July 11, 2022
I know life isn’t all rainbows, sunshine, and lollipops, but there is no reason your bowhunting opportunities can’t be. I’m always looking for fun, reasonably priced adventures to have with my bow when most of the big-game seasons are over.
Bowfishing is often my go-to for helping fill the void between spring turkey and fall deer season. However, while bowfishing is a blast, it can get repetitious. So, what are some more fun options for traditional bowhunters during the slower times of year that will also provide some great meat for the table, if successful?
Alligator hunting is one of my favorites, because it’s so different. I’ve heard some folks refer to it as “bowfishing on steroids,” but I personally feel it’s more like bowhunting than bowfishing for the simple fact you’re pursuing a huge animal capable of doing you harm if you don’t do your job right — kind of like bowhunting grizzlies or brown bears, if that makes sense?
Gators are also delicious to eat, and I’ve always enjoyed introducing ‘gator meat to my dinner guests, as well as serving it to people at wild-game dinner banquets. Another plus is that you can usually use the bowfishing gear you already have. I use a Muzzy bowfishing reel, because I can set the drag tight enough that I can wear down even a large gator, so long as I don’t let them pull the bow out of my hands. I recommend using the 150-pound line the Muzzy reel comes with, but you can re-spool with heavier line if need be. I also use Muzzy’s gar or gator arrows.
The Retriever reel is another good setup, if you want to go to a floating buoy. It’s kind of like in the movie “Jaws,” when they’re following the barrels. Besides your preferred bowfishing gear, a competent ‘gator guide is a good call as well, unless you draw a tag in one of the Southern states and really know what you’re doing. Two alligator guides I have been with are Hoppy Kempfer, who owns Osceola Outfitters in Florida, and Matt Herndon, who owns Southeast Adventures Florida. Both of these guys have reasonably priced hunts; most alligator hunts run from $1,750 to $3,500, depending on the size ‘gator you want to kill.
Another great off-season hunt is for hogs. You can get on a lot of places in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, or other Southern states with hogs for $150 to $300 a day nonguided, and some places have great deals on even guided hog hunts with lodging for $350 to $500 a day. Hoppy at Osceola Outfitters in Florida, for example, gets $250 a day for a guided hog hunt, and if you book multiple days, you can get lodging as well.
First Point Bowhunting in Texas is another option for a fun hunt. They offer self-guided day hunts for hogs and javelinas for $125 (includes lodging).
Although I mentioned a couple of reasonable pay-to-play places where I’ve hunted hogs on private land, you also can hunt public land with success for those willing to do a little scouting for an affordable DIY hunt. I have harvested quite a few hogs in Florida on public land, and there’s definitely some pride involved with doing it all by yourself.
Javelinas are another great summertime/off-season animal that you can have some fun chasing around. Despite rumors of their not being edible, when prepared and cooked properly, javelinas can be great table fare; not quite as tasty as a chunky wild hog, but definitely a good-eating little critter that’s always fun to share with friends, especially those folks who have to look up what a javelina or collared peccary even is.
You don’t need a lot of poundage to kill any of the aforementioned critters, which makes them ideal for men, women, and youths. I used a 40-pound set of limbs on my Bear Mag riser recurve for the alligator and hog shown here.
Remember, family hunts are always the most enjoyable hunts you’ll ever experience, and what is a vacation if you can’t work in a little time afield? So, skip Disney World or the beach and take a hunting vacation. If your significant other has an issue with it, please don’t mention my name.