Gone Fishin' and Huntin' ~ exploring some of South Florida's Hidden Hotspots
If the kids are going, then I'm going! How I said yes to fishing and hunting and found out there's a lot more to it than I thought.
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My husband Andrew is an outdoorsman.
He grew up in Louisiana, a true sportsman’s paradise. Over the winter break, he showed the rest of us in our little Hunter Party of 5 some of what South Florida has to offer in that department too.
Andrew lined up two outdoor adventure trips to take the kids and secretly hoped I would want to come along. I admittedly dragged my feet at first, but later jumped onboard the family train and I am very glad I did.
The first adventure Andrew set up was a private fishing charter with Captain Chris Agardy and his team from Fish Envy Charters. Andrew actually found Captain Chris through a random Google search several years ago. Turns out, Chris and I went to elementary school together back in the day. So a random Google search turned into a fantastic fishing contact who happens to be an amazing local fisherman.
Captain Chris masters inshore and offshore fishing, regularly wins local tournaments and is one of the most booked charter captains in Palm Beach County. Like my kids, he has been fishing these South Florida waters since he was 4 years old.
On this day we chose to explore the Intracoastal Waterway due to rough ocean waters. We departed from the Boynton Beach marina and set out to find the fish!
As we passed Two Georges Waterfront Restaurant, I had flashbacks to boat rides and lunches there with my dad, a retired Navy captain. My father was never one to fish – he is a ‘ball’ sport kind of guy – but he loves to hear fishing stories and enjoys the fish Andrew and the kids bring home.
Captains Chris, Jeff and Jake navigated the waters and hunted for hidden hotspots in the pockets of the Intracoastal. Maya, Clay and Cody got many turns reeling in the fish and caught snapper and jack crevalle.
Thanks to the charter, Andrew was able to enjoy the fishing experience with the kiddos rather than worrying about hooks, rods and bait... not that all of those things bother him! Meantime, I was able to enjoy my coffee, annoy my husband and kids with sunblock applications and sun hat reminders, and truly sit back and enjoy the ride.
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A few days later… we put aside our flip flops, packed our boots and took the kids out to the country.
Just up the road in Okeechobee sits Florida Hunting, Fishing & Outdoor Adventures at Oak Island Ranch.
Andrew actually discovered the place via their billboard advertisement along I-95. He is not one to hesitate and a trip was planned.
So here we were, driving to Okeechobee (where I’ve only been to report on orange trees) with our Pokemon cards and LOL dolls in tow.
Soon after stopping to save a large turtle from crossing the road, we approached the #floridahuntingadventures gate. One of the owners came buzzing down the dirt road in a golf cart to greet us. Her name was Susan and you could tell right away she was a good egg. She asked if the kids would want to ride back to the camp with her and all three raised their hands. Along the way, Susan pointed things out to the kids - explaining the sights and sounds of the preserve - and at that point, I knew that this would be a fun trip.
Husband and wife team, Susan and Ian Hall, run this working cattle ranch that specializes in combination adventures in some of the finest whitetail deer and exotic animal hunts in Florida. They operate the 1800-acre preserve, the hunts, the lodge, the meals, the works.
It didn’t take us long to hop into Ian’s swamp buggie and head out on our first adventure.
We visited the quail in the barn and cows in the field, fed horses, spotted birds, watched alligators sunbathe and deer and antelope jump...
...and then we even harvested a wild hog. Well, we didn’t harvest the hog. We let Andrew take care of that job.
We explained to the kids that this is how people first gathered food. That years ago, there were no grocery stores lined with carefully packaged meat, fish, vegetables and fruit. Men, women and children had to hunt.
But this trip turned out to be about much more than the hunt. It was chance for our family to be together in a rather random yet beautiful spot. It was a chance for me to see why my husband enjoys hunting, embraces its roots and often shares the following philosophy:
"I hunt because of the peace of mind that comes from maintaining an interactive relationship with nature. I hunt to show my children that there are practical benefits to hands-on self-sufficiency. I hunt because I enjoy it. And I hunt because a meal you struggled to produce tastes better than a meal that someone else struggled to produce" - Steve Rinella, author, hunter, and creator of The Meat Eater
Country superstar Luke Bryan sings about Huntin’ and Fishin’ and Lovin’ Everyday for a reason. Now I may be a little closer to understanding why… even if I’m still happiest just being along for the ride.
Disclaimer: All views expressed on this site are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity whatsoever with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated.