Last week was kind of strange for me. I was tentatively floating plans with a couple friends of mine that I met here on the forum. I had planned to hunt with jbogg, or Buckman, or both during the weekend, but nothing was set in stone. I ended up being able to go out for turkey on Friday, and covered a lot of ground. Friday night, I told Buckman that I was a weenie and didn't have the mustard to get up early again in the a.m. and cover more ground, and that I wanted to sleep in. I had found some good hog sign that day, and I wanted to act on it and maybe do an evening hunt on Saturday. Intuition regarding that hog sign was telling me we needed to hunt it. jbogg and I were tentatively planning to hunt as well, so I hit him up that night and asked him to come with me and try for a hog.
We met on Chattahoochee that afternoon, and the WMA was slammed. Tons and tons of people on the river and riding the roads. I greeted John and told him we were in "Club Chattahoochee" evidently. Shortly thereafter we set out on foot and made the long hike in to the hog woods. We generally just took our time, and stopped frequently to rest and hydrate on our way in as the weather was warm. I was feeling smoked from the long Friday on foot just the day before, so I was poking along like a tortoise.
We got to our destination by around 4:45 or sometime thereabout. The destination was a clover plot where I had found some recent hog sign the day before. There wasn't a lot of sign. In fact there was hardly any at all, but the sign that was present was recent. Despite that fact, the situation seemed right. We had clover to hunt, water nearby, and a smattering of recent sign, so I felt our chances were relatively good.
John and I made it there fairly early, so we felt it was safe enough to move around a little without attempting complete stealth. We went down to the field, and checked the wind with the "puff powder". The powder indicated that we were downwind of the field. Then we were upwind of it. Then downwind of it. Then crosswind of it. We had that faithful ol' shifting wind that proves to follow you everywhere you decide to hunt in the mountains. That blasted wind. So, John suggested we move around a bit and see if we could find a consistent wind, and that we did. We finally got a steady stream on the opposite side of the field from where we had initially been standing, and we were slightly up on a lead a bit which gave us the advantage of elevation. It was kind of like stand hunting the field. We took our time and got set up. I set up my Dead Ringer hammock seat, and John set up his hammock seat by Arrowhead Equipment Outdoors. Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you that if you have never sat in the Arrowhead Hammock Seat, you don't know what comfort is. It puts my dead ringer to shame. If you are apt to dozing while hunting, you had better not invest in one of these because your "hunts" will become "naps"!
Anyway, we got set up, and built brush blinds around us since leaf out hasn't occurred here yet, and our woods were still mostly barren like in winter. John had a holly tree sapling placed at the perfect spot to his right that shrouded his appearance even further. Being set low in his hammock seat, shrouded by the sapling, and with his leaf suit, he was literally darned near invisible from my vantage point.
On this hunt, I designated John as the primary shooter. I would only squeeze off if the opportunity presented itself. We had only been sitting about an hour when John and I heard a sound. We both looked at each other, and kind of shrugged. A few minutes later I had decided to get up and adjust my seat a little. I sat my rifle down on the ground, and looked around to make sure the coast was clear before I got up. The coast was NOT CLEAR. As I looked to my right, I saw a sizable jet-black hog making its way out of the creek bottom through the laurel, and it was headed straight for the field. Then I saw another black hog. Then another. And another. And another. And another. I turned to John as I pulled my face mask up, and pointed to the creek bottom and said "Hogs....hogs...hogs" John quickly sat upright, braced himself, and got his rifle up. I reached for my rifle. In an instant the pigs filed into the field one after another after another. Eventually we were staring at about twenty pigs feeding at the far end of the field. Most of the pigs were black, but we noticed a fat red one, and a grey one. We also saw a young boar try to sneak in some lovin', and mount a sow who wasn't having it and ran him off. The porkers were just out of our comfortable range with the smoke poles, and so we had to sit and wait and pray.
All of the sudden, a Judas pig betrayed. A medium sized pig broke out of the group, and began feeding our way. A moment later, another broke away from the group, and followed the first. Under my breath, I kept whispering "keep coming. Keep coming. Keep coming", and they did. Pig after pig began to follow suit, and soon enough the entire sounder was moving at a constant clip right at us.
The pigs finally arrived well within range, but John hadn't fired. The minutes passed, time ticked on the clock, and I had about 20 pigs in front of me at 40 yards. I kept looking at him. I was absolutely crawling out of my skin. Crawling. I needed him to pull that trigger so badly that I think I was in physical pain. haha! I thought there might have been a misunderstanding somehow and maybe he thought I was going to shoot first? I didn't know what the holdup was. And I had set my mind that I was about to shoot if it started to look like the pigs were getting nervous. There were about forty eyes, forty ears, and forty nostrils in front of us and I knew we couldn't maintain our cover for much longer. I was presently hating John, and I was about to scream.
As the pigs buzzed around, constantly moving, I kept putting my cross hairs from one pigs head to the next while trying to stay on a target. Finally, my gun had been up so long, I was shaking and could no longer maintain good aim. I decided to let the rifle down slowly, and I did.
BOOOOOOOOMMMMM!!! John's shot rang out just as soon as my rifle was in my lap, and pigs scattered. One led the group into a draw, and she looked like a quarter horse out of the gate. I singled one out, and squeezed off an eighty yard hail mary - pray to Jesus shot at a pig in full stride, and of course it didn't skip a step.
I pulled off my facemask, and John pulled his off. We turned to look at one another, and just didn't say a word for a moment. We just sat there in silence. Then in a moment we both cracked up laughing. It was just the perfect hunt. The perfect moment. We laughed, and I was like "What in the *%$!*!* were you doing over there man?! I was crawling out of my skin with that many hogs in my face!". John finally explained. He didn't just want to bust any ol' pig, but he had his sights set on the matron sow, the biggest in the group. She finally came into range, but his vantage point was different than mine. We were about ten yards apart, and he was slightly lower on the lead than me. Poplar saplings were impeding his view every time he got a broadside shot at "ol' biggin''. That's what the hold up was all about. But, lady luck blessed us, and gave him the right shot, and at that moment, he let his CVA Wolf bite.
We took a moment to pack up our gear, eat some food, hydrate, and to top off the water bottles in a nearby creek before beginning the search for blood. We were fueling up because we knew we had a long hike out. When we got in the field, John struck blood immediately right where the sow had been standing. We tracked blood all the way to the field edge. The entire herd of pigs had gone down into a draw. John and I both thought we may have heard the crash, but with twenty hogs bulldozing through the woods, who could be sure? The ground was scuffed up everywhere from the frantic herd, and we were trying to decide where the sow went. John said "I don't think I see her down there", and I said "I do! She's right down there! Shes dead!" We made our way down to her while taking in her size. This was a fat, fat girl. John did what he meant to do, and he smoked the biggest pig in the whole dang group! This thing was HUGE!
We still had good light left, so we decided to stop and take a few pictures before I set off to check for the pig I had shot at. It is a rare occasion that I get to quarter a hog in the daylight. All of my hogs have been killed immediately prior to last light, and it felt luxurious getting to work and not having to use a headlamp. John was testing his Raptor Razor knife on the hog, so he began unzipping her while I set off to verify my miss. I got back, rolled up the sleeves, and joined John working on the pork. I think that after working on this big hog, John and I both were relieved that I missed the second hog. I'm not sure how we could possibly have gotten that much meat that far out of the woods. It took us about an hour and fifteen minutes to quarter her completely. John did most of the work, and I felt like the proverbial DOT employee holding up that shovel you always hear about. I just kind of tugged the hide here and there, and held a leg if he needed it. I really didn't do much. One thing I thought was noteworthy is an observation John made while quartering. He got a complete pass through, and this was with a ML on a BIG hog. You won't often get a complete pass through on a big animal like that shooting things like Power Belts (like I do). He was shooting a 250 grain Barnes T-EZ copper solid, and that thing did what copper solids do best: crushing game. The bullet performed flawlessly, even on a big hog like this, and that is a testament to the quality and performance of that bullet. We finally got her quartered, bagged up, strapped down, and ready to go.
We set off back towards civilization toting heavy packs, and man, that felt good. On the hike out we were greeted by a whippoorwill standing sentry on the trail. We marveled about how close he let us come to him. He gave us the nod of approval, and granted us permission to pass. We went in light, and came out heavy. Such is the grandeur of hunting the deep woods and the big mountains. Hard, physical work goes into it, and nothing, ever, is a gimme. We worked hard for this one, and paid for it in sweat. I was super proud to see John make the long haul in, exercise the patience of a saint, make a surgical shot, and take home a truck load of pork. No better way to get it done, and no better company to get it done with in my book.
The hammock seat
jbogg and the tank!
Yours truly and the porcine princess.
Guardian of the gravel