This year started off for us to be a year of trying and patients. It seemed that one thing after another, stacked up against us, and stretched us to our limits.
Through all of it, one of the things that kept us in check, were the visits to the country when we could, and spending quality time with our oldest grandson. To say he is a something special, is somewhat scewed from our side, as grandparents, but it is hard to observe the boy and not see it.
He and I started this year off with him calling me one Sunday morning. His conversation quickly turned to hunting. He told me that we needed to get over to my friends place and get a big boar hog, and that started the ball rolling.
Being a kid in our family for years has meant spending time in the woods, on the lakes or on the coast fishing the surf. My pop started me of that way and I have followed suit. It is one thing that we can all look forward to doing each season through the year, and the rewards are generally well worth the effort.
Back to the boy, he mentiones every time we're up that he wants to go shoot a big boar hog. After watching hours of hunting video's he knows how the game is played, at least how it should be done. So, I started looking at what I might have in the collection which might allow him to put this thought process to work. I had picked him up a Sako in .243 some time back, and figured that it should work out fine. However, once we got it all put together, we found out that it wa just a bit much for him to hold up and keep steady. So plan - B, where to go from there. I had another Rem. pump in .243 that I thought about, as my daughter had started off using it. IT might be light enough and fill in, but, the scope I had for him would not sit far enough back in the rings I have on it. Well after considerable reservation, I got on the net and asked around, and ended up finding some Youth loads for my .308 on the Hodgdon site that seemed to be mild enough for him to at least give a try. The rifle is a Ruger Compact and topped with a 1.5x6 Burris ignature Electro Dot. I had set this little rig up several years ago for the specific hunting we do in the low light and up close and personal, river bottoms. It is quick to aquire, and the heavy plex and red dot allow very early and late shots even in the thickest of brush or cover.
A month or so ago, I headed up to see how things would go having the grandson, shoot a few of the lower power loads. We set up a target at 50 yards and after an extensive going over of the safety aspects of things he made his first shot. Well it really got his attention to say the least. It was much more than he expected, yet wasn't overpowered. We only shot a few, then we switched to a M1 carbine, which he liked much better. After around 20 rounds through it we tried the .308 out agian, for a couple of shots then put them up and went about our business.
Last weekend, we got the rifles out and set up the targets as the other post reviews. I, as well as the grandson, became much more confident in the abiilities of the combination.
Several weeks back, the wife and I headed up to repair and fill up a corn feeder I had hung several years back. It is located way in the back of my friends place with about a 50 - 100yd view of the surrounding underbrush. In all actualality, there is only a lane more or less that one can actually shoot through. I had purchased a two person tree stand that we also took down with us, and after a long hard decision process we set it up and made ready for the upcoming opening weekend of deer season. We came back the week after, to find the hogs had definately found our offering.
I am not sure how many of you know Michael Waddel from the hunting series video's, but this is a perfect carbon copy of the attitude of my grandson and his motivation on hunting. HE is an awesome kid for his age in any book. More on this later...
We got situated in the stand under a totally full moon. I didn't fugure we would see much, but wasn't going to worry about it either, it was time spent with the kid. After getting set, I pulled out the vidio camera and mounted the homemade bracket I had built on the side rail of the stand. Nothing fancy just a couple pieces of thin square tubing, and a couple of C-clamps. We did the whole thing just like the big boys. Described the area, why we chose it and what we might see. THen we sat back and waited for things to happen. Well in years past, it has been pretty warm on the opener of duck and deer season, and we haven't noted much in the way of shots fired from the neighboring duck hunters. Well this year it was on, and on in a big way. It sounded like the battle of Midway going on just a couple hundered yards from us through the woods. I figured that pretty much blew any chance of us seeing anything, and other than a spooky little doe which nailed us immediately, I was pretty much dead on.
WE headed back around 9'ish and got in some shooting of a few other rifles and other things, as well as making a run back down to the feeder to top it off with more corn. While there we fixed up a few details on the stand so that the evening hunt would be hopefully a little more comfortable. We also noted that witht the warming temps, that the swamp bats, (read thumbnial sized mosquitoes), were out in full force, and thoughts of coming out after dark needing a transfusion, ran through my head. We headed back to the stand a little early just a tad after 3:00 pm. I figured that with the full moon things might get rolling a little early, and maybe we might see something before the evening influx of birds. We were a little surprised to find a 8 or so point buck bedded down right under the feeder when we approached. HE was looking as if he was just waiting on the clock to go off and dump him an afternoon snack. After he cleared the area, we got set and the wait began. IT wasn't long before the warm evening sun, the late trip up and the early rise started to take their toll on the both of us. I practiced different things witht he video camera to keep myself awake, but had to keep prodding the grandson in an effort to keep him from taking a header out of the stand. We only installed on 4' section of the ladder so the fall would not be far, but the stop would be hard non the less. I mamanged to get him awake when he heard the splashing of a hog coming from the shallow end of a pond we were sittin next two. It wasn't long before a decent sized boar hog made a quick pass through the far end of our view, before heading on off to make his rounds. He had made note of the corn on the ground and we hoped that he would find his way back before dark. I am not sure how many of you have ever been in thick river bottoms full of hogs as the sun hits the western horizon. IT is something that will stand the hair up on your neck, even on seasoned hunters. The grunts, growls, shrieks and groans began as usual and the anticipation grew as we listened to them all around us. We noticed movement over our shoulder and found that three does had fed their way to within about 20 yards of our stand. We had no intentions of shooting them but the experience was nice just the same. I was shooting a little footage of them when I noticed that one of them looked our way in an alert fashion. About the same time, the grandson alerts me to the fact we have a hog coming in. The first letter of business was getting on hearing protection so we slipped my Peltor's on him and adjusted the volume so he could hear me whispering to him. The hog was sticking to the cover at the far end of our view which gave us a little more time to get the camera set up and rolling, as well as getting the kid up in my lap with the rifle situated to allow for a shot if presented. As time went by the light was quickly slipping away from us un the thick underbrush. Even the thick plex was getting hard to see. The hog milled around coming in and out of a shooting lane before getting comfortable and starting to really work on the corn. This was just what we were waiting on, and things got going fast. I turned on the dot for the kid, and he settled on the hog. Wel every timje he would tense up for the shot the hog would turn or walk out of the narrow lane, and we would have to wait. I am not sure who was more anxious me or the boy, but I know that I was very relieved when the hog stopped dead still and broadside.
It was over in the blink of an eye, the boy had made his first kill. In watching, it was all in slow motion like a car wreck. The hog was standing, I hardly heard the report of the rifle as it's feet retracted, like the wheels of an airplane lifting off, and it hit the ground like a sack of wet sand. In pure Michael Waddel fashoin, the left arm of the grandson was pumpin up and down as he hollers, "YEA BABY, I HAMMERED HIM" !!! I was so cought up in the momnent I didn't even realize that I had said the exact same things as I repeated him and we celebrated the moment. The hog turned out to be about 150# and was one of the most reaking, stinking things I have been around in a couple of years.
In talking with the boy and his mom, we all decided to forgoe processing this one, and concentrate our efforts in finding the sow which will hopefully put us in the running in a statewide contest. We found several sets of tracks in and around the area where we were hunting which were left by a huge sow. I took this picture using a 30-06 case as reference,
From experience, this one should push 400# easily on the hoof, and no telling what dressed out. I can say the last one this size I got had to be hauled in using the back hoe, and took three of us to roll it in the bucket.
Overall it was a treat to be a part of this experience and spend time with the boy. From the times he has "sighted in" his toy rifles,
IT is hopefuly something he will remember for the rest of his life, and share with his children when the time is right. As for my hunting season, well I think I will be redirecting my previous plans. Seems that someone has really taken a hankerin to my little "Pig Popper", and I guess he will be getting most of the use from it from here on out.