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As we transition from Spring Turkey season to the Summer months, we often refer to it as 'The Dog Days of Summer'. The frequent road trips have come to an end
from travelling the Trade Show circuit, Expo's and Banquets are few and far between, hunting season has passed and we are left in a void of hot / humid
weather. Most people do not consider the possibilities available to get back into the outdoors and enjoy the thrill.

Over the last several years, a couple of things have really made there way to the front line and main stream of Outdoor enthusiasts. Hog hunting has exploded, to the level that Ammo manufacturers are marketing new lines of Hog specific ammo, Bow Fishing has blown up with a variety of new products and Outfitters across the country , and Reality TV has burst the Alligator Hunting market to its highest in history.

A lot of these trips can be obtained at a minimal expense offering everyone the chance at a nice trophy, excellent freezer fillers, and a chance to stay in the outdoors longer.

Summer is a good time to step back and plan for your upcoming fall season. It also offers you plenty of time for practice, food plots, archery competitions, etc. However, I believe that every one deserves a bit of R / R every now and again.That is exactly what I did this summer. I applied for my Alligator Tags out of Florida back in early Spring. It was no surprise that I was drawn as it is a money maker for the State of Florida to supply Non Resident Tags. I was quick to contact my Friend and Outfitter Grayson Padrick of Central Florida Trophy Hunts. 

Grayson has been chasing Swamp Lizards for a long time and has a pretty good grasp on the business. With his availability of equipment and knowledge, he was a sure thing. I have hunted with him in the past and have always been pleased with my experience.

Alligator hunting can be as exciting as it is challenging. It is no easy task to hit a gator on the move with Bow Fishing equipment in the water. After the initial shot, there is a lot of effort in wearing the gator down and tiring it out to get it boat side for a Harpoon shot. This allows you to get a stronger line on them to have better control. Once this has been accomplished, its time to get them boat side for the final kill shot with a Bang Stick.

It did not take long as we set out on the second night of the first season. We spent a total of two and a half hours on the water to fill my Tags. As a Non Resident, when you are awarded Tags, you get 2 Tags to fill. I was hunting with Bow Fishing equipment mounted on a crossbow from the Air Boat. The alligator population on the St. Johns River basin where we were hunting has exploded. With 2 alligators taken, both being over 10' was a most memorable hunt. In most instances, any gator over 9' in length is considered a Trophy Class animal.

I had planned to spend several days in the Sunshine State, and figured on utilizing every minute of it. I made quick work of contacting some friends and lining up a couple other ventures. Hogs are over populated in Florida and I wanted to use that opportunity to my advantage. I know a few people that have Hog Dogs specifically trained for Baying Hogs. I spent an evening running dogs in a privately owned orange grove chasing the nuisance animals. We managed to Bay a few and get some good pictures in the process. That is a adrenaline rush like no other to hear the dogs sound off and go to work. Hog Outfitters are
plentiful in Florida and can generally be found simply by word of mouth. These hunts are fairly inexpensive, and can be Free in some instances as local Farmers see hogs as a nuisance and damaging to there property and crops.

It only seemed natural with all the water that I try to get some fishing in as well. Florida offers some excellent Fresh Water Bass Fishing and Salt Water opportunities. A Non Resident Salt Water Fishing license in Florida is available Over the Counter and can be obtained at a minimal expense (Less then $20). Again I contacted some friends and lined up an evening of Salt Water Fishing off the beach. If you would prefer to have a Guided or Chartered Trip, don't worry. A Half Day Off Shore Fishing Trip can be arranged at a moments notice and is fairly inexpensive. Usually costing around $50 per person. Surf Fishing can be fun in its simplest form. There is nothing like standing barefoot in the sand and enjoying the scenery and the great outdoors. Local Bait Shops are numerous and readily available for supplies and info. After just a few hours of fishing, I was lucky enough to land a 5' Shark form the Beach. If you are going to try and Surf Fish, It is best to check the Tide Tables. Try to plan your adventure around High Tide. This allows your larger fish to approach the Beach closer over
your outer laying Sand Bar.

This was a weekend to remember. I made the trip by myself except for one Crew member (Twyla Wheeler) to help out with Camera work. However, this could have easily been turned into a Family Vacation if you should so choose. There are many things for a Family to do together outside of the Amusement Parks and Attractions. Enjoying the outlying scenery from an Air Boat, Touring National Park areas, enjoying the Coastal Waterways and all they have to offer. So, the next time you or someone you know gets gloomy about the 'Dog Days of Summer' ... Try to think Outside the Box on a variety of opportunities available to keep your senses sharp.

Bill 'Spur Chaser' Ernst


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