-By Brandon Wikman
Last weekend I flew into one of the most sought after travel destinations in the country. A place where magic meets illusion and wonder meets inspiration. I had a roundtrip ticket from Milwaukee, Wis. to Orlando, Fla. My travel bag wasn’t crammed with sporty beach-bum clothes, sun tan lotion, or chocked full of visitor brochures. I was there for one reason, which was hunting southern style. My northern roots expanded south this past weekend when I was introduced to a sweet Southern tradition called wild hog hunting.
Mobs of Magic Kingdom fanatics and Sea World enthusiasts stormed off the plane, while I admired the feeling of entering a totally new world. Florida throughout the summer is extremely hot and humid. It is a habitat full of slithering snakes and gators hidden by the mass vegetation of swampland. Joe Bukey of Strut n’ Rut Outdoor Adventures Television planned the adventure and hunt. Bukey picked me up from the bustling Orlando International Airport and drove toward the swamp country en route to where wild hogs call home. We pulled into the driveway at midnight, unpacked the truck, and the meet and greet frenzy began.
Mike Tussey, who is the owner of Osceola Outdoors, met our crew late that evening at midnight. Tussey’s upbeat, go-go attitude, and comical personality reassured everyone that this would be a fun-filled weekend. There is truly nothing better than experiencing good hunting combined with great people. The blend is unbeatable and ultimately is what shapes the entire adventure. After the jokes settled and everyone got acquainted with each other, we crashed into the pillow only to wake a few hours later.
Hunting wild hogs was a new experience. Tussey and his guide, Robert, dropped me with a few vital lessons on how the rendezvous worked. Both Tussey and Robert had exceptionally trained dogs that would be aiding in the hunt.
The super, heavy-duty trucks were no match for some of the terrain that wild hogs called home. Thick vegetation tangled into webs of barricades that were impossible to infiltrate. Overgrown swamps coupled with deep muddy waters called for a bare-boot show down. It didn’t take long until the dogs began barking. Three dogs jet-skied through the water toward the stinky marsh critter. I grabbed my rifle, took a deep breath, and slopped through the hellhole. Clumps of mud surfaced in the stagnant mosquito breeding waters as I cut the distance towards my opponent.
Three brave dogs circled the ferocious beast. It was like a carousel, but only made of dogs and a giant black monster. I steadied my rifle as Tussey shouted specific orders to the dogs. My soggy knees were soaked with a plaster of mud while my boots sunk into the sludge. My heart raced as I peeked back-and-forth from my scope to reassure that I had a clear shot. The most difficult part is making a clean kill on the wild hog so it won’t charge; or even worse, accidentally hitting a dog. My window of opportunity opened and I cranked back the trigger and busted a bullet into the chest of a behemoth hog. He crippled into the tall saw grass as the dogs pounced onto him.
The rush lasted several hours after the kill. Wild hog hunting truly is an action packed rendezvous that every hunter must try at least once in their lifetime. It was an experience that I will forever remember and hold dear to my heart. Teaming with one of the most legendary outfitters in the state of Florida and a squad of courageous dogs sparked a wild hog chasing fire in my soul that will always blaze. I’d just like to thank Strut n’ Rut Outdoor Adventures and Osceola Outdoors for blessing me with a taste of southern tradition.