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First-Time Hog Hunt
There's nothing like watching a young man become a hunter.
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There are few things more rewarding than hunting with a kid. Without a doubt, hunting alone has brought me a lot of peace and pleasure, but hunting with kids has long been a bright spot in my hunting life, and I've had the pleasure of hunting with some great young folks over the years. One of the best hunting relationships I've had in my lifetime has been with one of my nephews, named Rusty.

I recently took Rusty on a boar hunt in Salem, Florida -- hunting with Ken Banaciski of Slaughter Brothers Wild Hog Hunts. Kenny and I conspired to give Rusty the best hog hunt we possibly could, and it turned out very well indeed. It was definitely a hunt that we won't be forgetting anytime soon!

Rusty met me at my place on Friday afternoon. We tossed his gear into Ezmerelda (that's my truck), fired her up and headed down the highway. Fairly open roads and only making a couple of stops meant we got to Kenny's place in time for an evening hunt, and Rusty was raring to go. He and I headed over to the camper that was to be our home for the hunt, and Kenny caught up shortly thereafter.

This camper was our home for the hunt, and a comfortable one it was, with a large air conditioner to keep it cool.
Photo copyright Russ Chastain, all rights reserved.

This wasn't Rusty's first big game hunt, but he had only been on a couple of deer hunts before, so this was somewhat new to him... although he and I have done a lot of small game hunting together. We uncased the rifles; he was using my Savage Model 110 chambered for 270 Winchester, while I carried Thumper, a Marlin Model 1895SS lever-action chambered for 45-70 Gov't. I was along merely as backup on this hunt -- this was all for him. If he was very anxious, he didn't show it. I wondered if I was more excited than he was, but I imagine it was probably a draw.

I had given Rusty a quick lesson in the operation of the bolt-action Savage, which is of course easy to master. He hadn't hunted with a scoped high-power rifle before, but I knew he was fully capable of handling the gun, mentally and physically. If I'd had any doubt about that, we wouldn't have gone hunting.

As Kenny, Rusty, and I walked down the trail to the east end of Kenny's hunting property, we talked about this and that, examined the many hog tracks in the road, and reminisced on a previous hog hunt there, when the water had been much higher. There was a comfortable balance of tension and relaxation in the air, which we savored as we approached the sandy flat that Kenny had told us was the best place for our evening's hunt.

As we arrived and started to get settled, Kenny raised his hand and whispered that the hogs were coming out to feed. Just that quickly, they were gone again... so we hunkered down quickly to see if they'd return. We didn't have to wait long for a crowd of pigs to come on out, mainly in the sixty- to seventy-pound range. Good eating! Rusty now had a decision to make -- take one of the smaller swine, or wait to see if one of the big bruisers would make an appearance.

Rusty decided not to gamble, and picked out the biggest one of the bunch. To Kenny and me, it seemed like forever before the pig got into the clear so Rusty could get a shot. There were so many of them milling around that there was almost always one or more other swine in the way! Several times the herd acted as if it was ready to spook and head back into the brush, but they held their ground. Finally, the Savage spoke with authority!

Down went the pig in a heap. Rusty quickly chambered another round, knowing that it's best to be prepared, even when it looks like things are over and done with. It's good he did, because even as we stood to head over that way, the porker got up and began to head for the brush! I told Rusty to shoot again, which he did... but an overdose of adrenaline and the shock of seeing the "dead" pig get up and walk away combined to shake him up a little, and his shot was just a tad low.

As the swine turned to leave us behind, Rusty deftly chambered another round and nailed the pig neatly in the head, ending its flight once and for all. Talk about some happy hunters! We were all quite tickled with his rapid success. He was a bit disappointed that he'd missed, but I advised him not to dwell on it, because he had done a very good job, especially for his first shots at big game. Kenny pointed at the downed critter and declared, "That right there is what matters." Despite a minor case of scope-meets-eyebrow at his first shot, Rusty was elated! Now that's what we had come hunting for.

We walked back to camp, and Rusty rode back with Kenny to retrieve his kill. After shucking it out and getting the meat on ice, we all enjoyed a few hours of good old-fashioned camp talk, about everything from hunts in years long past to the successful hunt of that very afternoon.

Rusty poses with his first-ever hog, drilled nicely with a Savage Model 110 rifle chambered for 270 Winchester, using Winchester 150-grain Power Point factory ammo.
Photo copyright Russ Chastain, all rights reserved

Saturday morning, we awoke right on time (oddly enough for me), and Kenny hauled Rusty back to the same stand where we'd hunted the night before. I walked a bit, enjoying the company of two pups that refused to stay in their pen. I was hoping I'd run something out to Rusty, but no such luck -- neither of us saw anything bigger than a rabbit. Around nine o' clock, we headed back to camp where we met up with Kenny.

We discussed our options with Kenny in the comfort of his air-conditioned camper, and Kenny said, "We could knife one, you know." Since Rusty had already mentioned to me that he thought he'd like to get one with his knife, I knew that we were about to see some real action!

We wanted to get 'er done before the weather got any hotter, so Kenny quickly loaded up several of his hunting dogs, which he affectionately refers to as the "Come and getcha some!" bunch. Goldie is his best bay dog, and young 'un Otis was to tag along and learn something from her. Trigger is a tenacious catch dog, and she was kept in reserve until Goldie got one bayed up.

We turned out Goldie and Otis near the sandy area where Rusty had nailed his pig the night before. We stood anxiously waiting in the heat, and from time to time Kenny issued a shouted order to Goldie: "Get 'em up, girl!" Finally we heard some baying to the north -- on the other side of the swamp in which I'd bagged a tremendous 230-pound porker with my SIG pistol on my last hunt there. We plowed ahead through the black, waist-deep swamp water, and in the midst of it Kenny turned to inform us with a smile that he had seen the biggest 'gator in his life right there, last week. Hmmmmm.

Kenny and Trigger lead the way as we head out to find Goldie and the hog she's baying.
Photo copyright Russ Chastain, all rights reserved.

Kenny, Rusty, and Trigger fighting their way through the black swamp water, with me right behind 'em. Even on a sweaty Florida morning, that deep water felt a bit chilly to certain portions of my anatomy...
Photo copyright Russ Chastain, all rights reserved.

By the time we got to the other side of the swamp, Goldie had left town, and was back up where we'd left the truck! And by the time we got back there, she was even farther gone. We followed her baying to the other end of the property, stopping by the dog pens to pick up dependable old Gyp to help her out. Finally we got within sight and sound of Goldie and the swine, when the hog broke and ran just as we started to near the action. Trigger did her best to catch up, but that was one fast red porker!

Kenny gets ready to turn Trigger loose on the speedy red swine.
Photo copyright Russ Chastain, all rights reserved.

Back across the property we went, stopping briefly at a grassy field to listen and wait. When a red streak of pork crossed the grassy road with the dogs not far behind we knew they were heading back to where we'd started the hunt. We drove back to the other side of the property, motoring along the fence line in Kenny's Ford Ranger (a.k.a. Stranger), listening for the dogs. All of a sudden, the truck simply stopped running, as if it had run out of gas. Along about that time a hog-dog brawl began not far from us, as smoke began billowing out from under the Stranger's hood to tell us that something nasty was happening to our transportation.

Page Two - Extinguishing the flames - Swamp Brawl - Success!

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