This past weekend was going to be spent indoors catching up on housework, working on our calendar and completing some writings to be uploaded. That didn’t happen, although I am not complaining. I did get some work done at home and the other half of our weekend was spent hog hunting.
We got up early on Saturday morning and pulled together some gear to set up a blind on a popular hog wallow. We loaded Hank up and were on the way to Barbour County. It was already 80 degrees out and very humid. When we got to the wallow, it was clear that the hogs had been in it earlier that morning–there were fresh tracks every where, the mud was churned up and the side bank was still wet.
We had the blind set-up and was out of there rather quickly. We had plans to return around 5 p.m. to sit until just after dark. We rode around the outskirts of the corn and it was astonishing to see the destruction these hogs had done to the corn field in just a mere two weeks.
I now understood the depth of importance in depredation permits. I needed to let this fact outweigh the thought in my mind and heart and know the importance of killing the young hogs too. Could I do this? I have that strong self-assuring ethical bond that if it is something I will consume, I am alright with shooting it. However, the smaller swine do not always make it to the table because of the destruction that a rifle does to it. Could I live with that? I would have to dig deep and make that split second decision when the time came.
I spent some time at the house catching up on some writing and before long it was time for us to head to the blind. Richard had the camera and I had my rifle and we set out on Hank to the blind. On our ride in we caught a glimpse of a 40-50 pound hog that shot into the woods. There was no chance of even taking a shot at that hog.
As we started around the corner to the area that the blind was set up, I motioned to Richard to stop because I heard rustling leaves. I would have never been able to hear that if we were on a four-wheeler or in a truck–for this, I was thankful for electric motors and for Hank the HuntVe. As we approached the irrigation pond two 20 pounders took off for the woods and as I looked at Richard and mouthed that we were going to have a good sit in the blind, three little piglets took off on the same trail that the previous hogs just took. Again, this happened so fast that we never had a chance to raise the camera or the rifle.
We made it to the blind without seeing another hog and we were settled in for a 3-4 hour hunt. Richard was not too thrilled about being limited to what he could see and I would have to guess that hog hunting does not rank high on his list since he doesn’t even care to tote a gun with him on these hunts. But he was kind enough to come along for the hunt and bring the video camera. Heck, he was even the one who set the blind up.
I was ready and waiting for a hog to come into the wallow, but unfortunately that never happened. It was so hot in the blind that we were both thankful that we wore our NQ shirts by THY keeping us dry and cool. We came out of the blind at dark and were back in the truck headed home. We made plans to come back in the morning.
Morning came and we both had decided to sleep in and make another attempt at an afternoon hunt. It started raining around noon and didn’t let up much most of the afternoon. It should have been perfect weather for hog hunting in the late afternoon with the ground wet and the temperatures a little lower than the previous day.
We decided that we would stay on the main road around the cornfields and try to catch the hogs headed into the fields at dusk. As we were sitting there set up on the area with the most used trails, I happen to be looking behind me when I saw three smaller hogs come through the fence and run across the road into the cornfield. Richard had just turned around in time to see them and was booting up the video camera–but they were gone in a flash.
We sat there another 45 minutes when we started hearing growling and chomping in the corn. The corn was way to high and the rows were way too close for me to feel comfortable walking out in the corn to hunt a hog–especially the certain hog we were hunting. This boar hog had to be pushing 350-400 pounds easy. His tracks look like cow hooves. I have been known to be brave in the past but NO WAY was I going to walk blindly in that corn with that eerie noise I was hearing.
We caught a glimpse of the three smaller hogs we had seen earlier but were unable to get a good enough glimpse of them to make an ethical shot so they darted deep into the corn when they saw us on the fence line.
We were about to move when I caught a glimpse of a nice size hog come through the fence about 90 yards in front of us. I tapped Richard’s leg and said, “That’s a shooter.” I quickly raised my rifle and as I did the hog slid quickly back under the second rung of barbed-wire. Shucks!! Dag-nabbit!! Richard said, “It will come back out. It wasn’t spooked by us.”
I sat there a second and Richard had switched the video camera on standby. All of the sudden it appeared again. I said to Richard, “Get ready.”
The hog was now out from under the fence and walking straight toward us.
Are you ready? I asked.
I heard Richard say, “Wait a minute.”
Not sure that he meant wait a minute because the hog was walking straight toward us or that the camera wasn’t ready, I asked again, “Are YOU ready?”
I said, “When it turns broadside I am taking the shot. I hope you are ready.”
Safety off. Crosshairs locked in. Finger in the trigger guard lightly touching my trigger. Waiting for that broadside step….
One more time, I asked are you ready?
I thought to myself “I am taking the shot.” The hog turned broadside. There it was. My cue to take the shot.
Instantaneously I saw it. Something in the ankle-high grass. A distinctive movement. I was nearly committed to make the shot and everything inside of me screamed, “WAIT!!!!!!” I got chills.
There, right under that sow were piglets. Not just 2 or 3. About 8-10 little piglets. They were no bigger than about a pound and half each and maybe 5-6″ tall. All I could make out was movement in the grass at first, then I seen the top line of one through my scope. The sow stepped into a sandy rut in the road and I could then see the entire brood. All black, closely together and nearly right under the sows feet.
I put the gun on safety and quickly said to Richard, “I’m sorry. I can’t shoot her.” He said, “Yeah. That is all right.”
I just didn’t have it in me at the moment of truth to take that sow out of the population knowing that the piglets would die horribly. If they were older, maybe, just maybe I might have been able to take that shot. But everything inside of me screamed to stop in a second’s notice as soon as my mind computed that there were teeny-tiny young piglets that were nowhere near the weaning stage. I couldn’t have that on my conscience. I am a hunter but I also have to live with every shot that I take and I pride myself on being an ethical hunter…ethics and standards I set for myself that I know I can live with. I was good with my decision.
We slowly rode around the outskirts of the cornfield looking at fresh tracks and making plans for some great spots to set-up at during the week. Maybe we will have the opportunity to see a couple of those big hogs that we have seen tracks of. I know we have to save one for Amber Markley who has dubbed one of them Blackie. One she has staked claim on. I hope she has that chance in August when we have another Ladies Hog Hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors in hopes that the crops will be harvested and the hogs easier to see in the fields.