Big Cypress Bear Island Unit and Turner River Unit

MikeStMikeSt Fort MyersPosts: 24 Deckhand
I had been awarded a quota permit for Turner River Unit and Bear Island Unit for general gun. I do not have a ATV, an UTV or a swamp buggy neither i do not have (yet) a tree stand. I had been in Turner River Unit for archery season as well as muzzle loader season by foot. Going in for general gun season by foot gives me that little uncomfortable feeling becoming an unintended target being right down on the ground. Also will I not have the advantage aiming down towards the ground so in case of a miss the bullet would be safely stopped. Bear Island Unit has a entrance only by foot at mile marker 70 on I-75. In your experience, do most people stay on foot, do they have a tree stand which they carry to their desired spot and climb up the tree (i would imagine most people do that) or do fellow hunters just enter, walk and stay down on the ground? I assume that the area around the walk-in entrance will not be visited too much by hunters on wheels, or am I totally wrong with this assumption?
Eventually, I guess, I want to have a jeep or UTV and a tree stand since it appears just to be a much more comfortable and flexible. However I still want to go hunting even though i do not have these items yet.
What are your experiences, opinions and advise?

Replies

  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 2,161 Captain
    I'm glad to see you're still at it and are checking out Big C.  I wish I could give you some solid advice but I probably haven't spent enough time down there yet to know the ins and outs well enough to be helpful.  The season I hunted there, bout 3 years ago, it was so wet, you'd likely never hike more than a couple miles in.  If that.  I don't believe I ever got more than a mile.  But then I was down there this summer, looking for snakes, and the place I hunted was crazy 'dry'.  As in, not waist deep...
    Problem with Turner river is there are few access points without having to cross a deep canal.  I think there are 3 kiosked buggy trails that cross over.  There are also a few hidden culvert type crossings.
    Personally, never ran into a soul out there.  Most of the guys on buggies are going much deeper than you ever could by foot.
    If I were you, my next purchase would be a stand of some type.
  • ahappyfryahappyfry Miami FlPosts: 6 Greenhorn
    I've hunted Bear Island extensively throughout Turkey and Archery this year, but the water levels between then and now are ridiculous. Yeah I'll walk in MM 70 with a tree stand on my back and setup in the tree, but how deep you get is up to you and how much you're willing to take. Can confirm water levels are waist deep in a lot of spots and I think through all of archery I might of seen one other hunter/nut job out there with me.

    It's really tough terrain, I recommend you buddy up out there. I'll be out in Deep Lake hunting by bow during General Gun hit me up if you ever need some help.


  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 2,161 Captain
    ahappyfry said:
    I've hunted Bear Island extensively throughout Turkey and Archery this year, but the water levels between then and now are ridiculous. Yeah I'll walk in MM 70 with a tree stand on my back and setup in the tree, but how deep you get is up to you and how much you're willing to take. Can confirm water levels are waist deep in a lot of spots and I think through all of archery I might of seen one other hunter/nut job out there with me.

    It's really tough terrain, I recommend you buddy up out there. I'll be out in Deep Lake hunting by bow during General Gun hit me up if you ever need some help.


    lol, I asked myself many times what kind of Nut Job I must be, all by myself at 3 in the morning, wading through waist deep water for a mile through the thick, thick to get to my stand out in the middle of absolute nowhere with absolutely no one anywhere close by or cell signal....  good times
  • gladesmangladesman Posts: 1,362 Officer
    edited November 2018 #5
    "Problem with Turner river is there are few access points without having to cross a deep canal.  I think there are 3 kiosked buggy trails that cross over.  There are also a few hidden culvert type crossings."

    Actually there are over 50 discreet culvert crossings to the north of Tamiami Trail (US 41) between SR 29 on the west end and 40 mile bend on the east.

    Also- see attached google earth image - there are over 30 miles of County Roads (one can camp along side of them if one doesn't mind dust from vehicles) with allowable  access from both sides of  albeit some also have a canal on one side - nothing a canoe can't be launched into to cross. Canoes can be rented and camping tent/RV at Trail Lakes Campground https://www.facebook.com/ochopee/  in western end of Big Cypress. I stay there myself when and these owners are local folks there for over 50 years and treat folks right.

    Additionally open google earth live and zoom in close 500 - 2000 feet and travel E to see other access roads to get North of US 41 a good ways. Even within the image attached one can zoom in on google earth live and see many hunt access routes not visible on the jpeg image.

    So far the water levels everywhere I've been seem lower than usual this year (2 - 10 inches deep in marshes/pine islands dry). I prefer water so as to hear game walking when approaching and keep game in certain areas.

    Would recommend wearing orange when on the move in daylight but other than that in 50 years I have only heard of 2 hunting accidents (both fatal) one due to a modification plug in a single barrel shotgun converted to muzzle loader - it didn't go off, the guy opened breech quickly to address problem , then cap ignited firing the gun and blowing the adapter plug thru head. Other incident was guys surrounding a cabbage palm head containing hogs, one hog broke out , hunter fired using buckshot slightly into head, one pellet hit fellow hunter of the group in, doctor present in group couldn't save his friend. These were tragic events for sure but extremely rare in Big Cypress from my memories. Be aware also some do NOT wear orange so be positive of the target.

    This area takes years of experience to be routinely successful while deer hunting but beginners luck stories are numerous.

    Relax, feel and be safe and hunt hard because that is what it takes most of the time. Time in the woods is key.

  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 2,161 Captain
    Regarding access via tamiami.. i don't recall much of a shoulder to pull off and park the truck.  Is it a problem?  I know I looked for some way to access this route but never found something I was comfortable with I guess.
    I gotta get back down there.  I do love it.
  • gladesmangladesman Posts: 1,362 Officer
    US 41 has an approximate 20 - 30 ft wide grass shoulder on the south side of highway - all the way thru Big C. County roads -  just pull off where U can.

    Don't leave valuables in truck parked on US 41 or county roads - one never knows.
  • MikeStMikeSt Fort MyersPosts: 24 Deckhand
    spangler said:
    I'm glad to see you're still at it and are checking out Big C.  I wish I could give you some solid advice but I probably haven't spent enough time down there yet to know the ins and outs well enough to be helpful.  The season I hunted there, bout 3 years ago, it was so wet, you'd likely never hike more than a couple miles in.  If that.  I don't believe I ever got more than a mile.  But then I was down there this summer, looking for snakes, and the place I hunted was crazy 'dry'.  As in, not waist deep...
    Problem with Turner river is there are few access points without having to cross a deep canal.  I think there are 3 kiosked buggy trails that cross over.  There are also a few hidden culvert type crossings.
    Personally, never ran into a soul out there.  Most of the guys on buggies are going much deeper than you ever could by foot.
    If I were you, my next purchase would be a stand of some type.
    Oh yes I'm still on it!! Unfortunately less than I would like to!! There are other things in life which need some attention here and there, also we want to see the check flying in to pay the bills.
    I'm very aware that I will need a tree stand but didn't decide what I want to get. I would lean more towards a tree stand with ladder, however i guess a climber is much more practical on foot.

    Thank you guys, I always get some good information. I think I wore out my Buddy, we went to Myakka State Forest the other day for hogs and i guess it was wayyyy too much walking for him. After I was made the promise that I would find lots of hog, we ended up seeing just one which disappeared in the bushes quickly again, couldn't even get m bow up so quickly. i think he was just by talking about Big Cypress a little turned off by the assumption there would be a lot of water. I think he is scared off now!!!

    Honestly, I do not feel too comfortable either with too deep of water!! I figured I can not get around the water in Big Cypress, however knee deep i experienced so far, really is enough for me.
    I do feel a little intimidated by the fact being out there, no cell connection, by yourself - or at least others in not in near proximity, it has something absolutely cool but also something scary. I'm building up experience, probably tolerance will come with it!!

    I do usually get the myfwc report and it appears to me that hunting accidents are rather scarce than often.

    Since I'm not to much skilled and trained in scouting and survival type of activities, never was part of the scouts, never was too much a camper guy (primitive camping definitely not), I like to be on the safe side a bit (one would maybe call it the comfortable side - that's ok - I admit), but I guess far more daring when teamed up.

    I saw a bear the other day in Turner River Unit, that was super cool!!! These moments are just unforgettable!!! Still, I want get my my own shot meat on the BBQ. I know, a lot of patience is needed!!

    Thank you guys. I enjoy every comment, every advise, being out there is the key, I agree!!!


  • gladesmangladesman Posts: 1,362 Officer
    Must say I haven't found waist deep water except in deep swamps I run my pirogue in - that's about it otherwise knee deep is deepest and only in central 80 feet or so of marshes that are 100 yds wide where I go.

    AT&T covers most of Big C with a few dead spots.

    If intimidated just stay within a half mile or so of entry point until the comfort level rises. If using a gps make sure to have an accurate compass just in case - personally I carry 3 light ones to solve any conflicts the pointers may have. Learned that after 2 compasses didn't agree while in a brand new very wet area/swamp in Mississippi years ago. Really rotten feeling - got lucky and chose the right one to believe and got out - have had 3 all the time ever since.
  • ahappyfryahappyfry Miami FlPosts: 6 Greenhorn
    edited November 2018 #10
    spangler said:
    lol, I asked myself many times what kind of Nut Job I must be, all by myself at 3 in the morning, wading through waist deep water for a mile through the thick, thick to get to my stand out in the middle of absolute nowhere with absolutely no one anywhere close by or cell signal....  good times
    Brother? LOL But seriously we do it cause we love it. I'd be lying if I would say I've never been spooked walking in there solo like that. The solitude + sights though are well worth it though. The wife and friends are all brunching somewhere downtown Miami, and I'm up in a tree with a spider walking over my foot... good times!
  • tampaspicertampaspicer Posts: 399 Deckhand
    CB radios don't need cell service.  ;)
  • miamifl305miamifl305 MiamiPosts: 2 Greenhorn
    Hi guys, I am New and I have few questions, I have read regulations, i got my safety hunting course, I never hunted here in Florida or any other state, i just hunted rabbits, squirrels in another country but there were not rules, just go out in the woods and hunt, i am really trying to see if i can go hunting on Big Cypress, but as usual i have my doubts and fears, and you may thing i could be ridiculous but i have few questions, I have not ATV, just shot gun, revolver, and pistols, I understand that i should wear orange best and a cap, i drove few times in US41 and i see a sign that says hunters must check in and checkout, i can read here that i can walk and do hunting in that area, i know i may be not lucky to kill a deer, or probably not even a rabbit, but i just want to have my 1st experience, do you guys have any advice for a newbie?
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 2,787 Captain
    Just make sure you got a shotgun, a rifle, and a 4 wheel drive... 
  • binellishtrbinellishtr Posts: 8,797 Admiral
    dont feed the alligators
  • meateatermeateater south flaPosts: 440 Deckhand
    giant pythons all over turner river walk in area    better stick to bear island :)    
  • MikeStMikeSt Fort MyersPosts: 24 Deckhand
    I'll be in bear island unit tomorrow, I'm a newbie, I probably do a lot of mistakes but I'm learning.
    Miamifl305: This week you need a quota permit to hunt in big cypress later it's open to everybody.
    I think a 4x4 is very good to have, I don't have one yet. I'm looking to get one eventually. If you walk in you only can get so far, unless you are good trained in hiking, I'm not, I'm careful, I got my fears, I'll be carefull!! Lot of new stuff for me to learn, getting to understand the rules and quota draw ( not too bad actually, get the hang pretty quick), I'm not a scout, I rather be on the safe side and try to avoid stupid things

    Got my climber treestand , practised in a park near to my house and worked quite well, again, fear is there, I'll be c arefull

    Meateater: I'll been at Turner river unit a few times for archery and muzzleloading, didn't see any snake! Lots of there now? Can you actually hunt them or do you need a special permit? I never see anything about python hunting?

    Looks to me hunting buddies are hard to find, I think I wore one out the other day, too much walking!

     I wished there would be a club where everybody could learn from everybody.

    Good luck 

  • tampaspicertampaspicer Posts: 399 Deckhand
    Don't forget to tie a rope to the top and bottom of you stand. 
  • MikeStMikeSt Fort MyersPosts: 24 Deckhand
    I won't ! I figured this rope will be quite important and makes it easier to recover the bottom part again, I hope it won't happen. Practised that as well.
  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 2,161 Captain
    MikeSt said:
    Looks to me hunting buddies are hard to find, I think I wore one out the other day, too much walking!
    I'm realizing it takes a special kind of person to hunt public land.  For all kinds of reasons.
  • MikeStMikeSt Fort MyersPosts: 24 Deckhand
    spangler said:
    MikeSt said:
    Looks to me hunting buddies are hard to find, I think I wore one out the other day, too much walking!
    I'm realizing it takes a special kind of person to hunt public land.  For all kinds of reasons.
    I guess it does!
  • MikeStMikeSt Fort MyersPosts: 24 Deckhand
    I went to Bear Island Unit this morning. Loaded with my new climber.
    Well, I learned again - figure out the area before your hunt. I was worn out  before I found q good spot. Didn't use my climber, didn't see any game. I was a bit  upset with myself. Left again but not before dropping my climber and go in again with less load - just me and my rifle.
    I just get spooked to easily. Need more training and a hunting buddy!!
    For some reason the I was exhausted today, the climber on your back makes the whole walk even more tough. These strap supplied with the climber are not too comfortable. You need to have your spot, walk in straight in the  morning, get set up in your spot and enjoy. 
    Learned again! Still it's nice there when stars are bright and the sun is coming up - even though it pretty much flew past me this morning.
  • miamifl305miamifl305 MiamiPosts: 2 Greenhorn
    Thank You MikeSt and all of you for your suggestions. I think i will do small game and Phytons in my area first.
  • gladesmangladesman Posts: 1,362 Officer
    spangler said:
    MikeSt said:
    Looks to me hunting buddies are hard to find, I think I wore one out the other day, too much walking!
    I'm realizing it takes a special kind of person to hunt public land.  For all kinds of reasons.


    True ~~~
  • fish_stixfish_stix Posts: 1,354 Officer
    It's good you're a little spooked! Those dang pythons have had enough growing time now to be tree trunk size. If one gets you all they'll ever find is a pile of python poop with a pair of boots in it: make sure you mark your name and address or next of kin on your boots so we know who it was. :p
  • Big MakBig Mak Posts: 2,787 Captain
    edited November 2018 #25
    Yep, once they knock you off your feet and wrap you up, it's lights out...

    I think Newton Cook had one in his decoys at STA 1 few years ago. Gave his blind mates a little scare. I saw one at Johnny's Bass Hole a few years ago so I'm sure they are in STAs 2, and 3/4. Be careful out there!
  • Mr_WatsonMr_Watson Ten Thousand IslandsPosts: 113 Deckhand
    Get snake boots! Not the pythons I'm scared of but those cotton mouths. Plenty of bears out there also..
  • Turner River TerrorTurner River Terror Posts: 7,278 Admiral
    Forget Snake Boots... Hot / Heavy and if,n your hunting right  , they'll be full of water all day.
    This is what you need....30 years in that Cypress. This is it.
    Drain holes drilled in the Neoprene shoes as well.
    Killin and Grillin :grin
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