Bug-Country Gobblers: Hunting Osceolas in Florida

Chasing toms on the fringes of the Everglades.

The Kentucky turkey opener is next Saturday. Call this week the final countdown. Before sunrise this morning, I stepped out onto the back porch of the cabin holding a cup of coffee with one hand, and my 2-year-old son’s hand with the other. It was chilly, so he was bundled up in his blanket. “Listen to ‘em over there, buddy.” I pointed toward the creek, where a pair of roosted gobblers were hammering at barred owls, geese, wood ducks, and all assortment of other springtime sounds.

“Turkey, daddy! Right there!” he yelled. Whispering really isn’t his thing at this point in life, but that's OK. A turkey nut like me had to smile. I’ve already had a great season. I was in South Florida a full month ago, hunting Osceola gobblers on the fringes of the Everglades. It was classic turkey country, with sprawling live oak hammocks and dense cypress swamps, interspersed with long, green pastures. It’s decidedly different than the rolling hills and hollers I hunt here in Kentucky, but nonetheless, when you look at it, you think, “Turkeys ought to live here.”

And they do. The birds there were just breaking up from their winter flocks that week, and the gobbling—typical of an Osceola hunt—was a little sporadic. Still, we had plenty of opportunities, and everyone who was trying to kill a bird on that hunt eventually did. These videos are just a few of the highlights. If you’re a turkey nut like me, I bet you’ll enjoy them.

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