Hog Wild

By Ed Turner

I had wanted to go wild boar hunting for something like 20 years or more. I've never had anyone mention a good area or place to go until now. I have finally gotten my chance to hunt wild boar. It was completely fair chase on an unfenced place and it was an absolute blast. The ironic part was that I originally set up the trip at the request of my daughter as a birthday present from her to her husband (my son in law).

She decided to tell him early, instead of surprising him, a few days before his birthday. Well, as it turned out, he apparently had little interest in shooting a wild hog and said he'd rather not go.

I'd already invited a couple friends that I hunt with here in Tennessee and Kentucky and they had decided it sounded like something they would enjoy, so, the plans were already in place when my son in law declined to join us. I said "the heck with it, I still want to go," and so the three of us made plans for the last week in December to travel to southeast Georgia and spend 2 full days hunting an 800 acre farm set up to accept hunters to pursue wild hogs, deer, and turkey in season.

The wild hogs have no closed season, and in Georgia all that's needed is a general hunting license (in or out of state). There is a 3 day license available for just such a hunt at a cost of $30, which we felt was reasonable.

We also could have made this a combo hunt for deer and hogs at a slightly higher price per day, and additional license for deer hunting. We decided to hunt only the wild hogs.

I had been very clear that I wanted a place that was not fenced and did not use feeders. That's just my preference, I understand people enjoy different things; but again that was the decision for the three of us as a requirement for our first ever wild boar hunt.

We set out on the morning after Christmas loaded down with all our gear including 2 rifles each and coolers aplenty, should we get lucky enough to whack anything close to the 2 hog per day limit. The drive took around 8 hours (including one little miscue in directions) and we were in contact with our guide and also business owner of the hunting outfit as we got close.

We arrived shortly after dark on the 26th. We were quickly taken to our cabin, which overlooked a 20 acre lake on the grounds of the preserve. Everything was first rate and my worries of being stuck in a dump for 2 days were completely unwarranted.

This place was 1st rate all the way. There was a large bathroom in our cabin along with 6 sets of bunk beds. We were happy to hear only one other hunter would be there during our 2 day hunt, and the accommodations were just great.

We set a time for the guide to meet us in the morning to take us out to the stands for our morning hunt. Then we relaxed with a beer or two until it was sack time for a 4:30 AM wake-up call.

The morning was perfect, cold with a very light frost, and no wind. Our spirits were high. We sat from 6 'til 10, and even though it was a fine morning for most any type of hunting we saw no hogs. A "blonde" fox made its rounds and was passed on by 3 anxious hog hunters.

After our morning hunt we enjoyed a hearty breakfast of bacon, sausage, grits and eggs, and some of the finest breakfast biscuits on earth. Afterwards we retired for a "break" in the cabin until time for our afternoon hunt. We used this time to check our eyelids for holes. Yup, a nice midday siesta.

On stand again at 2:00 PM and hopes still sky high. I watched 4 deer pick their way down a nearby creek while amazing myself that, because I was hunting wild boar now, they didn't seem to satisfy my desire to see game. No shots fired again, but we all saw deer. All except our additional hunter, who was hunting (you guessed it) deer and hogs. So the only one able to whack a deer was the only one who didn't see one that afternoon. Such are the fortunes of a big game hunter.

We all enjoyed our sits, though. The weather continued to cooperate with our schedule granting us a nice cool December afternoon, devoid of anything but light winds.

We had our first dinner in the dining room and to the man immensely enjoyed our fried chicken. My only problem being that I only had one more day to decide if the breakfast biscuits OR the dinner rolls were better.

Back to our comfy cabin and some videos for us to watch some past hunts. One hunt ended with the owner of a certain "game ear" device manufactured to aid hearing in the woods, rolling an absolutely monstrous 600+ pound boar. Another showed the running of hogs with dogs (also available there) and the demise of said hog at the end of a very sharp bowie knife. It was interesting to watch, but not our cup of tea, we decided.

Early to bed again and up at 4:30 AM to another great morning, even cooler and quieter. After each of us was dropped in new stands, we settled in to await the first hint of a sunrise, which would come in an hour or so.

It turns out we all had a treat with all hunters hearing a hog running and squealing, possibly with wild dogs in pursuit. We had been warned that it was not unusual to see wild dogs running through the woods there, and at times chasing deer or hogs. We were told it was up to us whether to shoot them or not. Anyway, the commotion continued on and off for a good hour or two, and then finally a shot fired from what had to be one of our group of hunters.

At the appointed time of 10:00 I was picked up by the guide and promptly asked if I might have been the shooter. With my answer of no, we now knew it had to be one of my buddies, Al. We were at his stand site a few minutes later and found that indeed it had been Al who fired, but he didn't put much stock in it being a lethal hit, or any hit for that matter.

The guide answered just as I hoped, that we needed to follow up and see to feel sure that it had truly been a clean miss. Our rifles in the truck now, Al was the only one still "hunting" as we all set off to check for sign of a hit (4 hunters and the guide).

As we combed the woods for sign we all again heard a commotion with a pig and some dogs. Following the noise we came to the property line with the noise coming from just a bit farther on. The guide instructed us to remain there while he and Al went to investigate the noises.

As I stood with Chris2 (both other hunters were named Chris), the Chris who had traveled there with Al and I said he thought he saw a turkey up the trail we were standing on. A few seconds later, after I had said I didn't see a thing, "other" Chris said, hell no, that's a hog. I still didn't see a thing and they turned to face the hog as it approached our position walking down the trail towards us.

All at once I did spot it about 75 yards away and closing. I turned to see Al and our guide about the same distance away to my right and quickly whistled to get their attention. When they turned to look, I urgently waved them our way. They began retracing their steps and I turned to see the hog at some 50 yards and still closing. I waved again, encouraging them to hurry down (after all, Al was the only one with a rifle here).

Now I was turning my head back and forth like a loony toon watching each approach my position, the pig from the front on the trail, and Al and the guide from my right in the woods. In unison the 2 Chris's knelt down and now decided to un-holster the pistols they had been carrying on the hunt, along with their rifles. So, here I was standing, waving, pointing and telling Al to shoot the damn pig, with Chris2 kneeling in front; pistols now raised and aimed as the pig walked within 10 yards.

Al was now a mere 20' to my right the pig 30' to my front and Al was claiming not to see it through the brush as I steadily urged him to shoot, shoot. He was hearing the same from the guide to his side as well. The pig was now 15' in front of us, Chris's still aiming and hoping (as it turns out, one hoping Al would whack him with his 30/30, the other wanting to whack it himself with his pistol) to resolve this before the pigs snout met theirs. All of a sudden Al saw the hog in his see through sights under his Redfield scope, and the 30/30 roared maybe 15' from my ear, with the hog surely no more than that in front of Chris2.

The pig flopped on his side and kicked for a second before expiring and at that moment we all began laughing and recounting our first wild hog experience. It had truly been remarkable. So much so that even the guide, who has seen hundreds of kills, thought it quite unique.

For the record, our guide told us that a good spot to shoot a hog would be in the ear; and now Al's had a neat bullet hole through it. A good shot from Al, even at 20'. Of course we also had one Chris thanking Al for whacking him and the other saying "one more step," meaning that he was ready and willing to take him (actually a sow) on with his .40 caliber semi-auto.

To be honest, as I tried to direct traffic, I never even thought to just tell Chris to shoot it, figuring the lone rifleman as the hunter at that point. There was also, I'll have to admit, a comment about me looking something like a General (brave I'm sure) pointing his soldiers to where they should be shooting. It truly must have been a hilarious sight with them kneeling in front of me, Al and the guide standing to my side all with guns pointing and Ed with his finger, directing the "battle." It did keep us amused the rest of the day anyway, and will provide us years worth of stories and remembrances.

We still had an afternoon left to our hunt. We enjoyed yet another great brunch (breakfast biscuits won) and another siesta as well, being ready to head out to our stands a little earlier at 1:30 PM. We had devised something of a plan, figuring to hunt the same area that afternoon after seeing the pig and a good bit of sign there that morning. Everyone selected their stands and mine was to be a climber that the guide would set in a thickly vegetated location close to the creek.

I climbed about 20' up the pine tree and seemed to have a great view of the pine flat leading to the winding creek behind me. I was only 200 yards or so from another hunter, but we had completely different views and both being in elevated stands, also perfectly safe as well.

I was just settling in and enjoying my surroundings when I heard something to my left. It was a hog moving down the creek bed in my direction. I quickly got up and turned around to face the creek and the hog stopped behind a tree. I got my Model 88 Winchester braced against my tree and, as the pig continued to walk out from behind his tree, I fired. It dropped right there in its tracks, with a neat hole punched clear through by the 165 grain .308 bullet. I continued waiting in my stand, not wanting to mess up anyone else's hunt with any movement.

Because I stayed in my stand until dark, it took a while to locate what I thought had been a solid black hog. We finally did find it about 20 minutes later and it was, just as the one shot that morning, a spotted hog weighing about the same at 73 pounds.

Just sorry to say that it was not nearly as interesting as the morning's harvest. We enjoyed another stellar dinner and I almost changed my mind about the dinner rolls, but I really think that the breakfast biscuits were the winner.

We slept in the next morning and were in the process of packing up when the guide stopped by after dropping Chris (the only Chris now) off at his stand and doing some running around. We would have reserved another hunt for next year as we were still there, but, alas, the business owner is about to be sent to Afghanistan with his Army reserve unit for the next 12 - 18 months, so there will be NO HUNTING there at all.

The only good thing about that is that the hogs will surely be plentiful by the time we get to return in 2008. And I can assure you that we have already had that discussion, not only among the three of us (who also happen to be retired military), but with the owner as well.

All in all we felt our hunting trip to be a huge success. 2 hogs for the three of us in 2 days time was maybe not what we had hoped would happen, but it was completely acceptable in the context of having only hunted 2 full days, and also knowing we all could have taken a deer each as well if we had gotten a combo hunt. I'll be interested in the 3 day combo hunt special that is offered at a savings of $100 off the typical daily rate. I'm thinking that will be the way to go in 2008 when we return to southeast Georgia to enjoy another hog hunting escapade.

As a new hunting experience for all three of us it was a decided winner. You may want to give it a try yourself. Good and safe hunting to all.

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