FLORIDA TROPHY OUTFITTERS
‘YOUR DREAM TROPHY HUNT, DO IT YOUR WAY’
Written by: Ava Grace
While some folks head to Florida to beach
or for amusement parks, others in the
cooler months are hunting.
And that brings dollars to our state,
some $10 billion each year in hunting,
fishing and wildlife viewing, according to the Florida Fish
and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Hunting is also a family thing, linking dads and sons, moms
and daughters over the generations. “One can only handle
so much sand and Mickey Mouse,” says Mike Mansfield,
co-owner/operator of Florida Trophy Outfitters in
On a successful family hunt, Mansfield recalls: “We just
had a young boy, around eight years old, come on a
gator hunt with his father and uncle. Although everyone
caught a gator and had a blast doing so, the boy
harvested the largest gator that day,” he recalls, adding
that the child had whispered to guide Blaine Gibson
that he had said a prayer before bed and in the morning
that all three would get a gator and that he would get
the biggest one. “It was a prayer answered,” Mansfield
says, “and he will remember this trophy gator the rest of
his life, plus he gained a lot of confidence that morning
that will take him far.”
HOW FTO CLIENTS WANT TO
HUNT IS THEIR CHOICE.
Although many start as clients,
most FTO clients become lasting
friends who return yearly.
Every harvest at Florida Trophy Outfitters is very important to guides and clients.
The experience is about anticipation, then adrenalin and lastly the joy of accomplishment.
Most enjoyable on a family hunting trip is the learning
and doing things together. “There are no cellphones
or games required, unless you’re taking pictures of the
trophies,” says Mansfield.
Every harvest at Florida Trophy Outfitters is very
important to guides and clients. The experience is
about anticipation, then adrenalin and lastly the joy of
accomplishment, Mansfield adds.
FTO co-owner/operator John Entry adds that gator
hunts are year-round and that guides work with all
levels of hunters, men, women and kids. They also work
with bachelor parties and business/corporate events.
“We have helped newbies mount and sight-in scopes
and helped guide clients that have hunted all over the
world,” says Entry.
FTO guides are always on top of all safety measures, as safety
is key. “Before any hunt, or even if you are just an observer,
you will be required to sign a waiver which allows any/all
FTO employees the right to end any hunt if safety measures
as explained are ignored. This is not a video game. There are
no resets or start overs if a mistake is made,” says Mansfield.
When hunting gators, the guides at FTO usually travel in a
side-by-side buggy, spot and stalk the gator and then catch
it with deep sea fishing equipment. “You fight them until
we can get a shot at them,” says Mansfield who explains the
experience is like fighting a marlin in a 4-wheel drive. “It
will put a bead of sweat on your forehead.”
FTO also offers seasonal dove and duck hunting, following
the rules and regulations of the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission. Dove hunts are in millet fields,
ducks over a large flag pond or “a swamp,” says Mansfield.
In early spring, there’s Osceola turkey hunting, one of the
most sought in the American “Turkey Slam.” These birds are
found in central and south Florida, says Entry
Wild boar are hunted from a large swamp buggy, as they can
get a little testy from time to time. Dogs can locate boars as
well. FTO also offers stand hunts. How FTO clients want to
hunt is their choice. Clients call, book and the rest is taken
care of. Even if it’s a last-minute booking. Onsite lodging is
also available. Accommodations are cabins with everything
needed to make it a comfortable stay. FTO does not cook
meals, but everything needed, cooking gear and utensils, is
stocked in the cabin. Plus, there’s a firepit and gas grill. “The
town of Okeechobee is within 20 minutes of our 800-acre
hunting ranch—where there are numerous restaurants and
hotels if you choose that route,” says Entry.
“At FTO, we enjoy your experience as much as you do,” adds
Mansfield, who always encourages clients to ask questions.
“‘Your dream trophy hunt, do it your way’ is not just a
saying, we want this for you,” adds Entry.
Although many start as clients, most FTO clients become
lasting friends who return yearly. FCM
Wild boar are hunted from a large swamp buggy, as
they can get a little testy from time to time.