Osceola Experience

Biggles101Biggles101 Lake City, FLPosts: 12 Greenhorn
Hey y'all,

I'm new to hunting, I don't have family or close friends that are hunters, but I'll be on the forums reading a lot and asking acquaintances for help also.

My question is, when should I start scouting here in North Florida, and what should I be looking for? I know that deer eat tons of different things like, apples, persimmons, acorns, tender leaves, and the like. What specifically will I be looking for in Osceola?

Also, if anybody has any experience using Google Earth to find where the deer are I would live some advice because I've been reading around and most of the things I find online have to do with finding out the topography and that really doesn't apply in Florida because of how flat it is here.

And finally, what are your thoughts on walking/stalking or just sitting in a chair/using a blind vs using a tree stand here in Osceola/NE FL?

Thanks in advance everybody!

Replies

  • ValhallaValhalla Posts: 114 Deckhand
    In most of Osceola there will be various ages of planted pine and cypress dome and swamps. If you are on google earth, the cypress will show up as a lighter gray. If you look along streams and near water you will see more hardwoods like gum and cypress. The pines will be generally a little higher land.

    Much of Osceola is wet much of the year, so make sure you have waterproof snake boots. You will want to hike the fire breaks looking for game trails, poop, rubs. I would try to get away from the crowds. I have not found many stands of oak or persimmoms, apples, etc in Osceola, but I have only scouted up north. I would just start hiking those firebreaks in hard to reach spots looking for sign. Take water, compass, and GPS. Cell signals are iffy at best. Good luck!
  • H20dadH20dad Posts: 744 Officer
    If you are young the best way is to find a place way back and plant your own oak trees. When they start making acorns you have your own secret spot. Guerrilla planting is the best way to improve wild lands. Humans have been doing it for eons.  
  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 415 Deckhand
    Welcome!  Scouting is so important, I am now of the opinion that you do it year round as often as possible.  At least while you are learning. The only exception might be during archery or muzzle when you are likely to tick people off tromping through the woods.

    The best way to use google earth is... to scout.  While scouting, use gps to track your path and waypoint interesting finds.  Then upload that to google earth and take a look.  Then, you'll start being able to 'see' these things on google earth in places you haven't been yet.

    You're probably better off with a climber to begin with.  Get one that's comfy.  You'll be sitting in it for LONG periods of time.

    Good luck!  I too relied on forums and reading to get going.  FWC's website has a lot of good info (albeit cumbersome as heck). 
  • Biggles101Biggles101 Lake City, FLPosts: 12 Greenhorn
    Hey guys!

    Thanks for all the information. With regards to a GPS what is a cheap but decent model I could get? I've been looking around but can't find anything under $100. I'm a married college student with a daughter so I'm trying to get as much use out of as little money as possible, hahaha.

    Thanks again!
  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 415 Deckhand
    If your phone has gps, that'll do.  Otherwise, check ebay for a garmin etrex.  You can find them used for less than $50.  You don't need anything fancy.  Just something that will record coordinates.
  • Nips049Nips049 Posts: 348 Deckhand

    I use my phone primarily for GPS in areas I know ill have signal. If you're not sure, or for new areas, have a back up GPS and mark the location of your truck every time you get out to walk. I've had a little Garmin handheld (the blue one) for years and it works great. You can find them for real cheap on Ebay.

    Depending on the season and management area, i'll walk more or sit in a tree stand more. Once you have an area dialed in and figure out what the animals and other hunters are doing, you'll figure out what works better for you.

    If you decide to use a tree stand, make sure to practice a lot before the season. That way its second nature when its time to set it up or break it down in the dark. Not to mention the safety factor. Find a tree around the house that you can use to practice on as much as possible.

  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Posts: 1,849 Captain

    It's interesting to read these replies sometimes. Snake boots, for example: All 'yall who have read my replies in the past know that snake boots are about the last thing on my priority list. I worked in the woods in our area for over 50+years in forest and wildlife management, and I never knew another forester/woods worker who was ever bitten by a Rattler or a Cottonmouth. All I ever wore were Russell Bird Shooter boots--comfortable beyond measure--and Indian moccasins made for me for years by a Cree Indian family up in the Grand Mariah area of Minnesota.

    I have known two foresters killed in the woods. One about 6 or 7 miles west of the Osceola N.F. by a "perp" for his money to buy drugs in the Jax, Fl area, and another  about 60+- miles north of the Osceola, stung to death by stepping into a massive yellow jacket nest on a hot July afternoon. IMO a person is a lot more likely to have a problem with stinging insects like yellow jackets/hornets or being struck by lightening. And, with lightening, its best not to be exposed in the woods, but IF you get caught in a major lightening/thunder storm in the woods, try to get under a Magnolia tree if possible---the only tree in our woods that lightening will not strike!   

  • Biggles101Biggles101 Lake City, FLPosts: 12 Greenhorn

    It's interesting to read these replies sometimes. Snake boots, for example: All 'yall who have read my replies in the past know that snake boots are about the last thing on my priority list. I worked in the woods in our area for over 50+years in forest and wildlife management, and I never knew another forester/woods worker who was ever bitten by a Rattler or a Cottonmouth. All I ever wore were Russell Bird Shooter boots--comfortable beyond measure--and Indian moccasins made for me for years by a Cree Indian family up in the Grand Mariah area of Minnesota.

    I have known two foresters killed in the woods. One about 6 or 7 miles west of the Osceola N.F. by a "perp" for his money to buy drugs in the Jax, Fl area, and another  about 60+- miles north of the Osceola, stung to death by stepping into a massive yellow jacket nest on a hot July afternoon. IMO a person is a lot more likely to have a problem with stinging insects like yellow jackets/hornets or being struck by lightening. And, with lightening, its best not to be exposed in the woods, but IF you get caught in a major lightening/thunder storm in the woods, try to get under a Magnolia tree if possible---the only tree in our woods that lightening will not strike!   

    Thanks to everyone for the great information!

    Woodsrunner, I'm considering getting snake boots not necessarily to protect me from snakes, but more for the waterproofing, because much of Osceola is a swamp and I want to be able to get into deeper or more secluded areas than other guys so I can have a better chance at getting deer.

    So what would y'alls opinions be about getting snake boots or maybe some other waterproof knee high boots? Or can I just use my leather work boots and not worry about wading into the water?

    Thanks for all of the really good information you guys!
  • smellybucksmellybuck Posts: 22 Greenhorn

    Walking/stalking or using a chair may work for some but usually are for hunters that have been in the game for a long time. Don't buck the system, sitting in a tree stand is by far your best odds. if you get good at that then you might expand into other methods.

    If you can find swamp edges near an oak grove or even a single oak tree that's usually money.

  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 415 Deckhand
    edited June 5 #11
    Man, I go back and forth about this too!  Snake boots?  Rubber boots?  Hip boots?  Waders? or board shorts and barefoot?

    As someone who grew up fishing waist deep and continued to do so all his life, I definitely don't mind getting wet.  But I'm not ok with that on cold days.  I would literally die.  And to be honest, I wanna be as dry and as comfortable as possible when sitting all day in a stand.

    It's a tough one.  Hunting WMAs you gotta get away from the crowds.  Ankle deep aint scaring hardly anyone off.  Knee deep, just those with rubber boots insisting their feet stay dry.  Waist deep, now you're getting there.  When you hit N I P S, it's probably just you and deer.

    If all you care about is dry and not snakes, snake boots are typically horribly uncomfortable.  Few exceptions.  Save your money.
  • ChonggChongg Posts: 313 Deckhand
    This is a frequently asked question here. I'll weigh in.

    I hunt similar, albeit usually a little drier, terrain. I wore snake boots for a few years. Say what you will but I just feel more confident walking around in the dark with them on.

    Fast forward a few years and those snake boots got to be smelling truly awful. I was convinced the stink was giving me away to every deer in the woods. So I picked up a pair of $20 rubber boots from the hardware store. First sit with those boots I have a buck pass at 20 yards. I ended up killing 3 deer at close quarters with those boots last season. I'm convinced ditching those rotten snake boots played a part. I still wear them during turkey season, but during the deer season I'm  gonna make do with the rubber ones.  Although Muck makes a rubber snake proof boot that I've been thinking about buying...
  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 415 Deckhand
    NOooo!!  I have the Muck snake boots.  Sooooo uncomfortable.  Ughhh.....
  • PinmanPinman Posts: 1,293 Officer
    edited June 4 #14

    I hate Muck boots. Overpriced-neoprene-boat-launching-boots. They are not made for walking any distance.  I don't Deer hunt (OK some but stink at it) but love Turkey Hunting and wouldn't consider any boot unless it was stamped "LaCrosse" or " Danner".

    I don't Deer hunt (OK some but stink at it) but if you think you are going to get away from stink in Florida forget about it. Get stinked up and hunt the wind unless you want to carry in a 2nd set of clothes, Just sayin


  • PinmanPinman Posts: 1,293 Officer
    Oh and to the OP. That Etrek GPS would work.  You cant count on cell phone reception anywhere out in the woods anywhere. Mark where you parked your truck when you get out and go explore.  Good luck.
  • woodsrunnerwoodsrunner Posts: 1,849 Captain
    Chongg, I really think that you are on to something about smelly boots. Deer and especially Black Bears and about all wildlife have an awesome ability to smell---its major in survival and food gathering with about all animals. In another Thread very recently I mentioned oiling leather boots with deer tallow to mask the leather smell. This works. At home in the Mountains when I was a youngster we would mix up a can of salmon, sardines and bacon grease and let it age for a day or so then soak a dish towel size rag in it and drag it behind us on a piece of line for 3-4 miles around the ridges in the mountains. We would have other soaked rags maybe 10"X10" with a string tied to it, and when we crossed a creek would tie off a rag in the creek. The scent would go downstream a couple of miles, and any bear that got a whiff of it would come straight up the creek to the main drag line then follow it behind us. Not sure this is legal any longer, so I'm not advocating it for bear hunting, just to point out how great wildlife is in smelling odors. If you wash your clothes in the washing machine with laundry detergent, and wear leather boots, deer and everything else that makes a living in the woods is going to know you are close if you are up wind from the animal!
  • ChonggChongg Posts: 313 Deckhand
    That's really interesting about the deer tallow, woods runner. That concoction of fish probably isn't too far off from my boots. In fact, during one hunt I filed my boots with water crossing a swamp. Dumped them
    out before climbing into my stand. About an hour before dark I am watching a raccoon follow my trail and comes right up to the tree. He probably thought he stumbled into a fish buffet....
    I don't drive myself crazy about scent control other than hunting wind, but those boots smelled BAD.
  • Biggles101Biggles101 Lake City, FLPosts: 12 Greenhorn
    So if I think I’m kind of seeing a consensus more of rubber boots somewhere between the knee high to waist high range?
  • scoop337scoop337 Posts: 18 Greenhorn
    Gonna burn up in anything taller than waterproof boots, knee high and waders are for the birds.

    As mentioned, Osceola is very wet. The firebreaks are difficult enough to walk on with standing water let along anything that would go over the top of your boots. But have at it. Use Google Earth to pick a couple of locations that you want to scout and go walk those areas, early August. Find some sign and set up a couple of cameras. Check cams week before Bow season, find/mark a tree. Good luck. 

    GPS is a good tool to have, but can be difficult to find your marked tree/s in the dark. Hanging bright eyes once you get well off the road will provide some redundancy and get you to your tree without any issue every time.


  • Ghostrider11bGhostrider11b Callahan, FlPosts: 12 Greenhorn
    To the OP:
    I hunted Osceola last year as my first time in Florida WMA's (also did Camp Blanding, I wouldnt suggest it). I hunted both the northern side close to the GA border as well as the southern region just above I-10. First off i dont think I went far enough away from the crowds and second off it was VERY wet. I used a ground blind and didnt see a single thing in all the times I went out. My suggestion is definitely some variation of waterproof boots, however tall you choose, and something that gets you off of the ground. The undergrowth is rather heavy in most spots and while they were doing some clearing it wasnt near enough. Also in the northern reaches of the WMA i think some of the effects from the large forest fire have left the area without large game population (although that was my eval last year, could have changed). Again I am a novice hunter myself but hopefully this helps.
  • Biggles101Biggles101 Lake City, FLPosts: 12 Greenhorn
    I've actually heard that Camp Blanding is a great place to find decent bucks. I was gonna try to get a quota hunt there and hunt Osceola the rest of the season. Was it really that bad for you Ghostrider11b?

    Also I would appreciate other inputs regarding Camp Blanding.

    Thanks
  • ChonggChongg Posts: 313 Deckhand
    I would think the parts burned in the forest fire would be good places to scout. 
  • Ghostrider11bGhostrider11b Callahan, FlPosts: 12 Greenhorn
    I attempted multiple times at Camp Blanding last year only to find out there were military exercises ongoing to the WMA was temporarily closed and had to high tail it to Osceola just to be able to hunt that day. I only ended up getting one actual day in at Camp Blanding and didnt have any luck. Also Blanding does not allow scouting of any sort so you are kinda just blind placing spots and using google earth for scouting if you have never spent much time there in past years. Being retired military I understand the extra regulations and all but it does tend to be frustrating.
  • Biggles101Biggles101 Lake City, FLPosts: 12 Greenhorn
    Awesome, thanks for the explanation.
  • DoradoDreaminDoradoDreamin Posts: 1,868 Captain

    My buddies and I hunted Osceola for decades in the old days.  My recommendations:

    1. Rubber boots - 18" high at least but good comfortable ones.  However even with those, sometimes you are going to get wet and that is all there is to it.

    2. Carry a couple of large plastic garbage bags (thick ones) in your pack.  Pull up around your legs and you can cross some short, high water areas like you had hip boots on.  Drop on other side and pick up and use on way back. We had some luck doing that to go in places others would not go into.  Note: bags can tear and you get wet anyways but it kept us dry 80% of the time.

    3. Climber - Getting high up is your best bet to have success.  Most areas are very thick and being able to cover large areas will help.  Use a harness and get as high as you can.

    4. Be out there first week of bow and in ML season if possible - Good shot at does the first week and ML is when the majority of the rut is

    5. Hunt the weekdays - Big difference in the game you will see Tues-Thurs versus the weekend.  Especially once it hits gun season.  Trust me. 

    6. Food sources - For deer, oaks/acorns and good green browse early on moving to gallberries later in the season.  For hogs, pink root if you can find it.

    7. Thick Stuff - other than the main chase/breeding periods, most of the bucks are nocturnal and will spend most of the day in the swamps.  Find their entry/exits from the thick stuff and set up.  Hope they screw up and come home 5 minutes after shooting light starts in the morning or come out 5 mins before shooting light ends in the evening. Sometimes they don't. One year we hunted a giant buck we would only see at night.  We knew where he stayed all day but he never came out until after it was very dark.  We would get back to the truck after an evening sit and could almost set our clocks as he would trot across the road 30 minutes after dark.  Hated that buck LOL.

    Good luck.


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