Taking a few days off
To go up to my hunting camp with some friends and go hog hunting. Fishing has been tough and the weather, while spectacular with calm seas and no rain, has been hot. So I’m taking a break to get away for a few days.
I know I have a great job,
But even charter boat captains need some time to get away. If you have looked at my website for any length of time, you would probably know, hog hunting is my usual “get away”.
This trip I invited
a couple of regular fishing customers of mine to join me. Mike and his wife, Aline have been fishing with me for 6 or 7 years. They always fish at least 3 full days. We’ve had some great days and a couple “stinkers”. That’s fishing.
The first day they ever fished with me,
The weather was terrible and the fishing was worse. We had a late-season cold front and the water was very rough and muddy. We trolled for 8 hrs. and caught one Cero Mackerel. It was a nice one, but it was the only one. It made for a long day and I can still remember sitting on the bridge thinking that after an unimpressive day like we were having, I would probably never see them as customers again. I’m pretty sure we had good catches on the next two trips, but it was a tough start and fortunately, I was wrong
It turns out,
But Mike and Aline are big-time hunters. Both with bow and gun, they have hunted all over the U.S. and also Africa. They are trophy hunters, but they also eat what they kill. If you want to know a good recipe for Elk, Bear, Moose, Mule Deer, Whitetail, Mountain Goat, Antelope, Wild Hog or any other game, Aline probably has one. Mike retired as a full bird colonel from the US Army and was an Army Ranger. He is currently a freelance writer having been published in a number of outdoor magazines. You can see his articles on his website: www.theslowhunt.com
Hunters are some of the best customers
To have on a fishing boat. Most hunters have sat in a tree stand all day and not seen anything. Very serious hunters like Mike have been dropped off by float plane in the wilderness for a week and come home with nothing. So they understand a slow day. Hunting is not just about killing something, it about being out there to enjoy the outdoors and nature. But I still hate a slow day of fishing.
We met at my camp
On Thursday at about noon. It’s a 6 hr. drive from Key West and they were coming from out of state. We got settled into camp and got ready to hunt the evening.
I have a bad habit,
Or maybe a good habit, depending on your point of view, of putting my guests in the best stands. For that reason, it’s not uncommon for my guests to get more hogs than I do. I just feel guilty bringing up someone and taking the best spots for myself, especially their first time at camp. Once they get a hog or two, I’ll pull rank, but this was their first time hunting with me, so I wanted to give them a good opportunity.
The first night,
Conditions were good for my best stand. It’s called the “South Road” stand. That is because it is off a road that goes south along the eastern perimeter of the lease. Clever how I did that!
There are two stands on this feeder,
so it was perfect for them both to sit together. It didn’t take long before a big boar came in. There was a tree in the way for Aline, so she could not get a shot. The boar did give Mike a shot opportunity. Mike is an excellent archer. He shoots competition and has been hunting for a long time. The boar didn’t go far. He dropped about 30 yards from where Mike hit him.
I told them to sit tight.
That spot is the best spot I have and it is not uncommon for more than one group to come in. Sort of like dinner seating’s on a cruise ship. One group comes in early, another comes in a little later. They sat and a little while later a group of 5 came in. A sow and 5 piglets. The piglets were 30+ lbs. and old enough to make it on their own. That’s a good thing. The Sow didn’t give a shot to Aline, but the piglets did. She hit one and they scattered. The Sow hesitated and that was her mistake. Like I said, Mike is a good shot with a bow.
The sow came in right at sunset
and did not drop right away. It ran into the brush and so Mike and Aline had to track it in the dark. They found it a couple of hundred yards from where he shot it. Mike started to drag the hog out, but it is not easy. Trying to drag 160lbs of dead weight over rough brush and palmettos in the dark in 90+ degree heat.
By the time I got there
to pick them up with the buggy, he was still trying to drag the pig out and was only half way out of the brush and it was pitch black. I pulled into the clearing on the buggy and hollered for them to show me where they were with their flashlights. I saw their lights through the trees about 100 yds. away. Mike hollered for me to come help him drag the hog out of the brush.
That’s when he learned the true value of a swamp buggy.
I told him I would be right there. I don’t think he expected me to drive in. but that’s the cool thing about a buggy. You can pretty much drive over or through anything but trees. Anything you can chop down with a machete, you can drive over. I drove right to him and together we lifted the hog on the buggy, then they both hopped on and we just backed out. MUCH easier than dragging a dead pig!
I did have a pig come into the stand
I was sitting in, but I never got a shot. The wind was not great and it was nervous and circled the feeder. It got behind me and scented me and that was it. Mike ended up with a 200 bar hog and a 160lb sow. Unfortunately, Aline’s piglet got lost in the scattering of the others. It was very wet at that site, so there was not a good blood trail to follow. We never found it. Hate to kill something and not harvest it, but truthfully, Pigs are an invasive species. They do over a half a billion dollars agricultural damage a year in the US. A dead pig is good for the environment even if you don’t find it.
Nobody saw anything
the second night and I missed a couple of hogs the 3rd night. I had my rifle with me and it jammed. Improper installation of the firing pin by yours truly. I did have a sidearm with me, so I tried to use that. It was like the Wild West blasting away at 3 big hogs with a Glock .45. Except I didn’t hit a thing. I was shooting at moving pigs at about 30 yrs., but you would think I would have at least wounded one. Nope!
Have I mentioned that apparently, I’m not that dangerous with a .45?
On the last night,
I put Aline in a stand I had sat in the night before. When I sat there the wind was not good. Hogs have a tremendous sense of smell. Scent control and wind direction is everything.
The wind was better
on the last night and from the way the ground was disturbed, I know there had been hogs coming in. I drove up to within a couple of hundred yards of the feeder and I walked Aline into the stand as she had never been there before. Mike waited on the swamp buggy. The fewer people to disturb the site the better.
Aline and I walked in
I pointed out where the hogs usually come from in that spot. Aline tied her rifle off to the drop line from the stand and climbed up. I poured out some corn that had been soaking in Kool-Aid. It’s an old trick that does work. Hogs will eat just about anything. Even rotten, bug-infested old corn. But that doesn’t mean they don’t like sweet fruity corn too. I dumped the corn as Aline got to the top of the stand safely and started to walk back to the buggy to take Mike to his stand.
As I mentioned,
the buggy was only parked about 200 yds. from the stand at the most. I wasn’t quite back to the buggy when we hear the loud report of a gunshot. I was thinking, “That was quick”! Mike thought it might be a misfire. His biggest concern was to make sure his wife was alright. We hustled back to the stand and there was Aline. Definitely alright, with a big smile on her face. There was also a nice pig. The pig, however, was not alright. It was very dead. One shot through the shoulder. It was a pretty good shot as the pig was moving at the time.
By the end of the trip,
We had 4 days of beautiful weather. Very hot, but not a drop of rain. We did a lot of fun cruising in the swamp buggy. We had 3 pigs harvested, one lost ………not to mention the 3 pigs that I scared the crap out of !!!
Have I mentioned that I’ve been nominated for the PETA Hunter of the year again?