As my summer vacation comes to a close, I’m forced to start thinking about land-locked outdoor activities. Primarily…Hunting.
Bow season around Gainesville begins in a little over two months from now and I’ve already begun planning. In my usual fashion, I missed the quota drawing for the WMA’s this year and will be forced to hunt only one area during gun season. However, I have two areas on my radar for bow season and a total of four areas for small game season. I’ll start off the season bow hunting Lochloosa WMA, home of the Kevlar Deer. If I find that I’m not having any luck there, I’ll change it up to Goethe State Forest (which I’ve yet to hunt).
Once bow season is over, however, I’ll completely switch gears off of deer and focus all my effort on wild hogs. I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with hogs in Florida dating back to my first hunting season at age twelve but have yet to kill one.
|Never gotten a picture of one…I just needed an example|
The first pig I’d ever seen was on Eglin AFB in an archery only area during scouting season. My dad and I were walking along a road near a swampy area and we jumped what looked like a black Volkswagen in a mud puddle. To this day, it’s the biggest pig I’ve ever seen and it must have weighed a good 400lbs. The next pig was later that season. It came to the noise of my dad climbing out of his tree stand and just about walked right into him. It easily weighed between 200-250lbs and was cinnamon colored. A few weeks later, I had one come to the sound of me climbing out of my tree and when I turned around, a little 50-75lbs pig took off the other direction.
Years later, while hunting (the now closed) Bluewater Creek WMA, I was nearly stepped on by a group of hogs. I was sitting under a tree near a creek bottom during Archery/Muzzleloading gun season and heard a group of pigs coming my way. Unfortunately, they came on the other side of impenetrable brush just 10 yards behind me. I heard every one of them, but didn’t see a single one.
During my deer spotlight surveys last summer, I saw dozens of hogs and last season I nearly got lucky enough to shoot one at Devil’s Hammock WMA. I recently read an article in Field and Stream and discovered that Florida is second only to Texas for it’s feral hog population. In most places around the state, there is no size or bag limit as they cause TONS of damage to crops and agriculture every year. They’re also known to carry several diseases. All of this translates into: Shoot more pigs.
So when Gun season opens up, I’ll probably be making some trips over to Lower Suwannee NWR since they are actually open without a quota for gun hunting. I saw a video on youtube of some guys two years ago who hunted Lower Suwannee and bagged three pigs in two days. With any luck, I might be able to do the same. I’ll just need to decide on what gun to bring. The SKS…
or the 12 Gauge
I like the idea of the SKS in that I’m comfortable with the iron sights up to 100 yards. I also like that I can squeeze off 5 rounds immediately. However, 3 inch slugs from the Benelli will definitely drop even the biggest boar in its tracks. Any of you ever taken a hog with a gun before?
After gun season, small game opens and I’ll still be able to shoot pigs. This, however, will have to be done with a shotgun because center-fire rifles aren’t allowed during small game season. I’ve read reports of a bunch of hogs taken from Goethe, and I’ve personally seen the hogs in Devil’s Hammock, so those two areas will be my go-to spots for small game.
And that will be my plan for the whole hunting season. Now it’s time for me to live up the next two weeks and get as much fishing in as possible. Almost got some nice spearfishing footage on my camera today, but the camera was off when I finally shot a fish. Stay tuned!