I’ve been putting in a lot of hours at the office lately and my boss finally offered up a comp day. I was supposed to take it Friday but a high-priority project I’m on was finally after long last to the testing stage so I put it off until today. I think it all worked out quite well.
Sunday didn’t quite go as planned. I figured I’d head to church and then hit the road afterwards. Unfortunately, I got a call about 3:30 am and ended up working several hours. I finally stopped around 11:30 and started packing up. I loaded up the truck and hit the road to Gainesville, FL around 1 or so. I wanted to get there in time to check things out after getting settled at the hotel, and of course, check out the Bass Pro. 🙂
Bass Pro is a little smaller than I’ve been in before but it was nice to have a good selection of archery supplies. I only picked up a couple of things and only one for the trip. One thing I’ve noticed about “guided” trips is that not everybody has a rope. So I picked up a retractable line that fits easily in a pack and on the belt. It worked great. It’s more expensive than a rope and carabiner but it takes up a lot less space. I was sorely tempted to pick up a Rinehart field target but talked myself out of it. I’d originally planned on bringing the 18-1 but had no idea if I’d be able to use it. I spent the rest of the day kicking myself when I realized the hotel had a great wooded area right out back where I could’ve gotten some last-minute practice in.
The trip to Bass Pro was very quick and it was a little nostalgic. I grew up shooting a Bear bow in high school and it’s what I originally hunted with. The road to Bass Pro was Fred Bear Lane and I made a detour at the Bear Archery HQ. Unfortunately, they weren’t open today or I would’ve stopped in to the Pro Shop.
After a nice dinner at Cracker Barrel and a quick trip to Wal-Mart for some breakfast items so I wouldn’t have to go out and eat it was back to the hotel to go over all my gear. I spent the evening checking everything in my Alps field pack and making sure the Rage Hypodermic broadheads were set. I spent a bit of time just double-checking everything so I wouldn’t have any issues in the field. Then it was time to turn in early for a 5 am wake-up.
I made the trip from Gainesville to Williston quicker than expected and arrived at my guide Andy’s place ahead of schedule. Andy came out to meet me and after grabbing the buggy took me out to the stand. I was in the stand about 6:40. I wasn’t even setup when the first batch of hogs arrived. I hadn’t spotted the bow hanger yet and I was trying to figure out how I’d get everything situated without scaring them all off. I managed to secure my pack and nocked an arrow so I’d be ready. It was still dark, though, and despite having plenty of targets with the 15-ish hogs that showed up I didn’t feel like I had a clean shot. I settled in and waited for first light. Surprisingly, the adrenaline wasn’t kicking too bad and I felt perfectly calm.
As the sun came up, the hogs kept busy. I’d already picked out my preferred targets but if you’ve ever hunted hogs, you know they don’t stay still very long so you really do need multiple choices. My preferred shot was slightly quartered away and the one I really wanted didn’t seem inclined to oblige my desire. Option #2 did, though, and at 7:10 I released my arrow and it hit it’s mark. I was very glad to have swapped out the factory nock for a Carbon Express Launchpad Lighted nock. The bright read trace was easy to follow and I knew I’d put it right where I wanted…right behind the shoulder.
I got concerned, though, when I didn’t see the arrow pass through. Instead, I watched the hog run off with my brightly shining arrow. He didn’t make it far, though, and my concerns were set aside. After a quick sprint of about 20 yards he entered a death spin and then the woods were quiet. I’d left my binoculars in the toolbox of my truck (something I need to fix for the next trip) so I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. There was a dark spot I could see that looked off but I wasn’t sure if he’d gone anywhere else after the death throes. I grabbed my rangefinder and was happy to make out what looked like an ear.
*** GRAPHIC WARNING ***
I decided to give him some time to settle down and die. I was aiming for about 30 minutes but it was closer to a hour. The hogs must have short-term memory and came back again. Rather than risking burning the stand I waited them out and didn’t leave the stand until they cleared the area. It was a very short walk to find him. The blood trail could’ve been followed by a blind person. I was completely blown away by the carnage done by the Rage. There was a 4-5″ gash in his side which sliced right through 3-4 ribs. I felt good that it was a very quick and humane kill.
After snapping a bunch of pics, I called Andy and he drove out to pick us up. He was surprised that I’d already found him. Though a bowhunter himself, he hasn’t had good luck with bowhunters making good kills. He was prepared to go traipsing through the woods to recover my hog and wasn’t expecting to practically drive right up to him. It was a great confidence builder for me and certainly boosted my pride.
We didn’t have a scale, but estimate the weight to be about 100 pounds. That’s pretty much the perfect size for a nice meat hog. I do wish the tenderloins were a little bigger but the backstraps look great as do the hams and shoulders. I wanted to provide a cleaner example of the havoc this incredible broadhead wreaked up the animal. Notice how the ribs are sliced clean through.
I really can’t wait to put the meat on the table. Easter is literally right around the corner and ham is a family tradition. I can’t tell you how good I feel knowing that this year I’m the one providing the main course.
I never expected to have my trip wrapped up so quickly. I left Andy’s around 10 and was starving. My Jimmy Dean’s sausage breakfast bowl had already worn off so with a cooler packed with ice and pork I set out for a good meal. I found it at the 43rd Street Deli. The service was great and the 222 breakfast (two pancakes, two eggs, two bacon/sausage) and coffee really hit the spot. I debated on another trip to Bass Pro but decided to call it a day and head west. I was home before 2:30 and that’s even with stopping on the way for a haircut. It felt good to get the truck unloaded, hop in the shower, and take a quick nap. Now the anticipation sets in as I try to decide how I want to fix everything. 😉