entire 590 acres.
Hunters who would like to apply for any of the hunts need a 2011-2012 Special-Opportunity Fall Hunt Permit Worksheet available at http://www.myfwc.com/license/limited-entry-hunts/.
Beginning at 10 a.m. May 3, hunters can submit completed applications at https://www1.fl.wildlifelicense.com/start.php or at any county tax collector's office or license agent. The application period runs through June 9.
These coveted permits are issued by random drawing, and hunters can apply for as many hunts and dates as they like to increase chances of being selected. A $5 nonrefundable fee is required for each hunt applied for, although hunters are limited to drawing only one permit per hunt.
Hunters selected in the random drawing, have until the deadline specified to pay the cost of the selected hunt. Hunters can do this online at www.fl.wildlifelicense.com or at any license agent or tax collector's office. If not, it will go to the next applicant selected in the random drawing.