Tropical thunder

A Wisconsin hunter is changing latitudes for a new challenge.

For Jeff Neill, 35, of West Bend, Wisconsin, taking a turkey on his home hunting grounds is often a fairly simple affair. Since a buddy got him into the game, he’s capitalized on several opportunities.

“I’ve gone the last 12 years and shot a turkey on opening day every time,” Neill said. “Around home, if you ask a farmer if you can deer hunt on their place, you’ll probably get a very quick, ‘No,’ but turkeys? Ask to hunt their turkeys and they’re usually glad to have you hunt.”

Neill won the raffle for this spring’s Osceola hunt, March 15 to March 19. It will be his first turkey-hunting adventure outside of his home state.

He chose the Osceola hunt because of the difficulty otherwise associated with lining up a turkey hunt in the Sunshine State.

“I’ve always thought, in the back of my mind, a grand slam would be cool, and the Osceola would be the hardest of the four to obtain,” he said.

This adventure will pair him with some of the best Osceola territory found anywhere, as well as with calling champion and veteran turkey hunter Terry Rohm.

“I found out about the raffle through The Hunting Public’s posts on Instagram,” he said. “I clicked on the link, went to Turkeys For Tomorrow, looked at all the different hunts and was drawn to the Osceola.”

Rohm, a two-time Grand National Calling Champion, knows the value of good connections. He, along with good friend and land guide Bobby Adams, will host Neill near Gainesville in Alachua County. He will be in the best of hands on the richest of dirt and will have one tag to take an Osceola longbeard.

“You’re still in Osceola country where we’ll be hunting,” Rohm said. “They’re black-winged birds, but the territory is pastureland, oakmonts and fields rather than deep swamp.”

Big water oaks draped with Spanish moss form a picturesque background for what is expected to be a once-in-a-lifetime hunt on carefully-managed ground.

“It’s a very special place,” Rohm said, reluctant to offer more. “The private land’s managers have seen their turkey populations grow significantly through the years, and they’re very careful with how they’re hunted.”

Last year’s winner of the Osceola hunt raffle had a great experience

We’ll follow up with Neill after the hunt. Look for a recap of how his adventure goes here in the coming days.

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