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Big Game Hog

Hog Heaven: Bowhunting Florida Hogs

by Christian Berg   |  June 7th, 2012 3

You’ll ride in style on the Osceola Outfitters ‘Swamp Buggy.’ Dogs ride in kennels below, while hunters get a bird’s-eye view up top. When the lead dog (ranging out ahead of the vehicle) cuts a fresh hog trail, additional dogs are released and the chase is on!

With two hogs down, I then nocked a third arrow and we headed back into the palmettos after the main group, which was still carrying on with a steady series of grunts, snorts and squeals just 10-20 yards away. Moving as close as we dared without spooking them, we could see occasional flashes of black as the hogs moved in the brush, and when a pair of pigs emerged in the small opening where we stood, I picked out the most obvious target and arrowed my third pig of the morning at a distance of perhaps six yards!

At the shot, the hog squealed and ran directly through the main group, sounding the alarm and sending them all crashing off through the jungle-like tangle of vegetation. With the hogs gone and the oppressive summertime Florida sun rapidly climbing in the sky, the hunt was effectively over. But what an exciting morning it had been! Although hogs will never rival species such as deer and elk on the glamour scale, that morning will always rank among the most exciting and enjoyable of my bowhunting career.

Over the course of the next hour, we retrieved all three hogs (which turned out to be a trio of nice boars), held a brief photo session and loaded them into the back of Jimmy’s pickup for the short drive back to camp. Upon arriving at the lodge, the rest of the hunters filtered out and peered into the pickup bed with jaws agape.

“Who killed all these?” someone asked.

“Who do you think?” I replied, strutting about like a rooster with his comb held high.

“I thought we were only allowed two hogs,” said another.

“Well, no one told me!” I protested.

Remember the meeting I missed the previous evening? Well, apparently that’s when everyone was informed about the two-hog limit, and no one thought to fill me in upon my arrival; which, as far as I was concerned, was just fine. That three-hour delay resulted in a third boar for yours truly. As the old saying goes, it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission. I had a year’s supply of pork barbeque on the ground, and there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it!

Gary Cornum (left), marketing director for Easton Archery, took this fat, Central Florida sow with the help of outfitter William “Hoppy” Kempfer and his hog-chasing hounds.

Hogs Any Way
Since I was already over the proverbial limit, I spent the next two days accompanying my friends afield with cameras in tow, shooting photographs and videos as they proceeded to stack up hogs via any method at their disposal. Some sat treestands set up by feeders. Others continued to spot and stalk, while still others took the opportunity to run them down with the aid of Kempfer’s dogs. At Osceola Outfitters, it seems there is no limit to the hogs — or ways to pursue them.

By the time our three-day porkfest was finished, our group of eight bowhunters had put 14 pigs on the ground. Just as importantly, we had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in the process.

With so many hog hunters visiting Osceola Outfitters each year, it was hard to believe how many hogs everyone saw and how much hog sign litters the property. I asked Kempfer about this, and he explained that with so much lush habitat, hog numbers in the region are simply out of control.

“What you’ve got to realize,” he said, “is that we’ve got 25,000 acres here, but there’s close to a million acres around us that’s undeveloped, uninhabited ground. It’s just crazy the numbers that are here. They just continue to filter in, and they reproduce so fast its unbelievable.”

Like I said, hog heaven.

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