A Marine Gets his Hog

By Ed Turner, Jr.

Like you all, I'm just a regular guy. Nothing special here, I can assure you. However, having served myself and knowing the number of men and women serving us today overseas and in harm's way has gotten my attention. I became aware of Brian Robbins, USMC before I ever met him. My oldest daughter, who lives with her family in Knoxville Tennessee, asked me if I would provide her some of my hunting articles to send to the deployed Marine husband of a friend she had met at church. I found her a dozen or so stories to send for him and his buddies to read.

A few months later I heard that this Marine had lost his right leg above the knee to an IED blast in Afghanistan. As someone who came through an entire military career pretty much unscathed, I knew I wanted to try and do something for this special young man, who had given so much for our Nation. I decided that this outstanding veteran might enjoy a hunt to help his recovery.

I took to the phone and the Internet, asking friends for advice and even asking them to donate some money to help. The result is the basis of this special hunting story.

We made tentative plans for a four day hunt at our favorite Georgia hog hunting place, as a gift for our special guest. Blaine Burley, the owner of Woods-N-Water Hunting and Fishing Adventures (www.woodsnwaterinc.com), was in for the long haul after hearing our plans. Our plans progressed and we added a bonus, a rifle we purchased as a remembrance of our shared hunt and provided by everyday people who appreciated his service and sacrifice.

I was soon looking for a rifle, scope and also doing the final planning for the hunt. The rifle I picked as our gift to Brian was a .30-06 Ruger M77 Hawkeye with a Leupold VX2 3-9x40mm scope. Our hunting party ultimately included Brian, his father Todd (who we had persuaded to join us), my local hunting buddy Al, my friend Don and his son Greg from Wisconsin. We had a cabin full of good folks looking forward to a memorable hog hunt.

Don and I arrived in Georgia on Friday afternoon and Al showed up later Friday evening. Blaine had some fresh grilled wild hog for our dinner the first night and it was simply superb! It turned out that Brian and his Dad were slowed by a snow storm in Tennessee (of all things) and arrived in camp late on Saturday afternoon.

Brian admires his new Ruger M77 Hawkeye and Leupold VX2 3-9x40mm scope while Dad looks on.

Our morning hunts on Saturday had us all back in camp afterwards, hog-less. However, the evening hunt saw Greg, who was on his very first hog hunt, collecting a nice meat hog weighing around 85 pounds. He shot it with his Dad�s .338 RCM Ruger Hawkeye. The ice was now broken.

We were all out early on Sunday morning. The rest of us saw no hogs, but Al whacked a bruiser boar at around 9:00 AM. We'd previously never taken hogs of any size on morning hunts, but Al's 225 pound boar was truly one fine trophy. One shot from Al's Ruger M77 in .35 Whelen did the deed.

Sunday evening's hunt saw Todd take a big black sow weighing about 200 pounds with another Ruger M77, this time a .270.

Todd and Brian with Todd's big sow.

We were in our chosen stands in the pre-dawn darkness on Monday, but no hogs were taken. Al and Greg departed for home and the rest of us tried new areas on Monday evening.

The change of scenery worked and all of us saw hogs. Don and I passed on medium size hogs, as we were both were hoping to bust another brute like our buddy Al had taken the day before. Brian took his first hog ever, a nice copper colored sow shot with his new Ruger M77 Hawkeye .30-06 rifle at a range of about 175 yards. One shot, bang/flop. We were happy hunters that evening.

Todd and Brian with Brian's copper colored sow.

Tuesday morning saw us collecting no hogs, but our luck was about to change. The last evening saw Don and me hunting a property in an adjoining county, while Brian and Todd hunted another property much closer to camp. A couple of fine meat hogs tried to slip by our Marine sharpshooter, but ended up being numbers two and three to fall to a single shot each from Brian's new Ruger. The total take for Brian and Todd was four hogs. They had to go out early the next morning and buy another cooler to haul all the "bacon" home.

To say this hunt was a success would be an understatement. Without exception, we all had a great time. We ate well, hunted hard and had seen good hogs. Don and I had shooting opportunities, but chose not to take the hogs that we had seen, as we were both looking for another wall-hanger. We understand that not everyone will harvest, or even see, an animal he wants on every hunt. We were both fine with that. The fact that our two first time hog hunters, Brian and Greg, had both scored made this a very special hunt for all of us.

We were hunting free ranging hogs in the Johnson County, Georgia area on lands totaling almost 3,000 acres that Blaine leases. He offers turkey, whitetail deer and hog hunts to those who enjoy a quality hunt. I highly recommend Blaine Burley and his operation in Georgia to anyone looking for a great hunt for any of these three species.

As a final aside, as Brian traveled from Knoxville to Georgia with his Dad for our hunt, his pregnant wife Ariel was at home and only a week or two away from the due date for twins! I am glad Brian was able to attend, allowing our plans made many months in advance to come to fruition. Many thanks to Ariel for giving him the go-ahead!

Perhaps the best part of this story is the beautiful twins who were born healthy, barely a week after Brian's return home from his hunt with us. Brian and Ariel are fine young Americans, shining examples of what is best about this nation.

We had a great time arranging and participating in this hunt with a deserving veteran, so we decided to try and make such hunts an annual gift from guys and gals who wish to show their appreciation to some of our wonderful vets. We are presently planning our second such hunt and our special guest this time will be an Army Ranger who was badly injured in an Osprey crash in Afghanistan. We are being assisted by Operation Second Chance (http://www.operationsecondchance.org/) with this upcoming hunt, which will be in January 2014.

I will add, in closing, that this hunt was only possible because of our "sponsors." These fine individuals were from at least 10 different states, including California, Washington, South Dakota, New York and Tennessee, to name a few diverse examples. Without your generous gifts of money and some custom loaded ammo, this special hunt would have been impossible. I am proud to call these fine Americans my friends. There is also a Marine who enjoyed a special hunt and who feels about you the same as I do.

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