Hunting Hogs In The Hammocks Of South Florida (Episode 485 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.

GRANT: Each year turkey season opens in south Florida during the first Saturday in March. Hog season is open year-round in Florida, so I like to go down a couple days early; chase hogs with my bow while I’m scouting for turkeys.

GRANT: I’ve used this strategy for several years and had many memorable hunts.

GRANT: (Whispering) She’s gonna go down. I mean, right there.

GRANT: (Whispering) Stop him.

GRANT: So, Clay and I were eager to go back to south Florida; chase hogs and Osceola turkeys.

GRANT: We flew to Tampa Wednesday; rented a car and drove south a couple hours and got a hotel room.

GRANT: Early the next morning, my buddy Keyland from Flatwood Natives met us at the hotel. Keyland is an expert in restoring native habitat and has helped me and several of my friends with projects on our properties.

GRANT: Keyland took us to one of his hunting locations where we were going to stalk around and try to spot a hog.

GRANT: (Whispering) Clay and I are in south Florida. We’re gonna hog hunt a day or two — we’re on a large cattle farm — until turkey season opens. So, we can kind of scout for turkeys while we’re chasing hogs.

GRANT: (Whispering) It’s a beautiful morning; just enough breeze to keep the mosquitos down. It is quiet enough; we should be able to stalk up on some hogs if we see ‘em.

GRANT: Keyland suggested we stalk through some hammocks and the edge of some pastures because that’s where hogs were most likely to be early in the morning.

GRANT: (Whispering) We were standing back there watching some strutters across the pasture through some live oaks and spotted a big hog come out of a little head of timber over here. We’re trying to cut the distance; the wind is in our favor.

GRANT: (Whispering) All right. How can we get in front of it? We’ve got a cross wind coming this way. Go this way and get in front of it?

CLAY: (Whispering) He’s facing us so just wait just a second.

GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah.

GRANT: Single hogs are often a boar. And I was excited to put a stalk on him.

GRANT: We planned the course so it would put the wind in our favor and took off across the pasture using weeds and a few trees as cover.

CLAY: (Whispering) This way. I say we just keep to the streams. (Inaudible)

GRANT: (Whispering) He’s gonna get in that brush on us.

GRANT: (Whispering) That’s stalking and spotting. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. We got into 40 yards or so. Just couldn’t cut the distance before he come to palmettos. We’ll find another one. That’s thrilling. That’s a very exciting style of hunting. We’ll find another.

GRANT: (Whispering) I don’t think we could have done that any differently. But our strategy worked. Get out here, get out here in the open and try to find one.

GRANT: I really enjoy stalking hogs. From my experience, it seems their peripheral vision is not near as good as a whitetail’s. And that makes sense because hogs are much more predatory than a deer. They need their vision focused forward on their prey.

GRANT: That afternoon we headed south to La Hamaca Ranch. This ranch is located near Venus, Florida which is south of State Highway 70 and that’s the section that opens for Osceloas first. Season opened March 2nd, Saturday. So we had Thursday afternoon and Friday to scout for turkeys while stalking hogs.

GRANT: This is a large and beautiful working cattle ranch. It has many large hammocks. Hammocks, if you’re not familiar with the term, are typically hardwood areas in between wetlands and drier areas such as pastures.

GRANT: In this part of Florida, hammocks are usually composed of live oaks, palm trees and many of ‘em have palmettos in the understory. Hammocks are usually great habitat for several game and non-game species.

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GRANT: (Whispering) Live oaks are certainly a beautiful symbol of the south. It’s also a symbol of hope for me today because it’s icing back in Missouri and snowing throughout much of the Midwest and Northeast. This live oak is pollinating. It’s amazing.

GRANT: Now, they’re called live oaks because they stay green year-round, but they’re deciduous or shed their leaves every year. They just do it at a different sequence than most oaks — not all at once. So, they appear to have green leaves all year long.

GRANT: But they shed their leaves – you can see ‘em all over the ground – just not all at once like other oaks.

GRANT: This oak is clearly in the pollen stage. Now, it seems early for most of us. They have not had a killing frost all winter in south Florida.

GRANT: Frost — especially a killing frost — is usually what determines if oaks in most areas make a crop of acorns or not. That’s the biggest factor in acorn production.

GRANT: If we get a frost when our oaks are making pollen or these flowers, then there won’t be an acorn crop because it damages the structures that will become acorns.

GRANT: A killing frost is actually important for south Florida. It kind of resets the clock on oranges and blueberries and other important crops down here. Without a frost, or the amount of chill days it’s caused, the crop will be much less.

GRANT: Some folks may not realize that Florida is a huge cattle producer. But it makes sense. It’s relatively easy to grow good grass 12 months out of the year which is ideal for raising grass fed cattle.

GRANT: The next time you’re in Florida visiting one of the beaches, take a little drive inland and I bet you won’t have to go far past the lights to find cattle ranches.

GRANT: It may surprise you that right off the bat we saw some young fawns in one of the pastures.

GRANT: The State of Florida is about 500 miles from south to north. And that covers a lot of different habitats and even climates. South Florida is tropical; then you go to sub-tropical all the way up the state. And in those southern areas right now, the native vegetation is lush and prime and it’s their springtime.

GRANT: Turkeys are gobbling; insect loads aren’t quite as high as they will be later on. It’s the perfect time to drop fawns and for does to produce high-quality milk.

GRANT: In comparison, if fawns were born in most of the central and northern states right now, they’d have no chance of survival. It was five degrees here this morning; and I talked to one of my buddies in Minnesota and it was 27 below where he lived.

CLAY: Oh my goodness.

GRANT: While touring the ranch and figuring out where we should hunt, we saw a large sounder of hogs coming out of a wet area.

GRANT: Clay and I hopped out and decided we’d try to figure out where they were going and put on a stalk.

GRANT: (Whispering) Almost need to go on that bank over there and get in front of them.

CLAY: (Whispering) Let’s just back up.

GRANT: I was glad I had my snake boots on because the creek we were stalking by looked very snakey to me.

GRANT: I try to learn from each opportunity. In this case when I reflected back on my opportunity and decisions, I realized there wasn’t much else we could have done. We thought the hogs were going dead away from us and then they turned; and we just didn’t have enough time to make a successful stalk.

GRANT: The rest of the afternoon we continued touring the ranch and saw lots of critters, but we did not have another opportunity to put a stalk on some hogs.

GRANT: Clay and I had a fun day followed by an excellent meal prepared by John Horn. John is the Llano Ranch’s hunting and wildlife resources manager. That boy is a Cajun and he can flat put some grub together.

GRANT: This is one of the few places I’ve hunted where I was almost as excited about the meals as I was the hunting.

GRANT: The next morning Clay and I returned to an area where I had tagged a gobbler the previous year.

GRANT: It was a stunning sunrise and we heard a few toms while they were still in the trees. One to our left and at least two to our right.

GRANT: A bit after sunrise, we spotted two toms to our right running and we wondered what had spooked them.

GRANT: (Whispering) We didn’t spook them. Where are they going?

GRANT: Then we spotted a large group of jakes chasing the toms.

CLAY: (Whispering) Oh no. Those are jakes. Those are jakes. Those gobblers are getting run off.

GRANT: Often, jakes will form large groups and harass older toms. I gotta tell ya, this can make older toms weary of coming to calls if jakes get there first.

GRANT: We watched these birds for a while; then moved into the hammock so we could continue scouting for turkeys and, hopefully, spot some hogs.

GRANT: Clay and I have heard and seen a few gobblers this morning. We stayed out of the timber just trying to get a location. Birds are on the ground; we’ve seen a few. So, we’re gonna slide in here; be very cautious not to bust any turkeys; do a little hog hunting; look for turkey sign; and, most importantly, learn the lay of the land for tomorrow morning.

GRANT: There was a lot of hog sign underneath the live oaks. And looking at their scat, it was clear they were feeding heavily on acorns. There were a lot of acorns still on the ground and I knew this would be a good place to see either hogs or turkeys.

GRANT: While stalking through the hammock, Clay spotted three hogs about 100 yards in front of us. The wind was favorable, so we were able to close the distance.

GRANT: The hogs were feeding away from us, crossed a fence and headed toward some palmettos.

GRANT: As we approached the palmettos, we spotted the hogs again — just barely inside the palmettos. Unfortunately, I never had a view of the vitals.

GRANT: Late that afternoon, we found a sounder of hogs and they appeared to be young males — perfect eating size.

GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah. 80 yards right here. They’re coming this way. Let’s see if I can get that palmetto. You want to try and get that palmetto?

GRANT: These hogs were feeding along a wet area about 60 yards from the edge of a hammock.

GRANT: (Whispering) Watch the palmettos.

GRANT: (Whispering) You want to go there and then go out there?

GRANT: (Whispering) 119.

GRANT: (Whispering) Touching there and they’re going that way. I’m thinking we want to go over there.

GRANT: As the hogs got closer and light was starting to fade, they changed their direction.

GRANT: (Whispering) And they’re steady — moving this way.

GRANT: (Whispering) We’ve got to get by the tree line; go up there and then go out.

GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah. They’re coming this way.

GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Closest.

GRANT: (Whispering) They’re in a wallow. They’re wallowing.

GRANT: (Whispering) 37.

GRANT: (Whispering) See the front one? Over here. Number, number five from the left. Which one gets broadside?

GRANT: (Whispering) That one.

GRANT: (Whispering) This (Inaudible) right here. The little front one.

GRANT: (Whispering) Which one gets broadside?

GRANT: (Whispering) The one rubbing the tree.

CLAY: (Whispering) Okay.

GRANT: (Whispering) Get in there; get in there.

GRANT: (Whispering) He’s gonna go down.

GRANT: (Whispering) I can’t believe he isn’t going down. Stay on that nock.

GRANT: (Whispering) Watch where he goes, Clay. Watch where he goes.

GRANT: The hit seemed perfect and I was surprised the hog went so far. But it was getting dark and I didn’t have time to second guess it.

GRANT: I saw where the hog had entered the timber right around a root ball. So, I cut a line to there and hoped I would pick up blood at that point.

GRANT: (Whispering) Right here. Right here.

GRANT: Blood was easy to find on the light-colored dead palmettos and stalks.

GRANT: (Whispering) Right here. Right here.

GRANT: So, I basically would find blood; look for the next palmetto and jump ahead.

GRANT: (Whispering) Right here. Right there.

GRANT: Clay and I trailed the boar about 50 yards into the timber when I thought I heard something to my right.

GRANT: We stopped and listened; and I heard a low grunt and a little bit of rustling and I felt confident that was the boar.

GRANT: (Whispering) Right there it is. I see it; I see it.

GRANT: Once I pinpointed his location…

GRANT: (Whispering) He’s down right here.

GRANT: …I stalked up there, a little bit nervous; figured out where the vitals were, put another Bloodsport in him to finish it off.

GRANT: Always a little bit spooky going into the palmettos after a hog, but pretty sure he’s down after the second shot, but I’m gonna go slow.

GRANT: I should add we stood back here about 20 yards and listened for several minutes. So, it’s gotten dark, but we haven’t heard any noise. I’m not just walking in.

GRANT: And I also should add I’d rather Clay goes first, but he said he wants to film.

GRANT: Aaahh! No, I’m just teasing. (Laughter)

CLAY: Okay.

GRANT: There’s no respiration. I feel pretty good about going in here. So.

GRANT: Oooh. That arrow’s got a lot of blood on it right here. Holy mackerel. This is the first arrow right here that come out once it laid down. There’s blood all over the ground.

GRANT: Second arrow is right there.

GRANT: Goodness, gracious, that thing is heavy. How can hogs be so heavy? That’s a perfect eating size – little boar. You don’t want a big boar.

GRANT: And this is exit. It was quartering to. So, I’m gonna flip it over.

GRANT: Oh, we love that. Look at that. He gets — I don’t know how that hog went that far. Look at that.

GRANT: Quartered a little bit to in the excitement, I didn’t pick that up. But it — that hog was going down without the second shot, obviously.

GRANT: Man, that knife is sharp. Processing hog. I do it the same way as a deer. And I always cut out so I’m not dragging hair into the meat.

GRANT: I don’t slice down this way; I always slice out.

GRANT: I recovered the arrow I’d shot the hog with first. And it was sheared off right behind where the outsert would be. Seeing this, I assumed I’d shot through the hog and put the broadhead in the tree he was rubbing on.

GRANT: We returned to that palm tree the next day and I was shocked that the broadhead and outsert were buried except for the last half inch.

GRANT: That meant the tip of the broadhead went in the tree about two and a half inches.

GRANT: Palm trees are used to make fence posts and tool handles. They’re a tough wood.

GRANT: I was really impressed with the penetration I got. I shoot a 52-pound bow and the arrow went all the way through a boar; stuck the broadhead in a tree. Seeing this gave me great confidence in my setup.

GRANT: After the hog hunt and scouting for turkeys, I swapped the Prime for a Winchester.

GRANT: Next week we’ll share Clay and my’s opening day of chasing toms in south Florida.

GRANT: It was — oh, man, it was fun. I couldn’t be happier to tell you the truth. Just the way it worked out and…

GRANT: If you’d like to learn more about hunts at the La Hamaca Ranch, email John at this address:

GRANT: If you’d like to stay tuned to our turkey hunting tactics throughout the spring, please subscribe to the GrowingDeer newsletter.

GRANT: Whether it’s cold and snowy or fawns are already on the ground, take some time to get outside and enjoy Creation. But most importantly, take time every day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.

GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.