Photo by Donald M. Jones

You can catch a perfect storm of bowhunting in South Florida, but only if you hurry. The area east and south of Lake Okeechobee has one of the Sunshine State’s largest wild hog populations. It’s also home to the earliest whitetail rut in the nation. Biologists suspect that the Everglades’ mid-August to early-September rut is nature’s way of ensuring fawns are on the ground well ahead of the tropical rainy season. In order for hunters to take full advantage this year, Deer Management Unit A1 opens on Aug. 2.

This terrain is tailor-made for spot-and-stalk bowhunting. Dense palmetto hammocks and live oak stands break up short-grass pastures alongside citrus groves. Packs of roaming hogs are most visible at dawn and dusk, which of course is when you’re most likely to spot a Florida buck chasing a doe. Plan your route, keep the wind in your face, and pack a quiver full of arrows. Your odds of killing a Booner here…well, you won’t kill a Booner here. But you won’t kill a pig or get to wear shorts during the Iowa rut, either.