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Author Topic: Hail Storm Bacon and The Bay of Pigs  (Read 2835 times)

Offline Terry Green

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Hail Storm Bacon and The Bay of Pigs
« on: May 20, 2006, 11:05:00 PM »
Mr. Ray Hammond picked me up in North GA Friday morning, and we headed out for a hog hunting adventure.  He had invited me a couple of months ago to join him at a place in South Carolina soon as turkey season was over.  We waisted no time on that, and settle on the following weekend of that season's closing.

As Ray and I rode along we had some great conversation.  Ray and I had been around one another on several occasions, swapped emails and posts here on Trad gang, but never really got to know one another.  We talked about hunts we'd been on, gear preferences etc, etc.  Oh, and of course we solved all the world of bowhunting's problems.  Ok, we didn't really, but we talked a good game.  

When you cross over into lower South Carolina, you can't help but feel like you've stepped back in time, and the daily stresses seem to fad away rather quickly, least it did for me.  Some of the terrain is similar to south eastern GA, so I still felt like I was home in a sense.

As we entered the gate I was taking in all I could as Ray pointed out highlights of hunts gone by, great spots, interesting areas....and not leaving out pigs.  We spotted a small cluster of them before we even got to camp.  Ray asked if I'd like to get out and have a go at them, but I decided to just watch for a bit.  I figured the anticipation would really work on me while we got settled in to camp and suited up for the afternoon hunt, and I'd be in a better frame of mind.  Watching the little welcoming party was kinda like warming up before the game.

We entered Camp and made short order of formalities and began to gear up.  I'd get the low-down on camp that evening. No need to stand on ceremony, we had hogs to chase.  

We'd seen lots of sign in different places on the property.  I thought it was going to be interesting trying to figure out which of those likely places would be best that evening. Ray settled that with a very confident reply when I inquired as such...."Lets just go for a walk".  Easy enough I thought as we left the camp and paralleled a thunderstorm that was working off our right shoulder from back to front.

Here's a few teaser spots we were easing by.....


As we walked along at ground level even more sign was visible while we listened to the storm roll along on the same course.  I felt real good about the evening hunt, something was just bound to happen.  

Not too far from camp we came to an intersection and down the much less traveled was a group of shooter pigs.  Those of the easy dragging persuasion.  Fine eating any of them would be if the 1st stalk worked out the way we always hope it will.  Ray, being the gracious host, offered his hand down the grassy road and said "Have at them Sir". Not wanting to insult the host, I dove in the short pines to close the gap.

I ran into a pocket of briars about 75 yards in, and they were way too noisy to try and sneak through, so I back tracked a tad and eased out to the road for look see.  It looked like there was enough spotty cover to try and sneak from bush to bush with the occasional crawl. This is a normal tactic for TX Sweat, so I thought I try my luck in South Carolina.

It was working really well and one of the hogs made it a little easier for me.  She decided to come toward me while the rest of the group was moving the opposite way.  She was almost in range when she turned her back just as lightening struck.  Soon as the thunder started to roll I began to make several quick moves into shooting range, and again the gal turned back my way and came a few steps and turned to a 45 degree angle in the road which made here broadside to me.  It was my all up to me now.

The arrow looked to be a very lethal hit as the piggy swapped ends and ran about 10 yards down the middle of the road and then veered off to the right into the ditch where I lost sight of her.  Then lightening struck again, only this time it was close, very close....

I looked down the road and the rest of the group was still milling around and I eased out slowly to  cross and find my arrow. I was so involved in the hunt that I didn't realize this storm had veered left and was almost on top of me.  The rain began to fall, and in just a few seconds the bottom fell slap out.  I thought of my camera that was vulnerable in my fanny pack. I'd dropped the pack for the final approach stalk and it was laying off the side of the road and I hurried to rescue it.

I grabbed the pack and ducked into the sparse pines and huddled over my pack shedding it from the pounding rain that was blowing sideways. Then a cold shiver came over me as I felt the hail pounding my back when only moments ago I was perspiring from the 85 degree temps and 85% humidity.  Then it was over, just as fast as it had started.

Knowing there was no blood trail left after that gully washer, I decided to look for the hog blind from the last stretch in the ditch I'd seen her.  She'd only made it 25 yards.  As I checked her out I remembered the bow I had chosen for this hunt, a Thunderstick, and could only smile. This bow did the exact same thing that her 10# heavier sister did on her very 1st hunt...she brought home the bacon.  Must be some type of MOAB Mojo.


It was a great start to a weekend of hunting...and there was plenty of time for Ray to have a turn before the sun went down.

We loaded up the little smoker, made haste gutting and cooling her down....and headed to another area.  One that looked even more promising with terrain transition of clear cut, hardwoods with a slough full of water, and a field.  Here we go again.....

As we rounded a small curve in the road, there was another small group of pigs milling about and I let Ray get well ahead.  As he closed in, for some reason, the little buggars just decided to trot around the corner out of sight.  Ray proceeded and when he closed in on the area the pigs were, a real nice fully front loaded boar walks right out in the middle of the road catching us both in mid stride.

This boar weighing in about a buck seventy five stopped and struck a gallant pose in the middle of the road glairing in our direction.  He then threw Ray some obvious vocals,then turned and pranced down the road and around the curve with is head held high.  I eased up to Ray and said,..."You know what he just told you don't ya"...Ray chuckled and agreed "I sure do".  Ray and I played cat and mouse for about 20 minutes with two different hogs, that boar and another dry sow around 100#s, but the day ended with us mighty eager for more.

What would the morning bring?............stay tuned.


We woke to the pre dawn birds that start chirping about 30 minutes before sun up, and the coffee was brewing.  We had a light breakfast and headed out and again Ray said...."Lets just go for a walk"....and walk we did let me tell ya.

The morning was silence, not a creature was about.  The only sign of life this AM were those early birds that drew the covers off of us. It was one of those mornings that let you know if any of your gear is too noisy, like the little squeak in my pack that I adjusted. Every noise we made seemed like it came out of a bull horn...that's how quiet it was.  

We kept strolling along soaking in all the sign that was fresh since the down pour the night before.  The hogs had been busy not long ago under the cover of darkness, and were surely napping now.  We were figuring the animals would go on a mid morning feed soon so we hung in there and continued to lay down our own tracks.

Sure enough around 9:30 the rest of the world decided to wake up.  First it was the birds, then the rabbit dashing across the road, the armadilo crashing the brush, the turkey bobin and weavin his escape into the tall pines.  Ray and I were on full alert now keeping a sharp eye.

As the road curved to the right up ahead revealing more track....we were greeted head on by a coyote around a hundred yards....Looks like everyone was out to play....but where were the pigs?


We came to a 3 or 4 acre field on the right full of broom straw, dog fennel, and some type of aromatic greenery that I'd smelled many times before but I don't know its name.  Maybe someone will recognize it in the pics to follow and enlighten us.
The field was slightly up hill and there was a perimeter with a single lane of bahia grass all the way around.(Ray can correct my spelling of that grass if he'd like).  Ray gave me the layout of the lake and bedding areas and I took off for a stroll around the field.  I was to meet up with Ray where the bahia grass ran back into the road we were walking.  I was on point as I closed in on the back side of the over grown meadow, being as careful as I could.  I wanted to make sure I saw the pigs before they saw me, if there were any around. It was a very likely looking place.
As I saw the end of my planted row maybe 50 yards away I looked, but no Ray.  I'd come off of point being that I'd just about completed my journey. Hmmm....I'd taken the long way around for sure.....did Ray go on ahead?
Then I was snapped back into hunting mode immediately as I heard hogs directly to my left out in the middle of the field.  Couldn't see any, but sure heard many.  I nocked my arrow back on the string and started into the broom straw to get a fix on the gang. They sounded like they were having a block party.  I had the wind in my favor and the cover of tall broom straw to block their sight, as long as their heads were down.
Now guys, I have to tell you I was transfixed on the visions that were unfolding before me. I thought I was watching a scene out of Primal Dreams it was so captivating.  It was as if I had waded out waist deep into a choppy bay full of porpoises.  Hogs were appearing and disappearing here and there in a random cadence as the wind waived the broom straw rhythmically opposing the direction of their travels.   I was hoping that I hadn't waded out too far and wandered into the herd as some were doing their magic tricks only 10 yards away.  There was this one hog that came into view, but it never disappeared, nor was it going to till it left this field.  That was the one I wanted since I'd already gotten small smoker, I wanted some big shoulders and hams to BBQ. I'd take my chances holding out for the right shot.  Now all I could really see of this animal at any one time was about 8 inches of its back, and on occasion I could see a leg here and there but I sure knew which one was the front cause they were all headed in the same direction.  I was in position and the range was good, just needed that front leg to step into a gap. ........

Next thing I remembered was hearing a squeal like a set of 36 x 14.5 mud tires locked down and the beast bucked like a bronco with only a little of the florescent yellow fletch showing.  Like a bolt of lightening from the evening before it disappeared going away in the 11 O'clock position from me.  Not far into it's retreat there 3 more mud tire squeals from the same area and it sounded like no forward progress was being made. In just a few seconds the only sounds left were the concerned chatter amongst the smaller ones as they started there magic tricks again, only at a frantic pace this time.  My eyes were dancing all around making sure I wasn't going to get caught in the stampede.

As the tail end of the crew made its way to the safety of the thick swamp I fixed my eyes back on the exact spot the hog was standing, and I caught movement out of the corner of my eye at 2 O'clock.  Here comes a hog obviously limping and questions raced through my mind at warp speed......Is that my hog? Wasn't it overall darker? Was its hair that long? Did it loop back? Did Ray get an arrow into one?  

I realized no matter the answer, the chances of this being another un-touched hog that just so happened to have a limp were slim to none.  So, I nocked another arrow and let one sail.  The shot looked good entering the left side and the hog moved along at a quicker pace.  I moved into pursuit as quiet as I could. Moving twenty yards or so the hog stopped again quartering severely.  I sent another arrow in behind the ribs on the left side going straight for the heart of the goody box.  The hog took off again and I let yet another one sail without taking a step this time.  The final arrow arrow went into the neck behind the left jaw and the hog took its last strides leaning to the right as it fell over stone dead.

I reached the hog and looked for the evidence of the 1st shot I'd taken that morning....none was found.

I dragged the dry sow to the lane of bahia grass and went looking for Ray.  He'd been in behind the bunch trying to get a shot as well.  I told him what all had transpired the best I could...I was pumped to say the least.  I told him I was pretty sure I had another hog down and we'd look for it after we loaded up this shaggy gal.....


As you can see in this picture, this hog's foot is tucked up under a bit, and you could not straighten it out.  It was obviously injured sometime earlier in her life.  Other than that, it was a really pretty neat looking sow with rowed wavy hair down her side and a bristly  face.  I'm going to do her the honor of a dandy shoulder mount.


We got Miss Shaggy loaded up and went around to the other side of the field to where all the games began.  I knew exactly where the 1st hog was standing and pretty sure I knew where I'd taken the shot.  The hog was standing to the right and just beyond a little green shrub in the middle of the broom straw field.

When we got to the spot of impact we looked in the direction the animal ran and Ray claimed blood immediately.  The cluster of broom straw looked like it had been painted with a mop. Instantly we found another, and another, and another.  After the 4th cluster was found I saw a hoof just up ahead and turned to Ray and celebrated because we had found it.  I was so exited just knowing the hog was down that I celebrated after only seeing one hoof. Getting one hog that morning would have been more than enough, but getting two was definitely something else.

I turned and walked quickly and the 1st thing that entered my mind was that picture of Guru and his Bruiser.  Curt had taken a 300# plus a little over a year ago, and this one looked like it came out of the same litter.  I had no idea she was this big. I was elevated even higher to have taken such an animal.  

After admiring the animal, and looking back to confirm that it only made it 30 yards at the most, we took a few photos and reflected.  She was so heavy that Ray and I literally could not drag her.  We had to 1, 2, 3 - heave her to the truck.


I'd like to publicly thank Ray for being a great camp host, hunting partner, hog heaver, and most of all for just being him.  I owe this hunt to Ray, and it will be one I'll never forget.  I'll likely never forget the breakfast Ray served up that morning either.  I'd gotten both hogs cleaned and skinned and Ray helped me tote them into the cooler...As I was finishing up he made a gourmet breakfast of egg, bison sage sausage, and last and most definitely not least some hickory bacon Dean Torges sent me that would make ya slap your mamma.  Thanks Dean and thanks again Mr. Ray Hammond.

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