Still 2 weeks to wait til our ridiculously late opener. I get tired of waiting sometimes. So a couple weeks ago, my cousin and I made a whirlwind (2300 miles in 5 days to hunt 2 days) trip to Florida to chase Osceolas for the first time.
I was given lots of pointers before I went. The best of them being "They don't gobble much on the ground" and "Take a Thermacell". Both spot on !!!
The first morning we hunted in the Gainesville area. Cousin took a long-spurred slammer at 10:30. Then I switched my deal up in the afternoon and called in a 2 year bird...........strutting down a sand road the whole way. But never gobbled.
Although taken below the "official Osceola line", this bird shows lots of Eastern influence.
The next day was a travel day, on south. Day 3 we hunted a big property we'd never seen or set foot on. Called in some hens at first light with a bird gobbling hard from 1/2 mile across a "savannah" field. We decided to relocate somewhere down through an ak hammock and see what was what. We walked a ways and found just a classic looking place to call a bird. The tom that was half a mile away was still hammering. For the heck of it I ripped some yelps with a longbox and he hit me back. I cut him off and he hammers back. Told cousin at least that bird knew where we were. We sat down and I started calling a little. Wasn't long that 3 hens came up the hammock the way we had come in. I noticed the mouthy gobbler had gone quiet. With the savannah field to our left, I told cousin to keep his eye that way as the goofy thing just COULD be coming. He was. Within a minute of me saying that, he came out of the fog and right into the oaks......headed to the 3 hens that were headed to me. At just about 40 yards, he strutted out from behind a palmetto clump and my second Osceola was down.
I always love hunting different birds in different places and different habitats. I can't say for sure which has been my absolute favorite. They all have their attractions. But an untouched Florida oak hammock..........like pre-white man, untouched........at gobble time is just magical. I don't know if I can go back next year or if I'll never do it again. But this was one of the most incredible hunts I've ever been on.