Hunting Osceola Wild Turkeys
The green, palmetto-choked landscape of central and southern Florida is home to the Osceola wild turkey. But like in any turkey hunt, success begins with lots of planning.
According to Hunter's Specialties Pro Staffer Alex Rutledge, scouting is key. It is especially important for the Osceola.
"You can never scout too much for Osceolas," Rutledge said. "Place a big emphasis on strut zones. Once you locate a good strut zone, you will have half the battle won."
Rutledge said open terrain and swampland are the two basic types of habitat where the Osceola will be found. He recommends taking two very different scouting tactics for each.
"For swamp ground, spend a considerable amount of time scouting on foot. Knowing the terrain will better your success rate," Rutledge said. "Look for areas with lots of tracks and feathers to indicate travel routes."
Due to the dense swamps and pine woods, thick with palmettos and other growth, turkeys and other wildlife frequently funnel through the same routes day in and day out.
"In open terrain, travel by vehicle and use optics to locate birds," Rutledge said. "This way, allows you to cover ground quickly and is a sure-fire method of locating exactly where the birds are."
Once you locate turkeys, you can watch them from a distance and determine your approach.
"If you are hunting public land, make sure you have a map of the area and stick to it," Rutledge added. "There is a lot of private land in Florida, and it is easy to get on someone's property and not even know it."
In terms of calling and other hunting tactics, Rutledge said you would hunt an Osceola just as you would an Eastern, but keep one difference in mind.
"The gobble of an Osceola is a bit quieter than that of an Eastern," Rutledge said. "No one really knows why, but some people say it is because an Osceola tends to be smaller than an Eastern."
All in all, Rutledge said to keep an open mind and be ready for anything when in the Florida woods.
"People who want to try new things, are not lazy and are versatile in their calling are generally successful Osceola turkey hunters," Rutledge said.