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Gettin’ Mama Hog and Her Baby Outta the Dark Dark Woods

Well, I promised to tell the story of how Jimmy and I got my first kill, a wild female sow, and one of her babies, out of the woods that February day back in 2010.  We were so pumped!  He didn’t even realize that I had seen a pig until he saw me raise my little Remington 243 rifle from Walmart.  He had seen the piglet at almost the same time, so the shots from my rifle and his shotgun rang out almost simultaneously in the late afternoon stillness.  A reddish white spray was my clue that she had been hit as she took off running. 

“Did you get it?” Jimmy asked. 

“I think so,” I replied.  “I saw something spray out.”  As he took off after it, following the blood trail, I remained behind, trying not to feel as the poor piglet squealed its last few breaths away.  Jimmy’s shotgun blast had torn its throat open.

“Here she is!” I heard him call from about 50 yards away.  Picking my way through the dried leaves and branches, I soon reached him and the evidence of my first wild kill, a sow, a mama pig with teats, probably the mother of the piglet Jimmy had shot.  I felt sadness for her, but it was soon overcome with feelings of triumph and pride as I realized that I had actually killed something!

Now what to do?  There was no question we would get the pigs out of the woods, but with her weighing about 250 pounds from the looks of her, how would we manage?  We hadn’t actually planned for this part of the hunt!  Real pros.

Jimmy handed me his shotgun and backpack and proceeded to drag the sow’s dead weight about 30 yards.  It was February, but we were both in short sleeves, so it wasn’t a cold day, and the effort soon had him sweating.  It was obvious that we wouldn’t be able to take the piglet, sow, and all our gear out at once, so he left me alone with the sow and headed back to the truck with the gear and the little pig.

Let me tell you, being alone in the woods just before dusk with a dead animal is eerie.  I could feel eyes on me, as if all the sow’s friends and relatives were staring at me from the undergrowth.  I even heard rustling and feared possible attack from angry pigs.  Thank goodness I kept my rifle.  Still, I was relieved when Jimmy returned with a rope. 

It would be a good uphill trek over a creek, fallen logs, briars, and underbrush back to the pickup.  Even if we had an ATV, it wouldn’t have gotten into those thick woods.  Jimmy tied a rope around her neck and we both pulled and tugged her very ungracefully over logs, through the creek, and across the underbrush until we reached the outskirts of the woods.  It was getting dark and we still had at least an acre uphill and a fence to cross.

After changing positions and stopping several times to rest, we finally made it to the barbed wire fence that separates my brother’s horses from the creek bottom and woods of his property.  I felt as if my heart was working overtime and was actually amazed that one of us hadn’t passed out from the exertion.  We are middle-aged after all, but determination won out until we reached the fence.  The truck was just a few yards ahead, but still uphill.  Jimmy suddenly had an idea.

He climbed through the fence, went to his truck, started it up, and backed it down to the fence where we attached the other end of the rope that was tied to the pig’s neck to the trailer hitch on his truck.  Jumping back in the truck, he pulled the pig easily under the fence.  Our jubilance didn’t last long, though.  We still had to get the pig up into the bed of the truck! 

By now it was dark and we were a bloody, sweaty mess.  I feared that ticks were probably crawling all over us as well.  Oh, the joys of hunting. . .

But Jimmy had another idea. . .

He untied the rope from the truck and had me toss it over a low nearby tree branch—how handy that tree was!  He instructed me to back the truck up under the branch after he tied the rope again to the truck.  Then I pulled the truck forward, hoisting the pig up with the rope.  Then came the tricky part.  Jimmy had to hold the rope with the pig dangling while I backed up the truck directly beneath the pig so it could fall into the truck bed. 

I never even considered that it would not work.  It had to work!  And it did!  The mighty hunters had their prize!  My brother later said that he would have to put a game camera out there, not to watch game, but to watch the hunters!  It was a comedy show, but we won Man & Woman vs. Pig!

Next:  Home butchering ain’t for amateurs. . .

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Hunting with Hubby

There is nothing so good for bonding as husband and wife than going with your husband on a hunting expedition.  Getting up at 4:30 to make it to the deer blind and stand at least two hours before daylight somehow brings man and wife together in a way that sleeping until 10:00 a.m. on a weekend can’t. 

The alarm sounds off at that ungodly hour afore mentioned.  I fight the urge to pull the covers up and turn over.  Half asleep, I throw myself out of the cozy bed to pull on my matching Gander Mountain pants and shirt and grab my backpack stuffed with gloves, fleece neck collar, cap with cap light, granola bars, and hunting license.  No time for a shower, but I wipe my face and smelly bits with a cleansing cloth and then I head to the kitchen to fill my backpack with hurriedly-made sandwiches, granola bars, bottled water, and a Coke for my hubby.  Then I fill my precious Stanley thermos with freshly brewed coffee.  With my 243 encased in its pink trimmed camo rifle case, I sling by backpack over my shoulder, grab the thermos, and climb into my husband’s classic 1966 Ford pickup.  It comes to life with a roar, and we head to my brother’s property about ten miles away.  Jimmy has his compound bow, backpack, and our Li’l Buddy heater all packed and ready.

We get to my brother’s house and pull up to the gate behind his house, the pickup rumbling loudly, but my brother and sister-in-law have gotten used to the noise, so we don’t worry about waking them up.  Even the dogs don’t bark anymore.  Jimmy gets out of the truck to open the gate, climbs back in, drives through, and gets out again to close the gate.  Yes, I should do the gate, but he is so good, he just does it.  I clutch my thermos, anticipating that first, hot cup.   Jimmy drives his truck down the by-now-worn path to our blind, startling my sister-in-law’s horses, who jump up, wild-eyed, trotting away from the truck.  There is the blind, quietly awaiting our arrival.

Jimmy snaps on his caplight as he climbs out of the truck.  As he goes to unlock the little wooden storage building that he converted into a blind and moved to this sight, I gather my things and open the truck door as quietly as possible.  The air is crisp, the night still dark, and all is quiet.  The eastern horizon is showing some color, a promise of the sunrise to come.  I step up into the blind as Jimmy opens the wooden shutter of the front window.  I feel the cool breeze through the opening.  He makes sure I am securely inside and then shuts the back door before he moves off to find his tree stand.  I am alone in the dark, just me, my rifle, and the hot coffee waiting in my thermos.

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How I Got Started

Way back when I was in college (circa 1978), I met a guy who loved to hunt and took me with him to hunt on his family’s land.  I would go with him early in the morning and sit in trees and on the ground holding a rifle I had no idea how to shoot.  I donned oversized waders and followed him into a swamp on a duck-hunting expedition, and even held shot-dead ducks in one hand and a rifle in the other while tromping behind him through thigh-high waters until I stepped in a hole and experienced the fun of having my waders fill up with chilling water as I struggled to keep the gun and ducks above water.  It was funny to everyone but me, but I hung in there.  I sat in the pickup with the odor of beaver urine all over him after he had carried a huge dead beaver over his shoulder.I even held onto the hind legs of squirrels as my boyfriend pulled the skins off like gloves.  It must have been love:  I did whatever I needed to do to please him. . .

Fast forward to 2009:  the kids are grown and my husband (not the same guy) sparks my dormant interest in the outdoors.  He outfits me with my own 243 rifle, dresses me in his hunting clothes, and brings me to the woods with him to sit in a deer blind.  I get the fever as a young buck wanders into sight.  Unfortunately for me, I can’t locate him in my rifle scope.  He hears us trying to find him in my scope, sees our white glowing faces, and bolts.  I vow to meet him again.

Then my husband renews his interest in bowhunting.  We watch hunting programs on television, and I become interested.  He buys a secondhand PSE bow for me and gets me outside to practice shooting arrows.  I’m still not confident enough to actually hunt with a bow, though.

One afternoon I agree to go wild hog hunting with him.  We sit out in our blind for at least two hours.  Hubby believes the hogs he has been watching will be coming down the hill any second right past our blind.  However, before we get settled in the blind, he leaves Koolaid near his feeder to lure hogs in.  As the sun begins to set, we decide to leave the blind.  I suggest that hogs are probably around his feeder because of the Koolaid.

Sure enough, we pack up and make our way noisily toward the feeder on our way back to the truck.  Suddenly a pig darts from behind a bush and runs away from us.  I quickly reload my rifle thinking that if there was one, there are probably others.  We are talking about it when I see a couple of ears sticking up over some bushes about 25 yards away.  “There’s one,” I say to my husband as I lift my rifle.  About that time, he tells me he sees some piglets.  I point my rifle and shoot.  A split second later, there is a blast from his shotgun.  I see a spray from my target as it takes off running.  The piglet my husband has shot begins screaming and thrashing around.

In disbelief, my husband asks me if I hit the pig.  I tell him that I saw a spray, so he takes off in search of the pig I shot while his target continues to thrash and squeal.  A few seconds later, he calls to me telling me that he has found my pig about 100 yards away.  She has left a blood trail from her belly wound.  Finally her offspring stops squealing.  He has gone to piggy heaven to be with his mama.

Tromping over to her, I see her rows of nipples and feel a momentary sadness at having killed a mama hog.  The feeling soon vanishes as I realize that I have become an actual hunter!  My first kill!

Next:  Getting mama and baby out of the woods. . .

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Hello, Lady Hunters!

It’s never too late to learn to hunt, girls.  I tagged along with a boyfriend hunter in college and sat out in the cold woods with a rifle I had no idea how to shoot, just because I wanted to be with him.  It has taken me over 30 years to realize that I can be a hunter, and a good one, in my own right!  In the past year I have become not just a tag-along, but a bonafide hunter in my own right!  With the encouragement and help of my wonderful husband, I shot my first wild hog back in the summer, and then my first whitetail buck on opening day of deer season in my county!  Stay tuned. . .more to come. . .