USA: Thermal Hunt Florida

dailordasailor

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I think it was last year, I saw a hunt report on here from a night vision hunt for hogs in florida with West Shore Outfitters. I sort of forgot about it figuring I would do a night hunt when I was in Texas for work. Unfortunately the timing didnt work out and I called West Shore and booked a thermal hunt for a couple hogs. Thermal/Night vision isnt something I can justify the cost of so a guided hunt is the most reasonable way to experience it.

I receive the conformation email giving me address and directions. The email touches on how its not a guaranteed hunt (which is why i booked it rather than 20 other caged options) and then goes onto a large section on tipping. It blatantly says that the guides are not paid and work purely for tips. It said that 20 to 25% is customary. It also said to forward email along to any others in the hunting party so they know about the tipping. Not a "red flag" but certainly didnt sit right. I always tip, especially well when the guide cleans and quarters but I dont want to be guilted or told to do so.

Arrive at 8:45pm and guide follows into the driveway with me. Perfect timing. We do the normal banter, he shows me the AR10 with the FLIR thermal and makes sure I'm comfortable with safety, trigger, etc. Sign a waiver, and we start a walk down the road. We walk about 50 yards, and enter a cattle gate that I notice has strong fencing attached to it that I've seen in hog pens. Thats a red flag. Whatever, I'm in it now and this whole thermal thing is neat as hell. We walk down a trail towards a feeder and about 50 yards away there's about 7 pigs. Thermal is cool as hell... None of them seem large and mostly bunched up. We continue on a sand road and a couple cross in front of us but disappear quickly. Having hogs run around you in the dark is an odd feeling. Suddenly I see a 20# hog 10 yards to our side, pick up the gun to see if any other hogs and a rather large hog walks by, a sow, then a boar. Put the reticle on the heart, flick the safety off, bang. The hog dosnt take a step, kicks a couple times, done. Amazing how effective a 308 is at 10 yards :) Turned out to be a good size hog with a impressive sized head. The pig had uppers but no lower tusk, which is something I've seen in hogs used for training dogs. Whatever, this is getting fun and had one down.

We walk on, knowing nothings going to be hanging around with the gun shot and flashlights. We walk to a "T" in road that runs a fence line. We see some small hogs on road. We walk down fence line and I see the other border fence about 50 yards away when the guide says take a left. We come into another feeder area and I see a good size hog, getting ready to take the shot and realize the pig had no ears. It walks towards woods, I say I cant see it, we move on. We end up coming onto a large sounder of all size pigs after a good amount of walking. They end up all around us and keep trying to figure out if I can see any male "parts". They smell/hear us and start to move. I watch small ones run accross the road and then a large one. I aim at its neck and right before it hits tree line I let one fly, the pig front flips and is done. Unfortunately it only broke its spine so I put a 9mm in its head to put her out. Unfortunately it was a sow but good size and will eat good.

I know I write very long winded, I grew up with 2 sisters and no brothers which I think explains my school girl type rambling. My overall thoughts?

IMG_0179_zpsjie9eaa3.jpg


1. the guide was great. very friendly, didnt get frustrated when I passed on smaller hogs. I think knowing that I've hunted hogs helped in him not pushing me. He asked me to guess a weight on a hog we saw early on and I think I was damn close which helped him not try to BS me on them.
2. They had a lot of hogs and all seemed "wild". Most were 90-150lbs which is what they advertise on their website. You aren't going to shoot a wall hanger.
3. My take on the website, the email, and after talking to the owner was that it was free range hunting but the thermal made it a near guaranteed deal. He even told me that taking two would likely be hard...
4. It is what it is. Its a caged hunt which you can find anywhere in Florida for all different prices. I ended up paying $550 for two hogs. Its the most expensive hunt they offer due to the thermal. I was okay with the price because I wanted a free range hunt and to play with cool toys. I'm still okay with the price but I wouldnt have chosen West Shore Outfitters if I knew it was a caged hunt... I have alot of meat in the coolers and a good size head I'll put new cutters in for my office.

http://www.westshoreoutfitters.com/main/orlando-night-vision-hog-hunts

Thanks for reading
Dale
 

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BRICKBURN

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Thanks for the write up.
You certainly got some pork to take home.
 

rinehart0050

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@dailordasailor Thanks for the report. Some of the first hunting I ever participated in was spot-lighting for hogs on my buddy's ranch in Texas. So much fun. Eventually, we upped our game to thermals, which really helped with actually making a dent in the population on his ranch (but took some of the challenge out of it). The nice thing with Texas, for nuisance animals like hogs, no license required, no limit, no restrictions on method!

One of the more worrisome moments was running after a group of pigs with a handgun. then loosing the light as the truck drove around the berm... hearing hogs running all around you in complete darkness... a little scary.
 

CAustin

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Sounds like a cookout at your house!
 

AB2506

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I went on a nighttime hunt with Westshore in March 2015. I submitted a report about it. I can't fully comment on fencing as it was dark. It was described as a cattle ranch, and the majority of fencing that I saw was consistent with cattle ranching. Now near where I shot my hog, it did appear that there was a page wire fence. I don't know if the whole area was fenced like that. Where I walked in, it was a cattle fence. It appears they changed the rifle. I used an AR15 in 300blkout. It was not camoflauged.

In my opinion, I got what I paid for. I would not call it a caged hunt. If it wasn't for the feeders, you would not find the hogs, even at night, it appeared to be very dense foliage.

It would be interesting to see it in the daylight, but those are my perceptions.

I got my hog within the first hour, I spent a couple of hours talking with the guides. They said they hunt hogs over 360 days a year, they live off the tips, they have no salary. They kill between 4000-7000 hogs a year. They do accept relocated problem hogs from municipalities, but there are state refuges/parks nearby and also ranches that do not allow hunting. The hogs transit their property and they do feed the hogs. It seems like a phenominal amount of hogs, but if you have a morning hunt, a midday hunt, an evening hunt and and a night hunt, even with only one hunter at a time, if everyone killed one hog, x360 that is 1,440 hogs. I don't know how many they max out at, but they do take groups and I see photos of a tractor bucket full of hogs regularly. Night hunts are single hunters. Anyways, 4000 hogs is acheiveable.

I would do another nighttime hunt with Westshore. They are about an hour north of Disneyworld in Orlando.
 

dailordasailor

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I believe your report is the one I read. If I remember correctly you used night vision. I used thermal which is reason for the different rifle.

The cattle gate about 50 yards from parking area? That gate has the mesh fashioned to it to prevent hogs from getting out. The only way anyone could move thousands of hogs would be a canned hunt. Which I have no problem with and I've done a couple with a different place in Florida.

You know it'll be an "intense" hunt when you see your guide is wearing crocs with no socks. It's a caged hunt which isn't a problem unless you want a free range hunt which I was under impression I was getting. Guide was great, I just feel mislead but that's 50% my fault for not flat out asking.

Side note: my boar had no nuts (clean cut removed) and lower cutters. As I said, also had a hog with no ears. I would never tell someone don't go to westshore, I would just inform exactly what you're getting.
 

rinehart0050

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I'm sure @gizmo is more than happy to welcome hunters at his ranch to help control the hog population.
 

gizmo

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Hey buddy if you get to Texas and want to hunt real free range hogs and have a very good oppurtunity to take a wall hanger on an unlimited hog basis give me a shout. No hog fences here!
I'm glad you had fun. I have never heard of those folks and certainly don't know anything about them but it doesn't seem right for them to call it a free range hunt and market it as such.
Anyway, thanks for sharing and congrats on your pigs!
image.jpeg
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DoubleLunger

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Anyone do any day time hunting with these guys? Buddy and I are considering them for an archery/rifle morning hunt in October
 

dailordasailor

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I still follow them on Facebook and see decent amount of daytime photos. My "guide" said daytime is hard because pigs are skittish and avoid feeders.

If cool with a caged hunt I hunted with 2 guys and a hog and had good experience. Now hut from a hang on and about 15 mins after you settle in the feeder will go off and pigs come running.

I'm still looking for a true free range Florida hunt so if go somewhere else I'm very interested in details.

I can't recommend Texas enough for awesome hog hunting
 

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