Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Osceolla Turkeys.

Recommended Posts

 Any one been to Florida on an Osceolla Hunt? Looking for referrals for next Spring.. I have talked about on here before but don't Remember who went. I think Phil Cramer has done it not sure. Any one else Have any Ideas .let Me know please. I could google em but rather get referrals , Got a buddy in Gainsvlle Fla. I just sent a message to and see if He can come up with some. He doesn't really hunt but is into guns and shooting so He might be able to help. Thanks  There season is earlier than ours so I can still get back here and hunt new Mexico..............BOB!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sure don't Bob. I will be going also as a childhood friend relocated there and mentioned my turkey quest  to a friend who hunts and he kindly offered to take me next year. I am also going to try to get an Eastern too in 2020 and that will just leave the Oscellated.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I lived in Flagler Beach in winter of 1978 , But don't know anybody there pobably, And met My wife in Daytona Beach in Spring of 78 .I would like to spend some time down there and do know people in several dfferent cities there. only 1 is looking into it for me.  He doesn't hunt but is into shooting and He thinks He might know some People that can Help Me. My only living Aunt and Uncle winter down there too. Lottsa people to visit. . But none are Hunters.....Thanks, for any info..............BOB!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, dmandoes said:

I've killed a couple osceollo on public land.  Put in for the draw and go hunt if u get lucky.  I've drawn with no point or one point. 

Is it too late to put in for the Spring Draw?


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/25/2019 at 5:43 PM, naturebob said:

 Any one been to Florida on an Osceolla Hunt? Looking for referrals for next Spring.. 

Been there; done that. It was sometime in the mid-1990s on the Seminole Res. Not sure if they're still doing hunts. 


Copyright by Tony Mandile

When I walked out the door of the Miami airport, I suddenly wondered if my compass wasn’t quite pointing to north. I certainly hadn’t planned on a sauna, but that’s exactly how the air felt when I stepped outside. It was hot and humid, quite unlike the cooler weather at 6:30 a.m. earlier that day at Sky Harbor in Phoenix. Looking down at the gun case I was carrying, I smiled, thinking I should have perhaps brought my golf clubs or a tennis racket instead. I knew we had to drive north about 90 miles to the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation, but I didn’t expect either the temperature or the humidity to be much different. Hunting turkeys in such condition would indeed be unique.

Two hours later, we arrived at the Billie Swamp Safari -- a blend of the modern and the old. The huge complex offers everything from airboat and swamp buggy rides through the Big Cypress Swamp to a restaurant with good food. In between, visitors can spend their money in the souvenir shop, view alligators, snakes and the endangered Florida panther or simply walk around and enjoy the scenery. Guests can also overnight in a unique “chickee,” a sort of open-air hut with a thatched palm roof. The somewhat primitive chickee, lit by only a kerosene lantern, has been the traditional Seminole dwelling for many decades. 

But the three writers who came to Florida weren’t there to see the tourist sites. Instead, we planned to hunt the 3,000 acres of the reservation that are set aside specifically for that purpose. Although several varieties of exotic game roam the area, we intended to chase the feral hogs and Osceola turkeys that are native to the area. 

Our host for our three-day stay was Jimmie McDaniel, the director of the Billie Swamp Safari. McDaniel, who worked for the Florida fish and wildlife folks for 31 years doing alligator research and such, lives on the property to make sure everything runs smoothly. And that he did.

Of course, when I received the invitation to hunt the Osceola, I jumped at the chance. Over the past 35 years, I had killed many turkeys. Most were the Merriam’s subspecies, but I also nailed a few Rio Grande, two eastern birds and a Goulds. I had never hunted the Osceola variety, however. So this hunt gave me the chance to complete my grand slam on the five subspecies, four of which are common to the United States. The Goulds subspecies, now in the early stages of a reintroduction in Arizona, is primarily a resident of Mexico’s Sierra Madre area. 

The Osceola got its name from a 19th century Seminole chief who was undefeated in his war against the colonists. He went up against Andrew Jackson, one of America’s finest generals, and handed him the only defeat he suffered in the war with the Indians. The swamps and mosquitoes helped Osceola do this, and hunters must also contend with these when they chase a wily gobbler. Perhaps this explains the Osceola's nickname --  the “swamp turkey.”

What’s different about the Osceola? Not much.

Though the coloration of the Osceola is much like that of the eastern variety, the former generally is a bit smaller. The bird’s range is basically limited to the central and southern part of the state. This is why many consider the Osceola as the most difficult of all the subspecies to take. A lot of the land in their range is private, and the public land where the birds live gets lots of hunting pressure. On the reservation itself, there is no season and no limit for the tribal members, but it doesn’t appear like the privilege is abused. Instead, the tribe has recognized that it has a resource and now promotes the turkey hunting for nontribal members.

The first night I spent at Billie Swamp was a short one because of the two-hour time difference. We had stayed up late, and when the knock on the chickee door came at five a.m. I still wanted to sleep for another two or three hours. But my guide for the day, Gavin Mann, wouldn’t hear of it. So I quickly donned my lightweight camo, grabbed my Browning Citori and latched onto a cup of coffee to drink on the way to the hunting area. 

It was still dark when we parked next to the modern meat processing plant and climbed aboard a big-tired swamp buggy. As Mann cranked up the engine, he laid out our hunt. “We’re gonna head to the southwest corner. I was there about two days ago and heard several gobbles. So that will be a good place to start.”

Mann wasn’t very old, perhaps in his mid to late 20s. But his experiences far outweigh his years. He was born and raised in the area and lives right on the reservation. So he has an intimate knowledge of both the terrain and the birds, having hunted them since he was a youngster. 

When we arrived at the area we would hunt, he parked the buggy. “We’ll work around the perimeter and hopefully raise a tom before too long.”

I just nodded in agreement and popped two shells into the 20 gauge over-&-under. We began walking through the palmettos in search of my gobbler. As we moved along the narrow path, Gavin started using his arsenal of calls. First he used a box call to do a bit of yelping. He then switched to both a slate and diaphragm call.

“I like to do the whole bit. Every call has a different sound and style. So the more diversified it is, the more a gobbler will think there are lots of turkeys roaming about.”

It was just getting light enough to see well when we heard the first answer. It came from a long way off and from the other side of the high fence that sets off the hunting area from the rest of the reservation. Mann quickly decided there was little chance to pull that particular bird in from so far away. We kept moving. 

My guide suddenly stopped in his tracks, motioning me to do the same. He cocked his head and pointed to his left. 

It’s tough to get old and lose one’s hearing; I hadn’t heard a thing. I whispered such to Mann. 

He again pointed, moved closer to me and whispered, “He can’t be more than 200 yards away, but I think he’s moving toward us. Let’s go this way.”

We cut down a narrow path that ran at a 90 degree angle to the one we had been using. A few hundred yards into the woods, we turned back toward our original route. As we neared it, Mann stopped long enough to make a call, then slowly peeked around a large palmetto.

I was right next to him. 

We both saw the turkey at the same time. The gobbler, his red and blue head shinning in the early morning sunlight, was heading toward us on a dead run. He spotted us at about the time we saw him. As he veered to our right, Gavin pointed in the bird’s direction and yelled, “Shoot.”

I did, and the tom stopped in its tracks when the No. 4 pellets hit him. Within seconds, the big bird laid perfectly still.

Gavin was exuberant. “All right,” he shouted. He raced to the bird, wanting to be sure he didn’t fly off. There was no need to worry. 

In fact, Gavin was impressed. “You know, when I saw you with a 20 gauge I said to myself, 'Here we go again.' The last two hunters I guided used 20s and  wounded birds they never recovered. So I didn’t have too much faith when I saw your gun. But that sucker sure did its job on this bird. To confirm his disbelief, he paced off the distance between the bird and the spot I shot from. It was 46 paces or about 40 yards. 

The tom weighed 16 pounds and had a 9-inch beard. 

That afternoon, I used my Knight inline muzzleloader to drop a 175-pound boar with two-inch-long tusks. Although it will make for good eating, completing my Grand Slam on turkey made the whole trip -- including the sauna -- worth it.


Hunts on the Big Cypress Reservation are available year round. The basic cost is $115 per day, which includes a guide. Overnight accomodations and meals are an additional $55 per day. The trophy fee for a turkey is $350, and trophy boar is $260. Meat hogs are also available for a reduced rate, and other exotic game such as fallow, axix or sika deer can be hunted.

For more information, contact: Big Cypress Hunting Adventures, HC-61, Box 46, Clewiston, FL 33440; telephone 1-(800)-689-2378. 

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, dmandoes said:

no, u can put in during november for the first draw or phase 1

I have been on the website and it all looks like OTC. I didn't see anything  about a draw.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Highly recommend doing it. Osceola’s are flat out a blast to hunt. I’ve been twice, both times with Swamp Gobbler Outfitters. It can be done on public but my thought process is by the time I pay the expense of travel and time off I want my best opportunity to take a Bird. As far as private land hunts go Swamp Gobbler is very reasonable and run a first class operation. The owners are my friends and I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone. Another great Outfitter is Cypress Roost Outfitters but he has a waitlist. 

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this