Oh,Florida. You humid, wet, bug infested, gator populated, hog damaged and 4ft above sea level state…how I am loving but hating you.
My adventure in Florida started with a late arriving plane. But that was not the issue. I believed that I understood the ins and outs of the Florida Turnpike but alas did not. In my lost state I managed to get from the coast back inland to the lake I was supposed to be on for my hog hunt. Not without having to stop at Wal-Mart to buy screws for my take-down bow. They got left in my hunting bag in Idaho.
Possums and gator road kill abounded on a dark night drive through the swamp. The best part was the three hours of sleep that I got before waking at 6:30 am for my hog hunt.
I met my guide “Bit” at a nondescript house on the west side of Lake Okeechobee. We jumped into the swamp buggy, a contraption with no breaks and gigantic tires, and set out after a hog. We looked for a solid, but seemingly quick, half hour without the aid of binoculars. Not that we could really use them. The dense underbrush provided to much cover for using aided eyes. The sound of softly bawling hounds hung in the thick wet air.
We stopped in the mud suddenly and Bit asked a simple question. “You mind if I let the dogs out now” he said.
I nodded my head yes and explained “Hell, that is half the fun of doing this. I want to see those dogs work.”
Without comment we climbed off the buggy and let out two of the three hounds of the cages. One, larger male, stayed caged up. “You don’t let him out unless you need him let out. He gets a little aggressive on the hogs.”
Isn’t that the point, I thought. The dogs immediately began to circle the buggy and then started barking intently at a little corps of shrubs. They had found a pig; we had driven right past him in the buggy.
Next, I just hear the words “hold on” in a thick southern drawl come out of Bits mouth as we crashed the swamp buggy into the stand that the pig was in. The black boar came running out of the far side of the stand and I almost shot at him right on the buggy.
The dogs chased the hog till it was successfully “bayed” in a little ditch/road thing. I then had a stand off with the dogs, the hog and me. Not one of us was willing to give ground to the other. The dogs would not stop biting at the pig, the pig would snarl at me and I would keep looking for shot openings that lacked a $2,000 dog. (you must pay that if you wound of kill a dog on accident)
After some prodding the dogs moved off giving me my 10 yard shot opportunity. I drew, picked a spot right behind the shoulder and let fly. The arrow went true and double lunged him. The boar ran about 30 yards and fell over dead.
Believe it or not this is my first solo big game kill with my bow. I have never taken a deer, elk, goat, sheep – nothing with my bow until this past Friday in Florida.
Bit and I hauled the boar onto the buggy and took it back to camp. The hunt lasted 45 minutes.
Now, I am a chef by training and am typically the best person I know at breaking down wild game meat. Well, I was the best person I knew. Bit had my boar into 7 pieces (skull, 2 loins, 4 quarters) in about 5 minutes. I was impressed. I offered to help but I was actually getting in the way.
Fast forward one day and I am eating at $50 a plate restaurant’s and meeting the likes of Iron Chef Cat Cora and Chef Robert Irvine.
Florida, I like you, but why the hell can’t you be closer to Idaho and my family. I miss them dearly.
Check out the slide show of my adventure below.