It didn’t take me a minute to fall asleep Saturday evening and it didn’t seem like I was asleep for a minute when Crackie went to singing the morning song to “GET UP”. I rolled over and asked Richard, “You going hunting?” He said “Yeah, grab me some breakfast while your in the kitchen.” I thought to myself I was glad he was going because we planned to walk in the majority of the way in to keep from pushing anything out with the ATV motor.
I dressed quickly with what I had laid out the night before then quickly went out the door; looking across the drive to make sure Daphne’s camper light was on. Good, it was! I went into the camp house and grabbed some snacks for the backpack and poured two glasses of orange juice and two breakfast pastries. I pushed the “ON” button on the coffee pot per Tommie Lea’s instructions. Bubba was the only one sleeping in the main room; fast asleep in his recliner with an empty candy bar wrapper nestled on the arm of the chair. Uh-huh, late night snacking…or maybe sleep walking since the candy bars were only 4 feet away from him in a box.
When I opened the door to go out Daphne was coming in for her morning coffee. Richard was just about dressed and ready to go. I stuffed the snacks in the backpack, grabbed my rifle and was standing at the picnic table when Daphne came out and we all finished our breakfast. We grabbed our gear and jumped on the ATV and was headed down the driveway with me in the dump bucket and Daphne behind Richard. Even though I had the best seat for blocking the wind, the wind was bone chilling…I was kind of glad that we were going to walk most of the way in. I thought it was kind of comical that in March 2 years ago on an early Sunday morning, I was riding behind Daphne’s husband, Johnnie on our way into the hills of North Georgia to turkey hunt. I won’t never forget it because it was the first time I had ever rode an ATV in the freezing cold thinking what kind of person does this? Oh yeah, a hunter, I remember now!!
We parked the ATV at the edge of a greenfield and walked in dropping Daphne off at her stand along the way. When we got to our stand, instead of Richard sitting up in the cameraman’s stand, he sat down in the double stand with me. No need to sit in the cameraman stand since we had decided not to bring the camera since it would be too dark to film. Learning from this experience, we won’t leave it behind on our next trip to the woods.
We were in the stand and settled by 3:00 a.m. We both took turns nodding off and listening–you sure didn’t have to worry about looking because it was pitch black in those swamps. After about an hour I noticed that the moon beams did kind of help you see shadows of things, stumps and the reflection on the water. It was peaceful except for the lull of frogs every now and again. We didn’t hear any movement from any type of critters.
At 4:01 a.m. I got a text message:
Daphne: I hear some! Moon helps illuminate ground!
Nancy Jo: I hope they come out. We haven’t heard anything yet.
Nancy Jo: Well except Richard’s snoring, LOL
I was thinking any time I would hear a shot…and hoping. I told Richard on my way in that I really wished Daphne could shoot her one this morning since she has been hearing them in her area.
Richard was still dozing when I heard rustling of leaves over my left shoulder. I took my elbow and nudged him. I didn’t feel him respond so I put my hand on his leg and squeezed and nudged him again with my elbow and he slowly turned his head toward me. I pointed over my shoulder and he canted his head to listen. There it was again. He looked at me and at the same time more rustling and he nodded his head. I reached over for my gun and he whispered, just wait. So I just sat and listened as the sound kept getting closer. At one point the sound stopped directly to the left of me and then it stayed there making a smacking sound along with a few leaves rustling.
I whispered to Richard, can we shoot it over there. And he shook his head and said “too thick…just wait.” I asked him if he had the light out and he said “just wait!” The sound moved to our 10:00 o’clock position and I looked at Richard and said “now should I get my gun” and he shook his head yes. I quietly picked my gun up off the top rail, sat the butt of the gun in my lap and left the barrel resting on the rail. The sound seemed to stay there. I asked, can we shine the light there. He said with a nod and little more impatiently “JUST WAIT!”
Okay, I think Richard was trying to tell me to wait…you reckon? EVERY nerve in my body was screaming SHINE THE LIGHT ON IT ALREADY, YOU HEAR!! But I knew I was getting impatient and trusted Richard’s judgment. We heard a few little water trickling sounds as it walked through a low muddy area in the creek. It was now in our 11:00 o’clock position. I looked at Richard, but didn’t say a word–but he still said “WAIT”! This was definitely all new to me…and I mean to tell you hearing it right there in front of you and not seeing it is tough to sit through with a .270 sitting in your lap.
Richard said raise your gun and get ready. I did. I rested it on my hand that was on the top rail and shouldered it and checked my pull. I took the safety off and looked at Richard. He asked “You see it?” I looked out in front in the beams of moonlight that streamed down between tree branches and didn’t see what he was pointing at. Then he pointed where I had seen a dark spot earlier that I knew was already there. And I shook my head and said that was already there. He said “no, beside it and between those two trees.” I looked again….I SAW IT. I SAW IT MOVE. IT REALLY WAS THERE!! Now my heart leapt and I felt my heartbeat soak up my neck and into my ears. I had to take a big breath becasue I think I was holding my breath from the point I saw the black blob between the trees until my mind and heart got back in rythm.
He asked “You ready?” I put my cheek on the butt plate and positioned the scope ring over the spot.
I said “READY”.
He asked “Are you sure?”
I said “Yes”.
He turned on the light and the woods lit up. I quickly moved my cross hairs on the hogs head because he was facing me straight on. I just froze for a second. The hog raised his head a little and tilted it as if it were blinded. Then it took a slow step backwards with its left front leg, followed by the other. In that split second I remember thinking how spooky that looked and the hog looked charcoal gray with fog from the creek rising in front of me. I whispered, I can shoot him in the head-I am dead center. But I didn’t get an answer because Richard never heard me. Then Richard whispered wait for him to turn.
The hog stepped back and started to roll on his haunches to the left. I made sure to keep my crosshairs at the right level. As soon as the roll was complete and he made one step, I shot! He lurched forward and I remember seeing his hind quarters as he made a sharp turn to the left and ran out of sight. I brought the rifle down to bolt another round and Richard grabbed at my hand and said Shhhhh! I stopped and just as I did I heard a lot of rustling of leaves, then a lull, then another burst of rustling. It sounded just like 5 hogs were running up the embankment. Then we heard nothing. Richard motioned for me to be quiet.
Then he asked “Do you feel like you had the gun on him?”
I said “Yeah, I had the cross hairs right on him”.
He said “Are you sure?”
I said “Yeah, I am sure.”
Starting to get a little confused as to why he kept asking. I played it through my head. “Yeah, I know I did,” I told Richard.
He said “Now we have to wait until it gets light. Bolt another one.”
I said “Woo Hoo, I got my hog and held my fist up for a punch and he tapped it back.”
After I put the gun back on the rail I started shaking. I asked Richard, “Is it getting colder?” He laughed and said “No.” I kept shaking and getting chilled; it was kind of comical. The “not knowing” is the worst part. Always a fear of wounding something plays in your mind.
Crackie buzzed and I could hardly hold it I was shaking so bad…
4:52 Daphne: Well?
With a little difficulty I typed back…
Nancy Jo: Took a shot at a nasty narly black one. Hope I connected. This spot light shooting is tough!
Daphne: How far was it?
Nancy Jo: 15 yards
Daphne: Wow that is close!
Nancy Jo: I hope I made a good shot. We heard a crash…now a long time until daylight.
That was absolutely the longest wait. I think I shook for about 20 minutes longer before I finally quit. Everything kept playing over in my head. Then I started thinking…it didn’t squeal when I shot it. I said to Richard, “It didn’t squeal when I shot it.” He explained to me that being a single hog it was more than likely a boar and boars will not usual squeal. Okay, that made the doubt leave for a little bit. Man, the WAIT was absolutely killing me. Finally, when it was light enough to be gray,and still a dim gray, Richard looked at me and said are you ready…I know you are dying to get down. I said “Yeah” and jumped up. I grabbed my backpack shouldered my gun and descended down the ladder after Richard. Richard made the comment on the ground the we should have brought the camera. Lesson learned and mental note taken.
I left my backpack at the base of the tree and took my gun. I made it across the creek. When I got where I shot him at I didn’t find blood but Richard was already headed in the direction that he heard the big rustling sound. I followed behind him. He was about 10 yards in front of me when he said something inaudible and turned around and looked at me. I asked “Did you find him…do you see him?” all in one breath. He said “He is right there.” I looked where he was pointing and didn’t see him so I hurried over toward the direction Richard was pointing and then I saw him in a rancid black mud puddle. He blended in perfectly and if you were not looking hard for him you would have not even seen him.
I let out a “Yes!” and pumped the air!! I hugged Richard and told him “Thanks!” I know if it were not for Richard being in the stand with me, I would have not had the opportunity to shoot that hog. I was way too impatient and would have turned the light on when I first heard the sound. If I could have talked myself out of turning it on then, I would have definitely turned it on when it was in our 10:00 or 11:00 o’clock position which were entirely too thick to shoot through. Trusting his patience and waiting until the hog was in sight is what helped harvest that hog. I don’t know if I could have had that patience if I were sitting there alone–that experience may have taught me a lesson.
The hog was laying in a rancid mud hole of still water and his hair from between his ears to the top of his flank was standing straight up. He was a mean looking hog. Richard pulled him up out of the mud hole onto the small bank. Perfect shot and exactly where I had my crosshairs; even after playing it over and over in my head on the long wait until daylight. We took a couple pictures with Crackie and I quickly sent them to a few friends that had been rooting for me to kill a hog on this trip. We walked back to the stand and I sent a text message to Daphne to see if she was ready. She said she was ready and would meet us at the road.
We walked back to the ATV talking about this mornings hunt and other hunting stories. When we got to the ATV we headed back to deer camp. I had sent a text message to Chris earlier to see if they were in the woods and to tell them that the hogs were moving because Daphne heard some and I shot at one. So when we got back to camp some of the folks already knew that I had taken a shot at one. There was a round of high-fives and hoop hollering.
We waited until the last two hunters were ready to be picked up and we were going to retrieve the hog on the way back. When we got back we took pictures and group photos and everyone started packing up and getting ready for the trip home. I hated that the weekend was coming to an end because I was having a wonderful time with these ladies, guides and host.