Another Great Georgia Feral Hog Hunting Trip
By Ed Turner
We made our fifth annual hog hunting trip and third to the same place in the Wrightsville, Georgia area. As with our previous two trips to this camp, we had an absolutely great time. My friend Don traveled down from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area to meet up with my Buddy Al and I for the trip down to Georgia. The three of us were to meet up with hunter #4, Al's brother Rodney, at the camp.
After an evening of dinner and catching up since we last hunted in Maine this past September, Don and I got a good night's sleep and were loaded and ready to roll by about 8:15 Friday morning. We picked up Al and his stuff at 8:30 and headed out in 15F temps for Woods 'N' Water in Georgia, our hunting destination.
Our trip was pretty uneventful and we mentioned several times how glad we were as we cruised past snow covered fields and even a still icy-in-spots Atlanta that we were not experiencing the weather from a week earlier. Cruise we did, and we were soon pulling up in front of our chosen digs and also finding owner Blaine Burley and one of our guides, Virgil, outside on the deck of what was to be our home for the next three days.
Don was introduced to both as a first time hunter with us and we chatted a bit as we unloaded our stuff to leave on both the deck and inside the roomy cabin. We found that Blaine was about to leave for a late afternoon deer hunt with his younger son (7 years old) and we soon heard from campmate #4, Al's brother Rodney, that he'd be arriving soon.
It wasn't long after we'd finished unpacking that we were toasting to future fortunes and talking about getting the grill fired up for our evening's planned steak dinner. We all get one dinner meal and one lunch meal to provide for everyone in camp as this works best with having to plan, pack and bring minimal supplies. Have a dinner and lunch prepared for five or six and simply relax for the trip's duration. Simple and effective meal planning.
As we waited for the charcoal to get just right, Blaine and his son arrived back at camp with a deer. Talk about a celebration. As Blaine's son got his ritual blood tattoo for the evening I checked his new knife for sharpness, as Dad and son prepared to do the skinning chore together. Plenty sharp and "accutting" they went.
The evening was interrupted briefly again as Rodney pulled up in his rental car, having driven in from Florida, after flying there from Corpus Christie, Texas. Rodney is a pilot in the Navy and was joining us for two days of hunting over the holiday weekend. Our hunting group was complete.
Don's steaks were great, the evening was loud and enjoyable and soon four hunters and two guides were turning in for a 5 AM wake-up call. The sounds of shuffling feet and coffee being brewed greeted us the next morning early and soon we were loading up for our drives to different sections of the roughly 1500 acres the Woods 'N' Water outfitters has leased for hunting. The temperature was a brisk 18F for our morning sit.
No hogs collected, but some additional scouting by some of the hunters told us that there were a lot of hogs in the area. My hour long walk after sitting for three hours turned up a ton of sign, both near the corn set out as bait for the hogs (permit required in Georgia) and most anywhere else I walked, as well. The woods in my area, overlooking a corner of a large agriculture field were as thick as any I've ever seen.
The nearby trails (old logging/farm roads) made for some stealthy walking. Others who had also done any walking also found hog sign, but not all really fresh. Afternoon sits found us in either the same stands or stands adjacent to where we had been earlier. I'd been settled in for a good 2-1/2 hours before I finally saw some hogs spill out of the woods near some corn bait.
I'd already used a rangefinder to figure the range to those hogs, right at 280 yards, which was a bit farther than I was prepared to shoot with my Ruger M77 in .358 Win. I had done some calculations and was simply not comfortable with what I had figured to be over a foot of drop at that range shooting 250 grain bullets.
There were a couple of big hogs in the group of 8-10, with one looking to be a nice trophy. However, I simply was not comfortable enough to shoot that far. There was another spot with corn at a little less than half that distance and I waited to see if any of the hogs I'd had in sight might move a bit closer to feed there.
They did not, but suddenly two other hogs stepped out of those thick woods to present me a shot at 125 yards, at about 15 minutes after sunset. Down he went at the shot and even though he continued to kick a good bit, I didn't feel compelled to shoot again until he actually flipped over. I know how uncomfortable even a 10 yard crawl into those very thick woods in the dark would be, so I shot a second time. All quiet now and the second shot was actually not needed, as it turned out.
I walked down to make sure but the 150 pound hog was surely done with both shots hitting him in his neck, not 3" apart. Within 15 minutes Virgil and I were loading my hog onto the back of the truck and then on our way to pick up Don for the ride back to camp. We'd not heard any shots from Don. He'd only heard some hogs and not seen any break the woodline this evening.
Al, Rodney and guide Mark met us back at camp and joined in happy hour soon after, having not seen anything. Lasagna was already warming in the oven when they arrived. A bit of story telling followed and then we turned into bed, the three of them for a morning's hunt and Virgil and I for some morning skinning chores.
The second morning had no action and the three hunters and guide came back for lunch. We called Blaine, who was out scouting some likely spots, later that afternoon and agreed to meet him when we drove out to the hunting areas for an update on fresh sign. We all switched stands for the evening's hunt and not even an hour into our sits, a shot rang out. To my ear, it sounded like Don's rifle had been fired and a short text from Don soon after confirmed my thought.
I sat until full dark and saw two foxes and a doe, but no hogs. I was soon meeting up with Virgil after my 1/2 mile walk back to the truck and we were both off to see Don's first ever hog. What a hog it was! It was truly great trophy boar and we all guessed it to be at least 250 pounds and my estimate went to 300 after looking more closely. Don had put the smack-down on a true trophy Geargia Boar!
His hogs had been nice enough to provide some action within perhaps 25 minutes of him sitting in his ladder stand. He heard some grunts and squeals in the distance behind him and then maybe 20 minutes after that, they began to move into view in the field he was overlooking. About seven or eight smaller hogs of perhaps 125-150 pounds came out first, followed by two big boars and a big sow.
The hogs mingled about for a while and Don was finally able to determine which was the biggest of the lot. He chose the bigger of the two jet black boars as being a good bit bigger than a reddish brown sow and slowly eased into position to shoot. After a few hectic moments with hogs moving in front and behind his boar of choice, Don was able to send a 165 grain Fusion bullet from his .308 Browning X-Bolt to just under the hog's right ear. A few kicks later and Don's hog was still. He waited a few minutes after the others cleared out before getting down to check his new trophy.
Of course, now that we were there and preparing to load Don's hog, my mind also wandered for a minute to the struggle three of us had loading a huge boar I'd shot two years prior and we planned our "lift" accordingly, as we put on gloves for the task at hand. I stood on the tailgate and had them hand me both rear legs and then, as I kept him from sliding back to the ground, both Don and Virgil grabbed hold of the heavier front end. With one big heave, we managed to get him high enough to prevent him from falling and a couple more pushes got him loaded!
Phone calls were made, arrangements for pictures of the bruiser in the morning planned and we headed home for another "happy hour." Al and Rodney both stayed out well into darkness depending on the 90% illumination of the clear night to give them a shooting opportunity, but no hogs were taken by them this evening, which was Rodney's last.
Another great dinner of homemade soup was awaiting our late hunters and their guide and, after inspecting Don's nice trophy, they wasted no time in filling their bowls. We all slept late the next morning, to be able to get Don's boar skinned and also to be able to see Rodney off on his trip back to Texas.
We all were out in the steady rain that afternoon, but no more hogs were taken. A couple of us, however, had seen deer and a flock of turkeys that contained six very nice long beards along with a couple more three year old toms. The final talley for our hunt was two boars for four hunters and a good number of hogs were seen by all. Not everyone had had a good shot opportunity. However this is what free range hunting is all about.
Our fifth hog hunt had been a resounding success and we all left with smiles plastered on our faces for the long drive home. Don had been a lucky man indeed to have been on his first hog hunt ever and have taken a true trophy boar of well over 250 pounds! Such a feat is not always easy when you're talking free roaming hogs!
Copyright 2011 by Ed Turner. All rights reserved.