Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Charged!!! Hog Hunting Adventures

This was the very first hunting adventure I wrote down. This happened almost ten years ago, and I still remember it like it was yesterday!

About every six months or so someone brings this topic up, and it allows us veterans to wax eloquent on the narrow escapes and brushes with death that we have somehow survived...

It is as if it was only yesterday; still vivid in my mind, as it was my first hog hunt. I had convinced a friend of mine to join me in what I was hoping it would become a regular pastime for the two of us. Two men communing with nature, and bringing its bounty home.

Yeah… Right.

We drove up to the guides ramshackle house, the driveway entrance marked by a couple of mismatched fire hydrants (ill gotten to be sure). A couple of hounds of questionable pedigree lifted their mange ridden heads to see what the wind was dragging in, and wearily dropped them back into the dust wallow they were in. A little cur with half an ear came up happily to meet us, his tail just a waggin, and a look on his face, that in hindsight could have easily been taken as "Please, take me away from here!" But I was more taken by the carnal smell in the air; a mix between a slaughterhouse and a municipal waste dump. It wouldn't be long before I was to find out what caused that peculiar and most disagreeable odor.

The guide that greeted us was a stubble faced, jaundiced eyed Cracker, with a chin stained by spittle from the plug of chew that was perpetually masticated by the off yellow teeth in his mouth. Occasionally, when he spoke, bits of tobacco, some quite large, would fly out, striking at random with a wet and disgusting splat. The back of his hand would rise to his face now and then, and wipe the mess from his chin, leaving streaks on both his cheek and hand. His chapped and bloody lips looked as if they had been gnawed upon by rats, or maybe the turkey vultures that seemed to inhabit many trees and fence posts around his home. When I mentioned to him that I hadn't ever seen so many vultures in one place, he told me that being that he always had a good supply of hog guts and such he fed it to his hogs. Seemed a waste, he said, to just throw it in the trash. The vultures just tried to steal it from the hogs when they could. I nodded my head in mute astonishment; my partner, whom I was to determine was not made of sterner constitution, turned somewhat green and made noises that I thought were the beginning of projectile vomiting. I wisely moved out of the way and made motions to start the show on the road.

I was wearing my old army fatigue trousers; the kind with the big cargo pocket on the side. Mentally debating what I was about to do next, I opened the door to my truck, reached in and opened my gun case. Checking the safety, I slipped my Ruger MKII pistol into the pocket.

Dribble Chin (as he would come to be known) supplied everything, including a rifle of indeterminate heritage chambered in 308. (This same guide would later try to sell me an old, poorly sporterized Mauser as an "8mm Mag".) I commented that we should resight the 308 in as my shooting technique would undoubtedly be different from his. To this he replied, that in his vast experience he had never seen that make a difference as far as he could tell, punctuating it with a stream of tobacco juice between his gapped teeth that would make a cobra blush in shame. I would later learn that it was probably because he only had two rounds left.

Well, I thought, as I schooled my face into blankness, this was going to be one of the highlights of my hunting experiences. I turned to my partner and rolled my eyes.

I know it now, that Gods of the hunt must of heard my thoughts from up on high; because what was to follow, went down in the annals of hog hunting lore.

We climbed into an old dilapidated International Harvester pick up, complete with rebel flags and Wallace for President stickers, and tastefully decorated in early Medieval torture chamber. The seat covers were nonexistent and the coils were worn, so in order to sit somewhat upright you had to get a grip on the steel dash and hold your self up. Suffice it to say that the ride was picturesque; and I for one was relieved to reach the hunting area.

It wasn't but a few moments later that we spotted a small herd of hogs. Flipping the coin and being judged and declared winner, the guide (whom I kept in front of me) and I hastily stalked to them. There was a decent boar in the group, so I took a steady rest and hoping against all hope, put the cross hairs snug up behind the shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The bullet sped its way across all of 50 yards and planted itself about 10inches to the right of my point of aim. Fortunately it was a killing shot as it tore the liver into little bits and pieces.

I was mighty pleased with myself, albeit I learned an important lesson that day. Don't use someone else’s weapon without a sight in. Never, not ever!

Now it was my partners turn. We hopped back into the death mobile and proceed to whack the snot out of our kidneys. Again. It wasn't long before the fun really started.

I advised my partner that luck would have more to do with his shot than skill. Unfortunately I said it a bit to loud, and the guide, spewing a stream of fetid juice out the window, informed me, that in his learned opinion, my technique needed some polishing up. Hell, just a day before he had knocked off a thieving coon at 300 long paces. I got real nervous at that point because I had no idea whether he meant a raccoon or something else.

Thankfully we spotted some more hogs not too far away. This was my partners first hunt I might add, and his weapons handling experience was a day at the range with me and a Ruger 10/22. But he could hold a rifle steady and put the bullets were they belonged.

They picked out a good sized hog, and when the rifle went off I saw the hog fall right over. I was pleased that my friend had apparently made a good shot, and I was happy for him. I took off at a jog that would bring me up to them at about the same time they would get to the fallen animal.

They were just getting to the hog and I was about 10 yards behind them, when the hog came to, the bullet having broken the spine of the creature. It was the howling and shrieks from the demonic hoards of Hades. I stopped short, looking about me certain that the earth was being rent before me, that the Cataclysm was upon me. The most God-awful squealing and bellows emanated from that stricken hog. Realizing what was happening I took the final steps up to the "Grand Finale".

Imagine, if you will, this scene: My partner was ashen white, rifle held at present arms. The guide facing us, and on the other side of hog, was pulling open his folding penknife; unfortunately he had neglected to bring any extra ammo for the rifle. I was standing facing them both, my MKII forgotten in the excitement.

I was about to slap my partner on the shoulder, when I heard a "woof, woof, grunt" and the unmistakable sound of an something crashing through the palmetto, scattering undergrowth and all in its path, heading straight for us. The guide, who had started to stick the hog, was startled and tripped over the hog on the ground in front of him, stumbling headlong into me. My friend, whiter than ever, was clutching the now useless rifle by the barrel, evidently intending to use it as a club. I remembered my Ruger MKII and tried to grab it out of the cargo pocket.

Now, anyone who has a MKII knows that the front sight is undercut, creating a hooklike thing. The sight looks great in profile, very racy. But at that moment, my hand wrapped around the grip, pulling for all I was worth, my pant leg pulling up into my crotch, at that moment I cursed Bill Ruger and his designers. (I later took it back...)

That boar hog was mad, he came out grunting and chopping, and all he knew was that there was a lot of squealing and some two legged dancing machine was the cause of it. His hackles were sitting up on end, giving him the classic razorback look. Wicked tusks gleamed in the late afternoon sun. The dust spun around him as he came to a halt, which to my amateur eye made him look like an all to real and lethal version of the Tasmanian Devil.

To everyone's consequent relief, he must have decided that discretion, being the better part of valor, was best observed. The scene was way too weird for him and after a few more pops of his jaws and a couple of grunts he backed off, turned and crashed back into the palmetto.

I finally managed to extricate the MKII from my pocket, and walking over to the fallen cause of this fandango, I calmly administered 38gr, in multiple doses, of permanent anesthesia. While in this frame of mind I looked at the guide, who immediate put up both hands. Putting the pistol back on safe, I stuffed it behind my back.

Glancing around, I noticed that my partner was nowhere to be seen. Where the devil had he gone off too? As I'm looking around and fearing the worse, I hear the unmistakable rusty creak of the door of the International. It seems that my fearless, 6 foot plus, 225lbs friend had left me for the sanctuary of the truck. After everything that he had witnessed that afternoon, the sight of that hog coming out of the palmetto was more than he could handle. Completely unnerved, he took off at a record breaking pace, never looked back and locked himself in the truck.

Later on after the proctologist removed the rifle and much therapy, he apologized for abandoning me...

All True!

Albert A Rasch

Bill Booth Outdoors

05/22/07 Tuesday
Weather: Morning: Sunny and warm. Afternoon: Clear, sunny and warm.
0653 hrs Temp: 62.2F Humidity: 97% Barometric Pressure: 30.06
1812 hrs Temp: 87.7F Humidity: 36% Barometric Pressure: 30.00
2048 hrs Temp: 75.9F Humidity: 61% Barometric Pressure: 30.06

Today was one of those days that you just lean back and say “What a day!”

I’m working my tail off at my job, keeping an eye on some folks whose appearance didn’t convince me that they were not up to something. A big, full sized, four door pick up truck pulls up and parks right in front of the concrete.

I hate it when they do that.

We were going to haul concrete out of the back to fill the distribution area, so I asked the fellow driving if he would mind pulling the truck up and out of our way. Considering the quality of the forklift operators, I thought more than prudent. The truck was pretty nice. I noticed that he had on a camouflage ball cap and shirt, and that his truck had many hunting and outdoor equipment stickers too. I figured he was probably an ok guy. I made an off hand comment that “…either you really like Realtree Camo or they sponsor you!” He replied, “Both, I have a TV show.”

My introduction to Bill Booth of “Bill Booth Outdoors ‘Walkin the Walk’”, was now official.

I about fell over myself. Here was a real life TV show host, parked right in my parking lot. And to top it off he did my kind of TV! Real TV. At this point he’s allowed to park on top of the concrete if he wants.

Now, many of you know me well. Celebrity doesn’t impress me. I chatted with John Denver for over an hour during a charity event in New York City. He was a real nice guy. I met part of the Kennedy clan at another charity function, again in New York City. Not impressed. Governor Kean of New Jersey and I traded impressions on artwork at Jersey City State College during an exhibit there. All right fellow as far as people go.

Bill Booth is as down to earth, hard working, and as real a fellow, as you would ever like to meet. I must have bent his ear for 20-30 minutes after he had checked out. And it was like two hunting buddies were shooting the breeze about stuff. I’m sure he was busy, judging from the armload of stuff he was carrying, but he never made me feel like there was anything more important than having a conversation with a fellow hunter.

Definitely go to his Web Site, “Bill Booth Outdoors ‘Walkin the Walk’”, and check out his show schedule. They are filming the 2008 season as you are reading this.

Albert A Rasch