Hunters’ Midden at Guana River Wildlife Management Area

I often hike one or more trail loops of the Guana River Wildlife Management Area or the GTM Research Reserve in Ponte Vedra (FL). Although the two parks adjoin, they are separate entities. The Wildlife Management Area is managed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, while GTM Research Reserve “is a collaboration between Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” (

On this particular day, I decided to hike Hammock Road, which starts at the GTM Research Reserve trailhead and goes deep into the Wildlife Management Area. My goal was to reach a viewing tower several miles in. Had I been on a bike, this would have been relatively easy. The road is wide and the dirt is hard-packed. However, it was a warm day and it was too hard to accomplish in the heat.

On the way back, I noticed a little skull along the road. I stooped down for a better look. A young pig. Interesting.

But as I stood, interest turned to horror. A few yards down a dirt path there were more bones and strips of decaying flesh. It was a midden where the discards of hunters are dumped.

For me, the sight was sobering. I know hunters may not be so affected; as far as I know they have no qualms about killing or witnessing life ebb from another living being. Those who farm livestock may also feel unaffected, since there are often sites on ranches where the dead are piled. But for those who appreciate life in all of its forms, the callousness was unsettling.

I’ll stop typing here, and share what I saw. Respond as you will.

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Published by cafsamsel

Carol Fullerton-Samsel is a nearly-native Floridian who lives with her husband of 25 years and three rescue animals. She has a passion for day-hiking and nature, and also enjoys writing. Be sure to visit the TenPaths YouTube channel, which is still in its infancy.

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