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Florida Whitetail Experience

Old 06-02-2018, 09:01 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 8
Default Florida Whitetail Experience

Hey y'all,

I'm in my early twenties and have no hunting experience whatsoever. I want to get started by hunting in Osceola because I live in Lake City and it's by far the closest WMA. I have already finished the Hunter Safety Course which was fun but didn't actually teach me as much about hunting itself as I thought it was. I have a FL hunters license and will get my WMA permit in a little bit. I recently bought a .308 rifle and am wanting to get some experience from those people who have hunted in Osceola or around that area. I just want to know what I should be looking for with regards to deer sign, what kind of habitat I should be looking for, what I should be looking for on Google Earth, etc.

Also, I was wanting to know if it would be more effective for me to buy a cheap tree stand (it will have to be cheap because I'm a married college student with a child), walk around super slowly, or just buy a camp chair and try and hunt from the ground.

Also, how necessary would buying snake boots be?

Like I said, I would prefer experience from Osceola, but really any North Florida, or Florida swamp experience would be deeply appreciated!!

Thank you guys in advance,

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Old 06-03-2018, 07:48 AM
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find satellite photos get topo and boundary maps, and get the wild life area regulations,
and get a gps so you can locate those areas once your on the ground where things look a great deal different,
if you get out the recent satellite photos your looking for areas that channel deer movement, between cover and feed.
watch the wind, youll rarely see deer directly down wind, keep to the shadows as much as you can, wear good camo.
I can assure you no one can tell you exactly where too find deer or hogs consistently on any given location,
simply because the animals constantly change location due to changes in hunting pressure, food supply, cover, weather etc.
yet you can markedly up your odds of success,by getting to know each area, and personally scouting out the constantly changing factors that influence the game.
on the particular area you choose to hunt, nothing beats on site current observation, and documenting and mapping out the area.
one of the biggest helps will be actually getting out and observing the area and learning specifics about both that area and the game, as a great deal changes,

deer will love a secluded peninsula or any other area that has very limited human traffic as long as it has feed and cover,
here in florida much of the hunting management areas consist of swamp, if you pull a topo map,
many are endless small peninsulas extending into shallow drainage ponds, and islands in the swamp.
deer are not phased with crossing chest deep water, or even swimming a canal to gain access to decent feed and cover
Ive used a cannoe for decades to allow easy transport of equipment and downed game

almost daily, but there are semi dependable and if your observant patterns to the games movement.
a good quality climbing tree stand, patience, a management area map and decent binoculars will allow you get a good perspective on what your potentially dealing with,
a call to the local biologist and game department can be helpful.
obviously if you can find an experienced mentor familiar with your selected area that could be a big advantage.
but be aware that about 75% of the people that "hunt" are basically spending most of their time,
wondering aimless and clueless, hoping to spot game and while they are occasionally going to shoot game,
you can vastly increase your odds going at the process by doing detailed research and breaking down the process of locating the game logically.
ideally youll want to locate a choke point concentrating deer movement like the narrow land area between two lakes, or the tip of a heavily wooded area adjacent too a second heavily wooded area with a small open meadow between the two.(natural game travel choke points)
if you have access to a welder and chop saw you can build a damn nice climbing tree stand for under $60 similar too this


untill you know the area,increase your odds by finding areas deer constantly travel between cover and feed, be in a tree stand with a wide field of fire ,
up at least 15-25 feet up a tree so you command/control dozens of acres,travel with a scoped rifle, limit movement, ideally place the stand back a few yards from the edge of the timber (yeah I'm well aware you seldom have ideal choice locations for tree stand locations)
if you plop down in a random area on the ground your chances of success diminish a great deal.
your perspective changes giving you dozens of times more area you can see, from a tree stand 20 ft up.
get the largest and strongest cooler you can afford, keep it in your car or truck and throw a bag or two of ice in it every morning to keep a couple plastic gallon milk jugs you freeze solid before each trip from melting , then place a few sodas or gator-aid bottles in it, if you get lucky and drop a deer you place the number of 2 gallon zip loc bags of meat in the cooler to prevent spoilage untill you can get home, and properly process and label the meat packages.
coleman sells a usable fairly cheap,120 quart for $65, if you have the cash, pelican, grizzly and others sell premium coolers but they cost $260-$600
the cheap cooler will work on one or two day hunts if filled with frozen milk jugs
the basics are simple you'll need to learn to be able too,
consistently find game on a regular basis,
and once found you need to be able to quickly place lethal shots precisely.
knowledge of where and when the game travel and skill with your equipment helps immensely.
being able to see down between the brush and optically cover a very large surface area (several acres)from an elevated tree stand helps in both cases

Last edited by hardcastonly; 04-29-2019 at 07:16 AM.
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Old 06-03-2018, 08:05 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 8

Hey, thanks for all the info!

So say that I find a few good places on google earth or a topo map and I go out to look at them. What should I be looking for? What kind of food sources should I be keeping my eyes open for? I've heard that a deer trail is supposed to be about 4' tall and 1' wide, should I be looking for trails that resemble that? Should I be looking for rubs or scrapes or something?

General gun season starts in November in Osceola, when should I start my scouting? I've heard some people say that you should start scouting as soon as the season ends which wouldn't be until January, and others say that you should start about a month before the season starts, which would mean I would be scouting right in the middle of archery season.

Also, besides looking for strips of land between two bodies of water or an opening between two heavily forested areas, are there any other things I should be keeping my eye open for on Google Earth or the maps?

Thanks Again!
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Old 06-04-2018, 05:44 AM
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it helps a great deal to have a GPS for what should be very obvious reasons.
get and use a decent back-pack
carry a note book and pen and camera, that stores digital pictures , carry extra batteries, carry water, Toilet paper a cell phone
game does not report to a certain location at a set time, (no bus to catch too work, no restaurant seating hours.
they move due to changes in hunting pressure, changes in food sources,major environmental changes,and mating season and weather.
the more time you spend becoming familiar with the area youll hunt the better your grasp of the wildlife and how it spends its time and where it spends that time,
game will detect you about 80% more often than you detect game, observe by finding a concealed area and sitting, it will take 30-45 minutes for the natural process to resume.
learn the local food sources, be aware of changes, oaks don,t drop acorns all year.
will be to your benefit, wear a watch take notes and what I do is divide the map of the area into roughly 1/8 mile grid squares,
label them A-Z then you can make readable notes like
"8 am, oct 12, zone G- kicked up 3 does, found several game trails converge south of oak stand 30 yards from north end of canal" or
"11Am zone D,oct 28, found perfect tree for climbing stand for winds from north, over mixed myrtle and oak, lots of hog digging sign "
"5pm zone C oct 26 large oak grove obviously torn up by hogs"
organize notes by zone, and month on your home computer data base
learn to be a damn good shot from field positions (shooting skeet also helps)
you can aimlessly and randomly wonder around like most "hunters"and occasionally see game
or you can up your odd markedly by understanding where when and why game move and where they are more likely to be.
youll also up your odds by getting in before dawn and hunting till after dusk.


go to the local fish & game office and grab all the local area brochures ,of areas your likely to hunt
once you find an area that appeals to you get a detailed topo map and sat photos
talk to the biologist, if you do your home work, its not that hard.
visit the local rifle ranges and larger mom & pop gun-shops you might find a knowledgeable & helpful mentor
get up off the computer and grab a compass, and a map a back pack with water and a snack, your cell phone, etc.
and actually walk through the area,take pictures and get familiar with the ares,
in many cases your allowed to as long as you follow a few simple rules
after a few dozen trips youll get a clearer mental picture of the area
after several seasons youll know pretty much where to set up a stand to have an excellent chance of success,
as youll have a good grasp on how and when game moves,
if theres been a grass fire or the game department used a dozer to cut a new dirt road through the area,
or the adjacent farm burned sugar cane or it rained enough that your walking through knee deep water most of the time
, it will effect the game travel patterns. the basics are simple you'll need to learn to be able too,
consistently find game on a regular basis,
and once found you need to be able to quickly place lethal shots precisely.
knowledge of where and when the game travel and skill with your equipment helps immensely.
being able to see down between the brush and optically cover a very large surface area (several acres)from an elevated tree stand helps in both cases
be paitient, get a good stand location, relax be observant,
have a quality set of 8x or 10x compact binoculars
never leave your stand over time someone will steal it
never piss near your stand
the higher the tree stand , generally the more area you can observe
wear a safety tree stand fall harness, let the wife know the grid (s) on the map your likely to hunt
charge your cell phone, ideally have a spare battery or battery charger
put a sling on your rifle use a cartridge holder butt sleeve

ideally youll want a pack large enough to carry most of the boned out meat from a deer.
heres a quick memory jog list, for hunt day pack
(remember you might be forced to stay out over night, & weather is unpredictable)
skinning knife
compact blade sharpener
area topo maps
large canteen
cell phone
several lighters
granola bars
rain poncho
2 gallon zip lock bags
small block & tackle hoist & rope
(50 ft parachute cord)

spare ammo
toilet paper
mosquito repellent
alcohol hand wipes
heavy hoodie jacket

Last edited by hardcastonly; 06-07-2018 at 08:08 AM.
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Old 06-04-2018, 04:57 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 8

Hey man, thanks for the great info.

The articles were really good, I had already read a couple of them, but the refresher definitely didn't hurt. Also the pack list was very useful.

Any particular reason why you would want a sling or stock sleeve for your ammo?

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Old 06-05-2018, 04:12 AM
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you,ll want to have your hands free to carry the stand, and do other things at times,
and you may not want to place the rifle on wet ground,or lean it on a tree where it might fall,
hence the sling and ammo sleeve help.
proper practiced use of ,a sling helps rifle accuracy, a great deal on off hand, or sitting shots,
and you want ammo where its always accessible and your very unlikely to leave it home, by mistake,
or be forced too rummage through pockets or the pack to find it quickly.
its being careful , thinking about what might go wrong,and not making little mistakes that helps prevent larger issues
btw if you take a shot and the deer runs as if its not hit, be aware that even a mortally wounded deer can at times run 40-80 yards before dropping , never assume you missed!
deer are not difficult to kill if the shots well placed but that does not mean they all drop on bullet impact., your 308 win loaded with soft point 150-165 grain bullets will do a very good job provided you place shots well.



http://www.handloads.com/loaddata/default.asp?Caliber=308%20Winchester&Weight=All&ty pe=Rifle&Source=

varget and WW748 powders, the speer 165 grain bullet and a 215 fed primer work well.

The “Hasty Sling”

One way to steady shots when you don’t have rest is by using your rifle sling to create tension between your arm and the rifle. This technique is called the “Hasty Sling” and can be employed in each of the four shooting positions. As with the shooting positions, practice the Hasty Sling so you are confident using this technique.

If you are right handed, hold the rifle out with your right hand and let the sling hang down.

Place your left arm through the opening, above the sling and below the rifle.

Next, raise the left arm up and behind the sling.

Then slip your hand back over the sling and grasp the forestock of the rifle.

Shoulder the rifle as you normally would.

If the sling is at the correct length, the resulting tension created when you shoulder the rifle will steady your hold.

With the rifle held to the shoulder, the rear portion of the sling will cross your chest.

The sling will wrap around the outside of your left arm, near the elbow, pass over the crook of your arm and inside your forearm. The forward end of the sling will be on the back side of your left hand.

Your position should not be cramped or cause you to adjust. It should be comfortable and snug. If it is not, you will need to adjust the length of your sling.

Last edited by hardcastonly; 06-05-2018 at 07:06 AM.
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Old 06-05-2018, 07:20 AM
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Posts: 8

Awesome, thanks a lot!
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Old 06-05-2018, 02:03 PM
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Location: texas
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Like with most things in life the more effort you put into honing increased skill, and increasing knowledge the better your results,tend too be,
experience counts.
statistically about 25% of the hunters are consistently successful, they tend to be a bit more serious about learning the skills required than the 75% who rather aimlessly wonder and occasionally run into a deer.
it will take some effort on your part, but if your willing to do the research, and spend dawn till dusk in the field, on several weekends,
in most areas, honing your skills even a first year hunter,
will have little trouble killing a couple deer with a 308 win in florida, that is certainly something you can accomplish.
btw it helps to concentrate your initial searches for game and game trails in the "EDGES"
places where theres an obvious change in the terrain,
like stream banks, places where grass meadows meet myrtle, oak or cypress groves,
deer don,t want too need too push thick palmetto brush, or saw grass or walk chest deep in water any more than you do,
but will do so to get away from hunting pressure in a heart beat.
,look for semi-open areas that provide cover and feed,look for areas that don,t have easy road access.
if you have to cross a stream or drainage ditch, or walk 1/2 mile to get access,
to get there its a good bet many hunters will not hunt the area.
or where open grass fields butt up to palmetto scrub.
a great deal of Florida wild life management area terrain is subjected too,
occasional and irregular cycles of drought and flooding and occasional wild fires.

if your serious about being far more successful than average take the time and effort,
to call and talk to the local fla fish & wildlife biologist and game wardens, be polite
have a list of reasonable and specific questions
what are the deer populations in area (XYZ)
what are the deer primarily feeding on in area (xyz)
when is the rut, in XYZ







[it will take some effort on your part, but if your willing to do the research, and spend dawn till dusk in the field, on several weekends,
in most areas, honing your skills even a first year hunter, can vastly up his odds of success., given a couple years experience, you can pick off deer regularly and hogs are a no -brainer.


Last edited by hardcastonly; 06-06-2018 at 06:26 AM.
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Old 06-05-2018, 04:05 PM
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I can,t be the only one on this web site to spend 40 -50 years hunting in Florida,
wheres the other knowledgeable old experienced geezers ,
who are willing to, help the younger generation out, by adding too hunting tips?




for the last 7-8 years Ive been mostly using a 44 mag loaded with a lee 310 grain hard cast gas check bullet over 20 grains of H110 powder

a shoulder holster makes it easy to walk in with other gear, and with practice shots from a tree stand with a revolver,sitting resting your arms on your knees, at typical 40-60 yards are not very difficult


http://www.handloads.com/loaddata/default.asp?Caliber=44%20Magnum&Weight=310&type=Ha ndgun&Order=Powder&Source=
MOLD DC C 430-310-RF
the 44 mag silhouette with adjustable front site and 10 5/8" barrel

how far away do you think youll see a hog thats at most 28"-32" at the shoulder


my BLR in 358 win is very well represented

as is my 257 roberts ruger

my 44"barrel hawken style 58 caliber rifle with a round patch ball and 100 grains of 1f powder devastates deer

your rifle of choice is far less critical to success than your skill using it,
damn near any centerfire rifle you can accurately use will work,
most of my friend,s use marlin 44 mag, 45lc, or 30/30 or 45/70 lever actions,
and your ability to locate game, consistently,not the rifle caliber is the critical factor/skill.
and shots tend to be under 100 yards in most areas
some guys prefer bolt actions,some guys like semi autos,
thats fine you'll rarely need a fast second shot or longer range power, from what I've seen.

Last edited by hardcastonly; 06-06-2018 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 06-06-2018, 05:44 AM
Fork Horn
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 130

hco, you covered things to a T for the area!

climbing stand can be chained to a tree for a greater sense of security if you find the PERFECT spot.

My 172 came from such a tree, as did many others (I think it is 7 now...)

35ft up, views as far as 300 yards, maybe 400 in certain directions.

everything I saw posted was good info.

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