The Hog Hunt That Wasn’t: Part 3

It was way too late in the day to drive straight to Texas, so we decided to stop in Fort Wayne, Arkansas for the night. I got us a room at this fleabag motel that was dirt cheap and right off the interstate, and as such, shared a parking lot with a liquor store, a pawn shop, and a McDonalds. The room had all the latest styling and accouterments you could hope to find: dull semi stained carpet, a tv bolted to the wall, Wi-Fi was 5 bucks a night extra, towels that smelled of smoke. And most importantly two twin beds with three grown men abiding in them. You do the math. We decided that Dad would get his own bed, and that my brother and I would share the other one.

My brother and I were hungry so we walked to the McDonalds across the way to grab some dinner to go, carrying concealed of course. My brother had a very conventional CCW rig, a .380 ACP single stack pocket pistol in an inside the waistband holster. I, on the other hand, was trying to pull double duty with mine. My weapon of choice was an N-Frame Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum with a 6 ½ inch barrel in an original Smith and Wesson shoulder holster. It laid comfortably under my armpit and against my rib cage, and was much easier to conceal that I had imagined, with a coat on of course. I figured that it would work equally well on pigs as other critters. Plus, I felt a little like Det. Harry Callahan. Luckily, we encountered no mischief and we got back to our room unscathed with a big box of chicken nuggets and soft drinks in tow.

We ate dinner by the soft glow of the neon lights at the liquor store while watching a very strange Japanese language sci-fi film. After the film ended we went to sleep. Correction. My brother and my dad went to sleep. I spent a good portion of the night elbowing my brother to stay on his side, stop snoring, and to prevent him from spooning with me. The combination of the late night junk food dinner, strange dreams in Japanese, and my brother’s attempt to try and score with me did not lend itself to a good nights rest.


The Hog Hunt That Wasn’t: Part 2

The night of the 18th of December it was a balmy 48 degrees and dry; lovely tanning weather here in the Midwest during wintertime. The local news station warned that a winter storm warning was issued for Northern Kansas and Missouri. I thought little of it as my mind was pre-occupied with things of a more important matter. When I went to sleep that night I was ready for 4:00 AM, I had all my gear packed and laid out neatly so that there would be no waste of time in the morning.

When my alarm went off that morning, I was awake and out of the bedroom before the second beep. I quickly showered and dressed. I hurried outside to start my diesel pickup truck, and when I opened the door I looked out into a sea of white. During the night while we slept, the temperature dropped to about 32 degrees and it began to snow gently. The temperature then climbed to about 33 or 34 degrees and it quit snowing and melted all that had settled on the ground. The temperature then dropped to about 18 degrees, turning all of the water on the ground into a thin sheen of ice, and then dumped almost ten inches of snow in about six hours on top of it. All of this became very apparent as I began to drive.

As soon as I was packed, I kissed my wife goodbye and told her it had snowed a little during the night. She smiled sleepily and went back to dreamland. I went back outside, locked my hubs in four-wheel drive, and let the old turbo-diesel crawl out of the driveway. As soon as I got to the junction of the county road and the highway, I shifted the transfer case out of 4×4 and attempted to get onto the highway, which hadn’t been bladed. The resulting donuts prompted me to put it back in 4×4. Luckily, there was no one to see me perform my tricks. As soon as I got up to about 40-45 mph on the slick highway, I could feel the truck start to skid and slip, so I ensured that I stayed under 40. At about this time, the heavens proceeded to dump more snow on top of the already Arctic-like conditions.

I should point out the drive to my parents house is about an hour and a half from my place when you are driving the speed limit of 65mph. As I was driving at about 38-40 mph, I knew we weren’t going to be able to leave at the scheduled time. First wrench thrown. I simply gritted my teeth, turned up the heat and the radio, and drove on through the snow.

As I drove by some of the bigger towns, traffic, and accidents, increased. There were cars driving way too fast, and some way too slow, both of which are equally dangerous when the roads are as badly iced and snow covered as they were. There were dozens of emergency vehicles and snow plow trucks along the highway responding as fast as they could to the amount of motorists in the ditches and snow on the road. I particularly remember seeing a red Audi, a very rare car in these parts, blaze past me at what was probably too fast for good road conditions let alone these conditions. About ten minutes later down the road, I could see headlights pointing up towards the sky where a car had run off the road into a very deep creek bed. I looked to see if it was really bad. My headlights caught a glimpse of red, European styling, and a figure in a long coat with their hand to their ear, presumably calling for help on a cellphone. It was too dangerous for me to pull over, and I was somewhat satisfied with that outcome anyways, so I drove on.

As I got past the towns and into the country, the number of accidents decreased, but the danger of driving did not. After I had driven about an hour, I saw a figure walking on the shoulder. It was still dark out, so I slowed down a bit and positively identified a person trudging through the snow on the shoulder. At this point, I couldn’t take it much more. I pulled over as safely as I could manage and turned my hazards on. I could see the figure begin to trot over to my truck. I had never picked up a hitchhiker before. All the stories one hears about picking up hitchhikers flashed in my head. Well, I reasoned, this person was more likely a stranded motorist and not a murderous hitchhiker, considering the circumstances. Plus, I was well heeled at the time, so if this person wanted to play dirty, I was up for a game anyways. My thoughts were interrupted when the cab door opened and a red faced, thin man in a snow covered windbreaker jacket, blue jeans, and tennis shoes hopped up and sat in the passenger seat. He stuttered out the words “Thanks, man” and shook hands with me. Ice cold hands. I got back on the highway and began my 40mph trudge again. After “Larry” had warmed up and stopped shivering, I asked him where he was going. He said he lived in a town that I was going to be driving through, so that was pretty lucky. The only catch was that town was twenty miles away. I asked him where he came from, and he said he had gotten off of work at midnight in the previous town, but couldn’t get his car unstuck, so he just started walking. Larry had been out in this dangerous weather for more than five hours and had walked almost twenty miles when I had picked him up and still had twenty to go! Larry could have very well died from exposure if I had not put aside my personal qualms and pulled over to pick him up. We didn’t really talk after that. We just drove and listened to the radio. After we got to the town where Larry lived, I dropped him off at his house, shook his now warm hand and drove away.

It was almost 9 in the morning before I got to my parents house, and the weather showed no sign of stopping. The roads were even worse now, as it was warming up and the snow was melting again. It was 1pm before we deemed it safe to load up in my dad’s truck and hit the road again for Texas. Ironically enough, once we had drove for thirty minutes south, there had been very little snowfall at all and the roads were completely clear.

The Hog Hunt That Wasn’t: Part 1

In June of 2014 I was hankering for something exciting to do. I was hearing about all these different adventures that my friends were going on, I had no prospects lined up for any future excursions, I was finished with all my schooling, and my job at the time really sucked. I was bored. As luck would have it, one evening I was reading an article on this rather famous hunter/ adventurer and his exploits of daring-do all over the world. I remember thinking to myself, “I want to go on an adventure! Why can’t I do something this cool?” As I bemoaned my stability and safety my mind began to wander; I began to envision myself as a sort of fedora wearing professor, or maybe a Hawaiian-shirt wearing private investigator. I could see it now: seedy characters, dangerous creatures, damp jungles, hot deserts, and dark alleys. Me, the hero, always on the brink of danger, ready to swoop in and save the day with a crafty plan and blued steel.

I was brought back to reality by sound of the cat scratching at the front door wanting to be let back inside the house. As I let her in, I thought to myself about what sort of realistic possibilities there were for me to have a modern day adventure. I concluded that an out of state weekend hunting trip would certainly suffice for now as a good introduction to being an adventurer. I began to search online and figure out what was even out there. What I did know is that there HAD to be an element of danger to this hunt, so prairie dogs were definitely out of the question. What I found in my scrounging about is that there are a myriad of places throughout the South offering very affordable wild hog hunts. Aha! Now there is an idea! I could see it all so clearly, stalking a boar through the scrub brush and palmetto fronds, ready for 300 pounds of muscle and tusk to charge, only for him to meet his death knell at my feet. There was romance, there was danger, there was adventure!

I called up my dad and brother and proposed the big trip. Both jumped at the idea immediately and threw their hats into the ring. As it were, they were in need of adventure as well. After I got the Missus’ approval, I spent the next few weeks looking at different ranches for the best combination of quantity and quality of hogs. We all decided to settle on a ranch about two hours south of Dallas, Texas that offered a great deal on all three of us to hunt for three days for an unlimited amount of hogs the week before Christmas of 2014. Visions of ham danced in my eyes. An unlimited amount of hogs?! I couldn’t book us for the trip fast enough.

Over the next six months, we planned every last detail of the trip down to the gas stations we would stop at. We would all arrive on December 19th at my parents house in the early morning, load up and drive down to the ranch, hunt the 20th, 21st, and the morning of the 22nd, pack up and drive home laden down with dead pigs in the pickup bed. We talked with people who had been on hog hunts, watched every YouTube video on hog hunting, bought every hunting magazine that had an article dealing with the subject, and made trips to the local Cabela’s for new hunting gear. My dad even bought a new rifle, a Savage “Hog Hunter” in .338 Winchester Magnum, just for the trip. I spent hours at the local range practicing with my personal rifle at different ranges and positions to ensure that no matter what the field conditions if any pig dared to cross into my shooting lane it would be the last thing that pig ever did.

Speaking of gear, my personal loadout was my Marlin 1895 lever action rifle in 45-70 with a Williams receiver peep sight. I had worked up a hot load for the 45-70 that comprised of a 430 grain hard cast lead bullet with copper gas check running to the tune of about 1750 feet per second at the muzzle. It was a veritable Mjolnir of loads that I could manage to prints groups that landed within an inch and a half at 100yards. I had heard of the ubiquitous “shield” of cartilage and gristle that a full grown boar develops under its hide to protect itself from fights with other pigs and could, under the right circumstances, deflect a lighter or poorly constructed bullet. This was our first time and I didn’t want any wounded pigs running away because I was “under gunned”.

To say that we were ready for whatever hit us was an understatement.

Until Whatever hit us.