We don’t think of the Sunshine State as having cold weather. But every now and then, especially during the early spring, a cold front may come through Florida. One of my toughest Osceola hunts took place when the high temperature for the day was predicted to be 60 degrees. Just like turkeys anywhere, when cold weather hits, the Osceola gobblers don’t want to open their mouths to gobble. This hunt was also right in the middle of the breeding season, and most of the gobblers were henned-up. So, the toms weren’t gobbling when I arrived in Florida for my Osceola hunt. I decided to hunt Osceolas like I would hunt mule deer out West. I set-up on the edge of a pasture and used my binoculars to glass the fields, trying to see turkeys. Finally, I spotted some turkeys in one of those big pastures, and I noticed that this group of turkeys was holding close to a little patch of palmettos out in the middle of the pasture. On 2 consecutive days, that same group of turkeys walked within gun range of those palmettos. So on day three, I put up a pop-up blind and brushed it in on the edge of those palmettos.
The toms didn’t gobble on the roost that morning. But about an hour after first light, I spotted two hens coming out of the woods into the pasture, and a big Osceola gobbler was right behind them. That gobbler locked in to my decoys and started walking straight to them. I was using a gobbler in full strut with a real gobbler fan. I had one hen decoy in a feeding position, and the other hen decoy was standing up tall like she was looking for danger. I had the hen decoys off to the side of the gobbler decoy. When that turkey came in and prepared to fight my strutting decoy, I squeezed the trigger.
That hunt wasn’t as exciting as a traditional turkey hunt, because I never called to that turkey, and that turkey never gobbled. On a traditional turkey hunt, you call to the gobbler, and he gobbles back to you. Then he gobbles and struts all the way in to gun range. So, my woodsmanship was the tool I used to take that hushed-mouth gobbler. Being able to take a tom on a day when turkeys weren’t gobbling in a place I’d found from two days of scouting made that hunt one of the most rewarding hunts I've ever had for Osceola turkeys.
Day 3: How to Hunt Swamp Gobblers