Thursday, April 14, 2011

Florida Osceola Turkeys - 2011

The following is a letter my hunting buddy sent to a friend concerning our recent Florida Osceola hunt. It provides a perspective on our trip that in the days to follow, I am certain to embellish with wild stories of panthers, stampeding cows, tornadoes, soggy feet and other associated general mayhem. For more on hunting the Osceola turkey, from our 2010 trip, see HERE.

We have been duped again! However, our 2011 trip chasing Osceolas trumped last years by a long shot. We knew going into the grand slam, Osceolas were the most difficult. We did see toms and jakes daily but man, talk about a bird that will not come to a call! Public land Osceolas are flat out difficult. I would say our best chance was early Sunday (Yes, you can hunt on Sunday's in Florida!) morning when a Floridian named Hank provided us with GPS coordinates that put us smack dab in the middle of 4 gobbling roosted toms. Talk about exciting! Unfortunately, 2 other hunters arrived at the same spot 30 minutes after we were set up and bumped the birds. They ignored our waves and whistles and were simply unwilling to move on to another spot, a forbidden practice and seen as a huge no, no in New England but apparently an accepted practice in the swamps of Florida. I'm sure we will look back and laugh when this is all over but at the current time it is still burning in my soul.

On the plus side, I did NOT see any poisonous snakes. However, my buddy Steve (rabidoutdoorsman) had a Florida panther stalk in on his hen decoys. He finally spooked it at about 50 yards. Talk about a scary walk in the dark the next few mornings! No wonder the turkeys don't gobble when they hit the ground!

Unfortunately, we were given some false info at Bull Creek during our 2010 hunt that spoiled our final 2011 hunting day. In a nutshell, last year we were told that there was a portion of the ranch that was off limits to hunting and of course that is where we were seeing all of the birds. We set up on the edge of it Monday morning and saw toms and jakes on this small parcel all morning but like most Florida toms, they would not come to the call. They would have been easy, easy, easy to set up on in the dark and pattern. We could have hunted that piece the entire time but did not get this info until we checked out Monday. I blame myself for not persisting to find out and really wish the volunteer last year knew the property boundaries better because we would be done.

The flights were smooth both ways. We had a lot of help with the Pastor from my church and another friend from church with the early morning and late evening car rides. I still don't know how you southern folks handle that heat. I'm planting the seed now for our Texas trip, which may happen next spring if we decide to give Florida a rest for a year. It will be determined around December when they do the quota drawing. We had tremendous help this season in Florida through my buddy Ronnie and a great new friend Hank. (Hank BTW is older than I am and still looks like he could saddle up for the Boston marathon tomorrow morning and win)!  We realize that this info pre-hunt was priceless and saved us a ton of time. Hank and Ronnie collectively put us onto birds daily. We also saw over 40 deer, give or take, and 5 hogs. As always, my mom and her husband and my oldest sister really provided loving hospitality and patience for two dubs like Steve (rabidoutdoorsman) and I. An old fraternity brother of ours and his amazing wife, opened their home and their hearts and put us up for a couple of evenings and hosted several spectacular meals.

6 comments:

  1. Yeah. That pretty well sums up the Osceola experience. Glad you had an exciting trip!

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  2. Sorry you guys didn't get a bird. Sounds like a pretty good trip otherwise. Good luck to you the rest of the season.

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  3. That sounds like quite the trip!

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  4. Ian, Yes, trip was awesome! Debating a return next season or a switch to chasing the Rio in Texas then back to Florida the year after?!?! Hmmmm, options, options!

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  5. Matt, No worries that is why they call it hunting and not finding! Florida is such an interesting place for us "northerners" that every visit is a new story or experience. Thanks and same to you!

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  6. Lisa, Absolutely a great trip! Just wait till the rest of the photos and pictures post tomorrow! LOL!

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