|Florida Hog Hunting at its Best|
Some days just stick with you. One day in particular is etched on my memory, for several reasons. It was the day of a hog hunt that I don't think I'll ever forget... in fact, I was looking forward to it so much that at one point I lost track of time, and tried to push the date of the hunt up a month! And no wonder I was anxious - it turned out to be an excellent and very memorable experience. This was hunting hogs at its best!
Kenny Banaciski had once again showed his generosity by offering free hog hunts to the first five folks to contact him, as long as they were active members of a Florida hunters' online forum he frequents. At the time, Kenny ran Slaughter Brothers Wild Hog Hunts at Sandhill Farms, which offered great hog hunting at mighty good prices.
Thanks to Jim Casselman's big mouth, I was one of the lucky folks to get in on this deal, and at about the same time I started planning another hog hunt with him, for members of my own hunting/shooting forum. This would not be my first hog hunting excursion with Kenny - Dad, a friend, and I had hunted hogs with him in 2001 on another great hunt, though not as intense as this one proved to be.
During the time leading up to the hunt, Kenny started leaning on me pretty hard in both forums, wanting me to wade into a hog-dog brawl and kill a hog with a knife. I freely admit that I had my doubts about doing such a thing, but he kept after me. The photos he showed me from his private collection didn't do much to instill confidence that this would be an easy task, but they did help prepare me for what was coming.
I contacted Jay Maines of Sunrise River Custom Knives, who gladly sent me one of his "Zulu War Spears" to try out on the hunt, since I didn't have a long stabbing knife and was still a bit hesitant about getting up close and personal with a ticked-off hog. I have a great hunting knife that Jay built, so I know he does good work.
After a long six weeks or so of anticipation, the day of the hunt was finally approaching. Accompanying me on the trip were my Favorite Hunting Buddy (that's Dad, of course), Mark McNichols, and Mark's son Jared. Mark had arranged to come along and hunt although he had missed out on the freebie hunt, because he wanted to try out his one-year-old bulldog as a hog catch dog. Dad, Mark, and Jared came up to my place the day before the hunt, and we spent the night out back in our modest bunkhouse/camp. We dragged ourselves out of bed at 3:00 a.m. and made ready to depart for the drive across our home state of Florida.
Despite a freight train we couldn't outrun and an unscheduled stop for gas, we managed to make it there with about twelve minutes to spare. The rest of the crowd was already gathered at Kenny's gate, waiting for us. Present were our guide Kenny Banaciski, Jim Casselman, his wife Terry and sons Nick and Cody with their dog Sassy (which they hoped would make a good catch dog), John Lance and his brother-in-law John Hock (who came to shoot some video of the hunt), Phillip Griggs, Tony Beason, and of course the crowd who'd traveled with me.
After a round of handshakes and introductions, we drove as a caravan to the chunk of land we were going to be hunting, and got out our guns and whatnot in preparation for a morning hunt on stands. Little did we know what a great day this was going to be!
Page Two: A new custom knife; John makes the first kill; preparing to dog hunt