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Mister and I attended the QDMA Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana last week and, as usual, took in all the knowledge we could from the seminars, enjoyed seeing friends, and dined on some great Cajun cuisine. The QDMA Convention was intertwined with the Louisiana Sportsman Show being held at the Dome.

Friday we visited the expo before the floor got busy with attendees. We found a few products to field test and a few to take to the field with us this fall, the Chameleon Blind, Texas Wildlife Feeders, and the new Sitka Gear ladies line. It was nice to walk around the expo before it got too busy, however…it also was the perfect environment to have had “too” much time to stop and ponder on a big purchase.

As we walked our first isle and took a turn, there it was, in all its GLORY!! It was like a beacon was shining down on it. It was at that moment that it “spoke” to me. Yep, loud and clear…while every noise in that huge dome went silent, it was like French horns and harps played softly in the back ground as the glimmer on the “Metallic Titanium” danced like fairy dust in the air. I was speechless….only for a moment, of course.

1Right there on the corner, sat a 2017 Kawasaki Mule Pro-FX Ranch Edition and I felt like I just had to have it. It was begging to be named, to come live in Alabama, and join the ranks of our adventures. I could have sworn it blinked its LED lights slightly, just enough for me to notice, like Herbie the Love Bug did in the movie. Did it…wait, what, did it just….? It was almost like it cast a spell on me–pleading to take Hank the HuntVe’s place in the shop.

Hank the HuntVe……OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASkreeeeechhhh…. HANK the HUNTVE! Aw man, bittersweet. The memories this cart has shared over the years. The hunts we have shared together with so many riding around on Hank the HuntVe. The wildlife we have snuck up on in Hank. The turkey that we closed the distance on without those wise birds ever knowing we were hunting those woods. Could it be it was time to part ways with Hank the HuntVe…upgrade to more of a workhorse?

101_0467Could it be it was time to part ways with Hank the HuntVe…upgrade to more of a workhorse? This new cart was a WORK HORSE…what a bed it had on it. The salesman told us we could put 1,100 pounds of feed sacks in the bed of it…ELEVEN HUNDRED POUNDS!! It has a sealed stash box! Two cup holders! Still pretty plain from others that sported stereos, speakers, and tons of other features we wouldn’t need for farming and hunting. I sat on the seat…the passenger seat of course…WOW! I could have sworn it already had my butt indentions memorized. I even heard it whisper its name to me…more on that later.


But, as excited as I was about the possibility of getting a new work horse….there was Hank….Hank the HuntVe. So, as I sit here thinking about advertising and parting ways with Hank the HuntVe and as we discuss its history with a new possible buyer, a flood of emotions, memories, and many miles of woods across the nation run through my mind. And, although it is not a done deal and we haven’t signed on the dotted line, my thoughts swirl as I say under my breath, “IT HAS BEEN A FUN RIDE, HANK….”





We found a plethora of new products on the ATA 2016 showroom floor and are excited about taking many of these to the field with us and publishing product reviews in the coming months. Which products will you be putting on your “WISH LIST” for this fall? There are so many great products to choose from. Click on the links below to see what we found of interest…there were many that we have yet to mention.

New Products at ATA, Part 1

New Products at ATA, Part 2


The Archery Trade Association Show is always an exciting show to attend for the media. We get a first-hand look at some of the years new releases in the archery/bowhunting world. This year was no different. I found everything from new crossbow cases, technology, electronics, hunting clothes, scent destroyers…you name it, it was there on the show floor.

I had so many favorites that I found and have many of those promised for future product reviews that I cannot wait to share with you. Some of these products will not release until late spring…and the anticipation is killing me. I will be sharing any published works right here on my blog in the coming months.

A sneak peek of a few of the items I will be sharing:

C280-Front-500x500The Lakewood Products Drop-In Crossbow Case is going to replace the humongous and somewhat cumbersome crossbow case that I currently own. The Drop-In Crossbow Case is a convenient, top-loading, stand-up design case that conveniently fits when packing. The soft-sided hard case offers maximum protection to your crossbow with designated areas for a loaded quiver and 18 additional bolts. The case measures 11.5″D x 37″L x 26.25″H and incorporates built-in wheels for easy transportation. This case is airline approved with zipper tabs that allow for a lock for secure travel. Made in USA with a Lifetime Guarantee. The case has an MSRP starting at $299.

ironMan14I hunted with a crossbow this season because of a shoulder issue and found it somewhat troublesome in un-cocking the bow each evening after the day’s hunt. Having to travel with our practice target in the back of the truck, unloading it to un-cock my crossbow, loading it back up for the next day. My problem is solved with the BIGShot Targets Iron Man 14. The Iron Man 14 measures 14″ X 14″ X 8″ and weighs 14 pounds. The triple compressed military fiber and ever-last nylon target face is rated at 450 fps for crossbows.  The Iron Man 14 is perfect for travel when a practice shot is critical in making sure your crossbow is still on and to discharge your bolt at the end of the hunt. The BIGShot Targets Iron Man 14 has an MSRP of $34.99.

Muck Boots ArcticThe new Muck Boot Company Ladies Arctic Hunter boot in Realtree Xtra definitely was of interest to me because of the issue that most women complain about not having enough calf room once they tuck their pant leg in during wet terrain or rainy conditions. The mid-calf design makes it possible to comfortably tuck in pant legs while hunting. As with all Muck Boot Company boots, the product is made quality materials and designed with the outdoor enthusiast in mind. The Arctic Hunter has an extended rubber exterior for durability in the field and 5mm of neoprene lined with warm fleece. The boot incorporates a dual density EVA midsole and slip-resistant rugged outsole for a comfortable and secure fit. The boot has a 10″ height with a back pull-on tab. For the ladies that don’t like pink on their camo, the Muck Boot Company Arctic Hunter only has a slight splash of pink on it.

Cirrus Hunt Vape TechnologiesThe trend of using electronics in the field is ever growing and it was evident by many of the new products I found on the showroom floor. One that got a lot of attention and was unique in its own nature is the Cirrus Hunt Vape Technologies Wind Indicator. The patent pending design detects the slightest wind or thermal currents with an easy to operate, one push, to expel a puff true vapor into the air. The small, lightweight unit requires a minimal amount of movement to operate and replacement cartridges are available. The unit is USB rechargeable and one cartridge holds thousands of puffs. This product will not be available on the market until later this quarter and an MRSP was unavailable at the time of this writing. Watch the video below to see how the Cirrus Wind Indicator works and to find out more information about this product.

Another vape product that was getting a lot of attention is the WyndScent Electronic Vapor Hunting Scent . Check out the informative video below for all the information and features of this product. This is a product I am looking forward to taking to the field with me next fall.

There were so many fantastic and useful products that I found and many that I will be writing about in the coming months as some of them release or as I am able to field test the products personally. Stay tuned to my blog for publication announcements and information about these great products and a plethora of other great products released at #ATA2016.

All photos and video are the property of the rightful owner and used within this writing as reference only in efforts of product exposure for these owners/companies.  Per the guidelines of the Federal Trade Commission, the products reviewed in this published material is an endorsement and the writer may have been compensated by “in-kind” or monetary payment to review the product. 


Ladies Eastern guided turkey hunt and hog hog hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors, Clio, Barbour County, Alabama, April 6-8, 2012. Just $650 which includes the guide, 1 bird, unlimited hog, lodging and meals. Limited to 4 women. This hunt will book fast, reserve your spot today.

Ladies in Camo Guided Turkey & Hog Hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors, AL, April 6-8, 2012

By popular demand, this is the first co-ed hunt offered by Ladies in Camo. This hunt will give the “other halves” the opportunity to share the fun of these fun hog hunts. It will also give all those that have requested to have a cameraman along the opportunity to film your hunt.

This hunt is an awesome opportunity for you to enjoy a weekend hog hunting with other couples sharing the same interest at a nice lodge in beautiful southeast Alabama all for a fantastic discounted price. This hunt will be for a maximum of 6 couples and will fill quickly, so book your hunt early. You will be hunting hogs on 3,000 acres of agricultural land, pine plantations and river bottoms. No harvest limits or size restrictions. All box and tree stands are already placed in prime hunting spots. The weapon will be hunter’s choice. This will not be a night hunt-however, a management hunt will be offered at a later date.

February 25-26, 2012
Arrive on Friday afternoon/evening, hunt Saturday and Sunday and depart on Sunday evening/Monday morning.
NOTE: Additional days of hunting are available with this outfitter at an additional cost. This would be a great opportunity for you to take advantage of the discounted rate.

Rack Nine Outdoors
Terry Garrett
See YouTube Videos:
Rack Nine Outdoors

Clio, Alabama in Barbour County. Email me for a link to a map if you would like to see the property.

The outfitter has extremely discounted the price of this hunt. The fee for this hunt is $500.00 per couple ($250 per hunter); which includes lodging, meals, and transportation to and from your stand. This hunt is limited to 6 couples so reserve your spot early. Skinning and quartering of hogs to place in your cooler is included. Meals will include dinner on Friday night and continental breakfast and 2 meals on Saturday and Sunday. Non-alcoholic beverages will also be available at all times during the hunt.

The required license:
3-day Non-Resident Small Game License $40.00
License can be purchased online

Equipment needed:
THERMOCELL (Bring this just in case)
Firearm and Ammo/Bow and arrows
Safety Harness
Camo clothing that you can layer
Rain wear and gear
Personal toiletries (towels and wash cloths will be supplied)
Cooler to take your harvest home in

To reserve your spot, or if you have any questions, email me at A 50% non-refundable/non-transferable deposit is required within 10 days of booking your hunt.

The Ladies in Camo rifle hunt with Rack Nine Outdoors brought ladies from Pennsylvania, Missouri, Indiana, Tennessee, North and South Alabama. Nine women participated in this hunt and four were successful at harvesting, another hunter took a shot at a wonderful 8-point and everyone saw deer, coyote, bobcats and/or feral hogs.

This hunt started off with a successful harvest within the first few hours of daylight….you can’t ask for better hunting than that. The fellowship was priceless, the food was divine and the lodging was cozy and comfortable. Terry Garrett and Doug Dressler were amazing in making this a memorable hunt for these ladies. We had a wonderful bonfire Saturday night and spent time sharing stories and laughs while sitting around it…we even attempted to sing a few songs. Talking Carl on Michelle’s iPhone definitely did a better job at signing…

Diane Hassinger harvested a nice buck on her first morning and went on to harvest a 130 pound sow her second day in the field; you can find her amazing and inspiring story, with photos, in my blog at

Jeanne Peebles harvested a big mature doe, dropping her in her tracks. Jeanne had several wonderful hunts in the shooting house she was in, getting to watch deer frolic in a water hole and several deer that came through her field. Hopefully she will write a guest post with some of her photos in the near future.

Jeanne Peebles with her big mature doe harvest. What a great shot...dropped her where she stood. Photo Credit: Terry Garrett, Rack Nine Outdoors

Amber Markley, our youngest huntress shot a doe on Sunday morning making a perfect shot at 248 yards…fantastic!! Just like her Mother, Shannon Markley, a dead-eye. Kudos to Shannon for raising Amber in the outdoors and mentoring her. Amber is accomplished beyond her years in the sport of hunting and we are so proud to have her on our hunts.

Amber Markley, the youngest huntress in the group, shot this mature doe at 240+ yards. Photo Credit: Terry Garrett, Rack Nine Outdoors

Jennifer McKinney had a nice 8 point visit on her Friday hunt, but was unable to make a successful shot. That happens in the sport of hunting and we all hoped that the buck would return and Jennifer would get another opportunity; but it didn’t happen.

Michelle Harmes was fortunate to see a small bobcat at her stand. She, however, was not lucky enough to harvest a doe or buck on this hunt. Hopefully Michelle will share her hunt with you through another guest post here on my blog.

Pat Hendrixson from Indiana had some does and a few young bucks visit her stand on this hunt but did not have a shot opportunity at anything she wanted to harvest. I was hoping that Pat would have the opportunity to harvest a bobcat; which she has wanted since I have known her.

Tammie Knopp experienced her first stalk hunt on hogs on Saturday. Tammie said, “Oh my gosh! I was so scared and excited at the same time. I can’t wait to do it again!” Terrie Garrett, lodge owner and guide, told me that they were surrounded by hogs but were in very thick woods and just could not make a clean shot.

I, too, experienced my first stalk hog hunt on Sunday. I have to admit there is something very eerie about walking within 10-15 yards of a sow with piglets and other juvenile hogs all around them. You never know if a sow will charge you or not. I followed Terry as we walked, stopped and listened–following the sounds of hog movement and feeding. We got on a group of hogs within 45 minutes of the start of our hunt. We were in the woods with thick palmettos, various other bushes and very little clearing. I was thinking to myself that picking a shot in this type terrain is going to take skill and I would have to be ready to take the shot quickly and accurately.

At one point, we stopped and sat on a downed tree. Terry could hear hogs in the distance and he said we would have to close in on them slowly by stopping and listening and moving with them. We came to a good size wauler hole that had soupy mud and stagnant water in it. Terry explained to me that his son, T.J., had shot a hog earlier in the week and they tracked the blood trail to this mud hole. The hog had laid down in the mud hole, stopping up the wound and moved on. I have heard so many similar stories.

As we walked, Terry finally caught movement and we made our way to within 10-12 yards of several hogs. There was a large black hog and several juvenile hogs rooting through the leaves that had fallen on the ground. Terry asked me if I could take the shot. He told me to shoot it right behind the ear so we would not have to track it. I couldn’t get a good shot, so Terry told me to move over a step or two…I did and I saw a smaller hog snatch its head in our direction. Terry said, “Don’t move.” That little one will see you.

When the smaller hog walked forward, rummaging through the leaves with its snout, I had a clear shot of the black hog…however, it was not going to be in the ear since it’s head was behind a tree; but I felt confident that I could make a good shot and it would not run far. I took the shot and the hog dropped where it stood.

The woods erupted with the sound of leaves scattering in every direction. WE WERE SURROUNDED!!! Hogs were running every where. Little hogs squealed as they ran into big hogs. Big hogs grunted as they ran over little hogs. A small red hog had crossed in front of the hog I just shot and Terry told me to take the shot. I shot under the hog and watched through my scope as it jumped in the air and took off running like a hot iron had poked him. He was gone in a flash. It was a clean miss.

I cycled another round into the chamber and Terry went to pointing…over there! There’s one! Just as I would raise the gun, it was gone. Terry pulled my coat sleeve in another direction; over here! See it? Shoot it if you can! Poof! It was gone as quick as it appeared. At one point he motioned to be quiet. We could hear the hogs circling us. We moved to one side and you could hear them move a quarter circle around us. It was almost as if they could hear our footsteps in the leaves, mistaking it for other hogs and were trying to come into the sound.

Terry said to me, “If I had a hog grunt, I could call these hogs in.” You can bet the next time we go stalking hogs he will have one–I will see to that. WHAT A RUSH!! We walked up to the hog I shot, a 120+ pound sow. Terry had the sow gutted quickly and he drug the hog to the edge of the road system so it could be picked up. We walked back to Terry’s truck talking about stalk hunting…I have to admit, I can’t wait to do that again. A total adrenaline rush.

My first stalk hunt on hogs was successful. A 120+ pound maiden sow.

By Sunday afternoon, several of the ladies had already left for their trip home. We had a small group at dinner and we reflected on the weekend and the fun we had. I told the ladies about a beautiful blue coyote that I had seen on one of my hunts and we all agreed that we needed to book a coyote and hog hunt in the next few months.

Another fantastic Ladies in Camo hunt…new friends were made, the food was divine, the fellowship was awesome and the hospitality that Terry Garrett and Doug Dressler of Rack Nine Outdoors showed us was outstanding. I cannot wait to hunt with these ladies again. Check out the announcement just posted for a hog hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors in February, 2012; don’t miss this opportunity to come hunt with Ladies in Camo at Rack Nine Outdoors.

This was my first time meeting Diane Hassinger from Pennsylvania, but I can promise you that I will not forget her any time soon. Diane’s life story is such an inspiration. Diane’s personal struggle and success gave new meaning to a quote I once read by Helen Keller: “The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient, sensitive, and Godlike. It teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”

I am so thankful that our paths have crossed and I had the opportunity to share camp with her. Here is Diane’s story from her hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors with the Ladies in Camo.

I happened to see a post on Shenanigans from the Field about a Ladies in Camo Ladies Only Hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors in Clio, Alabama. What caught my eye was that it was a buck, doe, coyote, hog and bobcat hunt. This was just too much to ask for. I had found this post only 2 ½ weeks before the hunt, so a lot had to fall into place for this to happen. I am a firm believer in fate and it would work out if it were meant to be. Well things fell into place perfectly and on December 7th I flew into Montgomery Airport to catch a ride with Richard and Nancy to the camp.

Pulling into the camp I immediately felt at ease and knew this had been a good choice. The lodge felt like home, and the few huntresses and guides that were there felt like family from the start. While everyone pigged out on pizza, we made our plans for morning. There would be 3 of us hunting, while the rest were to come in staggered over the next 2 days. Four a.m. came early the next morning, with temperatures below freezing, and having not brought all of my cold weather gear, freezing is what I did too! Terry put me in a tree stand overlooking a food plot. It wasn’t long before the show began and I forgot all about being cold. I had a nice 8 point bucks with 2 girlfriends come thru, just pausing long enough for me to know I could not get a shot off at him. What a tease!

Shortly after that another 8 point entered my view, and took his good old-time about entering the food plot. He was joined by 2 spike buck that entertained me for almost an hour with their sparring and play. Meanwhile my 8 point was raking the trees nearby and making a scrape right in front of me. After 15 minutes of wonderful memories, I decided that if I would shoot this guy on the last day, the first day was a good day too. Almost right on cue the buck turned broadside then quartered away just slightly.

Two young bucks spar on the greenfield, keeping Diane entertained while she waited for the opportunity to take a shot at an 8 point. Photo Credit: Diane Hassinger

As I pulled the trigger, I was thankful I was able to be here at this time. You see 2 ½ years ago I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, and underwent a bilateral mastectomy. They also removed some lymph nodes to check for the spread of cancer. Following my surgery, no one could answer whether I would ever be able to fish, bow hunt, or shoot shotguns and rifles again. No one had ever asked these questions of my doctors, I was the first! Well I am delighted to prove to everyone, that not only is it possible, but you can still be successful as well!

My buck tucked his tail and hunched up telling me I had hit him good. I sent a text to Terry and continued watching the two spikes play. They never even flinched when I shot, and I videotaped them for the next 15 minutes. Unreal! In Pennsylvania I would have chased off every deer for a half mile with that one shot. When Terry and Doug arrived, we started looking for a blood trail, and panic started to set in. I knew I had hit him good, but there was no blood to speak of. We finally found 1 drop 10-15 feet from where he was shot and then 1 drop at a time, at 5-10 feet intervals, for about 70 yards. I was just about heartbroken when Doug said “there he is”. He had only gone 75 yards and piled up under a pine tree. He was nice high 8 point, and I was thrilled.

Diane Hassinger from Pennsylvania and her nice buck harvest. Photo Credit: Terry Garrett, Rack Nine Outdoors

The next evening I was placed in a ground blind, in a tract of woods near a food plot. Both Terry and Doug had said to feel free to spot and stalk hogs, so that was my goal. Coyotes were howling nearby as I slowly hiked about ¼ mile down a logging trail from the blind. Before long it sounded like a football team racing thru the woods. Slowly and quietly I inched into a position to see the hogs. It did not take long to find a big sow, and with a lot of luck she walked into the one sight window that I had that was big enough to shoot thru, about the size of a coffee can. Holding my breath I took the 75 yard shot, and was rewarded with watching her drop not 3 feet from where I shot her.

Diane Hassinger with her nice 130 pound sow harvested at Rack Nine Outdoors. Photo Credit: Terry Garrett, Rack Nine Outdoors

I continued to look for my next shooter, but this group turned tail and ran. After texting Terry that I had a hog down, and that I was going to continue looking for her friends, I marked her location and started tracking the herd. It did not take long to locate them across the logging road. I had to go into the cramped quarters of the paper mills pine forest. At one point I had 3 groups pretty much surrounding me, easily 100 wild pigs, all squealing and rooting and paying no attention to me at all. As much as I tried to, I could not down another pig, but what a rush to have that many wild pigs around you!

I am already planning my next trip to Rack Nine with my husband this time. I hope he gets to experience situations like I had here. And I will be excited to be here to share it with him. I am proud to not only say I am a cancer survivor, but I am enjoying life! Everyone should get out and do what they love every opportunity they can. “Love the Life you Live, Live the Life you Love” (Bob Marley)

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HERE IT IS!! This hunt is an awesome opportunity for you to enjoy a weekend hog hunting with other women at a nice lodge in beautiful southeast Alabama at a fantastic discounted price. This hunt will be for a maximum of 10 hunters and will fill quickly, so book your hunt early. You will be hunting hogs on 3,000 acres of agricultural land, pine plantations and river bottoms. No harvest limits or size restrictions. All box and tree stands are already placed in prime hunting spots. The weapon will be hunter’s choice. This will not be a night hunt—however, we will have a night hog hunt on a nuisance permit in May 2012.

February 18-19, 2012
Arrive on Friday afternoon/evening, hunt Saturday and Sunday and depart on Sunday evening/Monday morning.
NOTE: Additional days of hunting are available with this outfitter at an additional cost. This would be a great opportunity for you to take advantage of the discounted rate.

Rack Nine Outdoors
Terry Garrett
See YouTube Videos:
Rack Nine Outdoors

Clio, Alabama in Barbour County. Email me for a link to a map if you would like to see the property.

The outfitter has extremely discounted the price of this hunt. The fee for this hunt is $300.00 per hunter; which includes lodging, meals, and transportation to and from your stand. This hunt is limited to 10 hunters so reserve your spot early. Skinning and quartering of hogs to place in your cooler is included. Meals will include dinner on Friday night and continental breakfast and 2 meals on Saturday and Sunday. Non-alcoholic beverages will also be available at all times during the hunt.

The required license:
3-day Non-Resident Small Game License $40.00
License can be purchased online

Equipment needed:
THERMOCELL (Bring this just in case)
Firearm and Ammo/Bow and arrows
Safety Harness
Camo clothing that you can layer
Rain wear and gear
Personal toiletries (towels and wash cloths will be supplied)
Cooler to take your harvest home in

To reserve your spot, or if you have any questions, email me at A 50% non-refundable/non-transferable deposit is required within 10 days of booking your hunt.

There will be women coming from several states; if you wish to carpool with someone, let me know and I will see about helping you arrange that. This should be a fun hunt and I hope many of you can attend.

Ladies, are you looking for great hunting opportunities at very reasonable pricing? I have been fortunate enough to find several outfitters who are excited about promoting women in the sport of hunting and giving women hunters the opportunity of some great hunts. Here is a list of hunts that are on the calendar. Subscribe to my blog to be the first to know when a hunt is posted. Click on the BLUE link to take you to the announcement to read the details of each hunt:

December 8-11:
Ladies Deer, Hog, Bobcat & Coyote Hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors, Barbour County, Alabama

I have 4 spots available on this hunt.

January (26)27-29, 2012
Ladies Rut Whitetail Rifle Hunt and Quail Hunt with Mountain View Plantation, Clay County, AL

I have 2 spots available on this hunt.

I am working on coordinating a turkey hunt, bear hunt and two hog hunts. Deposits are non-refundable. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to be the first to know about future hunts. Hunt hard, harvest ethically and may your drag be short. ~Nancy Jo

When blood trails fail...

You spot a shooter, you line up…. BANG! – it’s a good hit! You smile big, high five your hunting buddy and breathe a sigh of success.

You find the first blood sign and follow it through the woods, elation and doubt roller coaster as you search. And then…. The blood trail stops, nothing. No amount of searching, back tracking or sweeping the area reveals another speck. Which way could he have gone?

Your heart drops with the setting sun. Exhausting all your options and most of your flash light battery, you call it a night.

The next morning reveals even less, dew is everywhere, you realize how impossible it is to look for a downed animal in waist high brush. Hours later you reluctantly leave the woods, although not ready to admit defeat.

Your mind won’t stop pushing you to return. What if you went left where you went right? What if it’s behind the next bush or just over the next hill.

Those are the animals you remember the most, the ones you couldn’t recover. You will always look for them, when you roam the same woods. They will haunt you long after they are gone.

It happens to us all, though those words offer no consolation to a restless mind.

The sinking feeling will go away, the what-ifs will stop, and you’ll get through the grieving process eventually; but not until you scan the sky for buzzards and a rock or log convinces you to hop out of your truck to investigate when you “happen to be in the neighborhood”.

When a fraction of an inch extends an animals life long enough to afford it a perfect hiding spot all we can do is hope that it won’t suffer and will pass quickly.

Luckily nature wastes no opportunities and there is a sliver of consolation in the fact that it’s not a complete waste.

Written and experienced by Michelle Harmes

Wednesday morning I was up and just about ready to leave the lodge when Richard said there were hogs in the back cornfield; two really huge hogs and 5 other good size hogs. I asked Richard if he thought we had time to sneak out there to them at the edge of the field. He said we didn’t so I took off to Jennifer and Andrea’s bedroom to get them up to go shoot the hogs. Jennifer got up and put on a pair of pink jogging shorts, her muck boots, a camo jacket and grabbed her gun. When she came down to the back porch, Richard and her talked about the best way to get close to the hogs. As we were driving away, Jennifer was trekking down the side of the cornfield to the hogs; easy to spot from a far distance with her hot pink shorts on. I wished I had taken a photo of her.

The day drug by slowly, mostly because I was sleep deprived and because I could not wait to get back out hog hunting. Andrea had taken Hank the HuntVe out and was hunting and scouting. At one point I was talking with her on her cell phone when she had to hang up quickly because several hogs came out into the corn field in front of her. She called me an hour or so later and told me she had taken a shot but they didn’t find blood.

That afternoon she called me to ask what time Shannon and Amber had planned on arriving at the lodge. She was seeing a large number of hogs. I called Shannon to tell her and we devised a plan where Shannon and Amber would meet Andrea at the cornfield gate and they would go out from there to the areas that Andrea was seeing the most hog traffic.

My only regrets is that I was not there to join them because I could not get off from work early. I did get the text on my way home that Amber had put two hogs on the ground and shortly after that text I received another stating that Shannon had one on the ground. I wished I was there to share the harvest but I was fortunate enough to share the excitement because they were just bringing the hogs out of the cornfield when we arrived. Here is Amber and Shannon’s exciting story:

Amber’s Story:

I was sitting in school ALL day just waiting for the bell to ring at 3:05! It seemed like it took forever but when it finally did, I hurried outside where my mom picked me up and we headed home to get our hunting clothes and headed off to Rack Nine Outdoors in Clio, Alabama. We were ready to leave my house when my mom asked, “Where are the keys?” I told her, “I don’t know, I didn’t have them!” When we finally found the keys, we headed to go hunting!

We had gone the previous night and saw a little boar. My Mom, Terry and Nancy Jo tried to talk me into shooting it but I didn’t have my own gun and was worried about shooting someonelse’s gun that I have never shot before. So Andrea shot it; it was her first hog—a nice 88-pound black boar.

The next day Andrea scouted all day, riding around and even sitting in a stand watching over the big cut cornfield. She had seen a lot of hogs and took a shot at two. When we got there we met up with Andrea and the guide, Terry. We rode around on the never-failing HANK the HuntVe! We had not been riding around 10 minutes when we saw hogs. It was a group of 10 or 12 hogs. Terry told us to get off and we snuck up to where they were. He set up the Bog Pod and got me setup. I was standing up and felt wobbly and unstable so I decided I wanted to kneel. He adjusted the Bog Pod for my kneeling position and he told me, “Go ahead and pick you one out!” I said, “Okay”. I started aiming.

There were so many that I didn’t know which one to choose but I finally decided on a black one! When I got the crosshairs on him, I pulled the trigger. It was one of the most exciting times of my life! He dropped and the group of hogs ran about 40 yards and stopped. Terry told me pick out another one and that’s what I did! This time I picked out a little red one! When we went to go look at them, everybody was telling me, Good job!”

We took I don’t know how many pictures! We loaded them up on Hank and went hunting again! We got to the other side of the cornfield and saw more! This time it was my mom’s turn. She got one too! We loaded all the hogs up on Hank and headed back to the cabin. We pulled up to the skinning shed and took MORE pictures. When they weighed the hogs, my boar weighed 98.5 lbs and my sow weighed 53 lbs. I was proud of them!

Amber Markley with her first two feral hog harvests and guide, Terry Garrett.

Shannon’s Story:
It had been a long hard day at work trying to catch up from missing the previous day, but somehow I had managed to get 3 days of work done in 8 hours. I rushed to pick up Amber and get home so that we could gather our camo and guns for our trip to Rack Nine Outdoors in Clio, Alabama, in hopes of harvesting hogs. Amber was trying to kill her first hog. After the truck was loaded I was missing one thing–the keys. I was getting extremely upset because I wanted to get Amber there before it got dark. After backtracking for about 45 minutes; we finally found the keys and off we were.

I was trying to make up ground so when I hit River Road in Ariton, Alabama; I was driving slightly over the speed limit. Amber asked, “What’s the speed limit?” I said, “I think 45 mph but I want to get you there because I feel like they will cross them roads before dark. She looked at me funny and then said, “We’ll what are you waiting for?”. We got to the lodge and grabbed our boots and asked Jennifer to go with us. Terry came in from bushhogging and said that he was going to sit in a stand but that we would go with us if we wanted him too. I told him “HECK YEAH, Come on!”

Jennifer decided to stay at the lodge and cook Jambalaya. Andrea was waiting in the cornfield on Hank the HuntVe to pick us up. We all loaded up on Hank and started around the field when Terry said, “There’s a pile of hogs, get your guns ready!” Terry and Amber took the lead to sneak up on the bunch while Andrea and I got on both sides, so we could shoot at the ones that crossed our paths. Terry got the Bog Pod ready for Amber and told her to pick one out and shoot it. She shot; hogs went running then they stopped and Terry told her to pick out another one. She did; it dropped in its tracks.

My heart was pumping so hard. I was so excited because my baby girl just got her first and second hog! As they were running for the woods, Terry said to shoot one; I threw my Browning up and let the lead fly. I missed but it didn’t matter because I was too excited for Amber. We took pictures and then loaded the hogs in Hank and headed on around the cornfield.

When we got to the bottom of the cornfield, Terry said, “There are some hogs!”. I got out and got ready—except for taking the safety off. Terry got the Bog Pod ready, or so he thought. When I put my gun on the Bog Pod, it was not locked. The hogs started to move so Terry said he would just hold it and for me to take a shot. I put my gun on the Bog Pod, picked me out a hog and “CLICK”. Oops! I hadn’t taken the safety off! REALLY?? So I took the safety off and replaced the gun back on the Bog Pod and took a shot. BANG! HOG DOWN! Poor Terry didn’t even have a free hand to cover his ears. The remaining hogs ran off down the road. I reloaded and went after them, but they got away; BUT not without me giving them something to think about—a little gunpowder and lead.

It was such an exciting hunt. We high-fived with Terry, took pictures, and loaded up my hog onto Hank with Amber’s hogs. Hank the HuntVe was loaded up with a pile of hogs and some happy Ladies in Camo. It couldn’t have been any more exciting being able to harvest a hog right after Amber harvested her first two hogs. We headed to the lodge to take more pictures and share our stories with everyone else.

Feral hogs loaded up in the front basket of Hank the HuntVe...they couldn't put them on the back of Hank because it was hauling too many excited Ladies in Camo riding on the cart.

It was the perfect ending to what started out as a hard day. We always seem to have a great time at Rack Nine Outdoors with Terry Garrett. I was so happy that Terry was with us on such an exciting hunt and for Amber’s first hog kill—-it made for a hunt to always cherish.

Shannon Markley with her feral hog harvest, guide Terry Garrett and workhorse, Hank the HuntVe

What a whirlwind week! My week started off with Gator hunting in the muddy lake waters of Lake Lochloosa, to hog hunting the dark woods of Clio, Alabama, and ending with bowfishing the marshy bayous of Buras, Louisiana. Needless to say that since each of these destinations required hunting at night and the fact that I had to work at my full-time employment during the day, I didn’t get much sleep. But…IT WAS WORTH EVERY MINUTE OF LOST SLEEP!!

My week started off with a trip to Crystal Springs, Florida to hunt gators with Woodland Guide Outdoors. We were hunting 3 nights on Lake Lochloosa. To our disadvantage the lake was extremely low from the lack of rain Florida has experienced. Add to that a rainstorm that ran us off the lake early on our last evening; the equation was an unsuccessful trip. However, we had a wonderful time on our trip.

Lochloosa Harbor

The water was so low from 2 years of a rain deficiency that the boats had to be literally pushed off the trailers and someone had to push it out to knee-deep for engine use.

Shannon and our guide, Dave Mehlenbacher, looking on the banks for alligator on our second hunt.

Amber shooting the crossbow. She hit her mark....

Spanish Moss was everywhere. It made the banks look spooky.

Our second hunt started at 2:00 a.m. in the morning-3 words....Strut & Rut!!

What a beautiful sunrise from the deck of the boat with good friends and great weather the morning of our second hunt. The CALM before the STORM.

We dined at some fantastic places eating fresh shrimp at the Freezer and fried catfish at Stumpknocker. We had the opportunity to shop at Gander Mountain in Tampa and enjoy some great company with our guide, Dave Mehlenbacher.

Stumpknockers. This was my second time eating at this restaurant. Pat Hendrixson, Richard and I ate here last year during our turkey hunt. Great food.

Fresh fried catfish....mmmm-mmmm!

As with all our hunts, Shannon brought cake...RED VELVET CAKE! Divine, I tell you.

A horrible storm that was an off-spring of a tropical storm that blew into Louisiana dumped several inches of rain in a short period and flooded the area where we were staying. For safety reasons, we decided to stay over one night and drive home the next day in the daylight. We had such a great time and can’t wait to come back next year.

We got home at 4:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, just long enough to slip on some camo, grab my rifle and backpack and head right back out the door to Rack Nine Outdoors to hunt hog with some friends until the wee hours of the morning.

We had an exciting night, when we all loaded up on Hank the HuntVe and headed to the cornfields to hunt hogs. We drove around the cornfields and even walked across the entire length of the cornfield but were unsuccessful at finding a hog. On our way back to the lodge, we took another trip around the cornfield behind the lodge. Shannon and Terry spotted a hog in the cornfield at the same time. We rolled up as close as we could with Hank and asked Amber, our youngest hunter, if she wanted to shoot it. Unfortunately, Amber was hunting with a gun that was not hers and she did not feel comfortable with it. She made an ethical decision and I am proud of her for that. The next hunter that had not yet harvested a hog was Andrea.

I grabbed the Bog Pod and rifle, Andrea grabbed her gun and Terry grabbed the spotlight and we were creeping down the edge of the field. Rack Nine Outdoors has a depredation order so spotlighting to harvest feral hogs is legal.

I was struggling with locking in the tripod legs and swinging my gun on my shoulder when Terry said, “You better hurry. He is less than 100 yards.” I finally set the tripod up in front of Andrea and she mounted her gun on the tripod. Terry told me to get ready for a back-up shot. I stepped over about 10 yards from them and turned on my scope mounted light and about the same time I put my light on the hog, Terry raised his light on the hog.

There was a real intense moment when I heard Terry say to Andrea, “You better shoot, it is coming toward us.” I saw the hog turn toward the light and make a few steps. Then I heard Andrea say something inaudible and Terry asked her if the gun was cocked. I asked, “Are you going to shoot?” No answer. I asked, “Do you want me to shoot it?” Then I heard Terry tell Andrea wait until it turned broadside so I knew whatever snafu they were experiencing, it was now worked out.

It stepped broadside, but no shot was taken for several long seconds. I heard Andrea say that she could not see the hog so Terry put the entire spotlight on the hog and I made sure my light was on it. It walked two steps, stopped turned its head away from the light and stood for a split second. I quickly asked consecutively, “You going to shoot? Do you want me to shoot? It isn’t going to stand there long.” I heard Terry say, “You better shoot. {Pause} Shoot! Shoot!” Then I heard the shot ring out. It trotted then took off at a run and I was unsure if it was hit. I had him in my crosshairs and made another shot and heard it squeal. It took an abrupt hard right hand turn away from us and was at a dead run.

Terry came running by me as I was bolting another bullet into my gun and said get ready to shoot again. I put my gun on safety and took off after him. He had the spotlight and was about 10 yards in front of me on a corn row. He stopped suddenly and waved the spotlight left then right. He then turned it off and said to me, “It’s down!” We high-fived and I turned around in time to see Jennifer, Shannon, and Amber come running up behind us and we all started hooping and high-fiving.

I said out loud, “SHE GOT IT!!” I was looking for Andrea and she was not in the crowd. Terry put on the spot light and Andrea was walking up. I yelled, WHOO HOOO, YOU GOT IT!! She looked at me and asked, “I did!” Then it finally sunk in and we high-fived and she walked quickly over to see it.

Andrea shot her first feral hog; an 88 pound boar hog. We took pictures in the field and loaded the hog up on the front basket on Hank and went to the skinning shed. We took more photos at the skinning shed. I was so happy and proud of her. I was happy that I got to share the experience with her.

Andrea and her feral hog harvest. We were able to share the experience as a group. L-R Jennifer McKinney, Nancy Jo Adams, Shannon Markley, Andrea Main and Amber Markley.

I was pumped and wanted to go back out. But it was too late; or too early actually. I had to get a little sleep before going to work in a couple of hours. It was tough going to sleep after all that excitement. I laid in bed reliving the moment in my head over and over. I would be back after work this afternoon for another hog hunt. This time Amber and Shannon would be up for shooting hogs. I had hoped my day at work would go by quickly.

Day one bled into day two for some of us. Thankful that the Strut & Rut and adrenaline running through our systems got us through the night…the next 4 hours were going to be tough. This morning I was going out with Charmen McAlpine to sit on the spot where I had seen the hogs from the lodge the night before. I had a good feeling about this spot, but more a good feeling for an afternoon hunt than a morning hunt.

The rest of the ladies were up and ready to head to their stands and as the trucks headed out, Charmen and I loaded up on Hank and crept down to the our hunting spot. Terry was going to put up a blind during lunch today, but this morning we were going to be tucked away on Hank; this has actually been my most successful way of hunting. Because of the L shaped fence corner, I just couldn’t figure out which way to park to give Charmen her best advantage. We decided her best bet was to sit on the back of Hank facing the direction I actually seen the hogs in.

On Saturday morning, Charmen McAlpine and I sat in the location where I had seen the hogs Friday afternoon.

After getting set up and still, I felt sleep deprivation sinking in. I tried every trick I knew short of taking a Strut & Rut; only because I did not have one. It finally won and I fell asleep–I only hope I didn’t snore loudly! Oh yeah, I snore–like a man…you think I am going to let some man out-do me…LOL!! Charmen told me I wasn’t loud, but she might have just been trying to be polite. Anyways, we both decided after several hours that this spot was going to be a good afternoon spot and I really had a good feeling about it. So we packed up and headed back to the lodge.

I didn’t get a text all morning so I knew there wasn’t much going on in the woods. Morning hunting has never been good for me so I had not expected differently. Finally, the ladies started trickling in from the woods. Many of us went to take a nap to be rested up for the afternoon hunt. It felt good to lay down and stretch out, I had not been to bed in over 30 hours. I only slept a couple of hours because I heard some commotion going on downstairs and I sure didn’t want to miss anything.

I came down just in time for lunch. Most of the ladies were already filling their plates with leftovers from the wonderful dinner from the previous night. We sat at the table laughing about our excursion the night before and telling hunting stories; everyone contributed. Most of the afternoon was spent visiting.

There is NO TELLING what these three ladies are up good, I am sure!!

Some time during the day Shannon and Richard went to the cornfield and walked the entire length of the cornfield trying to jump a hog. No luck. Before we knew it, it was time to take some group photos before eating supper and heading back out to the stands.

Our fun photo from the Ladies in Camo Hog Hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors, Barbour County, Alabama

Saturday night’s supper consisted of baked chicken, cube steak, green beans w/potatoes, baked beans and rolls. The sweet tea at Rack Nine is the best!! I think Terry made about 6 gallons while we were there we drank so much of it. Sweet Tea tastes different in the South, so you Northerners may not understand the quantities we consumed. Good stuff!!

Saturday afternoon was another slow hunt…a few hogs were seen but no shots were taken. I had a really great feeling about several of the stands but none of them produced; not even Charmen’s new stand where I had seen hogs the Friday afternoon. A few ladies stayed on stand an hour or two after dark.

Terry made Ghirardhelli chocolate caramel swirled brownies that made the lodge smell delicious. I pulled them out of the oven right before the first ladies cracked the back door upon their return. The ladies came in the back door heading for the kitchen. Michelle Harmes joked about feeding women chocolate brownies on a full moon.

It was nearly 10:30 pm when nearly all of us decided to go mud riding. Charmen decided to stay behind to get her sleep for the morning’s hunt. The rest of us loaded up in Jennifer’s Jeep, Ruger and 4 of us loaded up in Hank. Terry and Doug stayed behind and the last thing Terry said was to let Hank pull Ruger out before we call them. I just laughed wickedly as I shut the front door.

JUST IN CASE we ran up on some hogs, every woman was armed…we looked like the mafia: an AK, a rifle, several revolvers and a Glock. We rode around the road system headed for the river trying to find Jennifer a mud-hole. When we got to the lakes we saw several alligators and watched as one hit the water after sliding off the bank.

Finally, Jennifer found her a mud hole. Shannon, Andrea, Michele and I all sat back from the hole on Hank watching as Ruger plunged into the mud hole, we all whooped loudly. The Jeep started spinning, got stuck, got un-stuck; the night erupted in whoops and cheers. Ruger got stuck again, spun 45 degrees, and as it crept up an embankment a loud clinking sound came from underneath the Jeep. Jennifer was able to get Ruger up the hill and that was the extent of the Jeep’s “GO”. Those of us on Hank didn’t realize it because we were too busy whooping and passing around high-fives.

Jennifer finally found her a mud hole. Hang on ladies.

The brake lights were on, the Jeep was still rolling. The brake lights went off, the engine revved and the Jeep did not accelerate forward. It was clear to me then that something was wrong…really wrong.

Ruger was not rolling at this point...Michelle Harmes saved the night with her "MacGyver" skills.

We found out, through the MacGyver-like abilities of Michelle Harmes’ knowledge, that a gasket or O-ring had broken or come off. She was having a problem locating it on this particular model. In the meantime, I called Terry back at the lodge. He had just laid down to sleep.

Me: Hey!
Terry: Hey.
Me: Um, we went riding around on the road system, toward the river.
Terry: Yeah.
Me: Well, we didn’t find any mud holes on the road.
Terry: Yeah.
Me: So we came past the area where they clear-cut recently. We know it was recently cut because we could smell the fresh pine.
Terry: Yeah.
Me: Well, we came to this field that has a shooting house on stilts on it.
Terry: Yeah.
Me: Well, we found a mud hole.
{Uncomfortably short pause.}
Terry: Yeah.
Me: Jennifer didn’t get stuck…she almost got stuck.
Terry: Yeah.
Me: Well, we kind of tore up something on the Jeep.
Terry: Hmmm….deep breath….do you need me to come get y’all?
Me: Uh, yeah. I think so.

Whew…that was a painfully long drawn out call to have not said much more than I did. I sure hated to have someone come after us.

In just a few short minutes, Michelle announced that she thought she found the gasket. In about two minutes, Jennifer was in Ruger starting up the engine, engaging the transmission into drive. IT WORKED!! The whole group erupted in whoops and hollers. High-fives went around and I quickly called Terry.

I told him to call off the tow truck, we were back in business. He asked me, “what do you want me to do? Go back?” I told him to meet us at the lakes just in case Ruger was limping back to the lodge. That is where we finally met up with him.

Hank led the way back to the lodge, splashing through mud holes, dodging limbs, leaping bumps in the road…all the while all of us whooping and hollering like children on a roller coaster. A mere 15 miles an hour is just fast enough to make it exciting but slow enough to feel safe. What fun!!

As we approached the road headed back to the lodge, someone (we won’t ever disclose) decided to play a trick on Terry. I stopped Hank at the edge of the field, Terry drove up and asked “What are y’all doing now?” I said, “We are going hunting.” He just rolled his eyes and said, “call me if you need me” as he drove off. As the ladies drove up in the Jeep we quickly assembled everyone on the edge of the field aiming their weapons toward a big brush pile. Michelle was standing on the back of the Jeep to see when Terry pulled in the driveway a quarter-mile away–timing his descent from his truck just right.

When she figured she had timed it right, I told the ladies to fire. It was like a grand finale at a Fourth of July fireworks show. When all the ladies had cleaned out their clips, Andrea stepped to the line with her rifle and fired the last shot. We all yelled out in joy as if we shot some hogs. Cameryn said “Your phone is going to ring any second.” AND that it did. I handed the phone to Cameryn because I knew I was not going to be able to lie to Terry.

Cameryn: Hello! In an exciting voice.
Terry: Was that y’all?
Cameryn: Yes! Yes! Hogs! Pigs!! We just shot about 7 of them. Yes!
Terry: You are kidding.
Cameryn: No! No! They came through… Okay!

Cameryn hung up, handed me my phone and said, “he is on his way down.” Some of the group started giggling, some of us said “Ut-oh!”. Within a few minutes we decided to start driving toward the lodge. Terry’s headlights were coming across the field. The Jeep was ahead of me so I reached up and shut my headlights and pulled over into the edge of the corn. We were going to watch and see how this unfolded. We couldn’t listen very well because of both truck engines and all of us giggling.

The Jeep pulled off and Terry rolled forward in his truck. It was clear that they had pulled it off…he seem to think we really did shoot some hogs. When he rolled up beside me, he had the biggest grin on his face. I hated to let him down so I did my best to follow along with the story.

Terry: How many did y’all shoot?
Me: We shot at 7.
Terry: How many did you think you shot?
{Uncomfortable pause. A couple of giggles from the back seat.}
Me: I only said we shot at 7. {I am definitely not a good liar so I was not going to attempt it now.}
Terry: DID y’all shoot any hogs or not?

I started rolling off with a huge smile on my face and I said, “I only said we shot at hogs.” He shook his head and laughed and said “Y’all got me on this one but remember about PAYBACKS.” He pointed at us and said ALL OF YOU!

When we got up to the lodge we all we still laughing about it as we headed off to bed…you could faintly hear Terry say, “Paybacks are hell!” Which made us all erupt in giggles again. We all retired for the night around 2:45 a.m.

Ruger's new paint jog...Alabama mud has never looked any finer than on this Tennessee truck.

Sunday morning was our last hunt and one or two hunters saw hogs. Cameryn and her Father Mike saw about 5 hogs but couldn’t get a shot off at them. Charmen seen a piglet’s butt slipping into the cornfield. At the end of the morning’s hunt no hogs were shot.

Amber Markley was trying to catch up on her beauty sleep...we thought she was sleeping during all the fun!! So we dogpiled her bed.

When everyone returned to the lodge we ate lunch of leftovers; which were fantastic. We visited, talking about upcoming hunts. These weekends always end so soon.

Shooting the breeze at the lodge. Michelle Harmes, Michele Branning and Jennifer McKinney.

As I helped some of the ladies load up, Shannon called me over to Terry’s truck and said, “Amber wants to drive Terry’s truck.” I asked, “Are the keys in it?” Amber nodded her head hard and affirmatively. I said, “Well, let’s go for a ride.” We jumped in the truck and Amber turned the key over, Shannon took a quick picture and then we started backing up.

Terry's truck that Amber had been scheming all weekend to drive. She got her wish.

Shannon took off for the back porch. About that same time Terry walked out the front door and started walking across the lawn. He glanced at us and started to look away when it dawned on him that it was his truck rolling in the driveway. He stopped and stared in disbelief for a minute.

Amber and I busted out laughing as she backed out and I turned on the radio and cranked it up…we took a ride out through the cornfield. The only thing that would have made that trip any better is if we had been tuning, out loud, to Colt Ford’s Ride Through the Country.

…Down the road where the black top ends, you can find “Nancy Jo” with all “her” friends, we’re used to gravel roads, and fishin’ with cane poles, wasn’t no swimmin’ pools, jus swimmin’ holes…

Busted!! Amber Markley stole Terry Garrett's truck and took it for a ride in the corn fields.

mber driving back out of the cornfields after stealing Terry's truck. I remotely remember her saying...I am going to park and get out running.

We may not have harvested a hog this weekend but we sure made memories, let our hair down, acted like teenagers again and had an awesome time at Rack Nine Outdoors. Our next hog hunt will be scheduled in May 2012. {Thank you to Andrea Main for contributing pictures for this blog entry.}

Strut & Rut and Dr. Pepper with Peanuts got many of us through the weekend.

Ladies Hog Hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors: Back row (L-R) Amber Markley, Shannon Markley, Charmen McAlpine, Michele Branning, Jennifer McKinney. Front Row (L-R) Cameryn Melton, Andrea Main, Nancy Jo Adams, and Michelle Harmes.

I had a hard time going to sleep Sunday night because my mind was still reeling over the happenings of the weekend. Eight women converged on the properties of Rack Nine Outdoors to hunt hogs. Over the last 2 months I have had the opportunity to scout and hunt hogs on this property and was even fortunate enough to remove two from the property with the chance to shoot several more.

The hog movement was a different story this past weekend; even after Terry Garrett of Rack Nine Outdoors spent an entire week scouting and shifting stands into areas with the most sign. A hog was not harvested this past weekend among these 8 hunters but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a grand time.

Friday started off with a dinner of baked wild hog in a homemade BBQ style sauce, Macaroni & Cheese, potatoes in garlic sauce, cream corn, rolls and a special treat of Jennifer McKinney’s homemade potato salad—with a KICK!! Shannon and Amber Markley brought a delicious homemade pound cake that Shannon’s mother made fresh on Friday. Needless to say, the cake did not last long at all…

What was left of the Pound Cake Shannon Markley's mother made for us on Friday.

After dinner, the ladies changed, grabbed their gear and were ready to head to their stands for their first afternoon hunt. The ladies were broken up into 3 groups and taken to their stands in 3 different vehicles. I was supposed to sit with Cameryn Melton but she was not arriving until late so I stayed at the lodge to greet them. Shortly after Doug, one of the guides returned to the lodge from dropping his group off, he noticed some hogs coming out of the cornfield and going down the road toward for the woods. He first counted 6 but by the time I raised the binoculars and looked, there were over a dozen. This made me really excited for the ladies on stand.

When it got dark the guides started getting a few texts for pick-ups but some ladies stayed out several hours after dark. There wasn’t much hog action at all on this evenings hunt. Some ladies could hear hogs and some even seen deer. I went out with Doug, one of the guides to pick up Charmen McAlpine. It was a fun ride out there and it made me want to be in the woods.

Who said a LADY can't be a LADY in the field...Charmen McAlpine sporting her manicured nails.

Shortly after 11:30 p.m.several women retired to their rooms, a couple ladies and myself were talking about how the full moon amplified the fields and how we should be out there hunting. I looked at the group and asked, “You want to?” A smile crept over their faces and one asked, “Can we?” I said, “Shoot yeah! We can ride around the road system and check fields.” Then one asked, “How? How are we going to get out there?” I looked at them and smiled and said, “Hank the HuntVe.”

I got up from the couch quickly and said, “Grab your guns and let’s go.” Michele B, Michelle H and Shannon hustled to their rooms to grab their guns then to the mudroom to put their boots on. I ran upstairs and changed into a camo shirt and pants, grabbed my ESPs, a flashlight and my rifle. I quickly ran down stairs and started looking for my boots among the long row of women’s hunting boots. Shannon and Michelle H were giggling like schoolgirls; Michele B was on the back porch waiting. I started giggling too when I realized we were acting like we were trying to sneak out of the house without getting caught.

Shannon looked at me and said “Strut & Rut! That is what we need.” I was still putting my boots on so I told her where the stash was. She quickly went and got 4 of them. When she brought them to me and showed me she had 4, I quickly laughed shaking my head and said, “DON’T show those to Michele B. Good Lord, she has so much energy her head will be spinning!” I guess Shannon found that comical because we both erupted in laughter when Michelle H started laughing at us for laughing so hard. Michele B poked her head in the back door and asked, “What are you all laughing at.” We had to push out the back door before we woke the entire house up.

We giggled uncontrollably like high school girls sneaking out to Hank. We loaded up, fired up a ThermaCell, ran through a quick gear check, turned the key on, I looked at the ladies and said “Let’s go choot-a-hawg” and Hank was headed down the driveway to the cornfields. We rode a little ways, stopped and listened, doing this several times while in the cornfields. We made it to the road system and started down it. We drove across a section of road that had huge baseball and softball size rocks where they were placed for the timber rigs to get in and out of the fields. It was awful noisy and for some reason we found that comical…maybe because we were lacking sleep; everything seemed funny as we giggled along. Surely we didn’t have a chance to actually see a hog, much less shoot one.

We stopped and decided we needed to take some photos…needless to say the flash from the camera blinded us the first photo so all of us looked like Chinese. So we tried it again…which cut Michelle H’s head off. So just one more time…nope, that one didn’t work either. So we decided we all needed to be much closer. Squeezing in, we started laughing, seeing spots, trying two more photos where one would have their eyes closed and another their mouth wide open. Finally, we decided to all get off of Hank and try a photo that way. It did not go as planned. So we decided if we all just looked down at the camera with our heads pushed together, maybe we can get everyone in the photo…..WE GAVE UP…with our sides hurting from laughing we jumped back on Hank and moved out of the area; anything lurking in those woods was definitely in another county after all that giggling. We definitely took some bad photos but it was fun, no doubt.

Trying to get a photo on our Friday night hunt...FAIL...the flash was SUPER bright.

So we thought we would try again...but we were all laughing so hard and I was holding my breath to keep from laughing...another FAIL...

We thought maybe if we took it from the back of Hank it would be better. Nope the flash was still REALLY bright on this dark night....another FAIL..

Squeeze in...another FAIL...and seeing lots of spots in the dark night.

At this point we were teary-eyed and just giggling too hard to care. Another FAIL.

This is the last one, we all said, mostly because we couldn't see and I think half of us wet our pants laughing and the others had stitches in their sides.

We rode around for about an hour and a half before we headed back. Michele B remembered a field with a flat bed hauler parked on the edge of it so we went there and got up on the flat bed and stood a while listening. We heard a few squeals over the fence in the corn. We walked up the road a little ways; nothing.

Friday....err....Saturday morning around 3:00 a.m. waiting on hogs in the field. Michele Branning, Shannon Markley and Michelle Harmes.

We finally headed back to the cabin, parked Hank and giggled all the way up to the back door, snuck in… First, we were busted by Andrea Main; she said, “I came down hunting y’all.” We went into the living room and said down telling her about our trip. All of the sudden the front door opened and Richard walked in. Phew!! We made it back in the nick of time. But we were already busted so we told him that we had not been to sleep. I think it was Andrea who said, “they have been hunting all night. And I didn’t get to go.”

What a fun night!! But it was time to get day two started….already!

This afternoon I will meet 8 women at Rack Nine Outdoors in Barbour County, AL for another ladies hog hunt. I am really excited because Terry Garrett worked really hard all week scouting, watching hog movement and locating stands in active areas for all the ladies.

I have all my gear packed and I am ready to hit the woods. This afternoon, I will be sitting in a ground blind with Cameryn Melton. I am really looking forward to seeing what comes out of the woods into the corn field.

There will be 5 ladies returning to Rack Nine Outdoors: Jennifer McKinney, Michelle Harmes, Michele Branning, Shannon Markley, Amber Markley. We have three attending for the first time: Charmen McAlpine, Cameryn Melton and Andrea Main.

Stay tuned for stories, photos from the field and updates throughout the weekend. Also, check Facebook for updates.

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