Three Days at Hoppy’s

It was January 2011 and we were on our Florida trip at Hoppy’s (Osceola Outfitters), ready to shoot something big.  We stayed up late the first night talking. The next morning we woke up and had breakfast – it was a delicious breakfast.  We went outside and practiced with the Ten Point and then we went scouting for a good place to sit in the evening.  While we were scouting, we put out some bait and set up a Trail Cam and saw some great hog tracks at a spot that we thought we might hunt that evening.

We went fishing and Hoppy caught a Percosimus (an Asian Algae Sucker) with his bare hands!!  After that Hoppy said it was time to go Armadillo hunting.  The best way is to grab their tail and hold on tight cuz they squirm a lot. We didn’t see any Armadillos, but we did get an awesome surprise; which was seeing and holding a Gopher Tortoise which is rare in Florida.

We went back to Hoppy’s lodge for lunch and had a good talk about where we might hunt that evening. Hoppy also mentioned that a lot of acorns were growing on the trees and the hogs & deer were eating the acorns and it might be a hard hunt.  He said I should practice with a rifle so that I had more options – I took his advice.

First I tried the .243 which was ok with me – but I noticed a problem with the scope being too high so Hoppy got his 7mm-08 and asked if I would like to try it.  I tried shooting it but didn’t hold it right and it hurt my arm – a nasty mistake I won’t make again.  I knew it wasn’t right so I tried it again.  This time there were no problems and this would be the rifle I would use if the TenPoint wasn’t an option.

Near the evening, I got into my hunting clothes and got ready to shoot a big ‘ole boar hog.  We wanted to go to the Trail Cam bait but the wind wasn’t right so we ended up sitting on top of bull feeders.  First a bunch of deer came in – I must have waited 2 hours until the first 3 female hogs came in.  Just then, 2 boars came out of the bushes following the female hogs, fighting over who should get who.  Hoppy & I tried to decide which hog to shoot.  We had just decided on the boar with tusks when a young fat (really fat) hog came waddling in.  As soon as we saw this one, we knew this was the one to shoot.  We waited for it to be broadside and away from the cattle.  I got a perfect shot with my TenPoint - right through the lungs.  We climbed off and checked out the hog.  This was my 2nd Florida hog with Hoppy. Then Hoppy asked if I wanted to go deer hunting the next morning.  I had never been deer hunting before, so this was an awesome surprise.

The next morning I woke up early, had breakfast, got changed, and headed out to go deer hunting.  On our morning sit we saw absolutely nothing and we decided to go back to the lodge for lunch.

After lunch we went and watched Case play basketball – he played a good game.

We went back in the evening and saw 28 Osceola turkeys, 2 hogs, and at dusk, 1 doe.  Hoppy saw it first and pointed it out to me.  When I saw it, I almost jumped out my seat but still didn’t make too much noise.  I got the rifle ready and made a perfect 161 yard shot with just a few minutes of daylight left.  The deer jumped straight up, turned and went about 30 yards – same as the hog.  When I got back to the lodge, I was soooo excited. I couldn’t wait to tell all of my friends.

We left Hoppy’s and spent a few days in Orlando.  The night before we flew home, we went back to say goodbye and take home as much meat as we could take on the plane – Yum! 

Thanks Hoppy for taking me hog & deer hunting and thanks Susan for the hospitality.  Thanks Sage & Case for being my ‘Merican buds’.

Hunter: Luke Mehling

Cameraman: Dad, Russ Mehling