Note: This is part of a series. You can read part one here. 

The next morning, bright and early, we fetched up at the spread where we were booked in for boar hunting. Waiting for us were two good ol’ boys: Eric, the ranch owner, and Orlando, who would be acting as our guide.

Over coffee in Eric’s den, we shot the shit about this and that as we got to know each other. We explained why we were there and gave a little bit about my background. As is always the case when I mention I was in the military to anyone in the U.S., I was touched by the warmth and respect they showed me.

It turned out that Eric and Orlando were Cuban Americans. Both of their families had fled the island when Castro had taken over. Eric had come straight to Florida, while Orlando had arrived following a spell in upstate New York.

Once I knew I was going out into the field with Orlando, I pressed him a little bit more to find out what sort of bloke he was. He had a pretty interesting story to tell. He’d left school at “around 15” and decided that the outdoors would be his life from then on. He spent most of his teenage years out in the Everglades tracking down hogs—not just killing them, but catching them and selling them on. Hog hunting is big business in Florida, and it was a good way to make some real money.

Toward the end of his teens, he had moved onto a Seminole Indian reservation. The Seminole had been a fearsome bunch of warriors and fought three wars against the U.S. in the 19th century. Even though the war parties were at most around a thousand men at any one time, they had given the cavalry boys in blue a hard time. Even when they had finally been beaten by sheer force of arms and superior firepower, they maintained their dignity. To this day, the Seminole are the only tribe not to have signed a peace treaty with the U.S. government.

It was while he was with this tribe that Orlando had really learned his trade—not only tracking animals, but also working with some of the most venomous snakes on the planet.

“But do you know the one thing they taught me real good, Phil?”