The Flying Kayak

Hunting, Fishing, Rambling, and Complete Outdoor Hilarity

Category: Hog Hunting (page 1 of 2)

Momma Dog and the Georgian Chinese Firedrill

“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…

______

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.

Where the Water Flows Uphill


On a brisk morning in late February, six outdoorsmen set out on an adventure through the Central Florida wilderness. The goal was to traverse 22 miles through the Little Lake George wilderness in Ocala national forest. The party was to hike and small game hunt along the way. Whoever’s genius idea it was to tackle such a feat is still unknown, though much of the party places blame on one individual in particular; especially when things began to go awry. The following is an account of the adventure through the eyes of one of the outdoorsmen…
February 28th, 2014. 09:30:
Today, myself and five friends (Hunter, Mitch, Kyle, Rob, and Ian) set out on an adventure through Ocala National Forest. It’s the last weekend of small game season and I’m hopeful that we can shoot some pigs during this trip. I’ve admittedly done very little research when it comes to the path I’ve chosen, but I imagine it ought to be alright. 22 miles round trip and hunting alongside the St. Johns River. We plan to have a drop off and a pick up vehicle between our start and end spots. If all goes according to plan, and I don’t know why it wouldn’t, we will start our hike this afternoon and finish it by around lunchtime Sunday. Everyone’s beginning to show up now. I’ll update this log as the trip progresses. 
 10:30:
We’ve made one final stop for supplies in Palatka at the Winn-Dixie. Though I brought plenty of food, I couldn’t resist the impulse buy of summer sausage, triscuits, blue Gatorade, and cheese. Everyone else is currently devouring rotisserie chicken and other pre-cooked food like it’s their final meal. Perhaps they know something I don’t. 
10:57:
All the gear is unloaded and ready at our start point. Mitch and I are about to go drop off his car and Rob will follow to drive us back. It’s a beautiful morning. Though slightly chilly, I’m looking forward to this trip. I’m glad I brought my fleece jacket. I think I’ll leave this Gatorade here as a treat for when we finish on Sunday. 
11:30:
It’s time to start our adventure. Last minute preparations are underway as some of the guys are strapping down the last of their gear to their packs. The shotgun is loaded, bag is packed, and I’m feeling great. Spirits seem high. 
11:35:
We’ve stumbled upon what can only be a meth house. I’m pretty sure I can still see our car from here. We’ll cautiously try to make our way around this obstacle without getting shanked. 
11:40:
The vegetation throughout Little Lake George wilderness is much…thicker than Google Earth led me to believe. We’re still currently stuck walking down this dirt road. Through the brush, I can see the tree line of the swamp. That’s where I want to be. I’ll find a spot for us to cross this water-filled ditch soon, and we’ll be on our way. 
 
12:20:
The fleece jacket was overkill. I’m practically melting at the moment. And as if sweating wasn’t enough, we managed to walk through a peculiarly wet area, thus soaking my boots and socks to the core. If there’s one thing in the world I hate, it’s wet feet. Hopefully I dry out soon. I’m glad I didn’t pack more gear. I think my bag is the perfect weight. 
13:07:
Progress is rather slow. Though the edge of this swamp is relatively open, cypress knees and fallen trees continuously make travel extremely difficult. To add, six full grown men trudging through the woods are about as stealthy as a stampeding herd of bison. The woods are noticeably absent of life. I worry we may find nothing to shoot. 
13:42:
We shot something. Well…by we, I mean Mitch. And by shot something, I mean he defended himself against what can only be described as a boar-tadpole. It’s big enough that it should add plenty to our food supply. A supply that, oddly enough, is beginning to run low. As is our water. 
14:21:
Given our current progress, my calculations suggest that we should reach the pick-up vehicle by mid-May. Ground needs to be covered much more quickly if we expect to finish this trip. We’ve decided to forgo the swamp edge for the time being and walk through the pines further up the hill. Travel will be quicker, and it should be a bit drier up there. 
14:24:
The pines further up the hill are nothing like we expected. Somehow, there’s even more standing water here than there was in the swamp. To add, there’s fallen trees every few steps; forcing us to either climb around in the shin deep water, or trip wildly every few steps. My bag is beginning to feel heavier. 
14:28:
We’ve lost Hunter and Mitch. I can only assume they’ve somehow perished in this watery hell and have met their fate. All attempts to contact them have been met with silence. For the good of the group, we’re moving on. 
14:40:
I brought it to Rob, Kyle, and Ian’s attention that should we miraculously complete this journey intact, we’d make it to the pick-up vehicle with no keys and no way to get back. Mitch holds the keys and we at least need that if we expect to ever make it home. 
15:08: 
We found Hunter and Mitch. They apparently never heard our calls despite only being a few hundred yards away. This is a strange place. Sound doesn’t travel far, and I could’ve sworn I just noticed water flowing uphill. Perhaps I’m just tired. I need to drink more water and lighten this pack. 
15:52:
The nightmare labyrinth of dead pines and shin high water has yet to end. We’ve turned south now and are following the St. Johns…. I think…Everyone appears exhausted, though no one seems to be complaining. Spirits remain relatively high despite current circumstances. Each of us are soaked to the bone and everyone either has, or has almost, fallen into the water at least once. Earlier, I heard Ian shout, “Wha…Well…Yep…I’m going down”, and I turned to see him falling. In this bizarre twilight zone of wilderness, I watched him gracefully fall for close to 30 seconds before hitting the ground. And as if that wasn’t surprising enough, he landed on probably the only piece of dry land within a hundred miles. There’s no logic in this place. 
17:11:
If my body had to guess, we’ve been walking for days. The GPS claims we’ve come 3.2 miles, but I don’t trust it. It hasn’t seen what we’ve seen. We’re at the edge of the swamp again and have stopped to take a water break. Ironically, many of us are beginning to run low on water. There’s talk of blue Gatorades, but at this point, they seem an unachievable treat. The high spirits are beginning to wane. We must break free from this hell. 
17:30:
A look to the south reveals no end to this misery. The same mysterious, and interminable mire stretches out beyond the vanishing point in the direction we need to go. The bugs are horrendous, and as the day stretches on, we’re shortened for time to find a suitable campground. I doubt the guys want to sleep in the water, so we need to find dry land before nightfall. The liar GPS says there’s a road 0.4 miles to our west. We’ll believe it when we see it, though given that all the water around us is flowing uphill (to the west), dry ground cannot be far. 
17:55:
We’ve found the road! High fives all around. Now we just need a suitable campsite. My pack has gained 30lbs since we left, and I expect I will have shrunk 2-3 inches by the end of this trip. 
18:08:
Everyone has decided on a campground. Though the land here is dry, all the potential fire wood surrounding us is soaking wet. To add, everything here was recently burned, and the woods are scorched. Our fire is absolutely pathetic thanks to the wet wood. Some of the guys began rationing water earlier today and while we sit around the smudge of a fire in a vain attempt to dry ourselves, it’s clear that some are becoming delirious with dehydration. We’ve watched the fire die twice now without any attempts to save it. Spirits are low. I can feel the group breaking. 
18:40:
Summer sausage cooked over a fire is one of the greatest things in the world. I’m not sure what the suggested serving size is, but I devoured half of it in one sitting. Everyone seems to be in a better mood now that we’ve got some food in us. Kyle and Hunter have constructed some boot hanging mechanism over the flames in an attempt to dry their shoes. My old boots simply never dry out once wet, so I’ll keep them away from the fire. 
19:17:
It’s been drawn to my attention that I’ve inadvertently covered my face in soot. I suppose dragging charred dead wood to the fire put soot all over my hands, and I have a terrible habit of touching my face. The coal miner and black lung jokes have begun. 
19:33:
Hunter was busily taking pictures of the fire when we all suddenly noticed that it had gotten MUCH brighter around camp. Upon closer inspection, we discovered Hunter’s snake boots had burst into flames while drying over the fire. Unable to stomp out the flames barefoot, those sitting next to him threw sand in an attempt to smother the raging inferno. Delirious with a mixture of exhaustion and dehydration, Kyle and I could do nothing but offer hysterical laughter. Mitch’s boot laces were also torched in the flames. Much of my soot covered face is clean thanks to my tears. 
20:41:
After discovering my headlamp has stopped working, I’ve opted to face plant. Just the thought of walking or carrying my thousand pound pack will surely put me to sleep. Ian, Kyle, and Rob are having an intense conversation about blue Gatorades outside my tent. 
March 1st, 2014. 07:10
Everything I own is wet. I will never again know the feeling of being completely dry. Somehow, even with the rain fly on, my tent gathered dew on the inside. This place continues to defy logic. Upon exiting my tent, I caught Rob licking the morning dew from his hammock. The water situation is becoming dire. I gave him a swig from my canteen. 
07:45:
We just broke camp and are on our way back down the road. Our goal is to get as close to the pick-up vehicle as possible, then strike camp and hunt for the evening. First things first, we must escape this watery hell. The roads hold standing water, and it’s going to be another wet day. 
12:18:
We’ve covered remarkable distance since leaving camp this morning. We actually made it to the road that our pick up vehicle is parked on. Spirits are much, MUCH higher and we’ve stopped for lunch on the side of the road. In an attempt to get my pack to weigh less than a ton, I’m eating as much food as possible. The land here is dry and with any luck we’ll not only find a good campsite, but also some game to eat. Everyone’s diving into their food reserves with ravenous hunger. We need to find some pigs. 
13:50:
We saw a squirrel; something so rare that everyone but Hunter and Mitch stood around dumbfounded. Those two gave chase but were too late. The mythical beast had escaped. It was the first sign of life we’d seen since yesterday’s massive tadpole incident. We’ve high hopes that that wasn’t the only squirrel in the forest. They’d go great with blue Gatorades. 
14:31:
By the grace of The Almighty himself, a suitable campsite has been found. There’s plenty of room for everyone, and enough firewood to have an actual fire tonight. The sudden lack of water is of slight concern as Rob and Hunter are dangerously low. How we ventured from a watery hell to this dry, barren wasteland, I’ll never understand. 
15:40:
Everyone has broken up into small groups to look for game. I found a lizard, but doubted I’d find it should I hit it with the slug from my shotgun. It was too fast for me to catch. My hunger grows. 
17:37:
I’ve given up on hunting for the evening and have decided to get the fire started at camp. I left Ian, Kyle, and Rob to continue looking for food. Hunter and Mitch are off somewhere…Hopefully not lost forever again. I did just hear a shot. Perhaps they’ve slain another tadpole. 
17:55:
The fire is roaring and I’m busily eating every last bit of food in my pack. Somehow, it continues to gain weight despite my best efforts. My summer sausage is almost completely gone, as is most of my water. What little I have left I’m saving for the hike out in the morning. Ian, Kyle, and Rob are here and they too have begun to chow down. Kyle managed to kill a lizard with his knife. He, at least, won’t starve tonight.  Hunter and Mitch are still missing. 
18:24:
Hunter and Mitch have made it back, and with food! A real life, honest to God squirrel. He’s currently cleaning it. He also brought water, though I’m unsure how safe it is to drink. Apparently pulled from a rotten stump, it still has the color of Jagermeister. I’ll just keep sipping my water and pretend it’s blue Gatorade. 
18:46:
Even split six ways, that was the best squirrel any of us have ever eaten. Spirits couldn’t be higher. As I stare into the flames, I can’t help but feel thankful. This trip was almost over and today had been infinitely better than yesterday. I’m overly thankful not only for the chance to do such a trip, but for having good friends crazy enough to follow me through such a mess. Though the trip has been a little rough, everyone seems glad to be on it. The only thing that could make life better right now is some blue Gatorades. 
21:15:
The fire has begun to die down and everyone has retreated to their tents. Tomorrow will be a short morning hike to the car and a relaxing afternoon in civilization. Everyone seems eager to get home. 
21:27:
There’s talk amongst the tents of Gainesville. Promises that we’re within two hours of sitting happily at a bar with a tall beer, or even blue Gatorade. The debate on making a night hike out of the woods to the car is underway right now. 
21:30:
The decision has been made. The night hike is a go. Camp is to be broken immediately. 
21:32:
I’ve never seen a camp broken so quickly. Tents are packed back up and everyone’s ready to go. My pack suddenly feels like it weighs nothing. 
21:54:
We were reminded that many of us had yet to fire their weapon during this entire trip. We took a brief moment to empty pistol clips into a nearby tree. One cannot simply escape the wild and still have all their ammo. 
22:15:
I’ve never night hiked before. The sliver of moon overhead lights the path in front of me and the pale sugar sand of the road marks the way home as it glows in the night. My headlamp is still broken, but I can see fine without it. The stars are out and with the sun gone, it’s beginning to get cool. The chilly night breeze feels great and the soft rustling of the nearby trees are only broken by rhythmic swishing of boot steps in soft sand. We’ll be to the car before we know it. 
22:50:
Never before have full grown men been more excited to see a Honda CRV. We all quickly crammed inside and are now on our way to find blue Gatorades. 
23:00:
The Dollar General in Ft. McCoy is closed. Much like Little Lake George wilderness, there is no logic in this place. I’m not sure whether it’s the stump water talking, but Hunter seemed physically hurt to discover he couldn’t get blue Gatorades yet. 
23:25:
I’m not sure how out of the norm it is for a group of disheveled, and grungy looking guys to stagger into a gas station in Palatka Florida at nearly midnight and empty the cooler of its blue Gatorades. But I fear it wasn’t too bizarre as the cashier barely blinked an eye at us. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that it feels good to be out of the woods. The ride back to Gainesville won’t take too long, but I doubt any of us will be going to the bar when we return. I think it’s going to be straight to bed. 
We survived Little Lake George wilderness and despite some troubles, honestly had a blast. Had it not been for the great group of friends, the trip would have been sheer misery. But with the right group of people, we managed to turn a trip like that into a great time and certainly a hunting trip none of us will forget anytime soon. I’m sure we’ll try something like that again soon, but next time we’ll be sure to pack a little lighter, walk a little easier, and stay a little drier. 
Oh, and bring blue Gatorades. 

Deer, Pigs, and Shame


The dull blue-grey of early dawn had already begun to illuminate the surrounding woods. But there would be no sunshine on this morning . A thick, wet fog was beginning to settle in and everything was soon soaked by its subtle misting. Though the day was truly beginning, the woods seemed suspended in a dark twilight under the shadow of the fog. It took longer than usual for the birds to start chirping and squirrels to begin chattering. It was a peaceful morning under the fog, and even the wildlife seemed reluctant to wake. That was, at least, until a long, terrifying growl echoed through the twilight…
The rumbling in my stomach hadn’t been going on for very long. In fact, it felt fine as I was busy attaching the climber to the base of the tree. But now, three quarters of the way up the tree, it hit me:
I think I have to poop
Situations like these are all mental games. Most of the time you can overcome the urge by just ignoring it or even telling yourself “You do not have to poop”. So I climbed on, inch-worming my way in my tree stand, all the while muttering to myself that I didn’t need to climb back down and take care of business. 
It wasn’t long after I’d settled into my stand before my gut rumbling shifted gears to full blown emergency. Reluctantly, I admitted defeat and with a great amount of frustration, I got ready to descend the tree to answer mother nature’s call. But I was quickly reminded that when mother nature calls me, she actually screams. And I hadn’t made it six feet down the tree before I realized what was about to take place. 
Oh no
There’s a real “Come to Jesus” moment that occurs when we, as adults, realize we’re about to crap our pants. It’s a humbling experience when you’re forced to make a snap decision based solely off of your inability to control your bodily functions. How you react in a moment of crisis defines who you are, and I had almost no time to think beyond the quick thought: “How does this even happen?”
 —————————–
 
Three days prior to this emergency, I found myself sitting in a Southwest Georgia hospital patiently awaiting my meeting with an orthopedic surgeon. I’d spent the entire night before in the emergency room for a very different emergency from the one happening up the tree. After nearly cutting off my index finger (a story that I won’t get into yet), the nurse who stitched me up flatly told me “Oh yeah, you’re gonna have to have surgery. You went right through the tendon and artery. I’ll schedule you an appointment with the surgeon”
So when the surgeon finally came in, I was fully expecting the worst news and that I would indeed need surgery. But in a bizarre twist of good luck, he looked at my finger, made me move it around some, and said “You’ll be fine without surgery. Here’s a prescription for some meds”. He then sent me on my way. 
I was on a hunting trip after deer on some of the plantations that I used to work on. I’d already missed my first morning hunt thanks to the finger fiasco, so I was excited to finally get some hunting done. This year I put away the bow for the time being. I darted deer enough. I was ready to blast one with the rifle, and I quickly set about doing just that. 
Just a few minutes before sunset later that evening, I lined the crosshairs of my 30-06 on a fat doe’s chest as she stood broadside, and squeezed the trigger. I was, however, shocked to see her kick, stumble, and run off. I was using the same 175 grain VLD bullet that took down my monster boar earlier this summer. It was almost expected for her to just fall over. So I climbed down and immediately found blood, but as soon as I did, the overwhelming smell of guts hit me. Looking down, I also saw half digested corn.
Oh no
I’d never gut shot a deer before. Ever. And I couldn’t believe I’d done it to this doe. My rifle was sighted in earlier that afternoon. So how had I shot so far back? And why was there SO much blood on the ground. Seriously, it looked like someone had dumped buckets of red paint on the ground.
Once my buddies showed up to pick me up, we began tracking her. Luckily, the blood trail was heavy, and we found her piled up about 100 yards from where she was shot. The entire time we were trailing her I was nervous and honestly kind of embarrassed to have gut shot a deer. When I shined my light down on her, it was obvious that the bullet exited the guts. But what about the entry wound? We flipped her over to discover a hole right in the shoulder. Exactly where I was aiming. 
So how did I manage to shoot a deer, perfectly broadside, in the shoulder and the exit wound come out mid rib cage? The only thing I can imagine is the bullet. The VLD is highly frangible and honestly not made for hunting. The bullet must’ve hit the shoulder blade, fragmented, and simultaneously ricocheted through the animal. Regardless, it got the job done, but I’ve stopped using VLD’s for deer hunting. Attempting to clean a gut shot deer one handed was enough to make me switch rounds. 
With meat in the freezer, I set about looking to shoot my first nice buck. Unfortunately, nothing aside from a spike and a little 6 point made an appearance the rest of the weekend. But my final day was anything but dull. 
Years prior to this day, me and my buddies had a long, drawn out conversation about peeing out of a tree stand. Some of us did it regularly, others (like myself), considered it a mortal sin. I know there’s tons of data explaining that deer can’t tell/don’t care, but it’s still a rule of mine. One of my friends, however, admitted that he’d had to poop from the stand before; a statement that we regularly ridiculed him about afterwards. I don’t know of a hunter who likes to poop in the same zip code as their tree stand, much less OUT of it. So we all gave him hell for years afterward about being the one guy we know who’s done it…
At least, until, my emergency 30 feet up a pine tree. I won’t go into detail as to how I managed to take care of business out of a climber. All that matters is that disaster was averted. I shamefully climbed the six feet back to the top, and sat down feeling extremely thankful that such a terrible outdoor experience was over. I’d made it 13 solid years of hunting without that ever happening, and I prayed that was the first and last time I’d ever have to do something like that again. 
Until 10 minutes later when round two kicked in…
Later that afternoon, I felt infinitely better and with a freshly restocked toilet paper supply in my bag, I deemed it safe to return to the tree stand. While walking down to a creek bottom with a lock-on stand, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned to see what looked like a small possum. Suddenly another one appeared. And another. I wanted a closer look so I walked within just a few yards of them. It was then that I realized what I was looking at. They weren’t possums. They were tiny little piglets. And that only meant one thing: Momma was nearby. 
It took me a second to figure out exactly what I was looking at. The stump that was only 4 yards from me suddenly moved and I realized momma pig was staring right at me. Now I’m still not entirely sure why she didn’t run, or charge, or anything. But I had time to take my rifle off of my shoulder, flip the scope covers off, turn the power from 9x to 3x, flip the safety, find the pig’s head, and pull the trigger without her moving. And as if that wasn’t enough, I heard a snort and looked to see a second sow just 10 yards away. Also not moving. I chambered a new round, found the pig’s head, and squeezed the trigger. Almost immediately I heard more snorting through the brush as a THIRD sow moved in close. This one, however, never stepped out, and just grunted at the piglets as they ran to her through the brush. 
I left the pigs on my path to grab them on the way out and went ahead to climb my stand. I was hunting over a scrape line and there was a nice looking scrape just 30 yards in front of my stand. The evening was pretty uneventful. I saw a bunch of turkeys, and a bobcat carrying a dead squirrel walked directly underneath my tree. It wasn’t until about 45 minutes before sunset that I saw brush moving just beyond the scrape. 
I raised my rifle and waited. The entire time I was envisioning what this buck was going to look like. Would this be it? My opportunity to –finally- kill a noteworthy buck? I’m generally very slow to excite, but I began to get a little excited with anticipation. 
All I need is for him to step out
But to my EXTREME disappointment, what stepped out was not a buck. Rather, a giant boar. Frustrated that my hunt was over without a buck, I flipped off the safety just as the boar stopped to sniff the air, and I put a round right behind the eye. The boar did a front flip, and as if to really prove to me that my chances of killing a buck were gone, he flopped down DIRECTLY on the scrape. 
As I was busy dragging bacon back to the road, I couldn’t help but reflect on the whole weekend. I was grateful to still have my finger, it was amazing getting to spend time with some of my best friends, and I was lucky enough to not only take a deer, but also pigs. It was my first and only chance to hunt this year, and with the exception of a few hiccups, the weekend couldn’t have been more fun. I got to spend some much needed time in the woods, and even did something out of the tree stand that I’ve never done before. 
That’s right. I’ve never actually shot a pig from a tree stand before. 
What? Did you think I was talking about a different tree stand experience? 
The question “what in God’s name did I eat?” actually did bother me for a while. And it wasn’t until a week later that I solved the mystery. Out of sheer boredom, I flipped over my prescription bottle to read the back. 
That explains a lot.
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