Florida: The Land With No Off-Season w/ Ricky Bullard & Spencer Ford

Show Notes

We're going way south to Florida this week on the Southern Ground Hunting Podcast. Parker is joined by Ricky Bullard & Spencer Ford to talk about their processes to finding public land bucks in Florida every year. Did you know that some parts of Florida open up for deer season in late July, and parts of Florida don't close until late February? That means a deer hunter could hunt 2/3 of the year and never leave his home state! Ricky and Spencer took advantage of the late season rut just last week in mid February, and both killed great public land bucks. In this episode you'll hear the story of these two late season bucks, and the strategy used to get them in range.

Show Transcript

[00:00:00] Hey, thanks for tuning into this week's episode of the Southern Ground Hunting Podcast, where you're gonna hear a valuable hunting based conversation that's tailored for us southern folk. If you love what we do and would like to support Southern Ground Hunting, you can visit patreon.com/southern Ground Hunting, or you can click on the link in the show notes below.

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All right. Welcome back to the Southern Ground Hunting Podcast. I'm by myself today as far as hosts go, but I am joined by two of my buddies, Ricky Bullard and Spencer Ford from Florida. How you guys doing it? I know it's 70 degrees here right now. I can imagine. It's warmer than that down there in [00:01:00] Florida.

Oh yeah. It's in the eighties. golly. Feels like Turkey season down. Yeah. That nice little breeze though. So you guys just literally shot a deer, both of you, like what, a week ago? A little over a week ago. Yeah. Killed mono and 12th. It's definitely, it made it a weird transition in Turkey season Killer one.

This close . That's nuts, man. Freaking. Yeah. And y'all doubled up, Spencer, you killed one the same day, right? Or was it a different day? The day after. Yeah. On the 13th, which was our last day. I almost killed one on the 12th. I'm I can tell that story later, but yeah. That's nuts, man. I, so I'm trying to think.

Arkansas may be open till the end of the month, but I feel like you guys are probably about the latest that I know of. I thought I thought Alabama had, I know y'all's pretty late. What was the last day of season? Last day of season here is February [00:02:00] 10th okay. Season was over when you guys killed and Arkansas.

Man, I feel like Arkansas goes till the end of February, maybe. I think. Yeah, I've looked at it before. It goes real late. . So check this is, I've always thought this is crazy. There's parts of Florida that you can start hunting in what? July, August. Beginning of August. End of July. Last July. And what's the last day of season that you can hunt in Florida, period?

I think private land goes even later. We were on public, but the private goes towards, towards the end of February. I think it just, what day is it? I think it just ended . So as a Florida resident, third week of February as a Florida resident, your off season could be it'd be March, April, may, June. You really got four months of off season and then you, it's literally deer season the rest of the time.

, you put turkeys in there even less. That is nuts, man. I don't know how Florida guys stay married. My goodness.[00:03:00] Clearly we don't

Oh man, it keeps it rocky. got, I've never traveled to South Florida, but yeah, we got four deer zones. So down around the Everglades, they start real early, which you can, try to decipher why they say maybe cause of flooding and certain things that, that maybe causes a, something in them to trigger for that.

But yeah, starting down there in July, the beat the wet season as far as farm drop and then progresses. But there's, you can look on the Florida rut map, but there's a pocket down south of, I think it's north of Tampa, south of Orlando that has a late season and then, it proceeds up and over here where we view our, got pictures of Bucks tendon, those.

Three weeks before our season starts. So they actually and I've timed my phone drop cause I'll get 'em right here by the house. We'll drop [00:04:00] 'em in the swamp and we'll see 'em off the dock every once in a while. And they seem to be real late August or first week of September. And that's three weeks ahead of our season opening is when to be going best right here by me.

So it's truly time we kinda need almost another zone for our coastal areas by the coast. We seem to hit it a little bit earlier. What's the pan real late? Of course. What's like prime time for you guys where you're hunting at? Where I'm at, it's a little bit different. I'm about almost an hour north of Spencer, so mine's like early October, late September, the same as South coastal Georgia.

I think he's Spencer a little bit earlier than me where he's at. How about you Spencer? Yeah, I'm about a month earlier than that. Like I said it's kinda screws me cause they're doing the majority of it three weeks before my season opens, three weeks before. I mean they'll we ratio that it'll continue and when you see the scrapes start [00:05:00] to open up, every 30 days or 28 days or whatever, as they pop back into some as cycles there.

But and I had pictures of two good bucks chasing right next to one of my in December and I've seen 'em chasing in January. It'll be continual, but that, that first prime one is early before my season opens. So you guys both killed Bucks here pretty recently and I've been following you guys along throughout the season and I'm interested to know, because we've talked to a lot of people.

And we'll ask you first, Ricky, we've talked to a lot of people that said that it's been pretty difficult hunting. It's just been weird. It's been an off year for road activity and deer movement and things like that. Have you experienced those same trends? And if so go into detail about what you've experienced there.

Yeah, it was it was all for me this year for a lot of reasons, but as far as in the woods, early season was pretty typical as far as food sources. The White Oaks were like, I had a hard time finding them around here, and [00:06:00] I think I found some in Kentucky, but they weren't really dropping yet.

But that, that part of the season was normal for me. But then as far as ru activity, like I had a quota hunt where I should have seen some RU activity and there was like nothing. I saw a couple doughs eating some water oak. Everything I banked on from last year, all the white oaks I was gonna hunt, swamp chestnuts, stuff like that.

They just, they were non-existent and and there were no deer chasing when in, in places where the historically would've been. Yeah. How about you, Spencer? Yeah I, pretty difficult here. I would say. I wouldn't say that the ru activity was off. I hunted Florida, Kentucky, and Kansas, and Kansas was definitely slower.

I've only done it for two years from now and slower than some people have said that it sometimes gets, but I don't know if that's just the property or if things were hitting a little bit off or what. But I will say that real bad cold snap that came, it, everyone thinks, oh, when it gets cold, the deer gonna move [00:07:00] it when it drops that hard.

It seems to almost shock them. I've hunted in a couple different cold snap like that outta state and it'll actually reduce activity more it seems the same as being extremely hot. Extreme cold seems to mess with them a little bit too but I had a pretty hunt out there.

I stuck a one 40 in the shoulder and 55 yards with a cross wind and didn't work out for me. So I lost that deer in, in Kansas. And that was pretty heartbreaking. Had some other good experiences. Some other big deer got pretty close. Had some opportunities. I two year old, one 20 or something, dough out in front of me.

Had a couple really good days, but then they did lock down pretty hard and then you really had to find them, but if you could find them catch. Beded down with the do and locking them up. But so we still have some pretty good luck and my buddy shot a 1 37 and that was his first trip out [00:08:00] there.

But we had some luck and then I came, I shot one early season. It was a rough, a good and bad season for me. I ended up killing nine deer, five bucks. But but I lost that one in Kansas and then I shot one that I lost. And so we actually had a small world story about that buck in Kentucky.

Yeah. Yeah, our tracker Lance, who I talked about on the podcast, everybody knows the story of my early season buck that I didn't recover. Come to find out, Lance tracked another buck in almost the same spot. And he was telling me about it the whole time. Man, this is so similar to another track I just had with a guy from Florida.

So similar, like same shot, same spot, almost. Yeah. Like everything. And come to find out it was you. I thought that was pretty funny. Yeah. And correct me if I'm wrong, Spencer, but he ended up finding that deer, correct? It all added up to be the right deer.[00:09:00] It was in the area that we had pushed him a little bit because he had looped around some and I'm taking the tracker's advice here.

And he said, push him just a little bit so that the dog doesn't blow up in the morning on this loop track. Okay. So we pushed him just a little bit. We left him there, came out and and the way it ended up working with mine was he was busy. He's got a girl that tracks with him too. And she had her dog that is a proven dog, but it's just not as old.

It's still a younger dog. But he felt so confident that we'd go right to him in the morning. That didn't work out. So then when he brought the dog in later on, when he was available, it be tracking that other dog and we looped around, just it just didn't turn out.

So we ended up not finding deer, but hats off to him that he just doesn't really give up. He came over and he finally ended up that same spot and found deerwood just scalping of course, and just the age of that. It [00:10:00] seemed all kinda add and

deadhead off of, but and it was right about in the spot that mine would've been left at. Just unfortunate that and we actually, blood trailed up the hill a little bit and I think that he started working up the hill and went that, and that's just a spot that we.

Back track himself and they just figure, who knows exactly what happens, but way or another it was, I recover that deer. So it was that was a crazy track man. And I know ours was pretty nuts too. I actually, I ran into Lance this weekend at nd n wtf and we got talking. He's man, I just, I know we should have found both of those deer.

Like we just should. Everything pointed to being able to find them. And that's just part of archery, right? It's just part of archery hunting. It's gonna [00:11:00] happen. I felt like we both did everything right when you make a shot like that. But speaking of archery, it does seem Ricky, you've bit off something in the archery world that makes it more difficult.

And I don't know how I feel about that. But you seem to be doing pretty good with the tbo here lately. Tell us about that. Yeah, I guess I like to make things hard on myself. So , I strung up my granddad's old recurve at the end of 21 season. And just it, it was just no reason I should have been in the woods with it.

So kept on working on it. I didn't feel comfortable with hunting with it, and I felt good enough over the summer, I'm gonna start hunting with it in 2022 deer season. So I wanted to go out and kill a couple hogs with it, just to see what it could do. It was a 50 pound recurve and I was able, I missed a couple, killed a couple hogs, stalking 'em out there and out here in South Georgia.

But I felt confident with it and I think it was, I started, I committed to it and I started off, I think it was the second or third day of the season in [00:12:00] Georgia. I killed a six point with it. And he was, just hunting. I was just hunting water oaks. That's how I killed him. But yeah, and then once I did that, it was, I was ruined after that cause I knew I wanted to keep doing it.

Then I know Spencer thinks I'm crazy, but we went up to Kentucky and I took my recurve, I took my compound too, but I hunted with it like the last afternoon, just in case I made a bad shot. We didn't have time to trail one, but I killed a dough with it in Kentucky. And full disclosure, I did back, I backs strapped another two dough up there.

I think they're fine. But, it's just, it comes with it, it's tough and it's so much slower. My boat's pretty fast for a recurve and it's still, over a hundred feet per second, slower than my compound. , it's just something you gotta deal with, aim low.

But yeah, I had a good season with it. I think I missed three. I'm sorry, I wounded three non-fatal as far as I know, and killed two deer with that two hogs, so not bad. One thing I noticed, Ricky, about you and Spencer, this may even be the case for [00:13:00] you two, but I know with Ricky has watched some of his videos and he is done some stuff with that.

I think about was I think last year or the year before that you were you had shot a buck with your bow and we were texting back and forth about it, but you're showing the situation and it was very, in a pretty unconventional looking spot. Very tight, close quarters. I watched another video of the six point that you were talking about that you killed with your recurved.

So your first recurved here, you also got pretty perfectly on camera, which is pretty nuts. I Yeah. I lost my mind when I looked back the video and I actually got it. . Yeah, it was like profe like over the should shoulder. Professional quality. Dang. Good shot. Yeah. Yeah. I wanna know, Ricky, what your setups are looking like to be able to get into archery range, but not only archery range.

Now you're talking about getting into it has to be inside of 15 or 20 yards. What are some of the things you're doing to get into those pockets that you feel like you're gonna have good shot opportunity in?[00:14:00] Obviously it's pretty obvious I'm hunting feed trees. Not to say I wouldn't hunt a trail, road activity, whatever, but I'm hunting feed trees and I'm just being super conscious of where I think the deer bedding at and coming from.

That's, pretty self-explanatory, but I'm even more conscious when I start getting into my shot area. I'm just really careful about my ground set. And if you're hunting, kinda like on the fly and you're looking for feed trees and hunting that afternoon, sometimes you can't always do that. But if you're doing that, you also don't know where the deer coming from most of the time.

You can guess. But, just being a lot more mindful of stuff like that when I'm getting ready to set up and I'm at the tree. But other than that, it's, just now I know 15 yards and end, that's what I want. My first year was 18 yards and I've shot a couple that far, since then.

And that's a long shot for, especially for a beginner. I know there's guys that kill him further, but that's not gonna be me. I'm my sub 20 is what I wanted to stick to, but now I'm thinking that 15 yard ranger or less is what is what I really want. But[00:15:00] it's just as far as setting up, that part, I already did that with a boat.

Cause most of the deer I shot run 20 yards with a compound. Yeah. But I just fell. I like that aspect of it, setting up on 'em. And I also like all the other stuff that comes along with traditional archery. You could pretty much do everything yourself as far as your bows concerned, or your arrows.

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Difficult state. Definitely I would say one of the tougher whitetail states in the country. You guys are hunting pretty warm temperatures. Most of the year. I was in Florida Christmas, I guess this year. It was Christmas this year and that was when that cold snap came through and it was chilly, but even for a chilly day in Florida, it was not all that cold.

When you guys set up, obviously I'm gonna try to phrase this question shorter than it sounds in my head. When you guys set up down here or up here in Alabama or in Kentucky or in any of these states I would even consider Alabama to be maybe not in this category, cuz it does stay pretty warm here.

But a lot of these states it gets [00:17:00] cooler earlier. And we know that deer mover, it seems like deer move around. When it's cooler, right? Like when it's 85 degrees, 90 degrees, they're probably not gonna be up just hanging out all day long. The colder days they will they will do that. Are you setting up their Ricky re like tight to cover?

Like you said you hunt feed trees. Are you trying to find those feature trees that are like really tight into the bedding areas or are you just going based on the sign that you see at any particular featurey? Personally I'm setting up where it's tight like that. If you that buck, the buck I shot in my recurve that is like a maybe 30 yard opening and just like a sea of pound meadows and it's just you walk through the pound palm meadows boom here in the open and there just happened to be water ups dropping.

Same thing with the do I killed in Kentucky, the persimmons, any of the deer that I've gotten on my recurve, it's been food and tight cover and That's, I [00:18:00] think that's why it's pretty, I think that's why they're more comfortable coming there, which we all know that, you can walk under upper symmetry and it's in the wide open or water, oak, whatever.

And you might find, a little bit of deer poop. But when you get to that one, that's like in the thick in a thicket or just super secluded, you can tell the difference, all the deer droppings and stuff on there. It's just it's obvious when you see it, man. There's a, I'm glad you answered it that way.

I think it's easy for guys out here down in the south, really Florida, but Alabama, Georgia all the deep south states, Mississippi and Louisiana. You're going to have 80 degree days in November, probably, potentially even in December. And sometimes even during January in the south, honestly, like in Florida, there's no telling.

But everywhere in the south, like you may get those it literally feels like summertime outside right now. And a few days ago it [00:19:00] was nearly snowing. Like it's it can shift that, that quickly and I think it's easy for, it has been for me to go in and read, sign and see that there's a lot of sign around one area and not think about okay, if I walk into a place and it's wide open I'll just give you a scenario that happened to me this year that always came back to me.

There was one spot where I got out of the boat and in the wide open hardwoods there was rubs and scrapes and all kinds of sign right there in that spot. But it was in, literally the wide open, you could see 150, 200 yards. Clearly all around you. And then you had the water right there. But there was a lot of deer sign right there.

And I kept thinking to myself like, I'm gonna come back. I'm gonna come back. I'm gonna hunt this, I'm gonna hunt this. And I never did. But one thing I can tell you is that the deer that I was seeing in this area, I'm glad I didn't hunt that particular spot because the deer I was seeing in this area [00:20:00] were doing the same stuff on another tree.

Once I found it closer into the cover, almost in the cover in a clearcut. And I found the same amount of sign over there and I was seeing deer in that spot. And I felt like if I had were to have sat on this other one, it probably wouldn't have, there probably wouldn't have been a deer there in daylight.

That was probably all nighttime activity. And so you really have to use that. Whereas in Kentucky, when it's cooler in November, or Indiana, Illinois, whatever, any of these Midwestern states, yeah, maybe. Maybe throw a hunt at that big sign that's in the wide open, cuz you never know what's gonna show up.

But out here it, particularly when it's warmer, I just don't see 'em going into those spots. I'm glad you answered it that way. Spencer, do you have anything you wanna add to that? No. I, Ricky hunts a lot of feed trees and I think he, he walks more than most people I know. So he finds, and I'll find them probably about 25% as much as he does.

But [00:21:00] I hunt near cover a lot of times, so I like to hunt somewhere close to a ticket and I figure afternoons they're coming out of there, mornings they're going into there. If you can find the right spot that's in between kind of talking about those open woods, like the one that I shot in Kentucky in September is wide open now.

The hillside bed in there. So you're not necessarily having ticket or anything, especially with the Boxville hillside bed, but but as a transition kinda area, really close the parking lot and they just gotta get the speeds on one side of that road. And they could bet on either side of it, but I always just saw deer there.

I'd see 'em from the truck and whatnot and, usually just doze or whatever. But said ma'am, going try setting up on one of these heavy trails up on it, shoting, and I saw a couple other deer there that day too. Couple do. But see, I'll catch 'em in their transition areas just on, on heavy trails.

But a lot of times I'll try to be [00:22:00] closer to something thick and on either trails or some kind of speed sign that is near that, because that's usually or like Ricky said, obviously it's. Some of the stuff that they're gonna hit the most, they can either get up from bed and browse and come out and hit it.

Or it'll be the first stuff that they hit when they come outta bed or the last thing they hit when the last to bed. So we're talking about, you proved the point there, right? You said in Kentucky you did this and this, whatever. It doesn't always line up the same way. I feel like I, I hunt Kentucky a little bit differently or a lot differently than I hunt anywhere in the south.

Do you agree, Spencer? The deer do the deer do things differently there than do in the south, like in the south, even in Georgia I got places to hunt Georgia and I'd always, they never hunt fields or very rarely hunt fields cause nothing would come in the field except as though, maybe during the rut you might catch some bucks coming into 'em.

But, you go to Kentucky and Kansas and these Midwestern states and guys are hunting the fields. They're [00:23:00] killing them. Cause the bucks will come to 'em. Obviously it changes under pressure and all that. And then you gotta find the more secluded areas that, they got away from all the easier to hit stuff as far as the hunters.

And then if you find a secluded little food plot or secluded corner of the field or something you may still find 'em even mid-season or late season, still come into that feed food source, out in the field in the late afternoon or whatever. Yeah, it just depends.

They just do things different, and, where I was hunting in Kansas, I was hunting like a little strip and crp on both sides. And this wasn't like six foot tall CRP that you'd expect near to definitely be in. It was like wide open enough that I figured this is a little funnel point, that the sign was there and the sign was.

You know of course the rubs and scrapes were on all the trees. So I'm like they're following these edges. Man. Those deer hardly ever would be underneath, they'd hardly ever be on that edge. They'd go in the wide open. And I don't know if that's [00:24:00] something they get used to from hunting pressure or coyotes and other pressure if they feel almost more comfortable in that open area.

But that's how they seem to move, so they're always moving away from some of that stuff. And it's kinda like a Turkey that's kinda like field birds. Yeah. And if, yeah, and if you're hunting in a tree stand, unless you got, some good grass game and some kind of ground cover to get in you're stuck to one of those edges.

You're stuck in a tree and they start moving very erratically all throughout this area. Yeah, it can be tough. It leads to longer stops. That's why I talked Rick, into not getting rid of that compound cause. You're supposed to come to Kansas , you don't get a whole lot of seven yard shots in Kansas.

They're 10 yard shots, so you gotta have the long game out there. That's interesting. I've never never heard people really talk about that much as far as hunting Kansas. I guess it seems like most of the stuff I see people hunt, they're in a tree hunting like a river bottom or something like that in Kansas.

Is that not really realistic, man, it, I see that too and then I go do it and there's no [00:25:00] deer there . But also like some of the, I think you get different sections of Kansas, but some of the river bottom where I've been hunting is, does not look like the river bottom of Kansas that some of these other guys are hunting, yeah. And I think they're usually hunting wide open river, bottom on un public ground, or excuse me, unpressured private ground. It's a totally different scenario, but I'm usually in them. Again, the these creek bottoms or any systems are very windy. A lot of o stage trees very thick.

Tough to get shots through all that stuff. So a lot of times I end up hunting on the edge of it, where they'll either, they might work up and down that creek system, but they don't follow it cause it's so windy. They straight line it. So whatever your straight line distance is from the furthest out oxbow or bend that you see in it to the next furthest out one.

So almost straight line from one to the other. It'll seem so hunt near one of those where it starts to [00:26:00] pinch 'em, where they've bend further out from the creek and all of a sudden they tied to it. And then you got a little bit of wood system that you're hunting and, maybe get your shot behind you.

And then also if they're following outside of that wood system and they're in the crp, you could also get the shot out there. It's just one scenario, that kind of thing will kinda work. But but yeah, just depends, my buddy, he shot his awkward stand. He had a no stage tree that he was in.

He was like eight feet up maybe in a climber and shooting backwards. He was sitting backwards on his rail . So he's sitting backwards on his rail, holding his bow, looking out the other direction. Cause it's the only way that he in that tree. And he was shooting through the crotch of it where it bifurcated and he shot that buck that way.

So it sometimes gotta get a little creative. No kidding. But I want to up my ground game and it's certainly not there. I got zero to, to brag on there. I've not killed a deer from the ground. I don't, that I can [00:27:00] think of. Probably with my gun, but not with bow. Yeah, I can think of. But but yeah, it's.

Kansas definitely lends itself to the kinds of guys that can get it done that way and glass and stalk and that sort of stuff. Cause they can be out there and that stuff that's hard to get to, man. We've talked about ground hunting a little bit out here. And for sure there's places in the south where I feel like it's, it can work.

Clear cuts, cutovers that we've got out here. Stuff that is real, real thick and like dense with briars and things like that. Maybe some pine thick, but I'll be honest, most of the spots that I find deer in it's really not great for the ground and I've tried it. I've really given it my best shot.

And I don't feel like I've been able to, I've killed a deer that way actually. But I felt like it was dumb luck. I'm being honest. I really felt lucky that particular day. I got two shots off, which was pretty, pretty crazy. I missed one [00:28:00] and then killed on the second one that came through. But I don't find a lot of places that are great for it.

And my friend Michael Pike and my other friend, Nathan Protts, guys that are around, hunt around the same area, they they moved to cross bows when they were doing this ground hunting stuff for a little while. Because they just said it wasn't, you cannot expect to get drawn on a buck in a lot of the open woods that we have with a bow.

Like it's just gonna be really difficult. And then they've gone back and forth crossbo to bow, whatever. But just an interesting thought. A lot of guys watch Zack Farba on the hunting public or Josh Ireton from the Untamed or Whitetail Adrenaline. Those guys are all doing that kind of stuff on the ground, but for the most part, they're hunting in these states, like you're mentioning with that little more ground cover.

Maybe not tall trees, but you've got a lot of ground cover. That's how those deer are living. And so it seems like that's about the only way. But Ricky, I know [00:29:00] you've done it a couple times down here in the South, you've killed deer on the ground. I believe. I've killed hogs on the ground.

I've killed deer with a rifle, but I think the only, I think the only deer I've killed off the ground with a bow were in Kentucky. Now. I do remember. Sure. Didn't you miss, didn't you shoot one a couple years back in maybe Georgia with a bow off the ground and you didn't recover him or something like that?

Yeah, I did. That was, I was actually. I was trying to get to a tree, but okay. He chased the dope out. That's why I had it in my head that you did it. Yeah, I shot him and, yeah. Yeah, that was close. I almost did it. But yeah, that wasn't a, that wasn't planned unfortunately. But I've thought about it, especially for Kansas.

I'm thinking about doing the little the last arrow in your quiver. You got like a little blind there, enough for you to draw back. I was gonna do it hunting Turkey last year. I just never actually did it. But yeah, I definitely, I missed one off the ground at Kentucky two years ago.

And then[00:30:00] I think Adam Cruz actually went back and killed him, a couple weeks later, . But then it might not have been the same deer, it was the same place. But he killed one that I had on video from the rut. Was that the one where he climbed up in the tree and somebody had already climbed that tree and it was initialed or something?

Is that what you're talking about? Yeah. Yeah. Which it wasn't my initials, but yeah, it was Someone else, there, there's only a couple trees that you can really get in right there. That's why Ricky was hunting them on the ground. But but yeah, I, we, I had hunted there, seen a couple bucks.

I had already got my buck that year, so I told Ricky go over there and it some real impressive, but it was, pretty good bucks, good enough to put a tag on and he almost made it happen. And then we left and a couple days later yeah, Adam came up and sent me a picture of a buck.

And at first I didn't quite recognize it. Then the more I got to looking at it, I looked back at a video and I got a picture of him feeding 20 yards from me from the previous trip that I was up there. But I'd already shopped shot mine. It's so funny to [00:31:00] think about that. So you've got to know that y'all aren't the only people that hunted there.

You know what I mean? We're. You and Adam are a guy. It's a guy in Tennessee and a guy in Florida who happened to, find the same area. There was 47 other guys that probably know exactly where that was. It's interesting when you think about public land and we're talking to the people all the time who are in the same circle.

These mobile hunters willing to go the extra mile, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And a lot of times I feel like, man, I'm going back here deep. Or going to this really bizarre spot where nobody's probably ever been to. And sometimes I think, yeah, I'm the only person that comes here.

There's probably a hundred people that have been there. You know what I mean? Nothing sacred on public. No, man. Absolutely not. Absolutely not. You think you found something you. Found something someone else already found. That's right. So you I wanna talk a little bit about these bucks that you guys killed[00:32:00] here the last week of the season.

I thought it was super cool. I know, I knew that I knew that it was late. I did not quite realize that it was like still rud activity going on. So I guess really, whoever Ricky, if you wanna start, tell me about, tell me a little bit about that trip and your hunt and what ultimately led to you filling a tag that late in the season.

Yeah, so we we planned this hunt and knew they would be, they should be chasing whenever we were going in February. So I had an opportunity to go over earlier than that for five days. I think it rained four outta the five days I was there. But I went and I went and. I got a lot of scouting in.

I just walked and just got soaked every day. But I covered a lot of ground. When you're a good thing, when you're in, when you're in Florida I just wanna stop you. One thing that I noticed about in Florida is that it does seem like that the deer make a lot of sign. Pretty much anywhere that I've been in Florida, I find a lot of sign, few deer, but lots of sign.[00:33:00]

Yeah. What are some things that you're looking for when you're scouting in that type of terrain? In those, I know it's real swampy and stuff like that. What are you looking for? I try to, one caveat to hunting in the swamp swampy areas is it holds tracks for a while, so it's gotta be mindful of that.

You have a group of couple, do three, do whatever going through there every day or every three days. It's gonna look like a cattle trail, but that's not, that's the lesson I've learned the hard. But I'm looking that then I was looking for Stein, which. I was finding it, but not like I expected. Not for the amount of deer that I've heard around that area.

And the, it was raining every day. So I was able to see fresh tracks pretty much all the time. If I saw tracks, they were fresh cause it was actively raining. But I was looking for, I knew there wasn't gonna medi Oaks dropping cause how late it was, but I was just looking for oaks or acorns that weren't rotten that late in the year.

I've never hunted, I've never hunted that late. Especially not in February, but[00:34:00] I would find some acorns and I found some, and there was deer, deer poop everywhere. And I was picking up the acorns and they were either rotten or they had worm holes and I just could not find any fresh ones. But there were so much feeds on there, I decided to hunt it.

And that even that was the first hunt. I think it was my fourth day that actually got into deer. And I saw I had four do within 10 yards for an hour. Saw a spike and then I had a buck come in. I never saw his head, but. He was making a scrape like 30 yards away. And then he chased the dough off and never got a good look at 'em.

But that particular place is just, it's a little bit different cuz it's west Florida, so you got some terrain there. Not huge terrain, but we're talking, 150 foot elevation changes, just gradual. Some places. Some places it's pretty steep and it's only like a 50 foot change, but it's steep.

It took me five days to figure it out, but I figured out that they had these springed creeks and it would dead end into one of these bowls. And I found it in one spot and I [00:35:00] thought it was just okay. And there's some tracks there, it looks good, but there was a lock on there, so I wrote it off and went to another spot on the map, looked similar, found the same thing, went to another spot, found the same thing.

I'm not that smart, but I figured that out. Describe what you're talking about or the creeks. Drain into a bowl? Is that what you said? Yeah, I don't, maybe Spencer explained better, but basically what it was, you have these,

we don't know how to describe terrain. . We used to flat , but have the main creek and it had these little, they looked like little feeder creeks, but I think it was Springfield cuz the creek would kinda like dead end into this basically like a crows foot or what would be considered a thermal hub.

Just a couple fingers dropping down into one area. Or sometimes it was just a bowl and there'd be a high side and then it would drop down into the creek and it almost like the creek just dead end into the hill. Huh. But the high side of those, the deer were traveling, they were cutting around the edges of the creek cuz they weren't, [00:36:00] the creeks were thick but narrow.

So there wasn't any, there wasn't any major bedding or feed activity going on within the creek bottom cuz it was just literally creek. Thick fines and Palm Meadows and then wide open. It's not really like anything, any place I've ever hunted. But the terrain in some places was similar to some of the hill country stuff in Kentucky.

So they would hug that high side and that's where I saw the buck on the first trip and that's where I ended up killing my different area. But same thing, just at the, basically at the head of that creek or the, where the spring comes out of the hill, not exactly sure which one it is, but they were just, that's what it is.

Kind of crisscrossing. Yeah. They were just crisscrossing around the edge of that creek, if that makes sense. Was there any food or known dough bedding or anything like that you were, that you felt was there? Yeah, so both places actually the place I killed my buck at, that's the reason I went there.

Cause it looked like it [00:37:00] had better bedding. There was probably I don't know, four or five year old clear cut that they didn't replant so it just grew up and they like scr that scrubby oak stuff. And I could, it was pretty obvious they were coming in and out of there. So I went to the, that little pinch point at the top end of that creek and there was a burn on the top side and the palms, they didn't fully burn, so it was just kinda it necked them down between that and the creek.

And there was just a big concentration of buck sign there, a lot of rubs, a few scrapes. And then, I always looked for deer poop and there was a lot of it there and wasn't really finding a ton of fresh acorns, but they were there eating it. That's where I set up at. And that morning I went to that spot and I was waiting for the right wind and then I got the right wind, went in there and it was like Kentucky.

I set up for the, I had a wind coming out of the I think it was out of the northwest. But anyways, I was down in the bowl and my thermals were dropping down into the creek and there was like a little [00:38:00] gully right underneath me, so it worked out pretty well. All my scent was dropping down there and in my video you can actually see there's a five point and he is in my scent pool and right after he starts rubbing the tree, he stops and turns and looks like dead at me.

And I was, I dunno, 80 yards away, hidden pretty well. And he picked out the direction I was, my scent was coming from. And then he just got bugged out and left. But that'ss interesting talking about thermal hubs. Because and I know these are a lot less of a terrain change than probably what we have even here or what you've got in Tennessee, Kentucky, any of the places that have, that hillier terrain.

But I've always said people have asked me before about hunting thermal hubs and I, most of the time I'm not trying to hunt one with a bow. It's gonna be a rifle . That's what I'm, that's what I'm trying to do is hunt 'em with a rifle. Because of that [00:39:00] reason, like they can be 80, a hundred yards away and if you're since pulling in one spot or two to that spot in any way, it's just dangerous to hunt a thermal hub and expect not to get busted.

But if you can shoot 'em before they get to that spot with a rifle, that's great. With a bow, it's just a little bit harder. Yeah, it is. And like I said, only reason I hunted it is cuz it was a, short trip. I was kinda like, if I burn, it was a morning, so the way the bedding was, I knew they'd either be crossing by me head to the bedding or they'd be crossing down into the creek and all their trails were within 30 yards of, man, I was something with the compound that morning. And that buck was actually the one that smelled me. He came by after I shot my buck, luckily. But so yeah, I had some dough come by and then I had one they just fed through. I got 'em on video and then had one dough came through on the trot and I started, I couldn't see anything behind her, but I grunted anyways.

And all of a sudden here she comes down, starts speeding, and then I see the buck coming behind her. The one I ended [00:40:00] up killing. There's a scrape up on the hill and a lot of the scrapes I was finding, and they weren't opened up, they were just, you could tell it was a scrape, hadn't really been touched.

He was following her and he just stopped squatted, peed a little on the scrape, and that's all he did. And he just peed and kept going. But yeah, I just thought that was interesting. But he came in, got a shot at 15 yards. He ran down into that creek and died and. I gave it an hour and I got down and as soon as I got down and went done time, I bow.

There was another eight point standing there looking at me right across gul. I was standing, I like dang gum it. Cause you can kill two bucks a day there. But live and learn. I guess I shouldn't, if I'd gave it 15 more minutes, I'd add ETT 15 yards too. But all those books, it was pretty obvious that Dough was hot because as soon as I shot him, all those bucks kept coming in.

I, I knew better. I should've stayed in the tree, but, a typical buck parade, I just didn't expect it to be that good in Florida, yeah. You got a [00:41:00] Midwestern buck parade in Florida. That gummit. That's cool. All right. Spencer, you got the added benefit it sounds like, of your buddy coming and figuring out what the deer were doing a little bit earlier.

Did you go by that or did you Exactly. Did you decide to. Be a little prideful and figure it out yourself. No I definitely went by that . Yeah. And that was a good move. Huge advantage, if you, yeah, if you got a repeating pattern that you can follow why not use it, and there's, they do a lot of burns and selective cuts.

So there's some big pieces of real open area. And I think especially it being a gun hunt a lot of guys tend to end up hunting that kind of stuff. Cause people like to see a lot, to see 200 yards there when they're hunting things. They give 'em more opportunities, but, you see a lot of stuff that you can't shoot or can't get that shot on or whatever.

But I may maybe early on they end up killing deer and that kind of stuff, but [00:42:00] logic to me just says that's not and the numbers prove it, because there's. 150 trucks in there or something and five deer get checked. Yeah. So it's a low percentage. It's a, it is not a high percentage.

Huh. So that, that just goes and where a lot of those guys are probably hunting. And just not, but that's why I did use some of that repeating pattern. And we had rain all the first day, so I was, Ricky knows, but I was getting a little pissy about everything.

Man, this sucks, and can't find hard to find, sign everything when it's raining on you all the time. Downpours. I just didn't feel like walking as much. I had lost a little bit of drive cause I'd already had a pretty successful season. So this was just a bonus on, and I was like, you, it's 50 degrees of rain and how much am I gonna kill myself?

I was trying to keep you jacked up and on the right track. I know. But but once I started finding time, then I got all jacked up. So my first morning I had a couple spots picked out [00:43:00] that didn't feel great about, but it was one of those things where I was like, oh, maybe I should just get in a treat.

And I did and finally heard a couple shots. And, my consciousness gets to me after a little bit and I'm like, man, I'm wasting time right here. I don't have anything really that has me excited about this spot. I hadn't even seen a deer yet. And and I was hunting one of those heads of the creek, and and there was some sign there, but just nothing special.

I said I'm wasting time here. I only got two more days now to hunt three hunts total. Cause we, on Sunday morning, afternoon, or Monday morning, that was it. I'm like, I gotta go find something. So I got outta the tree earlier than I normally would have. I saw a couple deer on the road, but they were crossing in archery areas and I couldn't hunt them.

Cause I was muzzle loader hunting. I wasn't boat hunting up that area. But anyhow, I just went on and went to go look at a spot that I'd already found some buck [00:44:00] sign in during the rain. And I found one, one good spot. But it was just it wasn't impossible to hunt, but it was really out of the way.

Long drive to get there. Fairly difficult to access, but it was behind a thicket. And again, I told you before, I usually try to hunt somewhat closer to the thickets and that's usually where you're gonna find some of that fresh sign, somewhere he's coming out of there and he's gonna start making sign and then he's gonna move on to wherever he is feeding at night and make even more.

But so I found a big community scrape next to this picket that had a bunch of deer poop in it, but the access was just pretty tough. But that was in my head. And then I had another spot that I found two fresh scraps, pretty big scrapes, and I wanted to walk it out a little bit better cause I didn't, I got off his sign following the thicket and I think that he might've worked down more towards the creek.

But I get over there, there's a couple trucks there, so move on down to another spot. And I was like, lemme just walk the back edge of this picket. And I walked back there. Same [00:45:00] thing. It, it comes to a little head. They they circle around that they'll come through the creek thumb, but they circle around that top of that head.

There was a clear cut that was more like stage grass on the top side of this, like directly where the head dead ended. And then you got a little bit of pine right there and it comes up and as it wraps around, you got another clear cut there. And that's closer to what I was hunting. And it was what Ricky says, there's.

Maybe five or six year old clear cut or something with replanted pines good stuff for bedding. And it's got some food in it, and it comes to a little oak flat right there. These oaks that I was in, it was real small, you couldn't even climb a tree in most of this stuff.

So there was one big oak in there, and that's actually where I should have been on the first day. But or first that afternoon, but I picked a different tree because I found just a, beat down heavy trail since the rain had probably 10 different tracks in it. And so I ended up sitting that, and it was a real tight [00:46:00] spot.

I could probably see 50 yards, but couldn't hardly shoot 20 . And at 50, I'm talking like little glimpse, little glimpses, and nothing hit that big heavy trail that day. But I had a good access with a good approach for the northeast or northwest wind that we had where I could ease up into that.

And trail was on my north side, north and west side. It was kinda perfect for my wind. So Spencer, I'm gonna interrupt you real quick. I'm gonna interrupt you real fast because I feel like I know maybe where you're headed. So you are there one day, you find it, you hunt it, nothing comes in on a short hunt like this.

You decided to go back to the same spot for a different wind and a different access. Does I hear that right? No. So I hunted that morning and I got out of that spot cause I didn't like it. So I went to another spot, scouted, and I scouted from, I don't know, killed Ricky killed his [00:47:00] butt cause he killed it that morning.

I scouted for a couple hours and I'm doing this loop back here and I find this big heavy trail and I was like, okay, I can come in, I can get on, I can get on this. And I'll be able to hunt this heavy trail coming out of this bedding. It's got a lot of fresh sign on it since the rain last night, and I expected that I would see something and I did just on that trail, but it ha it gave me perfect access for my wind and where I had to come in from and where I needed to set up there.

One available tree. There's a, what would've been the best tree was 30 yards away. And that was a bigger oak that a couple deer or one dough came into set underneath for a second. And then I see a dough with a pretty good buck behind her and I only got a couple glimpse glimpses of him and I couldn't get a shot on him.

So I and this is all, sorry, I'm jumping around a little bit. That was the afternoon hunt, when I was scouting it. Then I get the call that Ricky had killed a buck, right? Yeah. So I come on out of there, we go help with his buck, we do all that stuff. And [00:48:00] I said, all right guys, I gotta go jump in.

So I go back, jump in the tree, and I see that afternoon. And so because of where those deer moved, I said, man, I gotta move this set. So I break my stuff down. I was hunting outta the saddle. I break it down at at dark and I move over to that bigger oak tree is the only big oak tree in this little section of of much smaller oaks.

And set up in the dark. Go ahead and come on out next morning. Go in, had a small buck that was probably just underneath shooter size. And then he was real borderline and only had a couple glimpses of him. And again, this, the spot still looks the same. It's like you could, from that tree, it was maybe a little better.

You could shoot about 30, maybe C 50. And so I saw him, saw dough, and then. About nine o'clock, which was about right, based on the activity that I saw on the road [00:49:00] the morning before when I was driving it. I started seeing deer right there, which about nine to 10 o'clock it seemed.

And 8 55 come walking up from behind me. Like he had made that loop around the top of that head and he came up and he worked his way up onto that bench. And those oaks were between, they were on that flat, creeks on the downhill side of that. And then they had a little burn right there.

And then the thickets behind me. So he got these kinda converging things and some terrain working and a little oak flat that was dropping a bunch of acorns. And there was multiple scrapes in there, a few rubs, but mostly scrapes, just in several different locations. So you just tell the deer were working through there a lot.

And here he come and I busted him, buckled him up. He ran about 50 yards and piled up. But even only around 50 yards, I couldn't see it all. So I had to climb down. And what was that? What was who's got a rooster in the room or something? It sounded like a yeah, I got chicken. [00:50:00] Okay. That's exactly, I was like, man, somebody, there's a rooster somewhere.

Yeah, I don't get service in the house. I'm outside hanging out. Oh, man. It sounds like a heck of a heck of a fun time that you guys had. And I honestly wouldn't expect any less. You guys are probably some of the most effective deer hunters that I know. I've gotten opportunity for. Anybody, any listeners here, you can look back on some of our older episodes.

We'd have Rick, we've had Ricky on a couple times, I think for Turkeys and deer. And Spencer was on. We did, we were on a, did a live podcast. I know we may have done a couple phone call ones as well, but I think you guys, the way that y'all look at terrain, the way you look at habitat is awesome.

And it's effective. I feel like y'all are always on Deere. Seems like anytime I talk to you, you're on Deere, you've got stuff figured out, you're analyzing and figured it out. Kudos to you guys. It's awesome. Sounds like it was a great season and I appreciate it. Man, I'm happy to know you and hopefully somebody learned something from this podcast.

Yeah. [00:51:00] One thing. Hope I hope so too. And something I learned a while ago and I think I mostly learned it on my own, but then you hear it reinforced on podcasts, other guys talking about the same stuff and it really drives it into your mind. But, when I said morning something that I didn't really like and I just couldn't hunt it, I couldn't keep hunting it cuz I didn't like it.

And I'm gonna get down and look and I'm gonna, I'm gonna walk and. Scout until I find something that I like. And if I like it, I'm gonna keep on walking and keep on scouting until something, yeah. You just get that stuff that, that you get a feeling about. Or the sign just, it tells you like, this is it, there's a lot of deer sign and not a lot of hunter sign or whatever, and it tells you that you need to hunt there.

Don't until you find that spot, don't just hunt, whatever, just to be in a tree. Yeah. Don't settle. Some guys just, oh, I just, yeah. Don't settle. Don't. Oh, I just need to be in a tree. Good. Get lucky, but there's a lot of guys sitting in trees not killing deer.

That's right. That's right.[00:52:00] Cool fellas, appreciate you guys coming on and Absolutely, bro. I guess y'all, good luck next week when Turkey season starts or whatever it is for y'all. Y'all just, y'all got one week of off season and then Yeah. And then it's right back to it. Yeah. I think we got three weeks.

Is it, what is it, Ricky? You keep up better than me, but I think it's three weeks till Youth season or Youth weekend and then the third week of March is when it opens. First week in South Florida. I think it's the fourth in South Florida. Yeah, it is. Oh, I might be. It's crazy. Yeah. Hope here we're at 11th and ours starts the 18th.

So Fantastic. Good luck during Turkey season, boys, and we'll holler at you. Hi. Alright. Hey guys. Thanks for listening to this week's episode of the Southern Ground Hunting Podcast. You can keep up with Southern ground hunting by following us on Facebook or Instagram or subscribing to the [00:53:00] YouTube channel, and you can be sure to check us out@southerngroundhunting.com to pick up some of our merch, read some blog articles, and all that good stuff.

I truly hope you enjoyed this week's episode, and we'll see you here again next week. Remember that God gave you dominion over the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and the beasts of the earth. So go out and exercise that dominion. We will talk to you next week.