I spent the last three and a half days out at the deer lease. A perfect ending to a blissfully quiet Thanksgiving holiday. These days one of the more enjoyable things about Thanksgiving weekend, is the chance to spend an extended weekend out in the country, enjoying myself. Totally selfish, I know, but I’ll take every chance I get for a little extra time relishing the benefits of Mother Nature. The days were cool and pleasant, not too cold, but chilly. Luckily I have little heaters in the blinds, because Friday morning was very cold. I thought I might take you along to enjoy one of the days with me.
5:00 Am came quickly. My shocked system, so used to late nights - not early mornings, was not happy with me. I lethargically awoke, trying hard to get all the morning duties out of the way. Slowly allowing the early morning cold and damp to soak into my consciousness, trying with some effort to energize myself. We had a nice rain off and on over the night, that left a fresh morning dew covering everything. That smell of freshness right after a rain is one of the simple pleasures of life. After dressing in plenty of layers, and getting my day pack loaded up with snacks and drinks, we set off toward the hunting pasture.
From where we park, it’s a short walk, a little less than a mile to the blinds. With the fresh covering of morning dew, and the overcast sky, it was a little more of a querulous walk. The heavy darkness held the landscape hidden in an unnerving suspenseful embrace. There was no light at all from the night sky, so we had to use flashlights intermittently to find our way, and not spook too many critters. Of course they did not have the same consideration, moving around in the bushes and fallen leaves. The unsettling sounds, frightfully loud in the night. By the time I reached the blind, the hair on the back of my neck was standing on end. My heart doing summersaults in my chest. I was fully awake and aware, let alone ready to get into the blind.
The wait for days light to appear, taking a little longer than normal. I was able to let my mind travel through distant thoughts and enjoy some special memories. It’s amazing how that darkness before dawn can induce some of the most interesting thoughts and ideas. The morning started to turn a series of progressing shades of grey, casting strange new shadows at different places. These shadows causing me to scrutinize many a harmless twig or branch. Once the morning light was upon us, the birds and small critters moved freely around the bushes. A frequent rustling of leaves, or breaking branches competing for my attention.
Slowly cautiously, a young spike buck appeared in the tree line. They are called the grey ghost for a reason, one moment you see them then they are gone, only to appear a little farther down the clearing. He move with slow precise grace, out into the clearing grazing as he went. Ever watchful, he ate and moved, raising his head and twitching his tail at each noise. Before long, he was joined by three doe, nervously moving around the clearing. There was something making them uncomfortable and jumpy. Suddenly I heard a snorting and growling coming from the trees to the left. The deer jumped and ran in the other direction, leaving the clearing as barren and vacant as they had found it.
Snorting and grunting, a group of Feral hogs came out of the tree line to the north. Fighting amongst themselves, they moved out into the center of the clearing. More aggressive than normal, they were obviously not our standard feral hog. They were smaller, only about 100 pounds, and far more quarrelsome than the hogs we usually see. After watching them for some time, I realized they had some characteristics of the smaller Javelina. Their heads and snouts were smaller, and the hair on their neck, stood up more pronounced . The Javelina has been seen around these parts, but not in any large numbers. They are a very aggressive, vicious animal, who will attack rather than run. I finally decided these hogs must be some kind of cross breed.
I was in need of some pork, so I selected the most aggressive of all the hogs. Taking careful aim, right behind the head for a quick kill. A hogs skull is thick enough that a bullet can bounce off it. Slowly taking a breath, holding it, I squeezed the trigger. The rifle bucked against my shoulder, and a small puff of smoke issued from the barrel. The hog dropped right where he stood, and the rest ran for trees. After waiting 15 to 20 minutes to be sure it was deceased I climbed down, and cautiously approached it. Watching closely for the other hogs, I drug it to the base of the blind, and continued my hunt.
After sitting for the rest of the morning, and not seeing anything else, I went back to the truck and met with my brother in law. We drove up to the blind, and loaded the hog. After taking it to town and showing it to the landowner, my suspicions were confirmed. This was indeed a cross between the local feral hogs, and a Javelina.
It was not only an enjoyable weekend, but a productive one also. Beside’s the Hog/Javelina (I wonder if it would be a Hogelina, or a Javehog), I took a turkey and a nice large 6 pound catfish.