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South Florida Youth and Gobblers

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Isn’t it a great time of year? Warm weather, beautiful clear skies, flowers in bloom and the turkeys are gobbling. It makes me happy to get up every morning and go outside to enjoy it. Turkey season will be here soon enough and I’ll be in the woods every day. In fact, our youth season here in Florida’s “north” zone to hunt wild turkeys will be opening on the 12th of this month and I’m pumped. Not only do I have a great population of mature gobblers scouted out but, I’ll be guiding two young friends to their first Osceola gobblers.

The zones for turkey hunting, as determined by our Florida Wildlife Commission, are separated by Highway 70, where it bisects the peninsula. That puts hunting in the “south” zone a pretty good ride for us. In fact, the “south” zone just enjoyed their youth season and long drive or not, I know a good many of my buddies that headed south to get a head-start on the season. One fellow in particular, Scott Ellis who is a huge celebrity amongst turkey hunting nuts, took his son Jake south for his last youth weekend. Little Jake is getting all grown up and next year, he’ll have to wait that extra week to hunt amongst us old-timers.

And while they were down on their South Florida, Osceola adventure, It’s no big surprise that Jake scored a beautiful gobbler on the second morning of their hunt. I suppose you must have an advantage when your father is a world champion turkey caller! And really nice for Jake, his dad is also the host of the Hunt Quest television show and the entire hunt was captured on video for an upcoming episode.

I’ve been receiving a lot of positive hunt reports from the youths fortunate enough to hunt this past weekend. They all reported very little gobbling activity amongst the flocks, but the toms were still responding to the calling, many slipping in unannounced. That’s not atypical of an Osceola. I’ve killed more silent toms than I have gobbling ones; Especially the older, trophy quality birds. They’ve lived long enough to know that everything out there wants to eat them, so they remain tight-lipped as they arrive to the calling.

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That’s possibly the hardest thing for a lot of turkey hunters to overcome. We set up in a good spot, offer up some of our best calls and wait, but that waiting is really hard when there’s no gobbling. It gets easy to forget all of the information you learned about the toms during scouting and think there simply aren’t any turkeys in those woods. After an hour or two of no gobbling, most hunters give up and take off to a new area to try again. Don’t be that guy. When you’ve waited as long as you think you can, wait another ten minutes. Then, wait another ten minutes and another if you can. Eventually, you may look up and see that old swamp ghost standing there in front of you, waiting for that lonely hen he’s been listening to, to show herself.

As always, if you have any comments, questions or just want to share your success from the woods, give me a shout out at [email protected]. God Bless, Good Hunting!

Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit is a best selling novelist and professional outdoorsman with thirty-five years of experience guiding and outfitting for big game all across America. Toby is a renowned archer and turkey hunting expert who manufactures custom game calls and is a regular judge at NWTF sanctioned turkey calling events across the Southeast.
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