What a difference a day makes. I left Archer, Florida and drove the short distance to Lake City to meet my outfitter for the final leg of the hunt. His name is Garrett Miller, and he is in the part of the state where the Eastern turkey meets the Osceola.
My hope was to get two of the sub-species of turkeys before I left Florida. With the Osceola under my belt, I was on target to get my turkeys as planned. First, I must take time to praise outfitter Miller and guide Cameron McCauley. Two finer fellows I have never met. Both are world class acts. I am proud to have met these two, and I hope the Great Spirit lets us walk the same path together again.
The day broke with a slight breeze and a light fog. Cameron was ready to go long before daybreak, as his passion is turkey hunting. Garrett’s passion is to see you have a great time and that you kill a nice longbeard. He hasn’t forgotten that it is the hunt and not the kill that is important.
Well, we made a mistake right from the start. We forgot our ThermaCELL mosquito repellant devices. Being in the swamps of Florida without a ThermaCELL is like being in Alaska without any clothes. In Alaska the cold would get you. In the swamps the mosquitoes will eat you alive. But I remember the time we didn’t even have spray, let alone a ThermaCELL.
Daylight found us in a makeshift blind. We saw a longbeard fly down and knew the game was on. In the distance we could hear a hunter trying to sound like an owl. If it didn’t fool me, how could it fool a turkey? Cameron, who calls as well as anyone I’ve ever hunted with, did his best to bring the longbeard to us, but not today. Maybe another time, another place.
We left the blind and started running and gunning, saw plenty of turkeys, but the day was on the side of the turkeys. I went from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat in a single day.
I have made myself a promise that I will hunt with these guys again. The result may be the same, but I have made two friends forever.
I left Florida for Kansas and Nebraska. Wish me luck.