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Author Topic: The Swamp - by Calvin Peters  (Read 411 times)

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The Swamp - by Calvin Peters
« on: April 29, 2003, 05:36:00 AM »
The Swamp

by Calvin Peters, February 2003

This morning started out just like every other one…that is, if I woke up in a hunting bunkhouse in Florida every morning!

 I was alone in my ‘ground blind’ with just a bow in my hand and an arrow on a string. Nicely tucked in behind some “blow down” with an entire wood lot for back cover.

 I had nothing to do but “think,” and enjoy the process of it.

It was 40 minutes until full dark, and I knew it had been at least that long since the ‘feeder’ went off. It was 15 yards in front of me.

Hog tracks were everywhere and I had almost run over a big black sow with at least 6 red and black pigs with her-driving in the night before.

After the full day of hunting hard I knew it was going to have to be soon…or never.

 I’d sat at this exact stand in the morning with no action, and even though we had some fun with the dogs in the afternoon, I was running out of hunting time. I was scheduled to drive back to Orlando to rejoin my family and finish out the holiday within an hour or two…and still had a 3-hour drive to get back there.

This was a world away from my home in Calgary Alberta Canada.

Now I have had lots of experience with pigs of the white variety, the domestic ones that live inside of endless fences. I had managed a portion of a large 650 sow farrow-to-finish outfit for 3 years, but had never before had occasion to chase a bona fide ‘wild’ one before. There just aren’t “wild” hogs in Canada, at least ones that I know about.

It was on account of the “***********” that I was even here in the first place. An innocent inquiry as to diversionary “things to do in Florida” thread that ended up having Mike (4Nolz) Huston invite me to his private hunting lease with one other fella…gentleman named Penny Banks. A finer couple of men I have yet to meet. These guys were first rate hunters as well as down right giving with all their camo clothing and food. Heck, Penny even sharpened broadheads for me.

But this story is about hunting hogs, and I’m still sitting in the ground blind holding a bow.

It was a northern Florida swamp…they tell me it was dry, but there was water around nonetheless, and I was hearing animals that just didn’t call my neck of the woods home. Birds galore. I could hear the chirps and squeals of feathered birds that just didn’t show up into my view; I wondered what they looked like. They must have been everywhere. I am pretty sure they were in the bush right behind me…’cause I could hear the bush rustling and it sure wasn’t snakes. There aint no snakes in Florida…at least that’s what I told myself. And for some reason I was very much at ease.

Perhaps it had something to do with the particular bow that I had in my hands. It was a Dean Torges bamboo backed Osage bow called “Persistence” that I understand has some history. History that doesn’t need to be spoken about here, but I was certainly under it’s spell. Smitten some might say. Let’s just say that I felt there was enough medicine in that bow to take care of business if I had occasion to call upon it.

It is hard to describe to someone that doesn’t have experience with things that are truly handcrafted works of art. To those that do, no explanation is necessary. To put it simply, the course of my life was altered from the day that I held that bow. A fork in the road rose up in front of me. I picked a direction and I am still going down it, certainly with no regrets. It’s a relentless pursuit of excellence that is spoken about by Lexus, but achieved by Dean. I know these things. I held it in my hand.

There are many things that go through a bow hunters mind when he is posted up somewhere waiting for something to happen. I think about what everyone else is doing…up in Canada my buddies were slogging through snow on their way out to their cars to head to work. How fortunate I am that I’m in the bush doing the very thing that I have always wanted to do and enjoyed since I was a little kid. Sometimes my mind wanders to my friends that have pre deceased me…and I wonder what I did to deserve the right to be able to sit in the bush where everything in my world is just FINE thank you…and of course Politics.

 Every bow hunter knows that if the secret ever leaked out about what we are doing out there with simple sticks and strings…there would certainly be world peace.  

But these are small, quick little thoughts that flit through my mind just as quickly and as effortlessly as if I was taking another breath. Perfectly normal. Just as normal as the entire herd of hogs that suddenly appeared before me. They moved into the feeder from off to my right, I could see them moving, but it just amazed me that I was watching them from 10 yards away and wasn’t hearing them. That must have been what was behind me.

I slowly rose up from my seat, “Persistence” coming to hand just as quickly and naturally as the Old Man from Ohio promised it would.

I had a clear shooting lane and took another breath as I prepared to load the limbs up with lethal energy.

It was the third warm day in Florida in a row, and at that particular second, at three quarters of draw…one of Florida’s finest mosquitoes decided to take an opportunity to feed on this particular Canadian. I lost focus, let the arrow down, and started the long process of lifting my arm, ever…so..slowly…to kill the mosquito.

They were nervous hogs, obviously wild. Every few seconds they would sense some predator was also in the bush watching them…and perhaps was trying to swat away a very painfully biting bug.

They would jump and run a few feet just like a school of fish, almost thinking as one. Then they stop, and reconsider…and slowly sneak back to the corn on the ground. 10 seconds later, they would repeat the process.

I knew that at any time I could have killed one of those pigs. Some might think that I was being silly, but for some reason, I didn’t. I stood, I sat, I crouched…I pretty much pushed my luck. I drew them down, I moved, and of course removed the occasional mosquito from the growing swarm that seemed to find me of particular interest.

Some might suggest that I didn’t want to get my hands dirty before I had to head out and rejoin the family, and they would have a point. But I won’t acknowledge it. For the same reason that when I got home a lot of non hunters asked me if I “killed anything” and didn’t seem to understand that anything less than a “kill” could be satisfying. I didn’t try to change their minds either.

The fact is that they were “only” pigs, a common varmint that many would erase as a pest without a second thought.  But it was my hunt, and my opportunity to turn down.

 In the hour I spent with them I learned a lot about their behaviour; how they are flighty like deer, how they smell! How absolutely greedy they are…but also silly.

I guess I could kill a pig anytime I wanted to If killing was the point, but in a swamp in Florida THIS bow hunter had an opportunity to spend some time in the bush and observe.

Something that just isn’t available in Canada.

Information I can use the next time I’m down there to kill a pig.

After it was totally dark and I could hardly see them anymore, I nocked an arrow and got ready to shoot. I knew I wasn’t gonna hit anything, more like closing the book really, just seemed like the thing to do at the time. It didn’t need to make sense.

An arrow to fly through the air just seemed like the way to end things somehow.

The headlights of the truck appeared at the end of the lane, and the hogs all disappeared like the wind that they came in on. Damp air was all that was left.

I picked a spot in the dirt, and sent an arrow there. It went were it was supposed to.

It was a most successful hunt.

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