Coastal Hog Hunting
Martin Richter is quite the German celebrity with what he is accomplishing on Georgia’s trophy boars.
For Martin Richter the hunting story started with his maternal grandfather, Richard Link. The time was shortly after World War II in the late 1940s. The place? Bamberg, in what was then known as West Germany.
Fast-forward to last month. Late afternoon, Richter is somewhere between Brunswick and Jesup, some 35 miles from the Georgia coast, perched in a well-constructed and stocked shooting house deep in a gloomy swamp. At his fingertips rests a pair of custom-made—in Brunswick—rifles, ready for action. Richter may be here for a couple of hours; or even until the gray of first light in the morning. On the other hand, considering that this is a Friday night, he may not leave the stand at all until sundown Sunday.
That depends upon the hogs.
And hogs, or the hunting thereof, are what Martin Richer and I found that we had in common. I first met him down in Jesup at the Wayne County Hog Jam, and struck up a conversation. Hunters seem to always find hunters; you could swap out half the populations of south Georgia and north Oregon and hunters would be the first group to hook up. The fascinating part was not necessarily how he went about taking these destructive critters off the landscape as much as the road traveled to arrive in the first place.
It seems as though Martin is something of an online celebrity in Germany, to the point of some sponsorship from a company that makes various types of attractants. We’re not talking Tink’s here; this is stuff that you slather on trees or such with the premise of drawing in hogs and other assorted targets. The product line hasn’t made it to this country yet, mainly because of U.S. Customs. Strange things happen to the mix when it sits in an impounded container in a New York harbor for six months. Chinese catfish, yes; hog or bear attractant from Germany? Well, no…
“People in Germany are just fascinated by the fact that in the United States a law-abiding citizen can buy a hunting license, go out and hunt anywhere he has permission,” Richter says. “It’s not like that over there and never has been. Hunting is so very regimented, and very few people get to take part in it at all. Growing up, that’s why I was so fortunate that my grandfather was the Foerster.”
See if you can stick to this winding trail. It begins 70-plus years ago, within the Germany of Richard Link.
A Foerster is a government-certified hunter in charge of both governmental and private hunting lands. If you hunt, you hunt with and under the supervision of this official. He was heavily involved in keeping up with the exact numbers of a variety of game taken and what was done with it.
“Say you killed a deer—and these were the very small coues-type deer around Bamberg—on one of these hunts,” Richter says. “You would have participated in a very exacting, tradition-filled event. For instance, you would be in the stand of his choosing, facing and shooting in one and only one direction at an animal that had to be standing in the exact position that would allow a sure kill shot. You would have been instructed exactly where to place the bullet, for the purpose of damaging the very least amount of meat. Upon examining the kill, it would be turned facing a certain direction and a final piece of some sort of browse placed in its mouth as a symbolic last meal to honor the taking of a life.
“From that point, the meat would be sold to local restaurants and the money from it put right back into the land. My grandfather would have placed those stands; he would have known exactly where and when the animals would travel them. Alone, he would also go out and take predators and what we call nuisance wildlife from throughout the area, hired by the Land Trust, especially to remove foxes. ”
On the paternal side, Richter’s father, Dieter, escaped the madness that was 1940s Germany when he was 17 years old. He moved to Chicago—talk about culture shock—to join a sister who had earlier made her way out. After two years of high school and diploma in hand, he became an American citizen and joined the Army—which saw in him a bilingual specialist and shipped him immediately… to Germany. There he met his wife, and Martin came along before the family returned to the States.
“All of my family is over there, and I hunted with my grandfather often as a young kid when we would make the trip back. I would stay for a month or two every year. The last time I saw him was in 1989; he arranged for me to hunt with him every day for 30 days, and that’s not as easy as it may sound. That man knew more about the land and its animals than anyone I’ve ever met. It seemed to come natural to him, but as I look back, I realize that he was out among those woods and fields every day. That was his passion and his life; he passed all of it on.”
Besides hogs, the common denominator between Martin, Germany and the U.S. is Mercedes Benz. He has worked with the product since 1983, and in the corporate Brunswick VPC (Vehicle Preparation Center) for the last 15 years.
If you’ve ever spent a hot summer night in a Georgia swamp, you’ll understand why Richter’s really serious hog hunting ranges from September to May. The predominant area of his hunts include better than a thousand acres on which he has set up feeder stations and four shooting houses.
“Those shooting houses are equipped with everything I’ll need to stay overnight or even an entire weekend, if I can get a pass from the wife,” he laughs.
That wife, Missy, is also no slouch when it comes to the hunt, as you can see from the photo to the right.
“The stands are completely enclosed, with windows in front that flip up. I want my scent completely housed in there, and there are times when I’ve had a long, hot walk in that I’ll strip down and change into clothes that have been left there for that purpose.
“The feeders are going pretty much year-round, deep in the swamp bottoms,” Richter says. “The amount of feed varies with the time of year or whether or not I’m taking someone who wants to kill a hog. In summer, I cut down unless there’s a first-timer who’s never had the opportunity to take a pig. I really enjoy being a part of that. You want to put out enough to keep hogs in the area, and when the weather changes and activity picks up, I’ll beef up the feed.”
In going through Martin’s photos over the years, I saw several tons of hogs—most still on the hoof. This is no slaughterhouse.
“I’m basically very selective when it comes to what I shoot,” he stated. “I’m a boar hunter. I’ve killed probably 20 or so really big hogs on this area, and there have been times when the population needed reduction and I’ve taken six or so in one night. I know how destructive they can be and how many people want them all taken out, but it’s just not the way I hunt.
“I either eat or donate the meat if it’s an edible hog. I have friends and coworkers who like it, so I’ll quarter it out and take it to a processor. On the other hand, once you get down, you’ve wrecked the hunt. If I shoot something and know that there’s something larger still in that area, I’ll just let it lay and stay in the stand. The feeders are about 40 yards away from the condo I’m in, so if I start stomping around, it’s all over.”
When it comes to knocking a hog down in the first place, well, some things are just meant to be. Richter was online searching for ammo when he came across Southern Ballistics Research, SBR, literally right down the street from his office. He called, was invited over and met SBR President Buddy Singleton. That morphed into SBR providing him a pair of rifles, with ammo, from the firm’s line.
“We’re talking thermals and night vision products with the scopes, and the guns are really special,” Richter enthused. “SBR developed their own high-quality firearms, rounds and projectiles. I shoot what’s known as their 458 SOCOM with 300-grain hollow point bullets. That load goes all the way up to 600 grains in case I have to shoot through something.”
Like a barn…
“When you hit a hog with a 300-grain load, mostly they just fall down. It can be really thick in the swamp, and if there’s brush involved with a truly large boar, I can use that 600-grain load.”
I’m guessing mostly they just blow up. One of these days I’d like to see what a hog looks like after being walloped with 600 grains. But I’m not sure I want to pull the trigger. Again, SBR is in the business of highly specialized stuff, so nobody’s getting stuck with one gun or load.
“My second gun is a prototype called the 240 Spectre, with a 105-grain bullet. It’s light and wicked fast and accurate.”
The Spectre sounds more like what most Georgia hog hunters are familiar with. I’ve killed hogs, and big ones, with loads as light as 60 grains. That’s base-of-the-ear stuff, and adding another 45 grains makes for some pretty fair insurance. An old swamp boar is in the running for one of nature’s ugliest critters, but an entire industry has been built around him. We need fewer of them, and to really cut down on the population, double and triple up on the sows. So do your part. Thankfully, we don’t have to travel to Germany to get it done.
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