-By Brandon Wikman
Spring break has an intense reputation when it comes to the minds and antics of college students. It’s a time for kicking-back, busting-out, and enjoying an entire week of freedom from school.
As key hotspots like Florida, Texas and Cancun crank the heat; the remaining winter-ice still progressively melts back into the earth in most parts of the country. It’s always a pleasurable feeling for a Midwestern-junkie to be basking in the mid-March sun. I have been lucky enough to spend a few of my spring breaks in the central parts of Florida. My trips were spent a little differently than most crazy college students.
Instead of playing on the sandy beach, I hid in the dark jungle-like forest of the Florida everglades. My toes never sunk into the pebbled sand, but rather drowned in the marshy-bogs, winding creeks, and standing mosquito-infested water. The only tail I chased was the elusive Osceola turkey. Florida’s turkey season is the country’s grand turkey opening. There is no better place to call in gobblers in March than Florida. The Osceola is the only species of bird that originates from Florida. They have always had a dirty reputation of outsmarting even the most profound hunters. I believe it’s the combination of the Osceola’s sly characteristics and the bizarre wetland features of property that send hunter’s home empty-handed.
The last few trips I made to Florida were amazing. I was blessed to kill a Florida long beard during each adventure. It took many trial-and-error mistakes until the golden sun of the panhandle shined upon me. The peculiar feeling of sinking into the palmetto bushes was almost foreign to me. I was far too used to hunting the old hardwoods forest and agriculture fields of the Midwest. It’s nice to challenge your ability to adapt to different styles, techniques, and strategies.
The only downer of hunting Osceola is property and price. The hunts may sell for thousands of dollars because it is only Florida that produces these birds exclusively. If you want to bag your grand slam, you must first round the base of Florida. An alternative hunting experience that is just as exciting and much more cost-efficient is hog hunting.
Florida has the second largest hog population in the United States. Properties are littered with tracks, uproots, and destruction left from these pesky critters. Typically, they are hunted with either a gun or bow. During dawn and dusk, the barren open grounds of cow pastures are taken over by hundreds of hungry-hogs. Medium-sized hogs are the taste of choice for most outdoors people, but some thrill-seekers are willing to risk an empty dinner plate over a sharp-tusked beast.
College students, past graduates or anyone for that matter that’s looking for a true spring break adventure must visit the “Sunshine State” at least once in their life.