Battling oppressive heat, fire ants, tornado warnings, stampeding cows, trench foot and a curious panther that stalked to within 50 yards of my turkey decoys, were just a few of the exciting highlights of our 2011 Florida Osceola Turkey hunt. A normal man might ponder why any sane individual would subject themselves to this degree of abuse, in pursuit of game animals with the brain the size of an acorn. What they would be missing is the “unique” challenge hunting public lands in Florida presents to sportsmen.
Now you southern boys are going to have to cut this northerner some slack on these next few statements, lest you be invited to go sea ducking with me on the Atlantic in January while temperatures hover around a balmy 20 below zero.
Seminole Ranch is outwardly an awesome place. Huge fields filled with snowy egrets, hawks and yes, even turkeys are sure to impress. As a hunter, it is easy to scout these massive open expanses and think that shooting a turkey would be imminent. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth. Seeing turkeys and getting one to within 40 yards are two COMPLETELY different things and public land Osceola toms are very unwilling to come to a call or set-up of decoys, no matter how convincing you think you might be. I am not going to say it won’t happen, only that it is exceedingly difficult.
Hunters have a MUCH better chance at scoring a bird by hunting roads, hiking paths and routes leading to and from roosting and feeding areas (the massive fields). Using the tactic of hunting pinch points, thoroughfares other natural funnels, to your advantage, you limit the areas that a wily tom can escape. If you are lucky, a gobbler may even wander in front of your barrel with no calling or use of decoys. If you think you can accomplish that task, you are getting the idea of what it is like to hunt Osceola turkeys.