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John O’Dell Never Overlooks Public Land with Its Great Hunting


If you plan to hunt Osceolas in the swamp, I strongly recommend that you wear knee-high rubber boots, preferably with snake chaps. I've lived in Texas, and I’ve seen quite a few snakes, but I've seen more snakes in south Florida than I've ever seen in Texas. Also carry plenty of water with you. The weather is usually quite warm, and you'll need to stay hydrated. Carry plenty of insect repellent, and be sure and take a hand-held GPS, extra batteries and a compass with you. You can walk 20 yards into a swamp and be completely lost, because everything looks the same. In the mornings, if the swamps are foggy, you can get turned around and not know which way to walk to get out of the swamp. So, make sure you have good navigation gear, and know how to use it. I also use my GPS to mark areas where I think turkeys are roosting and/or strutting. Then when I decide to hunt those regions, I can go to them easily and quickly. 

I had another exciting Osceola hunt when I was hunting in thick vegetation on public land. I found an oak flat where turkeys had been strutting and dusting. I set up in that area, and I had one of the best gobbling mornings I've ever had when hunting in Florida. Several gobblers were roosted about 150 yards over water from my stand site. This was one of those days that every turkey hunter dreams of with gobblers really fired-up. Odell_day5Every time I called to them, they gobbled back. Just before the sun popped up, I heard the gobblers fly down and land not too far from my stand. In only a few short minutes, I saw gobblers’ heads. The Spanish moss painted a macabre picture as I waited for a gobbler to come within range. This was one of those textbook hunts that you rarely ever have when a gobbler does exactly what he’s supposed to do. He gobbled from the roost and gobbled a lot. He flew straight to the oak flat and walked right to within gun range. That’s what a turkey is supposed to do, but it’s a rare morning when a tom follows that script. 

For the first few years that I hunted in Florida, I hunted Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). But in recent years, I've made some friends down there, and I have some private land to hunt. WMAs in Florida are not like many WMAs in the East in that they don’t get a lot of hunting pressure. Florida does a great job of managing the WMAs that have turkeys on them. They limit the number of hunters who can hunt turkeys at certain times of the season on many of their WMAs. They do a really good job of limiting access to quality Osceola land and keep hunting pressure to a minimum. 

Here’s another advantage of hunting turkeys in Florida. If you hunt the early season, you can usually do a combo hunt. You can take a turkey and a hog, depending on the WMA or the private land you hunt. Most private landowners will ask you to shoot hogs if you see them. So, that makes a great combo hunt. You can take two species on one hunt. 

Day 4: How to Hunt Osceolas in Cold Weather

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