Woods-N-Water’s Trophy Boars

Long-time GON supporter has two bait recipes that will draw in wild hogs for miles...

Daryl Gay | February 3, 2024

Daryl Gay, of Dublin, scored on this pile of sausage while hunting with Woods-N-Water along Big Sandy Creek in Wilkinson County. This was one of at least 15 hogs seen during his afternoon hunt over bait.

It’s dark now. DARK dark. Like a bear down a well. Without a flashlight.

The sun went down hours ago on this second January Tuesday. Turbid clouds are rolling ominously overhead, fleeing a tornado-spawning system headed my way. The wind moans and, at times, howls. Limbs click, clatter and thump to the ground.

The ground blind doesn’t afford much protection; if a tree decides to fall my way, I’ll never see it coming.

There are 600 acres of river swamp surrounding me—here alone. Thanks, Trey. Weird thoughts enter my head… like, “You coached him in rec football 20 years ago, so maybe he has unresolved animosity…”

But no. That Chambers kid has morphed into a fine young man: confident, polite, bearer of a ready smile. And he dropped me into the middle of the wilderness—where I’m most at home—upon request. But this storm wasn’t in the script, the green light I’ve been fiddling with isn’t working, I can’t grasp the white flashlight and rifle properly at the same time, and besides, I haven’t heard a thing prowling around for hours…

After texting Trey and unzipping the blind, I’m reminded of how uncooperative hogs can be. But then, we don’t call ’em wild for nothing. As is their way, 40 minutes after we work our way back to civilization, the resident trail cam shows a dozen or more walking right beside that blind. No matter; I likely could never have gotten on them anyway, or made out just what was moving through the Simmons Aetec, since I was doing things the old-fashioned way and no thermal imaging was involved.

Most importantly, what I was looking for was not in the midst. But this is hunting; and it’s far from finished.

That blind is set up a few miles southwest of Irwinton, in Wilkinson County, and a two minutes muddy trek from the banks of Big Sandy Creek. It’s part of Blaine Burley’s Woods-N-Water Plantation, the second of three middle Georgia hunting operations he’s opened, this one in 2017. The original Woods-N-Water Lodge (1995) lies between Dublin and Wrightsville; the newest, Woods-N-Water at Tiger Creek, is in Hancock County, roughly halfway between Sandersville and Milledgeville— 2023 was its initial season. And there’s more…

When you book a Woods-N-Water hunt for deer, turkey or hog—and when I was there so was a guy from New York—you’ll be in the best of hands. Blaine’s one of the good guys; he’s also a good friend, and there aren’t a whole lot of them out there. It’s simple: when I see him, I smile. How many folks can you say that about?

All that aside, this former Air Force Captain has earned his salt in the hunting business. It has been a passion all his life, and he’s very probably the most knowledgeable manager I know when it comes right down to it. Because he’s been out there on the ground, learning from successes as well as mistakes, every step of the way. When I call him, he’s never in an office.

And the guides are cut from the same cloth. Trey knows every inch of this place, as do Big Curt and Little Curt. That would be the father and son Mayo clan. Big Curt is Blaine’s right-hand man on the properties, while Little Curt does yeoman duty as a guide. As well as the other thousand and one other things involved; you’ll pick up on them as we move along.

“We have over 7,000 acres now,” Blaine says, “and can utilize some of our other properties so that if a hunter is not on what he’s looking for and we’re seeing it elsewhere, we can pick up and move quickly. We also work with a lot of local farmers and clubs if they have hog problems. We can help them out with a lease as well as cutting down on the population, and one of those tracts may be 15 minutes away. A lot of the properties are centrally located, so we can share guides and resources at a moment’s notice.

“On our new Tiger Creek location, we’re not going to take as many hunters, limiting them to four or six at a time, one corporate group or one family type deal for trophy deer, turkey and wild hog. We’ll also be doing some on an even newer spot on the Ogeechee River for hogs in the spring.”

Hanging out with Trey, it was easy to see how it all worked. His phone pinged constantly from this trail camera or that, showing hogs moving through bait sites. With a whitetail buck, the need to breed outweighs the need to feed, and that gets him into trouble; with a boar hog, it’s the opposite. Or, as Blaine says, “With a buck it’s the rut; with a hog, it’s the gut!”

From the end of deer season until mid-April is the best time to hunt a trophy boar. They’re running out of acorns in the swamp, so they have to move to feed.

Too, heavy rains have flooded the rivers Woods-N-Water properties. To survive, hogs must move to higher ground in their constant search for sustenance. This is where supplemental feeding comes in. It’s not like I’m exactly antsy after that first troubled night, but for the sake of my dear readers, I gotta puncture a pig!  So, where are they now, Trey?

“We have two big groups that roam in and out of this property,” he replies. “There’s also a solitary boar that doesn’t travel with them but can show up once in a while almost anywhere. We got one of the groups on camera by your blind last night, and I know which it was because of a certain white-spotted pig in there. I’m not showing any since, but there’s a spot a few hundred yards from there that is mine and Little Curt’s ace in the hole. If you can give me two days, I’ll get you a pig.”

You’re on.

One thing about that blind: it was up on something of a ridge, as swamp ridges go. I’m a sucker for a creek or river bottom, so when he told me that’s where we’d be next, confidence went through the roof. But before I wade in there, we need to go back to Blaine.

“When we first started Woods-N-Water Lodge, I had a plan for trophy deer and turkey,” he said. “But we’ve had wild hogs here since the Spaniards introduced them, and when we started getting more and more of them, I began trying to eradicate them. Then I figured out that was never going to happen since the Oconee, Ogeechee and Ohoopee river swamps they lived and bred in made it impossible.

“So, we started managing them and making lemonade out of lemons. We had tried trapping and everything else, but we started hog hunts only about 12 to 15 years ago. Now we’ve been able to get the population down to where it doesn’t really interfere with our deer and turkeys and also provides the hunter with another trophy species. The key is to keep the population below what it takes to do serious damage. We harvest 300 to 400 a year so that they don’t interfere with our other habitat. They’re going to be here forever. You’re never going to eliminate them, so put them to use. Hogs are a challenge; they give you something to do after deer season and turkey hunting.”

And while not exactly the coziest critters around, they’re not bad table fare. Size is the key, Blaine says.

“We put out a lot of supplemental feed, tons and tons of corn, so these hogs are good eating. A lot of times I like to barbecue a hog 100 pounds or under, and with the larger ones, we make a lot of sausage, mixing it with deer or beef and spicing it up. That’s some of my favorite sausage, and wild boar chili is one of my favorite meals.”

He also has some advice for landowners who are overrun with hogs, or simply want to cut down on the population. More lessons learned…

“When the hunting gets really hard, there are two things I like more than anything. The first is fermented corn. I put about 200 pounds of corn in a 55-gallon drum, then fill it the rest of the way with water and about a quart of Red Devil Lye. Let it ferment for about three or four weeks. Don’t get it on you because it’s got a smell like a skunk and you have to wear it off because you can’t wash it off.

“Hogs can smell it for what seems like miles on the edge of a swamp, and we use that to draw them out. Secondly, we use peanut butter powder with water, corn and molasses and also ferment that. It works really good; what happens is those hogs will get in there and start feeding and get it on their feet. They go all through the swamp making trails and when another hog hits that trail, it will follow it back to the bait site and your stand. The word gets out quick to the other hogs and draws them from all around!”

Certainly a pretty view the author enjoyed while waiting on hungry hogs to make their appearance.

OK, so I’m going back to the swamp now. Big Sandy is over there somewhere, 100 yards away, across this flooded slough as I slog amongst the palmettos. This is it; I can almost FEEL hog here. Out in front of a two-man ladder stand is an area some 50 feet across that has been pulverized by pigs. It is a feeding site, though there’s not a grain of corn anywhere. Trey, top-notch guide that he is, asks if I shoot right-handed or left—which can well be the difference between success or failure—before dumping a bag in the proper spot and easing out as I climb.

Alone again. It is 4:30 p.m., so this time I can see through slits between the hardwoods out to around 200 yards.

We wait.

What little breeze there is whispers into my face. The phone is silenced and pocketed; I will not open it during the hunt because of the resulting, attention-attracting movement, noise and light. (A few years ago, dogging deer, I saw a buck cross into the block and fruitlessly did my best to attract the attention of a fellow hunter who was looking down—busy texting. It cost him what he later told me was the biggest buck he had ever shot at.)

You never know with hogs. Sometimes they’re as noisy as a cattle stampede. Others, you’ve been looking at an empty patch of ground and suddenly there’s a pig occupying it. I’ve had an hour, enjoying the antics of a pair of brilliant cardinals, to settle my mind—maybe—about what to shoot, size-wise, and that 100-lb. mark keeps coming up. When movement from the left grabbed my eye, that’s pretty much exactly what I saw: eight-ball black, just over triple digits—and not what I wanted. Talked myself out of a shot. Patience.

Five minutes later, the floodgates opened. They came in single file, this time from straight out. There was almost no noise; not the first grunt or squeal, only the squish of mud. From long habit and experience, while they were still well out I had very slowly raised the Model 70, braced a supporting elbow on the stand and snicked off the safety. We are a split-second away.

I stopped counting at 15, all around the same size, and argued to myself that I HAD to have a picture pig and time was running out. They had all balled up short of the corn, but I knew I was 20 feet up, camo’ed head to toe, frozen in place, and with the wind, so there was not much fear of being busted. Patience.

Out at the very limits of my vision, before everything melded together in the swamp, something appeared to flit between two trees. All that moved was my eyes, because in this instant I can ruin the entire hunt. One panicky jerk and we’re about to have a veritable pig parade exploding down below.

It was another hog. And when he stepped partially into the open, my bladder almost did a back flip. I killed my first hog some 40 years ago; this is the biggest one I’ve ever seen up close and personal. No way I’m going to attempt a 150-yard shot, because boars can soak up lead like a sponge. (My taxidermist pal Scott Hodges once felt his knife blade glancing off something hard inside the lung of a hog he was dressing. There was a bulge that the lung had HEALED OVER: a broadhead and 3 inches of arrow shaft!) So I’ve got to be sure of the shot, and this no-doubter is moving steadily my way.

Remember how quiet it was? My attention is turned to a rasping wheeze, and I realized in an instant that it was me! Calming down as much as possible, I also realized that I hope this rush never goes away.

With any trophy animal it’s never easy, right? Directly in line with the crosshairs and this boar was a leaning tree so large I couldn’t have reached around it. The pigs lounged lazily stage left. How long I held that Winchester I’ve no clue; finally, just before my heart quit, he took a step into the open—but suddenly jerked his head up and let out a loud “WHUFF!”

I’ll never know if it was meant for the pigs or me, but within a millisecond came the next sound, and likely the last he ever heard: the riverine-echoing roar of a .30-06.

The 165-grain Silvertip knocked him completely off his feet, and he went down squealing even louder than the other 15. That bullet raked him length-wise from right shoulder to left ham, and probably would have been enough. But he flopped and struggled in the mud until almost managing to get his rear feet under him, at which point he was dosed again. That was one wicked pile of muscle that I wasn’t about to let get up!

Later, when he came back in, I told Trey that I hoped he wasn’t alone. He said he had seen it all on camera, pigs racing past, and thought I had killed one of the crew. But then he walked around that leaning tree. And the look on his face was priceless.

There’s a lot of those looks to be found here; check things out at or call ’em up at 478.864.9108. And a final note to you youngsters… Blaine provides a Woods-N-Water hunt as one of the prizes in GON’s annual Youth Shoot-Out during our Outdoor Blast. If you’ve entered a buck and have a chance, fire up the BB gun practice!

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