Tbe best of open range, management area, clubs, and high fence hunting


I Should Upgrade My Account
Mar 18, 2012
Florida Fisherman
The best of open range, management area, club, and high fence hunting
As a Florida native life long fisherman and hunter the thought of fishing and hunting in Maine has for many years been a dream of mine. What would it be like to fish and hunt in the high mountains, deep snows, of Maine? Only one way to find out, let's go see! With that in mind my wife, Thelma, and I packed our four wheel drive Tacoma and set out for Jackman, Maine; Jackman, Maine, 1608 miles from Tampa, with an average yearly temperature of 39 degrees, snowfall of 108 inches, no traffic lights for over fifty miles, and a population under 800, is a little different from Tampa. Jackman, a very small town, surrounded by over 250,000 acres of woodland, is, in some ways, like Florida of sixty years ago. Back then Florida was also sparsely populated, however, admittedly, a little flatter and warmer.
Could not help but wonder is a sea food town in Maine much different from Tampa?

A lot! In Portland, Maine we did not recognize a single fish. When we told the people at the local fish market we were going to Jackman they laughed..."no one goes there; it's too remote and way too cold." Talk about cold! Jackman's yearly average temperature is 39 degrees. Well! That's what we were looking for. The 166 miles from Portland to Jackman, Maine, is a scenic wonderland that defies the imagination. Beautiful, un-inhabited forest with huge ever so green trees fill the countryside with the splendor of nature.
Finally, Jackman, Maine. First stop the one and only general store. We were welcomed and treated like family. By Jackman standards we were in the middle of a heat wave; the middle of the day temperature was already 30 degrees, however, highly anticipated snow was no where to be found. Boy! did that ever change. Let's move on to our new home away from home for the next two weeks, a very remote cabin on a huge completely frozen over lake.

Day number one at Duck welcomed the first every blizzard for this Florida native. Talk about different...how about temperature in the teens, forty mile an hour winds, and extreme, really extreme, snow? We knew the deer would be gathered in what is known as 'deer yards' to help protect against the extreme conditions. A couple of days after the blizzard should welcome fabulous hunting.
OK! So what about fishing?
Well, after careful consideration, we decided to hold off on fishing in Maine, and for good reason:

Let's go deer hunting. On the second day after the blizzard Thelma and her .308 BAR showed her husband how it's done:

This is embarrassing! Could it possibly be that women are better hunters than men? Finally! my big chance. This big boy is easy to trail in the foot of snow, but getting a good shot is much harder. Several hundred yards out he stops and looks back; big mistake! With a mighty roar that 168 Gr. 7mm magnum is on it's way. Immediately the huge buck kicks up his back legs, a sure sign of a heavy hit, and takes off. Tracking deer in the snow is easy; every little drop of blood is highlighted. Trophy deer hunting in the 250,000 open range woodlands of Jackman, Maine, was an experience of a life time; an adventure never to be forgotten.
Next up, elk hunting in the 'open range' mountains of New Mexico:

And we thought the pines of Jackman were huge:

After tracking this huge bull in the snow for hours, finally, a shot, a very long range shot; he is grazing on a mountain side well over 400 yards away. With my Nikon scope on 9X power, I lean my 7mm BAR on a tree, take careful aim, and pull the trigger. Once again that Nosler AccuBond preformed perfectly. Elk down; elk down and out.
Open range deer hunting in Maine, and Elk in New Mexico, redefines the word FABULOUS!
Next up...Florida management area hunting. With just under 6 million acres Florida has the largest Wild life management area (WMA) system in the entire country. How good is the hunting?
Let's try the hammocks, flatwoods, and upland forest of the 50,417 acre Aucilla Wildlife management Area. Aucilla, just outside of Perry, Florida, is noted for hogs:

Hunting squirrels in the morning and hogs in the evening resulted in many fantastic hunting opportunities. Thelma & I hunted Aucilla for ten years. We stayed that long because it really was that good. We often harvested out limits of small game as well as deer, turkey, and hogs.
Next up let's check out several different hunting clubs. As a rule organized clubs offer the serious hunter better opportunities for success, and more 'creature features!'
Crystal River's Southwood offered a campground with running water, electricity, little pressure, and a huge population of deer, hogs, and turkey. Thelma & I hunted Southwood for two year before moving on to Lenard Thomas's Black Belt area hunting club in Alabama. Lenard's club offered electricity, running water, sewer, a walk-in cooler, and 40 stands overlooking acres of planted corn and rye grass. We saw deer and turkey virtually every day; fantastic hunting, but too far away to hunt weekends. After two years we moved to Madison County, Florida's Buck & Boar Hunting Club. Buck and Boar, just outside of Perry, Florida, offered a campground with electricity, running water, a dual bath house, and a huge walk-in cooler. Buck & Boar was, and still is, run by the Todd family. Bill, Little Bill, and Judy Todd represent our sport and the state of Florida very well.

Like to hunt hogs, rally big, mean, hogs? Buck & Boar's thousands of acres looked like a cattle pin with tracks. Hopefully we have found a home for more than two years. In addition to deer, turkey, and hogs, the many swamps of B&B provided a home for a large bear population.

We used both electric & bump corn feeders. Bears have a very difficult time digesting corn. A sure bear sigh is regurgitated corn:

Buck & Boar was overrun with huge very wild boars. Regardless of what the solunar table may say, the last 1/2 hour of the day is by far the best time to harvest a real trophy:

Buck & Boar was so good that Thelma & I were members for not two, but twenty years. We hog hunted the entire fall/Winter season as well as during Spring turkey season. During the Spring of our twentieth year we were both retired and intended to stay at camp the entire season. During the first week we shot nine monster hogs and were forced to go home early:

Little did we know that would be our last hunt together. Thelma, my loving wife of 39 years, my hunting partner, passed away shortly afterwards. That, along with advanced age, ended my life-long hunting career; or did it? Could high fence possible be an alternative?
First up Cedar Key's Tiger Island. Tiger Island's fenced in area goes back for over 1/4 mile, contains two small ponds, a swamp, as well as a beautiful oak/hickory hammock. The hogs have plenty of areas to hide. If not for the corn feeders you could easily go all day without seeing one. To my amazement, the hogs acted the exact same way as they did at both Southwood & Buck & Boar. The smaller pigs would come in first followed by, ever so cautiously, the big boys. The only difference: someone else does all the work; we have all the fun. My daughter, Dee, and dad at Tiger Island. Thank you Thelma for leaving me such a wonderful daughter:

Next, let's check out Perry's Two Guys & A Hog:

What a place to enjoy:

As at Tiger Island smaller meat hogs are relatively easy to harvest. Personal best trophies are much harder:

Two Guys & A Hog, like Aucilla and Buck & Boar, are just outside of Perry. Perry, Florida, home of the Perry News-Herald ever since 1889, is a proud, quaint, little town representing the best of Florida both new & old:

Ever see restaurants advertising homemade hamburgers and swamp cabbage? You can in the Herald. Publisher, Mr. Aaron Portwod, is one of the best in the business.
Next up Eustis, Florida's Bear Bridge Ranch.
Bear Bridge's fenced in area covers over 200 acres; plenty of room for hogs, deer, and bear to roam. The lodge and well stocked lake are breathtaking:

These unique 'Bridges' allow the huge bear population to cross over, rather than destroy, fences:

Bear Bridge was featured in a 3 page, 15 picture, article I wrote in the April edition of Florida's own Buck 'N Boar magazine. Check out the kill shot, page 45:

Ever wonder what we do with all that prime, nothing artificial, flavorful, wild hog meat? Never a problem:
The best whole hog sausage ever:

Try it smoked. Unbelievable!

And there is always:

More hogs needed. No problem! No better place to celebrate birthday # 76 than with a three day hunt, 12/5, 6, 7, at Bear Bridge Ranch. Then, come December 20'th it's back to Perry Florida's own Two Guys & A Hog to celebrate what would have been wedding anniversary # 46. I will be looking to beat my personal best.
Bear Bridge Ranch, and Two Guys And A Hog, two of the best of the best.
Up first, what better way to celebrate a birthday than three days on the water with one of the best Captains of all times, Captain Garett Hubbard, on the Florida Fisherman ll:

Our catch:

Followed by three days in the woods with professional guide, Mr. Scott Maybury, of Bear Bridge Ranch.
This guide of all guides makes sure we have every opportunity possible. Feed 'um and hey will come:

A little preview of what to expect:

Catch the 'kill shot' 3:56 minutes into the video at the end.
Long time friend, and hunting partner, retired Tampa police officer Mr. Tony Cangelosi:

Tony explains to us why we need a 'Bear Bridge' 37 seconds into the video:

Need we say more?

Ever see bear & hogs feed together?

How about deer?

Southwood and Buck and Boar were both open range covering thousands of acres; the hogs acted the same way, approached the feeder the same way, regardless of fence or no fence:

First the smaller pig, then the big boys. There is a big 200 pound class boar. Let's take him.

Watch the kill shot 3:55 minutes into the video:

Many years ago, as an incentive to become proficient, the Tampa Police Department began offering a full day off, with pay, for those who shoot 'Masters!' Tony earned many days off. But can this "Master" marksman harvest a hog with his 6 inch barrel, RIA 10 mm 1911.

How about with his .300 BAR magnum?

Glad this master of all masters is on our side. He does not miss.
But can he catch fish? Bear Bridge Ranch offers a beautiful, well stocked, lake:

Mr. Tim Randolph, owner of Bear Bridge, makes sure the lake is in perfect condition. Nothing is too good for Tim's guest:

Can Mr. Marksman catch fish? Well!

Check out the short, action packed, video. See the bear & hogs us close and personal:

'The best of open range, management area, club, and high fence hunting represents the culmination of over sixty years of actual in the woods experiences. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you.
Bob Harbison Florida Outdoor Writers Association
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active geezer
  • Jul 29, 2010
    Long Beach, CA, USA
    whichever has the longest bunk
    Thanks for posting! Very different hunting situations in every part of this amazingly diverse country allow for lots of options for hunters, especially as we get older. I have to admit, my first thought as you described dropping the elk at over 400 yards away on a snowy New Mexico hillside was, "Whoa, how is he going to pack it out?" I'm sure that you had a plan in place.

    It was nice to read of your lasting partnership with Thelma. My wife Pat and I recently had our 46th anniversary. I keep telling her that it is damaging to the male ego when she outshoots me, and she just grins.
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    Marble collector.
    Sep 20, 2005
    My Backyard
    Florida is a different world.

    Little did we know that would be our last hunt together. Thelma, my loving wife of 39 years, my hunting partner, passed away shortly afterwards.

    Sounds like you had a wonderful 45 years together. Sorry for your loss.
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    I Should Upgrade My Account
    Mar 18, 2012
    Florida Fisherman
    Thank you sir!
    Been hunting all over the country for over sixty years. I try my best to depict the "lots of options" available in our "amazingly diverse country." Just being in the woods, or on the water, regardless of when or where, is nothing short of awesome.
    As far as packing out that New Mexico elk...luckily he fell very close to an old four wheel drive logging road. Our 4X Tacoma did the rest. It took over 1/2 an hour to reach the huge elk.
    This made loading the monster into our truck easy:

    That Warren winch was a life-savor in loading elk, deer, and monster boars.
    Thelma: Thelma was born on a mountain top in Elk Valley, Tennessee. She was a teenager before she had electricity or running water. Hunting & fishing came natural to her.
    We had three wonderful daughters. Betty, our youngest, is now doing her hunting with her mom in heaven.

    As with Pat this would have been our 46th. Know what you mean about that 'grin.' Thelma did the same. She took delight in, during prime time, calling me on the radio, "Bobby, come drag out my hog!" Looks like it's a woman thing for women to out shoot us.
    I am a Florida native who has hunted all over Maine, New
    Mexico, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. Florida is indeed a "different" wonderful world. I love the state & its people.
    Thelma & I did indeed have a wonderful 45 years together. I worshiped her and out three daughters.
    12/20 I will be hunting with Two Guys & A Hog. Hope to harvest a trophy boar in Thelma's name. I want to make her proud of her husband. Bob H.
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