Jumper Creek Management Area is Not for Sissies!
By: Kenny Gasaway
If you are not afraid of snakes, gators, ghosts, monster boar hogs, quicksand, or getting lost, you might like hunting Jumper Creek Management Area.
If you enjoy being eaten alive by mosquitoes, wading through thick swamps, and walking into webs with spiders the size of your hand, you will love this place!
If you do not mind hunting for days without seeing a deer, then you can tolerate Jumper Creek.
Finally, when you do bag a buck or hog in this God forsaken place, if you are man enough to get it to the truck; you are a better man than most!
Jumper Creek, located in Sumter County near the City of Lake Panasoffkee has the terrain and personality that grows monster bucks and trophy hogs. It is bordered by the Withlacoochee River, and split by Jumper Creek and other sloughs, all of which are bordered with saw grass and willow marshes that are several hundred feet wide which can hamper one’s ability to find dry ground if accessed by boat.
As I stated, it is not for the meek, but it is best suited for those rugged individuals who are tough as nails and don’t mind a challenge. I have hunted entire seasons there and never encountered another hunter.
Most of the area is a mixture of water oak, various types of gum, elm, iron wood and cypress. Many small live oak islands are dotted throughout, with a few being as large as several acres.
My best Florida buck was taken there, as was my best archery hog. I killed both when I was younger, and in places where I shudder to dream of going today!
Many bucks that would easily make the Florida buck registry have been taken in Jumper, but not recorded. Many of the grizzled lots that challenge its bowls are not interested in recognition. Others do not want to “advertise” it’s potential.
Since the area has such a heavy canopy, a GPS is only about 50% effective, and the few roads are more like dim trails that wind and turn, and seem to change direction about every 100 yards.
Retired Wildlife Officer Ken Hensley stated that more people get lost in Jumper Creek than any other place in our tri-county area.
There are so many soft bottom bogs and sloughs, even using a compass to travel a straight line might get you stuck in the mud, leaving you helpless and possibly stranded for days staring cotton mouths right in the eyes!
There are a lot of folks who hunt there early in the season, and most of them enter the area at the Bear Island self check station. Many seem to hunt pretty close to their trucks, or at least they stay on the main roads. Others will stray a little deeper, leaving florescent ribbons of various colors as markers, causing the area to resemble the aftermath of a child’s birthday party.
The brave few who venture to its belly are those who are bringing home trophy bucks and big hogs. In their honey holes, there will be no ribbons. There will be only the ghosts of the Native Americans who constructed the hidden mounds that dot the area, (the area was named after Seminole Chief Jumper who took part in the Dade massacre) the hanging moss from live oaks with diameters exceeding 8 feet, and the giant virgin cypress on its edges that were too big to log when the timber companies invaded it in the early 1900’s.
This is the real Florida most will never see.
I am glad I have seen these places, and I really want to emphasize the “have” part in the past tense!
Jumper Creek hunters are required to have a quota permit for the black powder season and the first nine days of gun season, both which have now passed. No quota permit was, nor ever has been required for the buck only archery season.
No quota permits are required from November 16th to the 9th of January.
ATV’s are not allowed, as this is a walk in area with designated parking spots, save the river access where boats can be used. (Airboats are not allowed on Jumper Creek; only the Withlacoochee access allows them.)
The rut seems to be from mid-December to the end of the season and beyond.
There are no antler restrictions other than the 5 inch spike rule, but in an area like this none is needed in order to find a quality buck.
I went by the Bear Island check station today, and saw that six bucks have been taken so far, and the same amount of hogs. It appeared that in that 5-day period, only 17 different hunters participated, so the kill ratio was not that bad.
I do not know what was taken from the River or the Power Line check points, but the Bear Island point is usually a good indication of what is going on in this 10,000 acre wilderness.
If you are young and tough, now is the time to try Jumper Creek. If you are older and “think” you are tough, take my advice and find somewhere else to hunt!