A Summer Sausage Run For WMA Hogs

Eight hogs killed on a WMA in seven days of hunting made Glen Solomon's 2008 Summer Sausage Run a success.

Glen Solomon | July 29, 2009

WMA hog hunter Glen Solomon hunts alone most of the time. When he kills one, he’s often miles from the truck, so he bones it out where it lies. It’s rare Glen ever has a photo of himself with a dead hog. Instead, he takes pictures of where hogs were shot, like this one that was shading itself in a giant hollow cypress tree on Aug. 15, 2008 at Griffin Ridge WMA.

Warning: Reading these adventures could be hazardous to your health as it may cause you to slide on some camo and head right out to your favorite WMA in 100-degree weather.

This article is my personal hog-hunting diary for my annual “Summer Sausage Run,” which is enacted every August and September. I usually only have a few days to hunt that time of year before my work travel sends me to other states. I try to live off the land as much as I can, so I hit the WMAs hard and fast to stock up enough freezer pork to last until next summer. My public-land hunting career has been very fun and rewarding through the years, so I decided to make a diary this year just to leave a record behind of some great memories. After all, that is all we leave behind for others when we part this world. I tend to ramble in some of the entries, but it is only to give tips, inject thoughts and for some days, a good dose of humor. If I can only get one person fired up to hunt by reading this, it will definitely keep the fires of our hunting heritage stoked. Smart shoppers ready? Sausage on aisle… read on to find where.

Aug. 15, 2008 Griffin Ridge WMA. A.M. Hunt: Yea! Today was the official start of WMA hunting season, meaning it was time to chase squirrels and hogs. Only certain WMAs are open for hogs, so check your regulations.

“Hunting on the Fly” buddy Don Wood and I each connected on two large healthy hogs. Don killed a 275-lb. boar that was sporting some mighty mean tusks. I killed a 200-lb. sow. Each hog was layered in an inch of fat, which will result in a succulent and delicious piece of meat. That’s awesome for this time of the year.

I shot mine from the hip at a distance of 5 feet. It was bedded in the bottom of a gigantic hollow cypress tree. I was wading thigh-deep in a flooded swamp behind a slough when I noticed a small mound of dry land, which included the large cypress. I didn’t realize it was hollow until I stepped out of the water and crossed a log which landed me in front of the entrance. I looked down to my left and saw a hog at the front door eyeballing this big camo-clad duck that had just stepped onto his front porch.

I slowly raised my scoped muzzleloader filling the lens up with hair. Too close, even on three power. With the hog still there, I lowered the gun, pointed, projected it out and filled the tree with Pyrodex. No way I could miss, and if I had, there would’ve been one more secret in the mysterious swamp.

Don had to work a little harder. He shot his several hours later and was 1.3 miles from the truck when he killed it. Initially, we had paralleled in together, staying 60 yards apart. The water on his end got way too deep, so he swung back out. He walked down the main road for nearly half a mile (it was blocked by a fallen tree) before leaving the road. He then cut west for nearly a mile before intercepting a hog, that at 80 yards out, turned abruptly and came trotting directly to him. I may have saved him from heat stroke by squeezing between two trees (scraping both fenders) to get around the fallen tree in the road, which resulted in a much shorter walk-out. A hundred pounds of boned-out meat on your back can be rough. Out by 11 a.m.

I almost forgot. Back to the water that had gotten too deep too quick for Don. The first run into the swamp he spotted some hogs while standing in knee-deep water. He took one more step for a better aim. With eye to the scope, he fell into a hole up to his chin, Again! Yep, this has happened before. He had to disassemble his gun, dry it out and replace it with dry powder. Quack! Quack!

Aug. 16, Griffin Ridge WMA. A.M. Hunt: Just me today. I brought my bicycle for the first time. I had to pedal nearly a mile and a half past a gated access road. I hit my GPS for a waypoint, which is a bedding area on a peninsula. It is covered in tall grass and surrounded on three sides by an old oxbow lake. All hogs have to do is hit the deep water to escape.

With no noticeable breeze, I shot to it quickly before any wind could betray me. Nobody home, but the beds in the matted-down grass were fresh. As I raised my eyes from the beds to the dry land beyond, I immediately spotted a boar hog in a trot. I took a walking shot at 60 yards. The 225-lb. boar took off in a blur acting like nothing was wrong. A hundred yards out he stopped and stood still for a few seconds.

Meanwhile I was ram-rodding as fast as I could. Then I saw his rear drop to the dirt. Whew. Thank God. I thought I missed. I was 7/10 of a mile from my bike.

While biking out, I heard a grinding metal sound from the rear wheel of my bike. My gear-change sprocket broke off. Too much weight from two big hogs. One on the seat pedaling and one boned out in the back basket awaiting transfer to the hog hearse. Life’s little problems but still very much a great day in God’s outdoors.

The Smoking Log: This picture was taken from Glen’s Sept. 9 diary entry, where Don Wood, his hunting buddy, encountered a log full of sleeping hogs. Don filled the log with Pyrodex smoke, sending hogs everywhere.

Aug. 17, Griffin Ridge WMA. A.M. Hunt: Squirrel hunters are starting to pile in now, some with dogs. It was time to head a little deeper, thicker and wetter.

I hit my GPS and pulled up a bedding area in the middle of a large flooded bay. This sanctuary is full of tall swamp grass with a few scattered tussocks. To get there, you have to cross (swim) several deep sloughs, unless you know how to zig-zag around to find the shallower crossings. This is where my GPS shines again. Even though my destination was 1 1/4 miles away, I had to walk approximately an extra mile and a half through the Bermuda Triangle to get there.

I got to one of the larger tussocks in the middle of the swamp. Nobody home but fresh beds everywhere. I could even smell them. The tall swamp grass bellied down in the knee-deep water revealed their departing route. The grass blades will point the way. I caught up with them a couple hundred yards out feeding on “spider-web” roots underneath some tupelo trees. I rounded the bend from behind a big tupelo and stepped right into their business. I should have peeked.

Two hogs splashed off, and another paused with its shoulder between two cypress knees about 3 inches apart. Guess what I hit? The bullet furrowed through the flange of the knee and buried into a large cypress which was behind the hog. I couldn’t dig it out with my knife to determine if it was the whole bullet or a fragment. It was hard to accept or believe that at a range of 30 yards, I had missed. I did have to raise up and shoot quick. Nevertheless, I searched the area for more than an hour just to be safe.

I’ve seen these sabots go slam through an animal without expanding. At least it was a clean miss, I hope. No big deal, hunting days that start off bad usually wind up better than you could ever imagine. Look at Don. Two days earlier, he “stump-holed” while trying to get a shot at a much smaller hog than the large boar he ended up with.

With a positive attitude, I circled the bay to connect with a small point with weeds and a fallen tree wrapped in vines, another bedding area waypoint on my GPS. As I was closing in, I saw some vines shake and heard a hog grunt and a squeal. One was aggravating the other, maybe fighting over a juicy morsel. Thanks, tattletails!

Fifteen-yard shot and another fat sow with no pigs. She went 175 pounds. It was 10 a.m., and I was 1.22 miles from the truck. During butchering, I passed up a small boar that trotted by, oblivious to the earlier melee that had taken place.

Aug. 18, Griffin Ridge WMA. A.M. Hunt: Don returned today. He decided to check some areas a mile deep near the river. No hogs seen, just tracks from other hunters. We knew other hunters had been hunting in that direction, but not that deep. It’s a long way back on the floodplain but easily accessed by a dim road, which makes it more inviting to others. You need to be the first one there. It’s a little more crowded and challenging this year with opening day being on Friday, which brings in more weekend warriors. Your success rate can still remain high if you know where any sanctuaries are located. Be prepared for thicker, wetter and most of the time, a much longer walk.

I zeroed for the day, but I did have an opportunity. I returned to yesterday’s spot to see if I could pick up on the hogs that had been with the one I shot. I knew their next likely destination would be a good distance. I have a couple of waypoints in that area. As I neared yesterday’s kill site (1.10 miles away), I spotted a long, red rangy boar hog walking across a flat toward the bay, which was a couple of hundred yards ahead. I lost precious seconds searching for my face mask. Being the hog was nearly 100 yards out, I wanted to get closer so I could judge his health, especially an old boar. Wild hogs are going to taste like they look. He seemed to be on a mission trot, so there could have been more to choose from ahead.

Suddenly, a turkey flushed on the roost right over the hog. It startled him, and he picked up his pace. Then, half a mile away, a squirrel dog started baying his first squirrel of the morning. I could tell by the tone it was echoing over water, thus reverberating from a long distance. When Mr. Boar Hog heard that, he bailed on out of there. I circled the bay and checked the runways and tussocks, hoping he might have slowed down when he got there. Apparently he had a farther destination on his mind.

Tip: If you kill or bump hogs in a sanctuary, keep a tab on it, even though you boogered it up for those particular hogs. Older boar hogs, which will tend to be loners and have a large range, will come trolling through periodically checking for sows in estrus. They may have been nowhere around when all the commotion was present. The majority of the boars we’ve killed here were cruising across pretty open flats, just like that one, They look for the quickest way to get to the next sow bedding area or sanctuary.

I headed in deeper and picked up the tracks from yesterday’s passed-up hog. He’ll lead me to the others. He was doing a little rooting every so often along a main pilgrimage trail, which ultimately put me at 1.6 miles from the truck. I knew the general area to which the hog appeared to be heading, and it was still more than a mile away. I had to be back at the truck before 11 a.m., as Don had to baby-sit! I would need several more hours to dissect all the trails, bedding areas and wallows in that region.

Aug. 19, Griffin Ridge WMA. A.M. Hunt: Just me today. I decided to check the WMA corner boundaries along the highway. People hunt close to this area when coming in from the interior of the WMA but turn back because of all the water and mud that will sink you to your crotch. The woods are so much prettier in the other direction. It is backed on one side by a huge swamp lake and private land. Also, it is an overlooked area. Surely it wouldn’t be any good only a couple of hundred yards from a busy four-lane?

This is where I use my “Stalk Quietly With a Semi” technique. The sweet spot is a 30-by-60-yard area of vines and greenery that have enveloped all the surrounding bushes and fallen trees. The nearby four-lane runs through a long floodplain area, so there is a continuous guard rail system with no pull-off spots. You have to walk all the way from the… I’ve said enough already.

The hogs were bedded right behind a log. Two of them saw me about the same time I saw them and scatted. But one was a little slow, “Duh, what’s going on?” I’ll tell you what’s going on — sausage and smoke-cured ham. A plump 80-lb. gilt bagged only 200 yards from the road but four-tenths of a mile walk back to the truck. Better than the previous days, when I made 3-mile walks. I have walked 12 miles in a day here. Whatever it takes. I wear out a pair of Rocky snake boots and LaCrosse Alpha Burlys every year. Don’t give up! If you can’t or don’t like to walk great distances, find some fresh hog sign on escape trails that lead to sanctuaries and plant your butt down. There will be one along some time.

If we cross paths while “hunting on the fly,” I’ll do anything to help you, especially if you have a GPS and know how to use it. I’m not greedy. I love to see my fellow hunters enjoy God’s creation as much as I do. I almost forgot. I actually reloaded in time to miss one that paused farther up the trail. Darn gun!

Aug. 21, Griffin Ridge WMA. A.M. Hunt: Rainy weather today from a tropical storm. However, the rain did hold off until 9:30 a.m. That was just enough time to make a round in Back Swamp. No hogs seen, nor any interesting sign, even after crossing a lot of water to get to some islands we had success on last year. When I got three-quarters of a mile in, I veered back out to the edge of the swamp near the sandy oak ridge. I came up on a lot of various-aged boot and dog tracks that were coming in from the north end, which has a lot of access trails. This area has definitely been stomped out.

With no one around during the messy weather and also being mid-week, I figured if there were any hogs in the Back Swamp area they might come out of the swamp and make a round upon the oak and palmetto ridges. I’ve always noticed hogs will make wide forays after a good rain. It seems to revitalize them in some way, making them more prone to be seen in a place where they would normally only come out at night. With the bad weather rolling in, I basically planned for today to be a ground-elimination hunt. But I did have an opportunity and carelessly let it slip through my fingers earlier that morning.

I was caught off guard only five minutes into the hunt. I had just entered an access trail that starts at the DNR equipment barn. Fifty yards in, I saw a set of fresh hog tracks in the road. I assumed they were probably made before daylight being that close to the shelter. They were going in my direction. A few yards later they turned off onto the oak ridge. A few yards ahead they appeared again, but they were walking toward me now, the opposite direction from earlier. Same size tracks, same hog. I cleared a slight bend in the road, scoping out a 100-yard section of the road. I took another step, still looking ahead and then heard something to my right. A hog in the wide open!

I saw the hog just in time to see it wheel around and disappear into the nearest palmettos like a bolt of lightning. Boy, that was sloppy. A golden opportunity thrown away. Only five minutes into the hunt and close to the truck. I could’ve dragged this 100-pounder out and got some good photos with me in them this time. Most of the time I’m alone, and the picture is of a dead hog lying on the ground.

I should have killed this hog. I had all the clues there. My brain (the little thing under my hat) should have registered with the same set of fresh tracks going in all directions, which meant a hog was searching for food on this ridge, like now! There was a good chance he was still around, especially with the bad weather coming. I had gotten too complacent thinking this hunt was going to be tough as usual. Generally, I have to go deep and get wet. Not today. I should have been dissecting the cover adjoining the road with each step. I made a quarter-of-a-mile circle to see if I could intercept him. No redeem coupon today. One lonely hunter, one lonely hog, one lonely day, and we still didn’t hook up and go home together. I don’t reckon he likes to ride in the back of the truck.

Griffin Ridge Summary for opening week:

Dead hogs: Five (one for Don, who only hunted two mornings).

Total hogs seen: 20.

Number of misses: Two.

Human error resulting in a lost opportunity: Three.

Note: I told Don from now on shoot then step, not step then shoot.

Although we weren’t 100 percent on our opportunities, we did manage to kill the bigger hogs. We stacked up 850 pounds of live weight for the week and only forfeited 300 pounds due to error. Also, all the hogs we killed were extraordinarily healthy for this time of year and layered in fat. For someone who tries to live off the land as much as possible, this is truly a blessing and God supplying my needs. Now, back to Hunting on the Fly. I need a couple more before deer season to last me until our next annual Sausage Run in August 2009.

Aug. 27, Hannahatchee WMA. A.M. Hunt: Tropical Storm Fay finally played out. I figured hogs would be scattered everywhere now with all the rain we’ve had lately. I checked on some “short-pocket” areas where hogs funnel through while working two hunting clubs that are located on opposite sides of the WMA. That’s where your feeders or new food plots will be located. If they haven’t started planting or slinging corn yet, the hogs will keep a tab on them until they do. They don’t forget where they found food before, even years ago. No hogs seen, but there was a tremendous amount of sign. It could’ve been last-night’s sign or a couple of days ago. It’s hard to judge by the huge amount of rainfall we had.

This is the umpteenth time I’ve checked on this spot and have yet to see one. It may be primarily a nocturnal route. Judging by the immense amount of sign, there’s a good drove of hogs working slowly through, feeding and hitting a couple of wallows but not bedding here. Sooner or later, I’ll catch them straggling.

There is a good buck working through this narrow corridor though. It’s a bottleneck formed by a steep ridge point and the sharp outside bend of a high creekbank. It has a bamboo thicket blending it all together. This is marked on my Garmin GPS. I don’t know about his rack, but judging by the size and depth of his tracks, I guarantee he’s pushing 200 pounds or better.

Did I mention the acorns? On the way out, I saw two squirrels and shot one of them with my new .22 mag. I’ve been craving some squirrel meat lately. I love it more than deer meat, but you have to know how to prepare it. If any human carnivore doesn’t like any type of wild game, I can grant you that somewhere in the line from field to table, it wasn’t dressed, aged or cooked in the proper manner.

In a few days I’ll be back and make my deep run, hitting a lot of waypoints. On the way out I’ll be scanning the treetops for some bushytails. Did I mention how great they are on the grill after a short parboil?

Aug. 30, Hannahatchee WMA. A.M. Hunt: Ouch! Today really hurt. I have been belittled by hogs. This was my sloppiest hog outing ever. I had three golden opportunities and blew them all.

At sunrise I was parked at the gun range. For the first time, the gate to the access road was locked. I was fine with that because less than 100 yards in, the road passes by the narrow end of the dove field. I know hogs feed there until the dove hunters and road-riders spook them out, resulting in only night-time use. But now, the gate was closed, and it might keep the hogs uphill a little later than normal before heading back to their daytime core areas. That could be up to half a mile or more.

I was right. I cleared the tall weeds bordering the road and looked out into the dove field. Surprisingly, there was a large black object in it. A 200-lb. hog! I couldn’t believe it. In the daylight, too. I was hoping, but not really expecting, to see one two minutes from the truck. You don’t get many chances like this on pressured WMAs. I know it had to hear my truck pull up and shut off, not to mention that squeaky door that so desperately needs some WD-40. I reckon they get used to all the racket at the gun range.

But there he was and calmly feeding 60 yards away, or he was, until I brushed a briar. I was creeping up to a short bushy tree to get a prop for a precise head shot when the briar’s thorns grated across my pants leg. I froze immediately. I really needed one more step so I could part the leafy limbs with my barrel. I could tell he was fixing to bolt, so I leaned way forward to part the foliage instead of taking that much-needed step. I turtle-necked out to find the crosshairs, put them between his eyes and just as I saw his muscles bunching up to rocket out, I snatched the trigger. I knew better than to shoot with such a dilapidated form. That was the only excuse I could come up with after blowing a cricket hole in the dirt. On the way to the wood line he stopped about three more times, just long enough to tease me with a partially squeezed trigger. Then, in the background I caught movement. Maybe another chance to redeem myself? Another hog, a bit smaller but still heavier than 100 pounds. On its last stop before entering the tree line, it paused long enough for a freehand, 80-yard shot.

Note: If hogs are unsure what startled them or from what direction danger may have been coming from, they will often pause briefly to see if they are being chased, or which escape route their rootmates took. I took aim behind the shoulder. POW! It squealed and wheeled on out of there. I found blood about 50 yards inside the woodline on a dim path. Every few yards or so I would pick up a few drops or a smear on a bush. After 100 yards or so, the drops lessened down to pinhead specks and then became so far apart, I had to rely more on scuffed leaves, tracks and the rank smell of hog still wafting in the air. The path and the blood finally played out after three-tenths of a mile.

I had lost another hog. I felt like I needed to be tarred and feathered. I gridded off the area and looked around for a couple more hours to no avail. I hope it was only a flesh wound or maybe a gash across its leg. The stung hog had merged paths with the larger one. If I had stayed in the general direction they headed, they would wind up at a small creek that dumps into a larger drainage area where a number of wet-weather branches come together. This is one boggy boot-sucking jungle. I would rather run through a kudzu patch with a trotline tied around my waist. I know that area well and had a number of crossings, wallows and bedding areas to check off my waypoint list in the order and route the drainage ran. Maybe I could find a wounded hog along the way soothing itself the water.

When I got near the creek, I saw a squirrel. Since I was a quarter of a mile from my nearest “good spot” and the thicker cover, I decided to pop one and get a head start on a limit of squirrels I planned to kill as I headed out later. Plus, I needed to double-check that scope.

The little booger got behind a big limb, and I decided to wait him out. Meanwhile, I kept thinking I was hearing something to my left up a small hollow. The head of the hollow ended a couple hundred yards farther back at the confluence of two steep ridges. I looked a couple of times but didn’t see anything. It must be another squirrel raining down hickory crumbs. I resumed peering back up into the treetop.

A minute later I heard something again in the same direction. I looked over my left shoulder and surprise! It was a whole drove of hogs, six of them. I got busted in the wide open by a large sow leading the pack. Just as I shouldered my gun, she reversed and in a fast trot led the pack back up the hollow. She was the only one that saw me. I wasn’t moving at the time, but she knew something was out of place. There was one sho-nuff bruiser of a boar hog with her along with two smaller boars and a couple of big shoats. I tried to draw a bead on one, but none of them would stop long enough in a gap among the picket fence of saplings. Besides, I can’t even hit one in the open. When they got part of the way up the hollow, they took a hard left and went up a steep ridge. So I took off after them, catching glimpses of them through the trees until they disappeared.

By the time I topped the ridge, I was out of breath. I blew another gravy opportunity. Hogs were walking directly to me. I could’ve had my pick and probably another in the confusion if I had taken out their leader first. Ouch, again!

This opportunity hurt the worst. The timing and placement here were decided by the loss earlier. Had I been successful earlier, I’d be back at the house now, not here. A kill here would have made the other loss less painful.

I picked up the hogs’ trail a few minutes later where they had crossed the creek, and I stayed on them for the next three hours. I found where they had made pit stops at a couple of wallows. I was so close behind that the muddy water droplets were still wet. After a couple of merry-go-round loops in a huge drainage area, they left the swampy mess and went straight up a steep ridge that was more than half a mile straight up.

Halfway up and nearing heat exhaustion, I threw in the towel. Anyhow, they knew I was after them. Smart old sow or a mountain goat that looks like one. She knows how to get rid of someone. Up, up and away.

Most hogs will retreat to thick swampy areas or go downhill and follow the contour of the land to conserve energy, especially in 95-degree weather. But not this one.

Heading out, I took a slightly different route than normal by following a miniscule drain. I followed it into the throat of another deep hollow. Instead of skirting up one of the side ridges at the bottom where the hollow flattened out, I entered to see if I could find the origin of the little spring. Rewardingly, I discovered a major community wallow hidden under a bluff bank near the head of the hollow from where the spring emerged. There was a major trail leading from the wallow straight up the steep hill that rimmed the back of the hollow. Well, time to knee-foot out of another dad-gum box canyon.

At the top of the rise was an access road, which the trail crossed into much flatter woods that arrived downhill from the dove field. I’ve never noticed a hog crossing here because the road is layered with large gravel, and I never thought hogs would come out of a hole that steep when easier routes were available. From the wallow to the dove field was almost half a mile, and there were mud drops and smears all the way. This was a direct path and a definite evening stand. Maybe I can redeem myself.

Note: Surprisingly, to be this far south in the state, this area has some mountainous terrain, so be careful. To get my drift, this WMA is located near Providence Canyon State Park, Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon.”

If anyone kills a giant sow at Hannahatchee leading a hike, let out a yodel for me!

Sept. 3, Altamaha WMA. A.M. Hunt:

I headed to the Buffalo Swamp tract, which is one of the best kept secrets in Georgia as far as hogs and turkeys are concerned. This tract has a diversity of habitat such as live-oak ridges, river hardwood flats and river marsh, all intermingled with a vast network of sloughs, swamps and ponds. It has more than 3 miles of gated access roads. This means biking or walking a long way, or both. This WMA is the one that spurred me to trick out a hunting bike. Now I use it on other WMAs as another tool in my hunting on the fly arsenal.

After a few minutes of pedaling, I arrived to a marked location on my Garmin. On the trek in, I didn’t notice any rooting along the shoulders and very few tracks. DNR had been in there recently mowing, so it may have spooked them a little. Plus, it has been open since Aug. 15.

I was here for the first time the latter part of last turkey season. A couple of bowhunting buddies, John Bookhardt and Robert Carter, and I chased hogs for a couple of days with stick and string. Even though I was knee deep in hog sign the whole hunt, unluckily I didn’t see the first one. But they were there. It’s just a lot of land to cover.

John and Robert saw a few groups of hogs but were busted by the swirling wind each and every time. You’ve got to get close with a longbow. John called in a gobbler but was pegged in the open and couldn’t draw his bow. It’s good these boys don’t use “firesticks” or bows with training wheels (like me). They would be labeled as a new epidemic, second only to CWD.

Even though there was a good bit of pressure through turkey season, there were still a lot of hogs present and feeding out toward the road. So I was kind of surprised there wasn’t much sign this time of year. Most folks are still enjoying their air conditioners, and the rest are unaware of this early season opportunity.

I remembered a couple of bedding areas from last time and struck out with my waypoint arrow leading the way. To absolutely nothing. Old sign and nobody home. I did cut across a little bit of sign where maybe two or three hogs had passed along the edge of a small slough. Very little rooting, just passing-through sign, indicated by only one set of fresh tracks, no older ones, going one direction. It’s time to do it the old-fashioned way.

I put my GPS up and began tracking. I lost the tracks a couple of times and had to double-back, finding where they had crossed water. Over half a mile of tracking and crossing a third pond, I found a trail leading uphill to some pines. I came upon a wallow in the edge of some pines. It was drier and harder ground there, making it hard to see any tracks. There were dried mud droplets going in two directions. This is where my 50/50/90 rule comes into play. If I have a fifty-fifty chance of making the right choice, 90 percent of the time I’ll choose wrong.

On my first choice and a couple hundred yards later, all sign played. I returned to the wallow to try the other direction, which was leading uphill into the pines.

After following 50 yards of mud droplets, I looked up and saw a hog coming toward me, heading to the wallow. He saw me just as I shouldered my gun. He wheeled to the left behind a sapling and paused. I stepped to the right to find an opening for a clear shot. Finding a window, I put it behind his shoulder. PAP! He took off in a blur. I glimpsed two behind him that were only patches of color fleeing in the dense pine saplings. Looking in the direction they went, I noticed sunlight filtering into the swamp from one of the ancient DNR food plots a couple of hundred yards away.

I swung wide toward the plot to see if I could intercept the others and give him time to lay, being shot with a .22 mag. No head-shot opportunity. In fact, most of the time I go for the lungs or heart. For these piney-wood rooters we have down here in south Georgia, a .22 mag is sufficient. When I got to the prehistoric DNR food plot, which was grown up in dog fennels and grass, I followed the woods line until I hit a single mowed path down the center of it. I walked the path a little way, and then cut off into the waist-high grass toward the pines. Lo and Behold! Three yards in front of me was my hog. I quickly point-aimed behind the shoulder. PAP! The hog tore out, and all I could see was the tops of grass and dog fennels shaking.

I took off bouncing along behind, hoping to catch him in the open when he exited the field. If no other shot opportunity, at least I’d know his exit and where to start looking for blood. When I cleared the weeds, I saw him about 50 yards away in the flat with his front legs folded underneath him and his chin on the dirt. Sadly, it looked like he was praying. RE-PAP! Amen!

He would’ve died in the earlier spot had I not bumped him. No regret though. He didn’t leave me a blood trail, and to find a hog in that field would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. I was very lucky to walk straight to him. I know hogs love to bed and hide in grown-up weedy fields. That’s why I circled ahead to it.

If you ever hunt Ossabaw Island, hit those dry ponds that are grown up.

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