Another Great Hog Hunt
Well, 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.
After an evening of catching up since we last hunted in Maine this past September, Don and I got a good night's sleep and were loaded, ready to roll by about 8:15 Friday morning. We picked up Al and his stuff at 8:30 and headed out in 15* temps for the Woods N Water camp, 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 as well.
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 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.
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 the 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. So now, our hunting group of four was indeed 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 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 Woods N Water outfitters has leased for hunting. The temperature was a brisk 18* for our morning sit.
No hogs collected, but some additional scouting by some of the hunters told us that there were certainly a lot of hogs in the area, no doubt. 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 Ga.) and most anywhere 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.
But 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 of it 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 placed out for them.
I'd already used a rangefinder to figure the range to those hogs to be right at 280 yards, which was a bit farther than I was prepared to shoot my Ruger M77 in .358 Win. I had done some calculations and was simply not comfortable with what I had figured to be about a foot and a half drop at that range shooting 250gr ammo as I was.
There were a couple of really big hogs in the group of 8-10, with one looking to be a real trophy. But, I simply was not comfortable enough to shoot quite 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 just out of those thick woods to present me a shot at 125 yards, about 15 minutes after sun set. Down one 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 woods in the dark would be, so I shot a second time. All quiet now and the second shot was not needed as it turned out.
I walked down to make sure, but the 150 pound boar 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, and 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 the happy hour soon after, having not seen anything and the 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 skinning chores.
Morning #2 had no action and soon the three hunters and guide were back for lunch. We called Blaine who was out scouting some likely spots and agreed to meet him as we drove out to the areas for an update on fresh sign. We all switched stands for the evening's hunt after Blaine's advice 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. And what a hog it was! It was true trophy 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! (Officially the next day he weighed a bit over 260 pounds!)
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 7 or 8 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 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 165gr Fusion load from his 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 had loading a huge boar I'd shot two years prior and we planned our "lift" accordingly as we gloved-up 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 and with one big heave we managed to get him high enough to prevent him from falling and a couple more pushes got him firmly loaded!
Phone calls were made, arrangements for formal pictures of the bruiser in the morning planned and we headed home for another happy "happy hour"! Al and Rodney both stayed out well into darkness depending on the 90% illum on our clear night to give them a shot opportunity, but no hogs were taken by them this evening, Rodney's last.
Another great dinner of homemade soup was awaiting our late hunters and their guide and they wasted no time in filling their bowls after looking at Don's nice trophy. We all slept in the next morning so as 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 been presented a nice opportunity to see deer and a flock of turkeys that contained six very nice long beards along with a couple more three year old toms. So, 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, but this is what true 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 and of that, there's no doubt.
The pictures: Thumbnail is Don with his big Boar back at camp the next morning
Don and I posing with it
The four hog hunters with Don's trophy
The big Boar where he fell
Last is the best picture showing the thick shield as we peeled it back when caping him out.
(Check out the difference of how the hide hangs behind the shield and where the shield begins)