Recently my wife’s entire family and I went for a vacation in Orlando, Florida. Before we left, us guys decided, instead of only going to the expected amusement parks, we would like to do some hunting. Alligator hunting was out of our budget and currently not in season, so we decided to lend a helping hand to Florida’s wild boar problem. After a bit of research we settled on Hawg Wild Ranch, which is located some 2 hours south of Orlando.
Boar Hunting for Beginners
For people without experience, hunting wild boar is not as easy as it seems. These creatures are very intelligent and can be spooked by the slightest noise or abnormal scent, similar to whitetail deer. Being nocturnal, very quiet and capable of moving quickly, wild boar can be hard to hunt but they are quite predictable. Since boars don’t have sweat glands, they need to cool off near any body of water, such as a mud pit, swamp or river. Their skin gets dry and irritates easily so they scratch themselves on trees, leaving behind muddy marks on the tree trunks. These marks usually determine the cutlines. Wild boars tend to stay on a daily routine so tree stands, trail cameras and feeders should be placed near these cutlines.
Rifle use for Guests
Bringing rifles over the US border can be costly and complicated but luckily Hawg Wild Ranch does offer rentals for $25 USD per rifle with ammo included. They have many different calibers to choose from for all ages. With a hunting party of four, we chose a .17 HMR, 7mm-08, 300 Win Mag, and a .35 Rem.
The Hawg Wild Experience
A month before our vacation, I called Hawg Wild Ranch a few times to make reservations. After a few rounds of phone tag and voicemail messages, I was able to complete the reservation. It cost $200 USD per person to hunt a Trophy hog and I had to mail them a 50% down payment with a US money order. After a week in the mail, I got a phone call from Hawg Wild Ranch confirming the money order had been received.
At 4pm on the day of the hunt, we arrived at the ranch, which has over 6800 acres of surrounding farmland. My party of four was dropped off by the guide in a Polaris Ranger to separate hunting spots. Each spot is close to cutlines with tree stands and feeders nearby. The hunting spots surround a large swamp where the boars cool off so the hunter can be prepared for the kill when the boars leave.
It was still daylight at 5pm so I didn’t expect too much action until a couple hours later. There was much wildlife in the area, especially armadillos. Those suckers make so much noise that I’m sure the boars get easily spooked by them. When darkness had fallen, it became really hard to determine the difference between boar and other wildlife, and I really wish I brought something with night vision. The guide returned to pick me up at 9pm and we continued on to collect the rest of my group.
Was it better than an amusement park?
Three in my hunting party of four shot a boar. Heck, even the 11 year old in my party dropped a large porker using a .17 HMR. The hunting fee had to be paid regardless of whether we shot a boar or not. Getting to experience the thrill of hunting wild boar and enjoy the nature was worth the fee!
There are many ranches in Florida that place boar in a caged area where you go shoot them. Those ranches do guarantee a boar by advertising “No hog, No pay”, but to me there is no pride in killing a caged animal. Hawg Wild Ranch really stands out from these other ranches by having their boar completely wild and free.
I strongly recommend anything with night vision (like a monocular or goggles) for those darker hours. Not having night vision with me was a hard lesson learned. I also recommend long sleeved shirts for the mosquitos. The shirt won’t protect you completely, but it doesn’t give off a weird scent like mosquito repellent.
With a huge hunting area, a large arsenal of firearms and really great rates, Hawg Wild Ranch is certainly a must for anyone looking to do something out of the ordinary while vacationing in the Orlando area. I highly recommend this experience to anyone.
Hawg Wild Ranch
10765 NE 120th Street Okeechobee, Florida 34972