John's Journal...

Osceola Turkeys with William Sullivan on the Lands of General Van Fleet

Public-Land Turkey Hunting

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: William Sullivan, president of the Florida chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), has hunted turkeys in Florida all his life. During the first of March in 2007, I hunted with him on property formerly owned by General Van Fleet, a general during the Korean War, who entertained most of the generals from the Korean and the Vietnam wars on this property. Too, the lodge on this property has been used by the Queen of England, PresiClick to enlargedent Eisenhower, the President of Korea and many other national and international dignitaries.

Question: William, what makes the Osceola different from all the other turkeys?
Sullivan: There’s really not much difference between the Osceola and the other turkeys. They do all the same things that every other turkey does. But what makes the Osceola so difficult to hunt is that he has a very-small home range in Florida. Too, gaining access to hunt him is very difficult for most individuals. There’s some public land in Florida where you can hunt him, but the birds on this land receive a lot of hunting pressure. The public land Osceola is generally a very-quiet turkey, however, if he doesn’t receive much hunting pressure, he’s as vocal as every other bird. Because of the high humidity and dense foliage, many hunters who have hunted him before believe that he’s much further away than he is. In the palmetto swamps in Florida, the sound of his gobbling doesn’t travel as far as it does in big hardwoods and ridges. One of the biggest problems I have with people who come into our area to hunt is they spook a lot of birds because they assume the birds are farther away than they actually are, like the turkey you took, John. When we heard him gobble, he sounded like he was 1/4-mile away, but realistically, he was probably no more than 150-yards away.Click to enlarge

Question: Is there any good public land where a person can come from another state and hunt Osceolas?
Sullivan: Absolutely. There’s some really-good public hunting here in Florida, and some of it is on the special-opportunity hunts the state holds at Green Swamp West WMA. Another place is Dexter/Mary Farms near Daytona. But one of my favorites is Avon Park Air Force Bombing Range near Sebring, Florida.

Question: What are the restrictions for hunting Avon Park Air Force Bombing Range?
Sullivan: This aClick to enlargerea is 106,110 acres, but a little less than 90 acres is huntable, because the rest of it is closed for an active bombing range. The military runs the hunting program, and you have to apply to be able to hunt there. You apply at, download the application and then submit it with a minimal cost application fee of $15. If you’re drawn, you pay a fee for the entire year that’s about $250, but then you can hunt there from the beginning of bow season through gobbler season. The only downside to Avon Park is that you have to come to a safety session prior to hunting season. I’ve been hunting there since I was a child, and I have to take the same safety briefing in early September before bow season each year. The Air Force covers what to do if you find unexploded ordinance and other safety rules and regulations that you have to know to hunt there. Even if you live in New York, you can apply, and if you’re drawn and come to the safety briefing in September, you can hunt there all season. You have to pass a hunter’s-safety course, regardless of your age. So, there’s a little bit of hassle in hunting Avon Park, but if you want to take an Osceola turkey on some prime public hunting land that’s not overcrowded, this is your park. My second pick is Green Swamp West WMA, north of Lakeland off County Road 471.

To hunt with William Sullivan, you can write him at 2830 Blackwater Oaks Dr., Mulberry, Florida 33860, or call him at home (863) 425-6104, or on his cell at (863) 640-1395, or you can email him at

Tomorrow: Green Swamp West

Check back each day this week for more about "Osceola Turkeys with William Sullivan on the Lands of General Van Fleet"

Day 1: Hunting with the Right Stuff
Day 2: Hunting with a General
Day 3: Private Land Osceola Hunting
Day 4: Public-Land Turkey Hunting
Day 5: Green Swamp West



Entry 397, Day 4