Hunting Tale

About three weeks ago, I went out to my back pasture to take a look at the fence line as I haven’t looked it over since we sold the last of the horses, about five years ago, and found the front part looked like some one had plowed it and the cross-fence was down.

The last acre or so is un-cleared, but fenced and cross-fenced. My daughter used to call the un-cleared section the “way back”.
When we were transferred to the Cape about ten years ago, I added a cross-fence and a gate to close off the un-cleared section. I then bashed my way through the jungle of palmettos and brush with the tractor and brush hog making a four foot wide trial, leading back into the forty acres of county land, then on to the power line giving a nice safe trial that enabled the girls to ride to there friends place with out having to ride the horses on H/W524 or any other roads.
I continued on through gate into the “way back” Now thanking that some one had opened the last gate, or that the back fence was down, on the old trail. The phantom cultivator had   been hard at work in here also. I now need to see how much work I’m in for.
 So I went deeper into the palmettos. And around a bend in the Trail, came face to face with a big boar, I guess about 300-400 lb. His back was six inches higher then my waist. Lucky for me the wind was in my face and I saw him before he saw me. So I backed up, keeping an eye on him and moving very slowly. He seemed to be more interested in rooting then in me.  I don't think that he even scented me or heard me.  The wind was gusting from him to me; East to west as a front was moving through. I was thinking that I have a lot of scrub oak and other handy climbing trees if the need be. On the walk back to the house, I got to thinking, "I’m going to get that big ugly old boar with my long bow”.
That was on Sunday evening and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to go out until the next weekend.

I’ll have to stop here to let you know a little of my hunting back ground. I grew up in the North West spending more time in the woods then in school. I was lucky to have a granddad that was a meat hunter for the early logging camps (my grandmother was the logging camp cook). In later years when I was growing up on a farm/ranch my granddad was a gunsmith. On any given day, either on foot or horseback or on hands and knees my brother, cousins, grandpa and myself would be out hunting; but never in tree stands. Have hunted every thing in the North West squirrels, rabbits, deer, elk, black bear (one from back porch of house) to grizzlies (not with a bow) in Alaska with Longbow, Recurve, hand guns, rifle etc.
I didn’t find out until later in life Grandpa taught us to shoot a bow wrong. The way we would shoot was with the bow almost horizontal, this way the horse was not in the way. My grandpa made all the bows for us.

Back to the pig hunt.

We at the Cape have been putting long hours in lately. Starting at 6:00 Am and working until 7:30pm or the evening.  When at work I happened to tell one of the local mechanics about the boar and my plans for him. He kind of stopped what he was
Doing and said " you need corn--won’t see him less you put corn out".
He went on working for a minute or two and then asked, “What are you going to shoot the hog with?”.
I answered "with my long bow you know I’m a damn good shot with that long bow.   He stopped working and looked up at me for a moment and said  " Shiiieeit” don’t you know that them big boars have a shield of gristle and old scars sometimes an inch thick around there chest and side”.
I honestly replied; “No, really?”

Gene continued on with "I had a hog get after me after hitting him with a 45-70. Had to go up a tree. Won’t happen with a 06". Then he turned and went back to work .

I had talked to Gene on Monday, that evening I called my friend Chris and set up the hunt.   Chris is one of the many members of Brevard Archers who have helped me learn to shoot the bow correctly after coming back to archery three years ago.

The hunt plan:

My wife was leaving on Wednesday morning to visit her sister in California for ten days. This would enable me to make up some cedar hunting arrows on the Kitchen table and not worry about the mess until after the weekend.  This way the arrows would be ready by Friday.

On Wednesday coming back from the airport I stopped at the feed store and picked up some corn before going to work. At lunchtime I went home and spread out the corn on the ground where I thought a good place for a blind on the ground would be. I was going to do the same thing at lunchtime on Thursday but when I arrived home the corn hadn’t been touched.  I spent another 10 min spreading a corn trail further down went back to work. After work I stopped at Wal-Mart went to the sporting goods section just to check it out. Low and behold all of the hunting stuff was on the close out shelf; so I snagged two camouflage head nets and some war paint for five bucks. Arriving home I jumped on the tractor with the mower attached and cut a 48 inch swath to the first gate allowing it to open, then through the waist high pasture and on to the “way back” with a 50 pound bag of corn on the mower deck. I knew I would now be able to take my 2-wheel drive work truck to the blind site (as long as it did not rain). 


The site where I had dumped the corn was full of pig tracks, lots tiny little ones, some about 1½” long, and some about 2” long, and one set the size of my palm of my hand and all of the corn gone; so I put some more out. Things were looking good! Jumping back on the tractor I realized it had gotten dark but there was still lots of light; darn a full moon. Now, I knew why the corn was only gone in the morning. The pigs were feeding all night long.


Going back to the house I made the trail wider. While putting the finishing touches in the new cedar arrows, the weather Channel stated a strong storm front was due in Friday, so maybe the pigs would not be feeding at night now.

 Friday was a day off for me. The plan was Chris and I would build two blinds when he got off work Friday morning.  We were hoping to get the pigs over the weekend.  We arrived at the proposed blind site about 9:00am and the place looked like a barnyard, prints all over the place and all the corn had been eaten.

We built two blinds one on the south side and one on the north side of the trail about ten yards apart looking east and head high. Put a chair in each of the blinds and spread out about twenty pounds of corn 20 yards away. We figured we were ready for the test hunt at 4:30 this evening knowing the real hunt would come at first light, Saturday morning.

We spent the rest of the day installing the four bladed Muzzy broad heads on the new arrows, spinning them and test shooting each with practice blades, at twenty and fifteen yards. When all of the arrows were flying correctly we were hoping that we were going to get pigs that evening.

4:30 arrives and the wind is picking up, coming from the SE, clouds starting to look menacing, however, out to the blinds we go. We got set up in no time, and sat and waited.   Time passed; birds visited the corn and left.  It was getting darker and a large black cloud was about to unload on us.

We were drenched with about 1 inch of rain in about a half hour. It stopped raining and my feet were in 6 inches of water. The wind had swung around from the SE and was now from South, I am still thinking that’s a good thing.
Its now about 6:00 and getting dark. We heard an oink from in front and out to the south side of us in the palmettos: maybe about 60  yards to the SE deeper in the palmettos. Then some noise in front of us closer in the palmettos, some more noise from north of me closer but hidden in the palmettos. Now there was a lot of noise heading away from us and we couldn’t see a thing because of the palmettos. It’s now dark in our little clearing.  Using a flashlight we waded back to the house in 4 inches of water.  Chris is spending the night so we can get up at first light go to back to the blind. It continued to rain most of the night.

Next morning we headed out to the blind as soon as we could see our feet. When we got close to the blind we knocked our arrows, and quietly, made our way up the trail. About 10 feet from the blind, I suddenly realized that something was outlined on the trail ahead of us about twenty yards away. It was large! I took a side step so Chris could see it, neither of us drew back as it was still to dark to be sure of making a shot. That huge hog luckily just looked at us, turned broadside and went into palmettos to the south of us and disappeared. Both of us stated at least three times said “that the hogs back was six inches higher then my waist” we decided to go to blinds and set still thinking that big boy just might be back to finish his breakfast. Into the blinds we went, sitting there until mid morning, of course, getting rained on in the meantime. While setting there I realized that I have been thinking like an engineer getting things done but not like a hunter, with my thoughts broken by the hint of noises just to the south of Chris. I thought that I had gotten whiff of pig scent as the wind was coming from the south past Chris. By 10:00 am, I decided to start acting like a hunter, and take a look around to see if we need to change are strategy for this evening. While doing so, I took a look where at the spot we had seen the monster this morning, which was about fifteen yards in front of the blinds.

Sure enough, there were palm size prints heading to the palmettos on the south side of the trail going to a small trace in the palmettos. Taking my time and looking carefully all the while I went about ten yards and came to a major game trail about a yard wide and going behind palmettos within 10 feet of Chris’s blind.  That hog had gone up and down the trail all morning watching Chris. The south side of his blind was open because we thought the pigs would be coming down the old trail from the east  We didn’t have the faintest idea that this other trail was there.

We closed both blinds south side, making sure we each had an escape tree in the blind, and went back the house. With plans to give one more try for Sunday morning since Chris’ workweek started again on Sunday night. That night I opened up the gun safe brought out my old Ruger blackhawk .357 and the max hand-loads that I used when bear hunting.

Sunday morning we went back to the blinds. And once again all the corn was gone. We spread another bucket of corn out, waited until noon but didn’t see a thing. Oh well I know I still have one more free week end to catch the big one.

On Monday I ran into Gene again at work, he ask “git a pig” and I of course said no he replied “that figgers.”   I then told him the events of the weekend. He stopped working and looked at me for a few moments, then went back to work without saying any thing.  He continued working for a few moments and stops again saying "you got a tree stand?"   I replied no. (I have never hunted with a tree stand but have done a lot of hunting. Further more do not know of any one on the West Coast that has.) Gene replies, "Dumb".

I had gone to work at 4:30am that morning so I would be able to get home at 3:30pm to put out some corn. After putting out another 20 pounds of corn, I was taking some practice shoots in the side yard where I had placed a 36-inch round under the flood light. While nailing the 5 spot, the dogs started barking and I turned around to see a large pick-up with yard wide tires parked at the fount gate.

Getting out was a 5ft 3in by 5ft 3in wide person (all muscle) with a base ball cap on, I knew in a flash that it GENE. I yelled wait let me open the gate, so the dogs won’t eat you. Gene yelled back “the dogs won’t bother me none” opened the gate, and drove in. The dogs thought that he was a long lost friend. I had never seen them act like that with a stranger. I ask him how he knew where I lived. He said he had a friend down the road and had often seen me shooting at night as he drove by. Why did you stop tonight?
Gene replied “to keep you from getting your rear end bitten off” (or something close to that) “I have some tree stands and a corn feeder; I’ll show you how to put them up”

Going to the nearest pine tree he strapped on a six-foot section of a “home made climbing stick” and from there mounted the tree stand on the pine. Gene said, “get up there and try shooting your bow.” The round now was only 30 yards away and was lucky to  keep the arrows in the target. The whole time Gene didn’t say a thing. I was sure he thought that I was hopeless. I climbed down to retrieve my arrows from the round, turned around to
where the tree stand was mounted and Gene was removing the tree-stand.
He looked around and stated “different ain’t it?” “get your step ladder and shoot off the next to the top rung until you can hit what your shooting at”.

“Where do you want them?”. I am sure he thought I was hopeless.  I thanked him I and told him I would take the stands out back later since it was very wet back.

I now know what the southern term of "mudding" means (with a 4-wheel truck chevy of course) . We set up the tree stands and the feeder so I could make  
about a 20 yd shot to the feeder. He set up the feeder so that it would dump at about 3:30pm every day.
 "To get 'em trained”

We trimmed around the tree stand for the best shot with a bow. Got every thing pickup and loaded onto Gene’s truck. After getting in Gene asked, " You want to use my compound its got sights” I said "no my 50 lb long bow Will do the job."   Gene said "dumb".
Gene also advised me to leave the pigs alone until Friday night." “ get out there about 2:30 and Watch them hogs run to the feeder at 3:30.”

When we got back to the house I  started to get the hose out to hose the mud off the truck. Gene stopped me saying that I would ruin the paint. “The mud keeps  the sun off it you know”.

I did as Gene suggested that night after he left; I shot off the ladder until I could keep all eight of the arrows on the five spot at twenty yards (well most of them any way).

Friday evening off I went off to the tree stand with the long bow, 5 wood arrows with  muzzy four blade broad heads and a 357 on hip. Up the tree I went with:
1. Long bow (69 in)
2. 2 bottles of water
3. 8x power glasses I might have to look under the brush
4. Back bow quiver with broad heads
5. cell phone
6. Lots of gum
7. one very large flash light.
The tree stand was designed to provide just enough room for your feet and a place to sit that flips up when standing.  The first thing I found out was that there was not any place to set any thing down. I undid one of the steps tied to the tree so I could now hang every thing on it.  After I completed getting every thing put somewhere including hanging up the bow and quiver. I got this funny feeling that I should be looking down at the feeder. (I’m twenty feet up). Sure enough, standing by the feeder as a large sow and eight 40-50 lb little ones. All of them looking up, trying to figure out what kind of a nut stands in a tree stand facing the tree. I got to my bow, pulled out an arrow turned around, looked down--and nothing--. I waited until dark, grabbed the flash light and looked around, gathered every thing up, lowered it all to the ground and went back to the house making lots of noise all while. I called Gene told him that I saw the sow and the small ones.  He wanted to know if I got one?  No, I said too small.  Then he let me know them the 40-70 lb. are the best eaten; “Don’t pass them up.”

Saturday night comes, but could not make it out to the stand until 5:00pm
The wind was from the east I was going into it being very quiet go up to the tree stand.  I went up one step and (I’m behind some brush and palmettos west of the feeder) all hell breaks loose. Pigs running to my left, one small sow with six puppy size piglets, with two medium size boars running away from the feeder, and the big sow with the eight 40 lbers after them. Here I am with my bow on my back, and can’t do a thing while hanging on to the strap on climbing pegs.

 I climbed up to the stand. Hung up my water and quiver sat down knocked my arrow (now there is about 1½ hours left before it is too dark to see) and I’m thinking that I really blew it tonight, that’s the last I will see of any pigs. So I’ll just sit here for about a half an hour and go back to the house.  About then all eight 40lb pigs come out of the palmettos by the feeder. I am thinking I will just watch until the big sow comes out. Time passes and she never comes out. I waited some more until I had just enough light left, I drew back and let the biggest one have it. Oops, got the one you see in the Picture. A perfect hit!  When the arrow went through it also got the pig behind it. Number one went about 20 yards and dropped, the one behind went about 100 yards into the palmettos and swamp. I was not able to find it until Sunday and left it. And  was all ready bloated.  Got the pig to Genes (he as a walk in freezer) and took the picture this morning just before we skinned him. I put the broken arrow in to show the path of the shot.

I'm still looking for the boar!


L.R Van Cleave

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Revised:Mar 7, 2003.