If someone had told me that I would be running off to Florida and hog hunting I would have called their bluff. As a little Northern gal from small-town Perham, Minnesota, I had never hunted hogs before or let alone seen one! Having befriended two of my co-workers who live in Florida during the off season from the pheasant hunting lodge that I work at in the fall, it was only a matter of time before I headed south. What I did not mention is the fact that not only have I never seen or shot a hog, but that I had never been on a commercial airplane. After some embarrassing nervous giggling I managed to make it safe and sound to Florida for what I would now call the best trip ever.
Upon stepping off the plane I soon realized that I was in a very different environment than I had ever experienced.
The palm trees seemed so fake to me because I had only ever seen them in movies. Little did I know, that what I was seeing was only the tip of the iceberg for the terrain I was going to be in when it was time to go after some hogs. After 3 days of fishing, my friend Jesse Terry and I took off that evening to stay the night at his 2,300 acre hunting camp. We arrived very late that evening, so by the time we were done running our mouths about hunting stories it was soon 3 a.m. in the morning. I set my alarm and 3 hours later Jesse knocked on the door and forced me to submit to my alarm’s demands. I soon found myself half-awake pulling on my camo for the morning hunt.
The minute we stepped outside we started loading up the swamp buggy. After Jesse, myself, and his big black lab Jumbo were all loaded, we started up the buggy and headed out. If I only had two words to describe the landscape I was seeing they would be “Jurassic Park”. Needless to say, I was fully awake at this point as my inner child half expected to be eaten by some freakin’ dinosaur. The pine, aspen, and broadleaf trees that I am used to were very much unlike the cypress trees and palms that were everywhere. We had made our way through the maze of palm fronds and climbed into the tree stand for our morning hunt.
The stand that we sat in over looked a large barrel type of feeder hanging from a tree that was on a set timer to release corn. The timer was set to go off around 7:30/8 a.m. right after first light. I sat hyper-vigilant with excitement as this type of a jungle was filled with so many different sights and sounds for a girl from up north. It wasn’t very long before a black hog showed up on the edge of the trees. Long story short…the hog busted us. The wind wasn’t ideal for our morning hunt and it was swirling around just enough for the hog to take off before I had the chance to look through the scope. We left the stand and decided to go drive to some other areas to walk in and see if we could find any other hogs that had come to get corn. We had one more close encounter with a hog that we snuck up on but again, we were busted.
After a nap and some food we went out again in the late afternoon. We parked the buggy and set out to walk to the first tree stand. We crept in quietly in case we were able to see a hog on the way in. Mid-step Jesse stops me dead in my tracks to look through his binoculars, and then whispers to me that there were two hogs sleeping near the edge of the woods. We silently snuck our way in and stopped at about 30 yards at most away, and Jesse knelt down for me to use his back for a gun rest. Just as I am looking at these sleeping hogs through the sight, suddenly all hell breaks loose. The feeder went off. Expecting the hogs to run from the corn raining down on them, imagine my shock when suddenly hogs came charging in!
I was quietly being my most lady-like excitedly whispering swear words as I took in what was happening. I was trying to pick which hog to shoot, when the big black and gray hog shows up. I then knew what to shoot so I aimed behind the ear and squeezed off a shot and he dropped dead instantly! The hogs didn’t realize yet what was going on. A few scattered but there was still the chance to shoot another hog! Jesse told me to shoot the big one that just came in and BOOM! I exploded the sand right next to his head like a loser. I handed Jesse the gun and he shot a pig because I was shaking too hard to aim from the adrenaline rush of killing my first hog. After Jesse killed one he handed me the gun back and told me to take my time. I picked a red and black one, took a few deep breaths and managed to squeeze off a shot and hit him right behind the ear to drop him dead in his tracks like the first hog. That shot was one of the hardest shots I have had to take being so filled with adrenaline and the hogs never stop moving when they are rutting around for food. After that shot we had three dead and the others had finally caught onto us and ran off. I’m very happy that I was able to redeem myself for my one missed hog to help nurture my bruised ego.
After a big hug and lots of pictures we loaded up our hogs onto the buggy and we were all done.
I have never had quite as crazy of a hunt as sitting 30 yards away from a bunch of wild hogs playing sniper. The best part of the hunt was the fact that we lost the hogs off the back of the buggy at least 3 times and didn’t notice soon enough so we had to turn around and go find them to re-load them. We managed to finally get back to camp at dark tired from all the excitement of the day. My hog weighed in at 161 pounds and I have to admit that this Northern girl would love to head south again for more!