Looking for Christmas Hogs

This has been a hell of a year at work. Due to some pretty insane changes I seem to find myself working nearly every weekend. The 6-day week has become the norm rather than the exception. With a vacation finally looming, I knew that one thing I wanted to do was get myself in the woods. When I walked out the door on the 23rd, the phone got turned off and I vowed to not even let work cross my mind.

I spent a fair amount of time researching outfitters within a few hours of my location. Unfortunately, I don’t have private land I can hunt yet but I have hopes that will change as we head into 2017. I finally settled on Westshore Outfitters and booked a half-day, afternoon  hog hunt.

Like most hunters, the days leading up to a hunt are spent going over your gear and working to ensure that everything is in order. Unfortunately this time I wasn’t too smart about it. I started swapping broadheads out and while most every head was finger tight, I did stumble upon a stubborn one. Despite knowing better, and having a broadhead wrench next to me, I chose to use my hand. I realized the errors of my ways when it finally turned, sliced through my thumb, and the blood began to flow.

According to WebMD, you should probably seek medical assistance, and likely stitches, if the bleeding persists for more than 15 minutes. Regardless of constant, direct pressure, this puppy bled for 2 hours. Unfortunately, every time I released pressure it’d start bleeding again and it’s a little hard to drive and apply pressure at the same time. I suppose I may not be the sharpest broadhead in the kit since just a few minutes after the bleeding finally stopped, I was in the backyard making sure my shooting wouldn’t be affected the next day. 🙂

The big day arrived and as long as I paid attention to my thumb I figured I’d be ok. I hopped in the truck and headed south for the hour and half drive to the lease. I met up with Cody at the front gate and followed him onto the property. While he ran some other hunters out to their stands, George walked me over to the target and paced off 20 yards. I let the arrow fly and George responded, “Oh, you were shooting at the top target.” Hmm. No, I was shooting at the middle. That’s when I realized I used the wrong pin. I nocked another arrow, used the right pin, let the arrow fly, and…BULLSEYE!!

Code and George took me out to the stand and I sat my butt in a very nice Millennium ladder stand. I settled in for the ride and got ready for some action.

I took a few moments to survey my surroundings. I was sitting at 18′ in the location of the original stand placed on the lease. I pulled out my Bushnell Scout DX 1000 laser rangefinder and pinpointed the distance from stand to feeder at 19.2 yards. The Scout’s ARC technology indicated a shoot-as distance of 18.

The first hour went by without any events. I knew there were some gun hunters out as well but never heard a shot. While it didn’t bode well, I’d been told that the hogs had been moving well during the afternoons. The longer I sat in the stand, the more I wondered how I’d make a shot. There was a cold front coming in and the wind had been up all day. The drive down the interstate felt like I was getting pushed around the whole time. The stand was anchored to a pine which was moving like an amusement park ride. I figured it’d be a heck of a challenge combining the movement of the hogs with the stand motion.

About the halfway mark a nice covey of quail made an appearance. I counted at least a dozen and they seemed to be well fed. Part of me wished I’d had a shotgun. The wind never really abated and I couldn’t help but wonder if my scent was swirling around me. I’d washed my clothes and showered in scent blocker but I couldn’t shake the feeling. To be fair, though, I still wasn’t hearing anything from the other hunters. I made a quick check of ScoutLook and my “scent cone” should have been ok based on my stand position. You can see here the wind was at 16mph.

The sun was starting to dip down and the clouds continued to roll in. The wind cut through my thin shirt but I was still comfortable…and hopeful. At a few minutes before 5 the feeder kicked in shooting corn around the stand area. My heart warmed at the thought of the dinner bell going off. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

As the sun continued to drop, so did my expectations. I did finally hear a single gunshot which filled me with a waning glimmer of hope. The darkness grew and it quickly became apparent that I was at the stage where it didn’t much matter. Even if a hundred hogs had mysteriously appeared my eyes wouldn’t have been able to see well enough to aim. I felt the first mosquito of the day landing on my exposed skin after having removed my gloves. I gathered my gear and lowered the bow to the ground, climbing down after it.

I met up with Cody again and he said that nobody had done well. We all figured the change in weather was to blame. At least that’s what I’m going with. Surely I don’t smell that bad. 😉 As we got back to the camp there was only a single hog to clean. I thought about sticking around for a thermal hunt but I felt like I needed to take a hog with the bow before I hunted like a video game.

I made my way back home and thought about the day. While it wasn’t successful in the hunting sense, it was a great day spent in nature doing something I enjoy. You’re never guaranteed a shot, much less a kill. You just have to be ready for when the opportunity finally presents itself. The guys at Westshore have 900 acres available. There are other areas, and different stands. While I may not have brought home the bacon, I at least kept the passion alive.

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