John's Journal...


My Mississippi Hog Hunt

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: The Chickasawhay River swamp in Greene County, Mississippi, may have one of the oldest populations of feral pigs in the nation. The area has no record of a time when this river-bottom swamp hasn't homed hogs. Fences and property lines never have bound the free spirits of these feral hogs like the wild boars of old. They roam at will, foraging for food, hiding out in the big cane thickets and briar patches along the edges of the river bank and wreaking havoc on croplands by night. Hunters with packs of hounds and live traps and sportsmen with rifles and bows never have eliminated these free-roaming pigs. They have become as much a part of the land as the earth itself.

Darkness began to envelop the river-bottom swamp. I had spent a boring afternoon in a tree stand. Even the squirrels provided no entertainment. As I looked forward to coming out of the tree, I saw shadowy figures appear about 50-yards away, moving along the edge of the dried-up beaver swamp. Earlier in the afternoon I had taken this stand along a ridge 150 yards from Mississippi's Chickasawhay River. Lee Taylor of Leakesville, Mississippi, my hunting buddy for the day, had found a perfect funnel for deer to move through between two edgesClick to enlarge -- the river and the dried-up pond. The ridge where my tree stand sat was covered with numerous white oak and water oak trees heavy laden with nuts.

Taylor told me he'd always seen hogs in this area. But I'd found no sign of rooting, no well-defined trails and no droppings. Taylor had said, "when hogs feed on acorns, they eat the nuts as soon as the nuts hit the ground. Often, you won't see any sign of where they've fed. Although deer leave many droppings in their feeding area, hogs primarily leave their dung around their bedding regions. That's why you have to know where and how hogs move to hunt them." Adrenaline raced through my system. I locked my release onto my bow string and readied for the shot. As the figures drew closer, I identified eight shoats and one tremendous-sized boar that appeared to weigh more than 250 pounds, two to three times as large as the young hogs. This boar of my dreams stood less than 50-yards away, steadily walking toward my stand. The hogs continued on their path before stopping to root 20 yards from me.

A fallen tree to my left blocked my shot at the hogs. Some of the smaller hogs fed in front of the tree, but the boar stopped short of the opening. As I watched through the leafless branches, I could see the boar headed for the opening. Nearly unconscious of the bow in my hand, I slowly and steadily made my draw in a fluid, unplanned movement, much like riding a bicycle and making a turn at a corner. You wouldn't Click to enlargedeliberately think about the turn. You'd look at the bend in the road, focus your gaze first on the spot where you wanted to turn and then execute the maneuver. Before I realized it, I stood at full draw with my bow waiting on the hog to step into the opening. Finally, the big boar waddled into the clearing. I only needed to move my bow toward the hog, look through the peep sight and lock my body into its natural shooting position. My thumb rested behind my neck, and I felt the string on my nose. I looked through the peep sight and saw the boar move again. But before I could release the arrow, he walked behind the fallen tree. Although the smaller hogs remained in the opening, I wanted to take the trophy.

After a while, I realized I'd held the bow too long to make an accurate shot. I eased off the pressure and let the string slowly return to its rest position. I waited. I felt confident I could take any of the three or four smaller hogs. However, darkness quickly approached. If the boar didn't step into the opening soon, I wouldn't have enough light to shoot. As I watched, the big boar lifted his head and looked at one of the younger hogs in front of him. With a few, short, quick grunts, the trophy boar trotted toward the young hog. Once again, I drew to prepare for myClick to enlarge shot. This time I lined up my bow with the moving hog. But before I could get to a full-draw position, the big tusher had trotted behind the fallen tree.

Once again, I waited for my dream hog to come out to where I could take the shot. At one point, I could see him through a 6-inch opening. But because of the angle of the shot, I didn't think my shaft would clear the limbs before it reached the opening. I let the bow down a second time. Darkness quickly pursued the last remnants of daylight. I knew I had to make a decision to aim accurately. I had reached the last day of my hunt. In the morning at daybreak, I'd leave to return home. The big boar gave no indication of whether he'd come back into the opening and present a shot. Then I became aware of a black hog that had fed on the acorns facing me head-on at about 25 yards. The porker would give me a chance to pierce him if he turned broadside to me. I judged the hog to weigh about 60 pounds. If I couldn't take the trophy hog for my wall, I'd still have some meat for my table by arrowing this hog. I knew a young hog would taste better and more tender than an old boar would.


Check back each day this week for more about HOG HUNTING FOREVER

Day 1: My Mississippi Hog Hunt
Day 2: My Connection with the Wild Boar
Day 3: My Hog Discovery
Day 4: What About Hogs
Day 5: More About Hogs



Entry 299, Day 1