There are two turkey weekends left in Florida before the end of the 2021-22 hunting season, and I’m not doing well.
From bow hunting South Florida whitetail deer and spearing alligators in August, to hunting waterfowl in winter and chasing the king of spring, it’s been an active nine months, and I’m not ready for this to end.
With the long and cruel summer coming, the time will come to put away weapons and gear, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hunting-related activities to pursue during this slumber period.
So review some options to fill the void, starting with an actual hunt that continues throughout the summer.
1. Chasing wild pigs – Granted, Florida’s heat and thunderstorms will make it difficult to enjoy the outdoors for the next few months, but feral hogs are fair game on private property year-round. The best times to hunt are at night with thermal gear or dogs, but these are nocturnal events. For those looking for normal sleep, pigs also feed heavily after evening thunderstorms when the weather turns cold.
For public land options, FWC offers late spring and summer wild hog hunting opportunities on state WMAs and maintains a list of these properties at myfwc.com/hunting/wild-hog/
2. Become a better wild game cook — I shudder to think of venison backs and tenderloins that are ground into hamburgers. The tacos and spaghetti are wonderful, but some cuts of venison deserve better. It’s one of my passions.
Today, we enjoy the processing, handling and cooking of wild game over a generation or two ago, and easy-to-follow recipes can be found on the internet. I cover this in more depth in a later column, but wild game dishes are much easier to prepare than most think. So pledge to get more creative with these packs of venison and wild pork for barbecue season.
3. Apply for next season’s hunts “Although my wife strongly disagrees, there is no better time than the present to plan tomorrow’s adventures. I hope she doesn’t read this, but I am currently applying for various hunts across the country. Some apps, like Maine Moose and Kansas Whitetail Deer, are simply to accumulate preference points for hunts in future years. I’m hoping to pull a Wyoming pronghorn permit this fall, but I’ll drop it all if I’m randomly selected for a long-rated Kentucky elk tag.
In Florida, applications for the first phase of the Statewide Alligator Harvest program are available May 6-16. The first round of limited entry big game license applications will open May 15 and close June 16. Be aware of these dates and start your planning, no matter if you are hunting near or far.
4. Hunting Literature Review — Speaking of cooking, I’m currently reading Steve Rinella’s guide to haute cuisine, The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine, which is more than a cookbook, more of an entertaining and often moving tale of an adventure in assembling food. ultimate wild game dinner. I had forgotten, through social media and the Meateater show, what an excellent writer Rinella was.
Kids do battle in Jim Spencer’s Bad Birds turkey-hunting series. During the fall, I finished The Maneaters of Tsavo, the book on which the movie The Ghost & the Darkness was based. It was a fascinating time capsule of African hunting at the turn of the 20th century. Ruark’s Horn of the Hunter is a must read, as are Peter Capstick’s safari tomes. These books are where every hunter’s dreams are nurtured.
Naturally, this is not a complete review. There’s plenty to do to help endure the endless summer. Scouting, gear preparation, land management, target shooting, archery practice – the hunting season doesn’t really stop.