Hunt for the Osceola Turkey
You want to hunt Osceola turkeys? Head to Florida. Imagine a late winter’s escape to the south where warm days and tough turkeys abound. Well, sometimes they’re tough, but that’s just turkeys being turkeys. Once you’ve determined that you are in fact going to Florida and have cleared it with the spouse, there are but a few things to consider.
Where to Hunt
First, where will you hunt? Will this be on public or private land? If private, will you be paying an outfitter to provide a guide? If you’re unfamiliar with the area and plan on heading in blindly, spend a little money to hire a guide. Florida is a mixture of pasture, woods and swamplands that can be inhospitable to a first-timer. Once you have a lay of the land, as in taking some extra days to scout for the following year, then consider doing it yourself.
What to Pack
Second, make sure your equipment is in order. Florida’s season opens in early March. Warmer air should be returning to the area, but pack for the cold just in case. Orange blossoms are blooming and spreading their wonderful fragrance. Mosquitoes are hatching and spreading their not-so-pleasant presence in the ears of anyone who will listen. That said, PURCHASE A THERMACELL. We cannot stress this enough. No turkeys and a thousand mosquito bites is sheer misery.
Pack hip boots or at least knees highs. It’s Florida. There’s a lot of water. Don’t let a fear of wet feet stop you from crossing a little water that you know a turkey is not going to ford. An Osceola is not afraid to get its legs wet, yet while your calling might be beautiful, rarely will Old Tom cross an obstruction be it a fence, water, what have you, that seems dangerous to him.
Know what to expect. Florida’s thick foliage is going to make gobbles seem muffled and far off. We know how turkeys act - walking into shotgun range while we’re standing up to look around. Having the opportunity to scout pre-hunt or the use of a guide will allow you to choose the areas where paths of least resistance exist.
Watch for fire ants. They live in beds and also rotted trees. A few bites in the wrong spot and you might not sit so comfortably for a few days. Snakes as well. The deadly coral snake lives in Florida, but will not strike you. These snakes bite only if provoked.
Again, we’d suggest using a guide for a hunt in any new area. These latter suggestions concerning ants and snakes are not to deter or scare you from going to Florida. Take advantage of an early season turkey hunt. Not only will it help fend off the winter blues, but for those going for the grand slam, well, you’re going to have to make that trip at some point