It was once again raining. Ever since the beginning of June it’d been raining. And this night was no different. The roads were all practically flooded, and areas that weren’t were deep with wash outs. It made checking on the deer a giant pain.
But by this point we no longer cared. It was mid-June and with the exception of one or two days, the rain hadn’t let up. At all. So we were all pretty much used to being waterlogged. After checking the last deer one evening, I drove the truck around the backside of a big peanut field so that one of the other technicians could use the FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) to look for any pigs.
They’d finally started showing up again. Right about the same time that the rain started. I’m assuming the nearby river bottom flooded enough that they got driven out of the swamps. That, and the rain kept things cool enough that seeing them wander around in the middle of the day wasn’t unheard of. So when checking on the deer, we always carried rifles, and if it was at night, the FLIR and a spotlight.
Suddenly my buddy whispers “Pig…Pig…There’s a pig out there”
I quickly stopped the truck, grabbed my 30-06, and took a rest on the hood of the truck. I couldn’t hear anything my friend was saying from the cab. In my haste, I hadn’t shut off the engine and the noise drowned out any whispering he was doing. But luckily I knew the routine. Wait for the spotlight, and shoot whatever is inside of it. Suddenly the spotlight shined, and I found my target in the scope.
There’s its butt…So that must be its shoulder. Wait…no…THERE’S its butt, so…God that’s an ugly pig. What am I looking at??
It felt like it took me forever to figure out exactly what I was looking at, but I’m sure it only took a moment. It was a big pig. Big, square, and ugly enough that I was indeed confused for a second on which was the head end. I quickly put the crosshairs on the shoulder, and squeezed the trigger.
Simultaneously, my friend’s AK-47 fired off a round. The spotlight jerked for a moment, and then found the pig again. It was running. I quickly chambered another round, and just as I went to squeeze the trigger again, the pig flipped, and went still.
After a couple of high-fives, we walked out into the field to take a look at the pig. Upon walking up, we realized it was bigger than we thought. MUCH bigger.
I’ve yet to kill one this size since. And after examining it for a moment, we realized it was my 30-06 that hit the animal. The bullet struck directly in the heart and the pig ran no more than 50 yards from where he was hit. Even if he hadn’t gone down immediately, trailing him wouldn’t have been difficult. Not because of all the blood, but the smell. He smelled like a dumpster.
The rounds I fired this year were some that my dad reloaded for me. They were 175 grain VLD’s. I’ll spare everyone the specs, but if you’re interested in them, shoot me an email (see what I did there?).
The bullets certainly did their job this year. They penetrate a couple of inches before practically exploding, leaving just a core that exited even the pig shown above. And we shot quite a few this year. I’m guessing right around 60. Unfortunately it wasn’t like last year (that number pushed 160), but I’ll take what we can get.
A few weeks later we got a chance to do some late night spot and stalk by using the FLIR. We spotted out a group of pigs that were too far for the spotlight to hit, so we hoofed it to get closer to them. Once in range, I was able to use my friend as a rifle rest, and put down this big sow.
As a good gesture to the people who work on the plantation, we gutted and skinned the pig and left it hanging in the walk in cooler for everyone to enjoy. By that point in the summer, we still had more pig meat than we knew what to do with.
A little later in the summer, while out riding by myself, I came across a group of about 10 pigs in the middle of the road. It was still daylight, so I was able to stop the truck, and make two well placed shots on running pigs. Once I got up to them, I realized they were perfect eating size. To add, one of them was hit right in the head, so none of the meat had been wasted.
I took this opportunity to fully gut and skin this pig. We usually don’t gut them, and just cut the meat from the bone, but I figured this was my best chance to have a whole, undamaged pig to eat. It must’ve been midnight before I finished with both the pigs, and as I closed the cooler door, I realized: I have no idea what to do with these now. I don’t own a smoker, and we don’t have a barbeque pit.
The next morning I sent a text to my brother-in-law over in Jacksonville. “Do you want a full pig for the smoker?”
And by 10 am I had the pig in a cooler under ice, and was driving the Jeep over to Jacksonville to smoke it. We were pleased to discover that the pig fit in the smoker like a glove.
After smoking it all day the following day, we gathered everyone we knew, and had an absolute feast. I’d never smoked a pig before, so it was a learning experience for me and definitely something I want to do again. Just thinking about it makes me hungry.
I’m well aware that using Infrared monoculars to aid in pig hunting takes a little bit of the sport out of it. But with how big of a nuisance they are, some of the “sporting” parts of pig hunting kinda go out the window. Plus, it’s just plain cool. I’ll definitely miss getting to use that technology on a daily basis. It was a big perk to my job. But I’ve got enough awesome memories and hunting stories from it to last me a lifetime.
It’s just too bad hunting stories don’t fill your belly. I already miss the barbeques.