One of my all time favorite sports is the challenge of hog hunting. The wild hog, recognized as one of the smartest animals in the woods, is also a gourmet's delight. No wonder hogs are one of the most sought after animals in the woods. Florida is a tropical paradise. A paradise offering some of the most exciting hunting this great country has to offer. At the top of the list is the big bad Florida wild boar. The Florida wild boar, a cunning, dangerous, adversary, the beast with an attitude, all bad. Who could ask for anything more?
Mister Neal Suarez, retired fire fighter, loves to hog hunt just about as much as I do. Neal wanted to go badly, so did I. My first thought was introducing this courageous civil servant to my good friends Crichton & Tracy Allen, owners of Tiger Island Outfitters. Being a laid back Native Florida Cracker, I really appreciate the Allen's good old Southern hospitality. And then, not to be left out, Cornbread & Crichton, resident basset hounds; cute little fellows with an appetite to match. Better watch your lunch; those rascals are definitely not bashful.
After checking in, it was time for a nap, what a cozy little cabin. We want to be well rested. This is going to be exciting. We are going to challenge the Florida wild boar in his territory, his home, his turf. Time to go!
Our guides, Joey Hinderson & Captain Brian Pritchard, real woodsmen, hog hunters supreme, escorted us past a little pond and into the prettiest oak, hickory hammock imaginable, this place is absolutely breath taking. Wonder if there are any hogs around? Our guides warned us never to let our guards down, they have been chased. The hogs of Tiger Island are big, bad, and born with an attitude. And, guess what, they don't take too kindly to being shot, in fact, they can get down right nasty. Neal, being the brave one, decided to still hunt. He is an expert at creeping very slowly, looking, listening. Me, I decided to hunt from a cozy little hut, a hut with heavy anti-hog wire all around it. I want to be safe.
After about an hour I see my first sigh of hogs. Man these guys are not taking any chances. They circle my hut. Hogs are so close I can hear them breathing. They want the corn, but is it safe to go in? They know what that hut means. Hogs are circling my hut trying to pick up my scent. Will I ever get a shot? Finally, a few smaller pigs, cute little 60-70 pound porkers, come in and begin to indulge themselves. I can see monsters off to the side in the heavy brush, but they refuse to come in. I am looking for a real trophy, the hog of my dreams. It's just not going to happen. The big boys, my dream hogs, are just too smart. Then I hear it, BAM! Neal is shouldering a Browning X Bolt , 280 cal., coupled with a ZEISS 'Victory' 2.5 X 10 by 50 scope. What a combination...the best of the best! Then, on our T/I provided hand held radio, I hear Neal's trembling voice, a voice over-whelmed with excitement, "Hog down...hog down and out!" Brian & Joey pick up Neal's fine 105 # boar hog, and what a hog it was, a real beauty, a boar to be proud of. I am so happy for Neal. As the sun disappears into the tops of the oaks, I am still hogless, hogless as in those monsters with a nose are just too darn smart. Oh well! Maybe tomorrow. Back to camp, a nice hot shower, great meal, and a good nights sleep.
Six-thirty A.M., yes that's right, A.M. As far as I knew six-thirty only came around in the afternoon. Oh well! time get up and go. Our guide for the morning hunt, Captain Brian Pritchard, picks us up. Gosh! I want to go fishing with Brian. Some of the pictures he proudly shared with me were, to say the least, remarkable. But that is for tomorrow; today we are chasing the wild boar. I wanted to take a look at the hut I hunted the evening before. Had it been hit again? But first things first. Off at a distance we see this monster hog, a real beast, the hog of my dreams. Brian says we need to take this giant out. This freak of nature has challenged way too many unsuspecting hunters. Get him! No way! In a flash this brute is gone, gone with the wind. Oh well! Some day, some time! These darn things are just too smart for their own good, or, more appropriately, to smart for us. Off to my hut. Sure enough, the hogs have been back, back with a vengeance. I want to hunt here again. This stuff is really getting personal.
Once again, still without hog, I settle into my cozy little hut. I set up my new Sony video camera and focus on the area immediately under the electric corn feeder. Gosh I hope the hog of my dreams is hungry. Then, completely different from the night before, almost without warning the entire area under the feeder was covered with hogs, hogs of all sizes. I turn on the video camera and sit back and watch, watch in amazement at the spectacle in front of me, these wonders of nature, these. 'beast with attitudes.' And then I see him, the hog of my dreams. But hold on, I was so overwhelmed I forgot to shoulder my gun. Ever so slowly I reach for my Marlin 45/70. Will they see me. Oh no! they stop and look directly at me. Is it all over? Is the hog of my dreams just that, a dream. I freeze, freeze for what seems like an eternity. The smell of that corn is just too much; once again, they begin to eat. I make my move, ever so slowly, ever so cautiously, I position my Marlin stainless guide gun firmly against my shoulder. That 45/70 packs a real wallop on both ends. I center the cross hairs of the 3 X 9 Nikon scope just under his right ear. I pull back the hammer, and, very gently touch the trigger. That 335-grain Honady, in a blaze of fire, races out of the front of my gun and is on its way, on its way towards the hog of my dreams. What a shot! The adrenalin rush is completely off the chart. What a shot, what a hog, what a trophy! What am experience! Good friends, great hunting, and freezers stuffed full of some of the best eating imaginable. Is there any wonder why, 'One of my all time favorite sports is the challenge of hog hunting?' Surely it must be time to go back again. The great outdoors in this tropical paradise we call Florida. Who could ask for anything more?
Mister Neal Suarez scores first with a beautiful 105 ponder:
My turn! The camera is ready; so are the hogs:
The one looking @ me, hair on top of his ears, is the 205 ponder I shot:
Hog down and out:
Even a tough job with a winch:
Even longer than the hog rack:
My guide, Captain Brian Pritchard, congratulates me on a job well done:
Check out the live action video:
As usual, we are grated by Cornbread & Crichton Allen, the basset hounds of Tiger island.
My hut area has been devastated, hog signs galore, I can't wait!
Check out the one with the hair shooting out from the top of his ears, my target, the hog of my dreams!
POW! Hog, monster hog, down.