“Yeah!” I yelled over my shoulder to my friend Jamie in the back seat, struggling to talk over AC/DC’s Back in Black which was blaring over the radio. “Apparently the guy’s nephew went in there and killed him with an axe years ago. They call in the Boy Scout house!” I pointed out of the window of the truck to a dilapidated field house in the woods as we bounced down the old dirt road. Chuckling to myself, I finished, “But we’ve always called it the Axe Murderer House…For obvious reasons”

It was a night like any other night which involved riding around, telling absurd stories, listening to music, and looking for pigs to shoot. Except on this particular night, my co-worker Amanda and I had company in the form of our friend Jamie. In addition, Amanda’s dog Koda (aka Momma Dog), had joined Jaimie in the backseat of the truck. I was riding shotgun and obviously in control of the greatness that was being rocked from the radio while Amanda was driving us around. We turned onto another dirt road and began to cruise along just as Sad but True by Metallica started to jam through the speakers. Caught up in my own world of rock (guess who rarely got control of the radio), I didn’t even notice as the truck sped up, then immediately came to a complete halt. Suddenly Amanda began making strange noises and bobbling around in her seat like someone dropped a hot coal in her lap.

“What the hell is  wrong with…” I began. But before I could finish, she cut me off.

“P…Meh…P…P…Gah…P….PIGS!!!”

As the cloud of dust ahead of us settled, sure enough, a group of about ten pigs materialized in the headlights. The truck doors sprang open, then all hell broke loose…

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It had been a fairly usual day out on the plantation. After finishing up work for the morning which consisted of telemetry and VIT checks on our deer, we were free to pretty much do as we pleased. I had recently brought my .44 Magnum out to the plantation and Jamie brought her .380 with her so we all headed up to the range to do a little practicing. We shot just about everything we brought in the truck, and I tried my hand at Jaimie’s .380 which had about a 97lb trigger pull. The girls also seemed to be fans of the .44 Mag.

44

Momma Dog rode around with us for the whole day and would only occasionally whine a little when she spotted out one of the many fox squirrels that called the pinelands home.

Kota

The rest of the day consisted of cooking dinner, playing Hammerschlagen (Google it), and several rather intense games of Super Smash Brothers on the N64. But by nightfall, it was time to get our game faces ready. Serious business was about to ensue. Nighttime meant active pigs, and that meant every chance in the world to run into them. Soon we readied the truck, got all of our guns, and got dressed to go hunting.

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Now, I realize some may find my hunting attire to be rather…unconventional, but I’ve found what works and I’m sticking to it. The shorts allow me to stay nimble while I bound over high brush in pursuit of my prey. A white T shirt means that my coworkers can always spot me out in the inky blackness of the Georgia swamps at night. And the crocs? Well, it’s long past time we all realize the effectiveness of crocs as hunting footwear. Aside from feeling like you’re walking on pillows stuffed with a mixture of clouds and Pegasus feathers, crocs are extremely quiet when walking through the brush. Add in a pair of mix matched hiking socks, and suddenly you’re transformed into a stealthy, nocturnal bringer of death. Function over fashion.

So we went to load up into the truck, and usually I’m the one to drive (I had been doing it all day, after all). But before I could climb into the driver’s seat, Amanda piped up that she wanted to drive. Since I’d been doing it plenty, I obliged and called shotgun before Jamie could.

I was obviously excited to be in control of the radio, and we hadn’t been driving long before we spotted out our first animal of the night; An armadillo in the road. Dillo’s were usual sights on the roads at night. But what wasn’t usual was that we had Momma Dog in the truck with us. As Amanda opened her door to get out and look at the armadillo, Koda had finally had enough. The poor dog had been sitting in the backseat all day, being tortured by the sight of fox squirrels and other delectable treats without the opportunity to go “play” with them. She’d finally had enough and before any of us could react, Momma Dog bolted straight out of the back window of the dodge and made a bee line for our armadillo friend. In usual fashion, the armadillo made a futile effort to hop away, and before it got more than a few yards into the brush, the old pitbull was on it. All that could be heard in between our shouts at the dog was a cringe worthy ‘crunch’ as momma dog found her mark. She eventually came out of the bushes carrying the armadillo and biting down on it like it was a squeaky toy. Or crunchy toy, in this instance. We were mad that she jumped from the window of the truck, but I can promise you’d be hard pressed to find a happier dog than Momma Dog at that time. If dogs could smile, she was grinning ear to ear.

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It wasn’t until later in the night that Metallica started blaring, Amanda started seizing in the driver’s seat, and our bacon friends appeared in the headlights. It took a little longer than usual, but the P word had finally been said. Serious business initiated.

Standard protocol for events such as these is to immediately let out a string of colorful phrases and expletives. In addition to that, it’s necessary to lose all motor skills and begin fumbling around- a task which Amanda was executing flawlessly. I immediately reached down to grab my SKS. I fumbled for a moment while I tried to simultaneously open my door, but I finally got hold of my SKS. Except there was a problem. It wasn’t my SKS…..

I was holding a .22 Marlin.

In the moments before leaving the field house, Amanda had inadvertently sabotaged our evening. As I had been driving all day, my SKS was next to the driver’s seat. She’d been riding shotgun with her .22. We forgot to switch guns. So as I went to extricate my pig slayer from the seat cushion, I instead pulled out a squirrel slayer.

There’s an odd phenomenon that occurs in situations like these when time slows down. The pigs were still standing in the headlights, Amanda had yet to shoot, I was holding a freakin’ .22, and I was halfway out of the truck. It seemed like the pigs were standing there for a few hours before I finally decided that I can’t kill anything unless I shoot, so I did the only thing I could think of…

I unloaded the Marlin at a pig.

Time: Unfrozen. Suddenly everything was happening faster than I could think. The pigs scattered every direction. The truck began to ease forward down the road. I finally got completely out of the truck to see a pig running directly at me. The crack of my SKS signaled that Amanda had finally found her motor skills. James Hetfield was belting out Sad But True from the truck speakers. The pig was now just a few yards ahead of me, still coming right at me. I shot again, pegging the pig right between the eyes and sending it sliding to a halt right in front of me. I took aim at another pig and “click”. Out of ammo.

Time went back to normal. From the other side of the truck I could hear Amanda acting out Standard Protocol in reverse order. Cussing and obscenities could now be heard off in the dark. Out of ammo with the Marlin, the .44 Magnum came out to make an appearance. The revolver finished off a wounded pig in the ditch, and I quickly raced around the front of the truck to see what Amanda was still cussing about. When I got to her, she was somehow managing to wield a spotlight in one hand and my SKS in the other. But thanks to a 20 round mag, and my loading it with soft points, a round had managed to jam. To add to this mess, she was trying to keep a wounded pig that she’d shot in the spotlight as it stood there 40 yards ahead of us. I quickly fixed the jam for her, and we put down the final pig.

High fives. Job well done. But before we could finish celebrating, we heard Jamie pipe up from the cab of the truck back at the road.

“What the f*** ya’ll?!?”

We turned to see the truck parked no where near where we bailed out. In addition to that, Jamie was halfway between the backseat and the front seat. One hand on the steering wheel and the other holding Momma Dog.

Apparently, in our haste to bail out and harvest wild bacon, Amanda forgot to put the truck in park. Meanwhile, Momma Dog got a glimpse of all the fun that was happening, and was attempting to jump out of the back window for a second time. I’m still not sure how Jamie managed to restrain the overly excited pitbull in the backseat while simultaneously parking our ghost riding truck amidst a pork firefight, but I’m eternally grateful for it.

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At least we got barbecue, and stories we’ll never forget.