So the day started like any other day at Hoppy’s (AKA – Osceola Outfitters, Florida)! We were hanging out with the crew who was now like family. We had helped clean up some stuff from one heck of a fun Posse Bash –translation, hunting hogs and gators with our A.C.M. sponsors…what a blast!
As it got later in the day it was time to find out the plans for the evening. I was given the option to hunt a hog but decided it might just be fun to ride along and take in the action in the comfort of the truck, a t-shirt, my new Realtree Max1 pajama pants, and flip flops. I had actually tried to do something with my hair today other than pulling it up in a baseball cap, and was even wearing some pretty girly (non-hunting) earrings. Not that I was pulling off the comfy girly look, but I was trying and believe me, I was comfortable.
The best part of this ride along was that we were taking the dogs. I had been along on several hogs hunts throughout the week and none were with the dogs. Freddy was up and as the dogs got on a hog a bunch of us jumped out on to the road to see if we could catch the action. Unfortunately the group was too deep into the cover that we couldn’t see much. Freddy had made it happen and exited with a nice hog.
We hopped back into the truck, windows down, wind blowing through our hair and laughing about something that was most likely brought up by none other than Vicki….typical.
Next thing I know we were all pointing at a big black hog that ran across in front of Hoppy’s truck that we were following. The trucks came to an abrupt halt and then to my surprise I heard Hoppy yell “Jen…, let’s go Jen!” as he released the dogs. I took one look around the truck and the gang of others coming at us from the other truck and knew I had been set-up. To my surprise even Freddy had been in on it, convincing me I needed my boots for the ride-along in case I needed to help him with his hunt. Boy, was I gullible. I jumped out and told Hoppy I was in pajama pants and flip flops, which isn’t really considered hog hunting gear. Like that mattered to Hoppy or anyone else. Hoppy thrives off of the surprise and joy of others when hunting.
So there I was outside the truck door with dogs barking several yards away and about 7-9 of my “friends” yelling “hurry up”, and “get your boots on”. It was utter chaos in my mind. In a few seconds I was ready to go dressed in my t-shirt, PJ pants, boots, not time for socks and pretty, non-hunting, girly earrings. I needed to keep my hair out of my face and since Dan was right there and in on the plan I figured his hat was as good as any to borrow. Okay, so I didn’t feel geared up like I usually do for a hunt, but my brain quickly focused and I was good-to-go. Freddy handed me the Thompson Center 223 and I was on Hoppy’s heals.
The dogs were on the hog so I got in position next to Hoppy. This was much different than anything I had ever experienced. I had never been behind the gun on a spot-n-stalk for a hog, with dogs. Hoppy had a way of calming my nerves even though I could tell he wanted me to make sure I understood not to shoot until the dogs were clear. Hoppy is the type of man that earns your respect quickly, so believe me, I was listening and following his directions. Within a minute or so the dogs cleared and he said “shoot” and it was done. The hog took off but I knew it wouldn’t be going far because I had made a good hit. Hoppy was off running and met up with Jimmy. As I started to follow I heard Jimmy yell “it’s down”. A huge stream of excitement billowed through me and I was jumping around like a goof. I remember hugging Hoppy, Jimmy, Ralph and Vicki and next thing I know I was back in the comfort of the truck. I had bagged my first hog, which I never even considered happening 10 minutes prior. Thanks to the crew for a fun and unexpected adventure.
We started off down the road and I knew it best to keep my boots on. It was early enough and with this crew I knew there would be another victim of the unexpected hog hunt….Dan.
The few times I have been to Florida were to of course go to the famous Disney World. Luckily, the next trip I plan to Disney I’ll be adding in a few days at Osceola Outfitters only 45 minutes away. Thunder Mountain has got nothing on hog and gator hunting at Hoppy’s.