John's Journal...


How I Came to Hunt Osceolas

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: Osceola - the very word rings with defiance. The man who bore this name and blazed it into the history of this nation was one of the greatest Indian chieftains who ever lived. He led his Seminole people into battle against one of America's finest generals, Andrew Jackson, and handed Jackson his only defeat in the great Indian wars of the 1800s. So powerful was the Seminole nation that they never signed a peace treaty with the American government but chose instead to retreat to the swamps of Georgia and Florida. Chief Osceola was a Click to enlargeguerilla fighter who effectively used hit-and-run tactics to defeat Jackson's army. Because Osceola and his men would appear and just as quickly disappear, many soldiers under Jackson attributed supernatural powers to Osceola. Even today the turkey that bear his name, Meleagris gallopavo osceola, also known as the Florida turkey, the only Click to enlargeplace where it's found, is believed by many of the Seminole nation to be spirit-possessed.

I quickly accepted an invitation from Allen Jenkins of Thomasville, Georgia, president of Lynch Call Company to hunt these mystical gobblers some years ago. On this hunt were several of Jenkins' friends and Marcelous Osceola, a direct descendant of the legendary chieftain, Osceola. This hunt was to be a special - a reintroduction to the old way. Jenkins and I were to teach Osceola how to call and harvest the wily Osceola gobbler as his forefathers had. At that time on the Big Cypress Swamp Indian Reservation near Miami, Florida, the Seminoles, like native AmericansClick to enlarge on most reservations, could take game throughout the year in any numbers for subsistence. So over the years, the harvesting of the gobblers and the hens primarily had been a rifle sport practiced around large fields and pastures on the reservation. But Osceola wanted to learn the traditional way of bagging the gobblers bearing his family's name.




Check back each day this week for more about OSCEOLA - A BIRD OF SUPERSTITION

Day 1: How I Came to Hunt Osceolas
Day 2: The Mystery of the Swamp Magician
Day 3: The Hunt for the Osceola
Day 4: More of the Hunt for the Osceola
Day 5: The Hunt for the Osceola Ends



Entry 297, Day 1