What's a controlled hunt?

By: Jessika Toothman
controlled hunting
Deer may thrive in the summer, but in the winter times get tough and some become cold-weather casualties.
Jane Miller/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Although the rules concerning hunting and fishing vary from state­ to state, chances are, if you're looking to participate in either activity, you'll have to get the appropriate license. Generally, anyone who wants to purchase a hunting and fishing license can -- provided he or she meets certain requirements -- but that's not the case in certain special scenarios like controlled hunts.

Before we explore the territory of controlled hunts, let's take a closer look at hunting in general. In 2006, about 12.5 million hunters bought hunting licenses in the United States and about 85 percent of them were after big game. Altogether, hunters in America spent a collective 219.9 million days hunting, and they paid out almost $23 billion in total on all their hunting expenditures [source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service]. The money raised through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses goes the states' fish and wildlife agencies, helping to foot the bill for animal conservation efforts, safety training and educational initiatives.


­But hunting, for food or for sport, is nothing new. People have hunted since prehistoric times, harvesting animals for much more than a meal. Materials for clothes, tools, shelters, you name it -- they could all come from a kill. Hunting for sport was popular in several ancient cultures; Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Greeks were all among the early civilizations eager for the chase.

On the next page, we'll take a look at how one particular style of hunting runs the gamut from recreation to filling a rumbling stomach.


Controlled Hunts

controlled hunting
Animals and roads just don't mix, so when population levels start to soar so do other unfortunate occurrences like car accidents.
Gerry Johansson/Photonica/Getty Images

Controlled hunts can go by ­other names; quota hunts is one example. But whatever the term used, they all basically boil down to the same thing. As opposed to open season, controlled hunts are more limited in the number of hunters allowed to participate and in the amount of game those participants can kill. Hunters might enjoy themselves while hunting, and their families and friends might thank them for days of hearty meals, but these hunts serve a distinct purpose.

Controlled hunts manifest in different ways depending on local and state regulations. In some places, they're held on managed lands that generally aren't open to hunting; in others, they're held in locations where unrestricted hunting could lead to problems such as overharvesting and safety issues. Wildlife departments report that controlled hunts help ease overpopulation burdens in a smart, measured manner.


The competition for controlled hunts can be fierce; hunters might try for years to land a slot, and there are a variety of reasons for that persistence. Controlled hunts often last longer than regular open seasons, the locations tend to be more high-profile and the chance of success rises.

The number of people awarded permits is based on a variety of factors, ranging from the acreage of the land to the population statistics of the wildlife inhabiting it. Controlled hunts are commonly divided up into a bunch of different categories depending on several factors. These might include the species, age and sex of the game being hunted or the gender and age of the hunter. The habitat is another consideration, as is the type of weapon being used for the kill. Different dates may be included in different categories, and some categories are frequently offered for group or partner hunts.

Hunters must apply to participate in controlled hunts, and the winners are generally selected through a lottery system. If there are open slots after the lottery, hunters are often allowed to buy leftover permits. For more information about hunting and ways to survive in the wilderness, continue onto the next page.


Lots More Information

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More Great Links

  • "2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation Errata Sheet for National Report." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2006. (12/5/2008) http://www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/fhw06-errata.pdf
  • "2008 Controlled Hunts e-Book." Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. (12/4/2008)http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/completecontrolledhuntbook.pdf
  • "2008-2009 Controlled Hunts Information Sheet." Ohio Department of Natural Resources. (12/4/2008) http://www.ohiodnr.com/Portals/9/pdf/2008-09%20Controlled%20Hunt%20Information%20 Single%20Sheet.pdf%20-%20Adobe%20Acrobat%20Professional.pdf
  • "2008 DNR Fall Hunting Forecast." Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 9/12/2008. (12/4/2008) http://dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/ce/news/specialedition/2008_Fall_Hunting_Forecast.html#northern
  • Bard, Dario. "Number of Anglers and Hunters Remains Steady." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 8/15/2001. (12/5/2008) http://www.fws.gov/news/newsreleases/R9/A2D9B201-0350-4BD4-A73477A70A25FC69.html ?CFID=6916271&CFTOKEN=10372036
  • "Controlled Hunt Information." Idaho Fish and Game. (12/4/2008) http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/ch/
  • "Florida's Wildlife Management Area Quota Hunt Program." Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. (12/5/2008) http://www.floridaconservation.org/hunting/quota_hunt/default.html
  • "Hunters still applying for Wildlife Department's Controlled Hunts." Outdoor Central. 5/1/2008. (12/4/2008) http://www.outdoorcentral.com/hunting/hunters-still-applying-for-wildlife-department% E2%80%99s-controlled-hunts
  • "Hunting." Encyclopedia Britannica. (12/5/2008) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/277043/hunting
  • "Hunting." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (12/4/2008) http://www.fws.gov/hunting/wherego.html
  • Mills, John. "Controlled Hunting is Environmentally Friendly." Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources. 8/20/1998. (12/5/2008) http://www.gov.ns.ca/natr/wildlife/conserva/19-01-10.htm
  • Stahlberg, Mike. "Inside the Outdoors." The Register Guard. 2004. (12/4/2008) http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Lottery+winners+receive+bonanza+for+state's+controlled+hunt...-a0118762598