Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mixed Bag Hunting and Falconry, the Hard Way

"So how did you get a hog AND a rabbit?"


Well... you just never know how an "average" day in the woods will turn out.

The hunt started off like most hunts... the promise of a new day in the woods transitioning into quiet yet slight boredom.

I start by the bridge heading behind the pond, downstream of the creek, heading towards the river.  Slowly, slowly moving just listening and looking.  It is so beautiful in there.  One of my favorite places.  A few ducks landed in the pond to my right.  Other than that, it was surprisingly quiet.

At about 8:10, I finally saw a squirrel.  The .308 in my hands might be a bit overkill so I keep inching along.

Step...listen.  Step.... listen.

I'm slipping  down a tight trail which had ranged from 10' to 2' wide.  To the right is a heavily overgrown field that is thick with vines and brush, limiting visibility to about 15'.  To my left is a steep drop-off overlooking the creek/river bottom.  The edge is about  20-30' away and is too steep to comfortably or safely climb.

I'm creeping along, covered in head-to-toe camo, trying to not make any noise when the brush around me erupts.  Hogs.  4 of them.  About 100lbs each.  They had been bedded down, overlooking the drop off.  They seem to like these sorts of high points.

Wind was negligible so at least it was not working against me.

The quartet moves a few feet.  They saw something but had no idea what I was and are obviously confused.  I pull the rifle to my shoulder and while doing so, apparently breathed DIRECTLY into the eyepiece since the scope was completely fogged when I looked through it.

AARRRGGHHH!

There is a hog RIGHT THERE, broadside, at ~10 yards and all I can see are two shadowy, dark images.  I look again, lower the gun, bring it back up, aim the best I can, .... and fire.

Hogs explode in all directions and for a split second I'm afraid they are coming my way.  I start to reach for the 9MM on my hip with the intention of just jettisoning the long gun.

Now they are turning, heading for the really thick stuff to the right.  At least I'm not being charged.

The next two shots are more by feel than anything.  I'm not even trying to look through the scope but am just pointing and shooting the best I can.

I think, but am not 100% sure, the 2nd shot was at the lead hog.  It might be hit but keeps running.  The 3rd shot is at the first hog I shot, bringing up the rear of the pack, wounded.  She is going slow with a broken right leg and a hole through her sternum.  The 3rd shot hits her a little far back but takes out the lungs.  She goes down and dies quickly.

The above took place in a matter of ~2 seconds yet felt like 2 minutes.  It is amazing how tunnel vision kicks in when the adrenaline hits and you can take in and process a million little things at once.

I hear a few grunts to the right and, thinking I hit the lead hog after all, go into the brush with the 9mm.  After about 20', I realize this is simply crazy.  I can barely see AND there are thorn vines AND poison ivy everywhere AND there might be a injured hog within feet of me.  I circle back twice, see no blood and give up the "chase".  (In hindsight, I should have looked more.)

After the shaking stops, I gut hog #1 and glance at the map on my phone to get a feel for where I am.  Continuing on the trail, I eventually hit a larger trail that runs parallel to the river.  While walking the  2 sides of the 1/4 mile long triangle back to the 4 wheeler, a big hawk takes off about 50' away.  He had been on the ground.  Curious, I ease closer to see what had his interest.

There, in the grass, is a still warm, cottontail rabbit, deader than a hammer with just a small mark on his side and head.  I started to take the rabbit but realized this was the hawk's breakfast so I put it back.

After getting the 4 wheeler and proceeding to get lost in the field only to have to abandon the 4 wheeler to find the hog and ..... the rabbit was still there after an hour.  Realizing that possession is 7/10th of the law, I strapped the rabbit to the 4 wheeler and headed back to camp.

.... and THAT is how I happen to come back to camp with both a hog and a rabbit.




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A  Man in the Woods




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