The best of open range, management area, club, and high fence hunting

harbisonharbison Posts: 2,621 Captain
The best of open range, management area, club, and high fence hunting
As a Florida native life long fisherman and hunter the thought of fishing and hunting in Maine has for many years been a dream of mine. What would it be like to fish and hunt in the high mountains, deep snows, of Maine? Only one way to find out, let's go see! With that in mind my wife, Thelma, and I packed our four wheel drive Tacoma and set out for Jackman, Maine; Jackman, Maine, 1608 miles from Tampa, with an average yearly temperature of 39 degrees, snowfall of 108 inches, no traffic lights for over fifty miles, and a population under 800, is a little different from Tampa. Jackman, a very small town, surrounded by over 250,000 acres of woodland, is, in some ways, like Florida of sixty years ago. Back then Florida was also sparsely populated, however, admittedly, a little flatter and warmer.
Could not help but wonder is a sea food town in Maine much different from Tampa?
A lot! In Portland, Maine we did not recognize a single fish. When we told the people at the local fish market we were going to Jackman they laughed..."no one goes there; it's too remote and way too cold." Talk about cold! Jackman's yearly average temperature is 39 degrees. Well! That's what we were looking for. The 166 miles from Portland to Jackman, Maine, is a scenic wonderland that defies the imagination. Beautiful, un-inhabited forest with huge ever so green trees fill the countryside with the splendor of nature.
Finally, Jackman, Maine. First stop the one and only general store. We were welcomed and treated like family. By Jackman standards we were in the middle of a heat wave; the middle of the day temperature was already 30 degrees, however, highly anticipated snow was no where to be found. Boy! did that ever change. Let's move on to our new home away from home for the next two weeks, a very remote cabin on a huge completely frozen over lake.
Day number one at Duck welcomed the first every blizzard for this Florida native. Talk about about temperature in the teens, forty mile an hour winds, and extreme, really extreme, snow? We knew the deer would be gathered in what is known as 'deer yards' to help protect against the extreme conditions. A couple of days after the blizzard should welcome fabulous hunting.
OK! So what about fishing?
Well, after careful consideration, we decided to hold off on fishing in Maine, and for good reason:
Let's go deer hunting. On the second day after the blizzard Thelma and her .308 BAR showed her husband how it's done:
This is embarrassing! Could it possibly be that women are better hunters than men? Finally! my big chance. This big boy is easy to trail in the foot of snow, but getting a good shot is much harder. Several hundred yards out he stops and looks back; big mistake! With a mighty roar that 168 Gr. 7mm magnum is on it's way. Immediately the huge buck kicks up his back legs, a sure sign of a heavy hit, and takes off. Tracking deer in the snow is easy; every little drop of blood is highlighted. Trophy deer hunting in the 250,000 open range woodlands of Jackman, Maine, was an experience of a life time; an adventure never to be forgotten.
Next up, elk hunting in the 'open range' mountains of New Mexico:
And we thought the pines of Jackman were huge:
After tracking this huge bull in the snow for hours, finally, a shot, a very long range shot; he is grazing on a mountain side well over 400 yards away. With my Nikon scope on 9X power, I lean my 7mm BAR on a tree, take careful aim, and pull the trigger. Once again that Nosler AccuBond preformed perfectly. Elk down; elk down and out.
Open range deer hunting in Maine, and Elk in New Mexico, redefines the word FABULOUS!
Next up...Florida management area hunting. With just under 6 million acres Florida has the largest Wild life management area (WMA) system in the entire country. How good is the hunting?
Let's try the hammocks, flatwoods, and upland forest of the 50,417 acre Aucilla Wildlife management Area. Aucilla, just outside of Perry, Florida, is noted for hogs:
Hunting squirrels in the morning and hogs in the evening resulted in many fantastic hunting opportunities. Thelma & I hunted Aucilla for ten years. We stayed that long because it really was that good. We often harvested out limits of small game as well as deer, turkey, and hogs.
Next up let's check out several different hunting clubs. As a rule organized clubs offer the serious hunter better opportunities for success, and more 'creature features!'
Crystal River's Southwood offered a campground with running water, electricity, little pressure, and a huge population of deer, hogs, and turkey. Thelma & I hunted Southwood for two year before moving on to Lenard Thomas's Black Belt area hunting club in Alabama. Lenard's club offered electricity, running water, sewer, a walk-in cooler, and 40 stands overlooking acres of planted corn and rye grass. We saw deer and turkey virtually every day; fantastic hunting, but too far away to hunt weekends. After two years we moved to Madison County, Florida's Buck & Boar Hunting Club. Buck and Boar, just outside of Perry, Florida, offered a campground with electricity, running water, a dual bath house, and a huge walk-in cooler. Buck & Boar was, and still is, run by the Todd family. Bill, Little Bill, and Judy Todd represent our sport and the state of Florida very well.
Like to hunt hogs, rally big, mean, hogs? Buck & Boar's thousands of acres looked like a cattle pin with tracks. Hopefully we have found a home for more than two years. In addition to deer, turkey, and hogs, the many swamps of B&B provided a home for a large bear population.
We used both electric & bump corn feeders. Bears have a very difficult time digesting corn. A sure bear sigh is regurgitated corn:
Buck & Boar was overrun with huge very wild boars. Regardless of what the solunar table may say, the last 1/2 hour of the day is by far the best time to harvest a real trophy:
Buck & Boar was so good that Thelma & I were members for not two, but twenty years. We hog hunted the entire fall/Winter season as well as during Spring turkey season. During the Spring of our twentieth year we were both retired and intended to stay at camp the entire season. During the first week we shot nine monster hogs and were forced to go home early:
Little did we know that would be our last hunt together. Thelma, my loving wife of 39 years, my hunting partner, passed away shortly afterwards. That, along with advanced age, ended my life-long hunting career; or did it? Could high fence possible be an alternative?
First up Cedar Key's Tiger Island. Tiger Island's fenced in area goes back for over 1/4 mile, contains two small ponds, a swamp, as well as a beautiful oak/hickory hammock. The hogs have plenty of areas to hide. If not for the corn feeders you could easily go all day without seeing one. To my amazement, the hogs acted the exact same way as they did at both Southwood & Buck & Boar. The smaller pigs would come in first followed by, ever so cautiously, the big boys. The only difference: someone else does all the work; we have all the fun. My daughter, Dee, and dad at Tiger Island. Thank you Thelma for leaving me such a wonderful daughter:
Next, let's check out Perry's Two Guys & A Hog:
What a place to enjoy:
As at Tiger Island smaller meat hogs are relatively easy to harvest. Personal best trophies are much harder:
Two Guys & A Hog, like Aucilla and Buck & Boar, are just outside of Perry. Perry, Florida, home of the Perry News-Herald ever since 1889, is a proud, quaint, little town representing the best of Florida both new & old:
Ever see restaurants advertising homemade hamburgers and swamp cabbage? You can in the Herald. Publisher, Mr. Aaron Portwod, is one of the best in the business.
Next up Eustis, Florida's Bear Bridge Ranch.
Bear Bridge's fenced in area covers over 200 acres; plenty of room for hogs, deer, and bear to roam. The lodge and well stocked lake are breathtaking:
These unique 'Bridges' allow the huge bear population to cross over, rather than destroy, fences:
Bear Bridge was featured in a 3 page, 15 picture, article I wrote in the April edition of Florida's own Buck 'N Boar magazine. Check out the kill shot, page 45:
Ever wonder what we do with all that prime, nothing artificial, flavorful, wild hog meat? Never a problem:
The best whole hog sausage ever:
Try it smoked. Unbelievable!
And there is always:
More hogs needed. No problem! No better place to celebrate birthday # 76 than with a three day hunt, 12/5, 6, 7, at Bear Bridge Ranch. Then, come December 20'th it's back to Perry Florida's own Two Guys & A Hog to celebrate what would have been wedding anniversary # 46. I will be looking to beat my personal best.
Bear Bridge Ranch, and Two Guys And A Hog, two of the best of the best.
Up first, what better way to celebrate a birthday than three days on the water with one of the best Captains of all times, Captain Garett Hubbard, on the Florida Fisherman ll:
Our catch:
Followed by three days in the woods with professional guide, Mr. Scott Maybury, of Bear Bridge Ranch.
This guide of all guides makes sure we have every opportunity possible. Feed 'um and hey will come:
A little preview of what to expect:
Catch the 'kill shot' 3:56 minutes into the video at the end.
Long time friend, and hunting partner, retired Tampa police officer Mr. Tony Cangelosi:
Tony explains to us why we need a 'Bear Bridge' 37 seconds into the video:
Need we say more?
Ever see bear & hogs feed together?
How about deer?
Southwood and Buck and Boar were both open range covering thousands of acres; the hogs acted the same way, approached the feeder the same way, regardless of fence or no fence:
First the smaller pig, then the big boys. There is a big 200 pound class boar. Let's take him.
Watch the kill shot 3:55 minutes into the video:
Many years ago, as an incentive to become proficient, the Tampa Police Department began offering a full day off, with pay, for those who shoot 'Masters!' Tony earned many days off. But can this "Master" marksman harvest a hog with his 6 inch barrel, RIA 10 mm 1911.
How about with his .300 BAR magnum?
Glad this master of all masters is on our side. He does not miss.
But can he catch fish? Bear Bridge Ranch offers a beautiful, well stocked, lake:
Mr. Tim Randolph, owner of Bear Bridge, makes sure the lake is in perfect condition. Nothing is too good for Tim's guest:
Can Mr. Marksman catch fish? Well!

Check out the short, action packed, video. See the bear & hogs us close and personal:

'The best of open range, management area, club, and high fence hunting represents the culmination of over sixty years of actual in the woods experiences. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.

Bob Harbison Florida Outdoor Writers Association



  • Longbow14Longbow14 Posts: 19 Greenhorn
    I've gone to bear bridge for a few years now and love taking my out of state family there for their first hunts. great reviews.I may have shot the center dapple pig last trip.17499340_10209993442765636_1077173649094067980_n.jpg?oh=99f505873f6fc0e1f5ecdc3372edaf8a&oe=5A8E9034 being my cousin and I are bass nuts the pond is a great way to spend a few hours between peak hunt times.17523000_10209996034070417_6361708300997005267_n.jpg?oh=eb49d97d994ed443016e8b5489539736&oe=5AC418A6
  • dixiedaddixiedad Posts: 303 Deckhand
    Fine write up Bob, thanks.
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 2,621 Captain
    :) Thanks! I put a lot into his one. Glad you like it. Great pictures!
  • nofishtodaynofishtoday Posts: 1,067 Officer
    Good write up Bob
    Happy Birthday
  • capt louiecapt louie citrus countyPosts: 9,413 Moderator
    Happy Birthday.
    "You'll get your weather"
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 2,621 Captain
    :wink Thanks guys! BIG # 76 has been a long time coming.
  • jimglassjimglass Posts: 84 Greenhorn
    Nice post Bob. I live West of Chicago Illinois and have spent 10 winters in Florida near Crystal River. I have been wild hog hunting for 3 years now in Florida. Florida is a wonderful place for the sportsman. The public hunting areas in Illinois are laughable compared to what Florida has. Florida is an truly amazing place. It took me considerable time to acclimate to the Florida Jungle at night, alone. I never experienced anything like it before. I was fine in the jungle alone at night until it became so dark I could no longer see the ground.
    Something in my subconscience told me it was time to go home. I heard knocks, thuds, tree branches breaking, footsteps, and thought about "bigfoot". Figured there were two of them in the jungle. But, I forced myself to remain in the jungle after nightfall. My night vision monocular was a great help. Finally, one night I was having so much fun watching the Florida wildlife at night, it was 11:00 pm and I didn't want to go home. It dawned on me my fear of the jungle at night was over. Now, I love the jungle, alone at night.

    I realize it is best to always hunt with a buddy but it is not always practical plus I actually like being alone in the jungle. I'm 67
  • Rpd63Rpd63 Posts: 15 Greenhorn
    Very nice post sir. Thanks for taking the time. Congrats on your birthday.
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 2,621 Captain
    :wink Jim, than you so much. Must admit nighttime is a lot different. Hunted the "Florida Jungle at night" many times. Loved it! In Florida, on private land, it's legal to hunt hogs 24/7 every month of the year.
    Rpd63 Thank you sir. Put a lot of time into this report. Sir, it's people like you that make every single minute time well spent.
  • rrbgttrrbgtt Posts: 6,753 Admiral
    Excellent thread!

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    From hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee. Ye damned bobcat!
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 2,621 Captain
    :USA Thank you so much. What an honor sharing over 60 years of in the woods experiences with the sportsmen/women of FS.
  • bowhunter4lifebowhunter4life Posts: 958 Officer
    Very nicely done! Thanks for sharing!
  • micci_manmicci_man Somewhere in FLPosts: 12,278 AG
    rrbgtt wrote: »
    Excellent thread!

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

    I agree. Man, you and your wife have been all over. it is great that both of you have the same desire and love for the outdoors. Keep on keep'n on :beer
    Common Sense can't be bought, taught or gifted, yet it is one of the few things in life that is free, and most refuse to even attempt to possess it. - Miguel Cervantes
  • FletchFletch Merritt Island, FLPosts: 2,303 Moderator
    Excellent writeup and pictorial!

    Happy birthday! :beer
    "Ninety percent I'll spend on good times, women and Irish whiskey. The other ten percent, I'll probably waste..."
    -- Tug McGraw on getting a raise

    Get Down Fishing Charters - Port Canaveral, Florida
  • Lunch Money SurfLunch Money Surf Posts: 1,027 Officer
    Outstanding, thanks for sharing Mr. Harbison!
  • BowtechGen3BowtechGen3 Altoona, FlPosts: 774 Officer
    Great Write-up and Photo's. It Looks like you guys had a Great Time no matter where the hunt would take you.
    Director - Central Florida Dog Hunters & Sportsmans Association

  • harbisonharbison Posts: 2,621 Captain
    :wink Thank you so very much. Your kind words mean more to me than you will ever know. Nothing better than being with my wife in the woods.
    Researching & putting this report together took a great deal of effort & time. You make every single minute time so very well spent.
    Leaving 12/20 for Two Guys & A Hog. This one will be in honor of my late wife. Will provide a full report. Title will be 'Re-visiting Two Guys & A Hog.' It will be an honor to share it with you.
    Hope to take another action packed video like this:

    That running deer looks fantastic. Have never seen anything like that before.
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 2,621 Captain
    :) Thrilled to see that 'The best of' just passed the 1,000 mark. What an honor bringing a life time of hunting experiences into the homes of Florida Sportsman. Sharing Our Florida fields & waters are dreams come true for this proud Florida native. Thank you!
  • tunamantunaman Posts: 3,714 Captain
    Great thread, thanks!
  • SeaSpySeaSpy Posts: 382 Deckhand
    Nice read Sir.
    I booked my 15 yo son at bear bridge ranch.

    Spoke with guide and we will be shooting and fishing
    one day next week.

    Thank you.
    Ron Alford Expert Investigations & Surveillance
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 2,621 Captain
    Sounds great! Love their three day package. You will not believe the lodge & lake. Would love to see a full report. Please tell Scott Bob said hello.

    If your son is looking for a real trophy suggest telling him to be very patient. Smaller meat pigs are easy to target, BIG boys are a complete different story. The smaller ones will rush to the feed, the bigger ones will approach very carefully. Shoot a meat hog & you will never know a real trophy is watching. I watched this guy for over an hour before finally getting a shot:
    You will probably see a bear. He will be more afraid of you that you of him:
  • SeaSpySeaSpy Posts: 382 Deckhand
    Hi Mr. Harbison

    So my son and I went to the Bear Bridge Ranch.
    Scott was the man and the patient guide.
    Took our time and my kid busted a nice hog.

    Planning on going back for more.
    Ron Alford Expert Investigations & Surveillance
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 2,621 Captain
    Really great! Thanks for sharing.
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 2,621 Captain

    Put my heart & soul into this thread. The fact that 1.7 thousand sportsmen/women have allowed me to share my life with them means more to me than anyone will ever know. Thank You!

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