With our flight to Dallas cancelled due to snow and our hunting arrangements fast becoming unarranged, I began wondering if this Valentine's Day hog hunt was actually going to take place. Although things began looking up when we booked a flight into Oklahoma City, Mother Nature was not cooperating as easily as the airlines. Anyone who has ever hunted hogs, know they don't move much when it's cold and this proved to be true on my first hog hunting experience.
Our first early morning hunt took me to a snow-covered oak tree landscape far different from my hunting homeland of the Rocky Mountains. Even without seeing a single hog, experiencing a new area in such a surreal setting satisfied my need to get out of the office and into the woods. After calling it quits for the morning, we tried to catch up on sleep after a night of sighting in our bows through Dustin's living room. While we slumbered, the snow covered forest floor turned into a mud bog that would be an ideal setting for a demolition derby. As we sat in the stands that night, the feed floating in a pool of water and mud, the pigs proved again, to have found forage opportunities elsewhere.
Day 2 consisted of getting up late due to a late night dinner of barbequed dove wrapped in bacon, garnished with jalapeno slices and one too many Sprittles (Sprite, Vodka and Skittles; highly recommended). Instead of sitting the stands, Will and I walked through a creek bottom, hoping to push a hog out to Dustin and Paul. As I dropped farther back from my line up with Will due to losing a wrestling match with a pile of greenbriers, Will spotted a huge boar but was unable to get a shot. Disappointed that I hadn't even seen a hog yet, we headed back to the truck in order to get on the road to the River View Ranch, outside Ada, Oklahoma.
That afternoon we got settled into our new cabin home and soon discovered that the previous tenants had left us some beer which we gladly drank. We met up with the owner, Keith West, who took us to the skinning shed where we could sight in our bows and get acquainted with the ranch before taking us to our stands. On the ride, the sun came out for the first and only time during the whole trip. I was beginning to think the sun had simply retired from shining in Oklahoma altogether and the snow was its hired replacement. As we sat in the stand, I soon realized I wasn't the only one enjoying the break in the weather. A lonely boar decided he better get out for some feed before the snow got back from its vacation and took a drive by the feeder, only to keep on moving. Seeing this hog only fed my excitement to stick my first one.
Shortly thereafter, another lone boar decided he better get some dinner, not realizing he would soon become breakfast in the form of spicy sausage that's great for burritos. As he sucked up corn from the ground, I waited high in the tree for a good broadside shot. It didn't take long for him to give it to me and when I let my arrow fly I was stunned to see it hit the mud behind him; and not because of a pass-through. I realized my string slapped the sleeve of my jacket and in an attempt to regain my composure after the disappointing shot, I knocked another arrow. No sooner did the little boar give me another perfect opportunity, he turned away in search of more corn. I held at full draw until he turned back and this time when the arrow flew, it connected with both of his lungs. The Rage 2-Blade broadhead performed as optimal as it usually does and stuck the hog deep in the opposite shoulder. The boar run uphill about 30 yards before losing the arrow and kicking up leaves, only to lose the good fight and lay still on the forest floor. Dustin videoed the miss, the hit and my excitement, as well as some extra commentary that will likely be edited out with some good tunes.
After a little celebratory dancing in the stand, it was on for Dustin to get his hog. As we waited and the sun went down, three came in from different directions to meet the feeder. With little to no light left and the evening turning fast into night, Dustin made a perfect shot on one of the boars. When his arrow hit the pig we knew the bacon was coming home as we heard the blood running out of both the entry and exit holes. The NAP Blood Runner broadhead passed through the heart and left the hog expired less than 50 yards from the feeder.
When the rumble of Keith's truck came to a rolling stop down the trail, Will greeted us with a quote of a lifetime. Seeing my hog, he skipped all congratulatory speeches and simply said, "Well, get it in the truck and let's go." That was it and it was fantastic feeling like one of the guys. I stacked mine on top of Will's who was swarmed in hogs letting him be pickier as to what pork chop he chose. After we got Dustin's squealer in the truck we headed to meet Paul at his stand. Although Paul had made a good shot on one just before dark and the hog left a good blood trail, we were unable to retrieve it. The blood drops got smaller as it fled from the site of impact and eventually quit altogether. This hog appeared to have the latest version of Fix-A-Flat installed and was able to carry on farther than we were able to track him.
Keith's set up at the skinning shed allowed us to easily and conveniently skin our hogs that night and get them ready for processing. After explaining to Keith that I wanted a piglet to make a piggy bank out of he suggested that I make coin purses out of the boar's you know whats. I politely declined his suggestion through my laughter and over the hysterics it caused throughout the shed.
Day 3 started out with fresh doughnuts hand delivered by Keith on his way to pick us up. I believe it may have been a form of apology for forgetting to put mattresses on the bunk beds. We were unable to decide if the bunks contained only a box spring or possibly a box of rocks, but it was definitely something to chuckle about in the morning as our sore backs and already exhausted bodies revolved against us. No sooner had we loosened up were we back in the stands at the River View Ranch. The clouds were right back on top of us and we didn't wait long for the snow to fall and wind to rage. Will and Paul bailed out of their stands early but Dustin and I stuck it out waiting for a pig to get hungry enough to bare the cold. As we were about to crawl down from the stand, one hog started snorting down the trail in search of food. Maybe it was the weather or the thoughts of being alone on Valentine's Day that made him lose his appetite but he never came in to the feeder and didn't stop running around long enough to present a shot. With our last shred of hope lost and time running out, we reluctantly called it quits and headed back to the ranch where Will proceeded to mock us and take "proof pictures" of our commitment to sit in the snow for a pig.
My hopes and expectations of having an incredible hunt were met whether the snow liked it or not and I had one of my most memorable Valentine's Days to date while three little piggies are headed to market. It looks as though my tradition of spending this corporate holiday with pigs is continuing on in 2010, only to be substituted with a different breed of swine and much better people.