I got my permit to hunt in Florida for the Osceola subspecies in late March and early April. I’d like any tips for hunting in Florida. I’m working on my grand slam, and have already taken the Eastern and Merriam’s. — Jim Lueneburg
I’m not sure if you’re hunting private land, general public land or a limited-draw hunt on public ground, so I’ll keep the tips general.
Osceolas are turkeys, plain and simple. If you can kill an Eastern, you can kill an Osceola. The birds often gravitate toward the numerous cattle pastures that dot interior Florida, so it’s wise to scout those areas in the evening and then form a game plan for the next morning. Turkeys will often roost in cypress heads and oak motts that border large open areas. If you’re hunting public ground with few open areas, try to get off the beaten path and find public spots that border private pastures or fields.
Contrary to popular belief, Osceolas gobble just like their Northern cousins. The thick Florida foliage, however, often muffles the sound, so keep that in mind. A bird that sounds far might be closer than you think.
It also pays to find likely travel routes through swamps and other wet areas. Osceolas aren’t shy about getting their long legs wet, but if the water is deep enough, they’ll take the path of easiest travel, just like most other critters. I once shot a dandy Florida longbeard atop a narrow dike that bisected two large alligator-filled sloughs.
Oh, one more thing. Bring a Thermacell! Unless you’re in an open spot and the wind is blowing, Florida mosquitoes can be unbearable. Good luck!