Re: Pointed South
The second three day season for hogs at South Carolina Hamilton Ridge WMA was once again Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; so I loaded up the truck with less gear than the first trip and made the nine hour drive down. I leave about 5:00 in the morning in order to avoid the rat migration into their places of business. That is one of the great joys of no longer being in the daily rat race. Early afternoon sees me in Hamilton Ridge and there are only two camps set up so I have my pick of places and set up about the same as last time. After camp is set up I go over and inspect the general sanitation of the place. All of the portipotties are clean and have paper in them. The building itself is in better shape. Moral of that story is that the turkey hunters left the place in much better shape than the hound hunters. In fact, the company came and cleaned them again on Thursday.
Wednesday evening, I went out scouting for fresh sign and low and behold there is fresh dirt in exactly the same field I had hunted last time. I decided that would be a good place to try and didnít bother to scout much more. By dark two more camps had been put up so now there were about five groups and maybe 15 people as opposed to the early spring hunt when there were maybe 20-30 camps and perhaps 75-100 hunters each day.
Early opening morning I ease into the field and wait and watch but there are no hogs. So I get to investigating the fresh dirt and begin to see a pattern. It is all just small diggings around in the already rooted out places. The more the day wears on the clearer the fresh dirt mystery becomes. The WMA is overrun with armadillos which root around just like miniature pigs. Live and learn!
The place is also overrun with small alligators. One evening I walked by a small pond and notice a yearling in the water so I thought it might be fun to catch it. I got me a stick about two feet long and sat on the bank and dabbled the stick in the water to make some small splashing sounds. Little two foot long alligators came swimming from everywhere. They formed a semicircle about ten feet out in the water and tried to decide whether to come in a try to get a bite or not. I never did get one close enough to make a grab for so after a while I went back to pig hunting.
So Friday came and went and Saturday I decided to try a place I had hunted last time but with not much sign. After walking around there and checking a lot of places I did not find much evidence of any large amount of hogs. But I heard some hounds hunting on the private hunting club adjacent to the WMA and they seemed to be in the swamp that was the boundary line. Having no coherent plan of action at the moment I went to the truck and drove down to where the road crosses the swamp. So I am sitting there in the truck thinking about whether to get out and venture in the swamp or not when a black hog darts across the little dirt road. I ease the truck up to where it crossed and can still get glimpses of it going through the trees but there is no way to get a shot. I wander around there for a moment and do not hear the hounds running anymore so conclude that they have gone home. I am sitting in my truck debating whether I will back the truck up to a wide spot and park and go into the swamp after the hog or to go to camp and get lunch and come back after things have settled down a bit. About that time another hog runs across the road and it is black with a broad white band. So I park the truck and ease into the swamp with the S&W 460 and a bottle of mosquito repellent. I am navigating through the swamp very slowly going from dry hillock to dry hillock trying not to step on a water moccasin and not make any noise to scare the hogs. Suddenly I see a pure white hog trotting through the trees and I get the S&W lined up on it but it does not stop and then it turns and comes directly toward me and I recognize that it is a white hound running silent. It is illegal for the hound to be there so I briefly ponder ending its days but notice it has a radio collar so figure it has been called off by its owner and is now returning to the private land. Thinking that the pigs must have been run hard I figure where they will quit running and hole up and I go circle around the swamp to get ahead of them but they do not show up so after awhile the call of lunch wins out and I go to camp and get a bite to eat and then return to the ambush site. At this point the crucial decision of the trip is made. If I get the rifle out of the case then I know if a shot comes that I can make it. If I take the pistol then it will be a matter of much luck if I hit anything beyond 30-40 yards. In the end the lure of fun wins out over the lure of killing and I take the S&W.
I sit in the swamp with the mosquitoes for about three hours and get bored from doing nothing and decide to head deeper into the swamp. I only go about 200 yards (but that takes nearly half an hour I am moving so slowly and carefully). Finally, I am rewarded for all of the hard days. About 60 yards away is a black shape moving in the trees. I have a shooting stick to rest the pistol on but it is hooked to my belt so it is going to be a freehand shot. Thoughts of the morningís misadventure with the hound surface in my mind and I decide that I cannot shoot until I am 100 % positive that it is a pig. It turns away from me was goes about another ten yards then turns broadside and I am able to get a positive ID on it. But the head and part of the front shoulder is behind a tree so I have only a small target but nonetheless I either take the shot I have or risk no shot. I line up the sights as close to the shoulder and the tree as I reasonably believe I can based upon my ability with the pistol. As the trigger breaks I see full well that the front bead is now to the rear of the ribs and slightly high. Sure enough the pig rears up on its hind legs hit very hard but when it comes back down on its front legs it goes into high gear and is running hard. About this time massive chaos occurs and there are now about 20 hogs running all over the swamp just going everywhere, so I naturally manage to shoot an oak tree about 30 yards in front of me instead of one of the pigs. This irritates the living fool out of me so I pick another small pig and try to hit him. He is at a dead run through the trees at 70 yards and once again I miss by at least 3 feet. Then as quickly as it began it is all over.
I slogged through the swamp and searched for the hit pig but after about 5 minutes I hear two gunshots about 600 yards away in another arm of the swamp which was where the last pigs were headed. So it stands to reason that the hog was hit high in the intestinal cavity and was not going to stop moving for a while but was slowed enough that the other hunter got an easy shot. I search around till about dark and found nothing where I was and counted myself lucky not to have gotten snake bit with all of the stuff I waded and stomped around in searching for the hog.
So that was how my hunt went. Very few other hunters around and two pigs killed for about a 10% success rate, much cleaner facilities and actually managed to finally figure out how to hunt the pigs. Did some shooting and had some fun. Down sides to the hunt were the fire ants bit me a lot and got into all of my food and the mosquitoes were really fierce in the swamps but not too bad at the campsite. I had a lot of fun playing with the alligators, and best of all, stopped at Ruby Tuesdays at Ft Bragg on the way home Sunday and had lunch with my son. They had a jump earlier in the week with the MC6s and full gear and he had learned that jumping with gear is not as much fun as without.
The Smokin Fur Rifle Club