I’ve been spending quite a bit of time lately with my good friend Jack Hays at the local gun range. Jack has always had an adventurous nature to him but to be honest, he is among the most stubborn men I have ever met! He, like many others, (especially business owners) have gone on a gun-buying craze over the past year, spurred on by the constant political discourse regarding gun owner rights and possible bans to various types of weapons. Jack, like many others has gone out and purchased guns that are mostly tactical in nature. Not exactly the type you find in the hands of a deer hunter sitting in a tree stand on a cold fall day. So as part of my master plan to have my good friend become my local hunting buddy, I began having contests with him at the range (whenever I could persuade him to put down his beloved Glock 19), and pit my Ruger Super Red Hawk .44 mag at 15 yards against him shooting slugs at a marginally shorter distance. Although I primarily enjoy bow hunting, it was time to get my close friend out hunting any way I could. Thanks to outfitters Bob Cain and Jon Slick of Boarsight Outdoors, I was able to do just that, in a way that I knew would excite him and create an urge to take hunting to the next levels.
Hunting seasons in South Florida can be a difficult proposition for a newcomer, as much of the public land is overrun by hunters, many of whom are seasoned veterans. To be fortunate enough to apply for, and win a drawing for a quota hunt permit for most species and seasons is like playing the lottery and can be very frustrating. I had to think of something that would be filled with adventure and excitement, yet would be an experience that would make a newbie want to learn more about the sport and lifestyle. It also had to be simple and easy, with some greater chance of success than that of sending a person who just purchased their first shotgun into the woods to hunt an Osceola Turkey on their own. It came to me as I was looking through some pictures of my favorite past hunts and saw a few pictures of a hunt I had done last year thru Boarsight Outdoors. A Wild Hog hunt is about as exciting as it gets!
South Florida is overrun with wild pigs and many landowners will lease out the hunting rights to their property to outfitters, for a fee and the chance to curb the massive destruction done by these animals. Although I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to hunting and rarely hunt with dogs or guns, I always jump at the opportunity to go after Wild Hogs. The adrenaline rush of riding in a swamp buggy while specially trained dogs search the palmetto thickets to find the pigs is incredible. This is the perfect type of hunt for those who are just beginning and need the supervision of a qualified guide and are not ready or willing to be sitting in a tree or blind an hour before first light.
Two phone calls later and my buddy and I were all set for a Wild Pig hunt just outside of Okeechobee, Florida on what turned out to be a spectacular Sunday morning. There was a chill in there air when we arrived and were greeted by Blaine, who would be our guide for the day. Blaine was a very personal fellow with a great laugh who taken part in a team rodeo event just the night before, but still was ready and willing to be part of our adventure. I was so happy with Boarsight Outdoors for being able to put this together with a great guide on such short notice. So after getting the dogs into the buggy and giving Jack some last minute instructions we were off to the lush thickets and Cyprus Hammocks where we would hunt. Of course Blaine and I couldn’t help the good-natured ribbing of our new hunter Jack and his SWAT team style shotgun.
Before I go any further I’d like to say that setting up a hunt with an outfitter such as Boarsight Outdoors is the perfect introduction to hunting in South Florida. It’s difficult for a new person to get started and with these guys Hunters of any level are welcome. You can use whatever weapon you choose within reason, there are even those who like to live on the edge and go after Wild Boar with a spear. These guys really go out of their way to make it an enjoyable experience, whether you are alone or making it a family outing. Kids love to sit and watch all the excitement from atop a swamp buggy and learn as they observe. Bob Cain has often arranged for me to simulate my other big game hunts by setting me up in a tree stand with my bow or .308 at O’dark-thirty in the morning to practice well in advance of any specific hunting trips I may be considering. Since Hogs may be taken on private property all year long they are the perfect game for not only sharpening your skills but to add tasty meat to the freezer as well. The guide will skin and quarter your animal right there so be sure to bring a big cooler!
Okay, back to the hunt. We were cruising in the buggy watching the dogs work the dense brush when all of a sudden they started howling! A large boar broke out of the brush and Jack was out of the buggy in a flash and in perfect position for a shot. The dogs were barking…Jack had his finger on the trigger…the boar was now only 10 yards away and had to pass him to get to safety! Jack had the boar in his sights, the boar had Jack in his sights…Jack then began to squeeze the trigger and brace himself for his first shot at a angry Wild boar…we waited for the shot with the anticipation of watching Jack harvest the pig, then… Nothing! With the classic rookie mistake of forgetting to take the safety off, we watched a 150lb hog run by Jack, run through the palmetto, through the fence line and just keep going. We reassured him that he was not the first person to make this error and it was better than the other classic rookie mistake of forgetting to load the gun.
It wasn’t much longer before the dogs had found another large Hog deep in the brush and shortly after that with a big bang my good friend had taken his first Wild Pig. The look on his face was priceless, and he learned of the elation and sorrow that only a hunter that has harvested an animal can feel. My buddy has now asked me to schedule another hunt and is bringing along another friend who has never hunted before. This other friend is also at the range every week practicing with guns that would never see the light of day without South Florida Hog hunts.
Outfitters such as Boarsight Outdoors can schedule all types of hunts, from year round hog hunts to Spring Turkey, as well as Alligators and exotics. I love the Hog hunts as they are relatively inexpensive, can be done with any weapons at any time you and your friends feel the need to have an adventure, while filling the freezer with excellent meat. With the abundance of Wild pigs in South Florida, Bob Cain and John Slick of Boarsight Outdoors have also been able to set up unique hunts to offer me the opportunity to practice long range shooting to practice for my Fall Wyoming Antelope hunts. If you are itching to get out and use that assault weapon that never sees the outside of your neighborhood range, or want that extraordinary adventure for the entire family, or just can’t wait for the fall hunting season to begin. Give these guys a call, because when everyone else is sitting behind their computer or lying on their recliner watching television…We Are Out There!