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Good times on the Alston Ranch

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This past weekend, I was invited to participate in a special opportunity to hunt on the Alston Ranch in Zephyrhills.  This opportunity was created for myself and seven other mobility impaired hunters, by the incredible team of event organizers of the American Disability Adventures, LLC and the landowners, the Southwest Florida Water Management District.  The property, nearly three thousand acres, is a part of the Upper Hillsborough Preserve and sports a beautiful mixture of hardwood creek bottoms, pasture and pine forest.

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The ADA has permission to allow a limited number of hunters onto the property to hunt big game each year and in order to maintain a balanced ratio of sexes amongst the whitetail herd, each hunter is issued a tag to harvest an antlerless deer along with a buck.  Two of the eight deer hunters took antlerless deer, while three others scored on bucks, the largest of which was a 145lb six-pointer taken by Benton Geer of Nobleton.

The rut was in full swing as the hunters arrived and along the edges of each of the oak hammocks and along the creeks- rubs and scrapes were in no short order, leaving little doubt that the bucks were on the move.  Talking with Mister Geer, the only hunter to fill both of his tags, he revealed that he had employed “doe in heat” scents over scrapes and used a doe bleat call.  In fact, he tells me, it only took one bleat from his Primos “The Can” caller and he heard his buck crashing through a swamp, headed in his direction.

I was hog hunting nearby his stand location and I had no doubts about his luck as the report from his ought-six nearly made me jump out of my seat both times he pulled the trigger.  Some of the hunters left with empty coolers, but it wasn’t for lack of opportunities as each of the eight saw deer and could have harvested a doe, but chose to wait it out in hopes of spotting a buck.

As mentioned, I was there to assist in reducing the local hog population and surely did my part. The first evening of the three-day hunt I shot a huge boar, tipping the scales a shade above 280lbs and the second evening I let the air out of a big black sow in the 120lb range. Opportunities abounded for me as I saw well in excess of a hundred wild hogs feeding like mad on the acorn crop, which was falling like rain.  And, to make the weekend even better, Benton’s bride Kristie was on hand at the camp volunteering to skin and process the game as it was brought in for each of the hunters.  Heck, I didn’t even have to pull my knife out of my pocket and in no time the meat was packed away on ice in my cooler.  Such a sweet lady!

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To find the hogs, all I did was to go to the oaks and wait.  Water oaks and black oaks alike were raining acorns and locating a cluster of oaks along open fire-breaks with lots of sign of feeding hogs was no real trick.  There are so many hogs on the property that there was no real skill involved.  Just sit down, shut up and wait.  Which I did, cradling my Savage .30-06 across my lap yes, I left my bow at home this time.  First shot, on the big boar was no big feat, eighty yards and broadside.  A 150 grain Winchester Silvertip behind the ear was all the invitation he needed to ride to camp on my tailgate.  The second hog, was taken by firing off-hand, behind me while it was walking at a range of 200 yards.

That shot, reminded me of a lesson learned long ago and forgotten.  When turning around to fire, double check the eye-relief to your scope! Yep, I’m sure many of you already know what took place, when the cartridge discharged in the chamber, the hog dropped in her tracks and I immediately saw stars as the recoil drove the scope backwards, breaking my nose and opening the skin up.  Honestly, I was proud of the shot, but as of this writing, my nose still hurts!

As always, I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit with you here and I am always available for feedback and suggestions at [email protected]  God Bless and Good Hunting!

 

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