#51  
Old 07-19-2008, 06:50 AM
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You've had me on pins and needles...still do!! I felt as if I were right there with you. Holy cow!!
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Old 07-19-2008, 03:13 PM
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Am I gonna have to go home this afternoon and wonder about this until Monday when I get back to work?

Come on Rick, give us another fix!!! PLEASE ??
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Old 07-19-2008, 07:45 PM
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No kidding!!!I saw that the "next installment" was posted and had to go get my morning coffee, before I sat down to enjoy reading it.

Rick, you do have a gift.
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  #54  
Old 07-21-2008, 03:18 PM
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Default The Hunt After the Hunt.

Cheri came down from her treestand as if relieved to do so. The heat, the short nights, and the unrecoverable hogs were getting to her. She put on a brave face as we drove to the Square Stand to begin the track on Cale’s animal, but it was bothering her that she didn’t get a shot on her last night, especially with the new shafts and heads Nate set her up with.

Randy called Nate on the way in and asked if he wanted to bring Abby down for the track, and he met us there. Abby was on fire to get started, and Cale was about as nervous as I’d ever seen him. I was too for that matter because I knew the time used to track his, meant that my trail could soon die out, like we’d seen with Cheri’s previous shots. Granted, at this point in the trip, I didn’t know what I know now. Add to that Abby’s age and experience level, and you bet I was nervous. Don’t get me wrong, Abby is trainable and with time she’ll be a great tracking dog. But she’s still very much a pup. At any rate, we got to the stand and they got started.

Randy laid out the travel path for Nate, and to my surprise, Abby tracked it immediately. Every now and then, you’d see Nate’s light stop moving, and he would say, “Here.”, and “There’s blood.” This went on for a good five minutes, when all at once Abby took off like a shot in the opposite direction! Flashlights bounced up and down as Nate and Randy called after her. “ABBY!”

I have to admit that I was less than thrilled at that. I had seen her do that a few times previously, and I knew what was coming up. Nate and Randy caught up to her, and Nate’s irritation with her was clear. They talked amongst themselves for a moment, and then Randy called out to us. “Hey! Guess what Abby found?”

I looked at Cheri and Cale. Cale shrugged to show he hadn’t a clue.

Nate’s voice rang out next. “We got us a little dead piggy! He’s a black one. Y’all come on and see.”

We took off as if a starters gun sounded. Cheri and Cale were trailing behind me, but not far, and they were positively giddy. All of the stress was gone for that moment as we maneuvered into the little clearing.

The first thing I was a dark shadow with a shaft standing straight up. Abby was happily licking away at the blood, and Nate was shooing her out so we could see. I would like to say that it worked, but it didn’t. Cale said he saw the fletching clearly as the hog darted off, but when we got there, the broadhead was up. Randy stated he went as far as he could go, then fell over on the shaft and expired. Randy grabbed the shaft carefully, and removed it.

I’m not sure who got patted more in that clearing; Cale or Abby. I was proud of both, and I didn’t care who knew. Randy handed the shaft to Cale, and I grabbed the back legs while attempting to ‘Fireman’s carry” the little hog. Little was not as appropriate I thought as I huffed him up onto my shoulders.

Randy quickly advised, “ Naw Rick. You wanna just drag him out. Take a hold of one leg, and pull. You’ll be fine. He sure won’t complain none.” He laughed a little, and I saw the wisdom as I tried to pass though the very low limbs and vines that was in our path. Funny, I don’t remember the path in being as crowded going in. Adrenaline is an odd thing.

We got the hog loaded onto a small platform Randy slides into his trailer hitch, and off to my site we went.

I was fired up now! I knew I hit that hog well. I knew it wouldn’t be long before we had the little black one, and my little red/brown one on the skinning area. Again, I was reviewing the shot in my mind, and I grew more and more anxious. Abby flew out of the Honda and we followed. We got to the spot I hit and I waited.

“Where’s the arrow?” Nate asked.

“Over here. I stuck it in the ground so we could find it.” Randy answered.

When Randy first arrived at my stand, we did a cursory search, and found the shaft. It was a complete pass-through. It was flat on the ground, soaked with blood, and the broadhead was pointing right back on the stand, right where I hit him. Randy theorized that as the Hog was hit, he turned an exact 180 degrees. The arrow had enough Kinetic Energy to continue though the hog, and then fell as we found it. I thought was a really cool explanation, so I am sticking with it. Plus it should give anyone reading a very clear idea how fast these animals really are. They are amazing creatures.

Nate set Abby about the business of tracking, and I reached down to pull out my skinning knife. Something was moving in behind us. Something that was big enough to make Randy stop searching and stand up.

Earlier in Cale’s hunt, a large boar moved into the stand and ran off a bunch of the meat hogs in Cale’s first group, which included the big sow named Molly. She ran out of his way every time he moved toward her. He terrorized the lot until my group came in, then he was nowhere to be found. I got to see this on the video Randy shot, and I was amazed at how big he was in comparison to the huge Molly.

His size and demeanor never escaped my mind even after the joyous, albeit brief celebration at the Square Feeder, and while the brush and limbs crunched behind us, I steadied myself as Randy drew his pistol.

I whispered to Cheri and Cale, “Don’t move a muscle.” I raised my light in the direction of the sound, and I saw two big tusks under a familiar long snout. It was Hercules. We all relaxed a bit, thankful as all get out, as Randy informed Nate of Hercules’ arrival.

As I have said before, Nate’s only concern is for the safety and happiness of his hunters. Period. He already had proven that to me before he said what he said. And his comment cemented my respect for him forever.

He commanded from the thick brambles and brush, “Randy, if he even looks like he’s going to get aggressive, you empty that clip. You understand? Empty it.”

This was Herc, his pride and joy. He’s the future of 4D. For God’s sake, I was just hand-feeding him grass that afternoon. He’s mild as a pussycat Nate. A memory from long in my past revisited me that night.

My grandpa was the oldest of fifteen kids, and one of his younger brothers ran a hog farm in Iowa. They came out to visit one year, and Bob, (we called him Uncle Mush), recounted a charging boar story that about had me changing undies. This boar would let Bob’s kids ride on his back for a handful of corn. Meek as a lamb. Then one day, he got it in his head that he wanted to dance with Uncle Mush. Bob said he flew six-ways-from-Sunday before that hog finally stopped. Bob walked away, but not in one piece. “You just never know what’s going on inside their heads.” He told me. Bob limped back to the house, got his gun, and shot that hog dead-as-a-doornail. “He sure didn’t taste aggressive.” He said with a slap on his knee and deep belly laugh.

As Hercules moved in to the feeder, we gave him his room, and he didn’t seem to care what we did. Cale and Cheri made a game of lighting up the kernels for Herc. He followed the light as if trained to do so. Randy holstered his pistol, but I never heard the button snap. That was quite a rush. I don’t know why I reached down for that knife. It would have never done me any good. I guess part of it was instinct, and part of it was ego. Who knows?

Well I’ll give it to Nate, Randy, and Abby. They sure gave it a good try, but this hog wasn’t going to be recovered. We went back to the arrow, and Nate gave it a good sniff. No foul scent, so that was a good sign. He asked about the shot.

“I took as much time as I could, but the stupid things just wouldn’t commit to the feeder. I picked out one with a white shoulder, but he just wouldn’t stand still. I saw the brown one, and he was on a line broadside to me, so I took aim and fired. I heard no squeal so I have to assume it was lung shot.” I recalled.

“No, not necessarily. If you shot high because of the seated shot and the hard draw, you could have hit him just above the spine. See, there’s a huge layer of fat there, and the hog won’t really feel too much pain. That would explain the pass-through with a lot of blood on the shaft. He might have been scared, but not hurt enough to squeal. Because the blood is oozing down his back, through all that stiff hair and mud and junk, we won’t see a splatter we would expect to see with a lung shot. He’s running and bumping into things. We see that plainly, but I only see droplets. Cale’s pig dropped a blood trail a blind monkey could find. This trail is different. Just drops of blood. I think the shot looked ok through the peep and the site, but the squashed down position you had could be deceiving and you could have hit high.” Randy agreed, and I was speechless. How can you argue that? He’s right. He’s got to be. I had a better explanation as we headed back to camp, and I told Nate about it right away.

When I leveled off on that pig, my squatted position wasn’t the problem. I practiced that a lot for just that reason. I shot that bow as close to a prone position as I could manage and it was about as accurate as it could be. No… sadly… the problem wasn’t the position, it was how I trained for it. I shot the hog target at 20 yards that whole weekend. I sank that 20-yard pin right in the shoulder, and almost every one was a kill shot. I had a few flyers because I developed a bad habit that Randy cured me of. When I drew on the brown/red hog, I put that pin firmly in the elbow. Had he been at 20 yards, this would have a completely different outcome. As it was, by reflex, I put the pin right on the elbow and let fly. He was 14 yards or so away. It hit high, just as Nate explained.

There was nothing left to do aside from skin the hog and get some food in us, so we did. Cale took his hero shots, and Cheri was thrilled for him, though she admitted later she was secretly vowing to never let another get away from her, and I was happy for all of them, which is all I really wanted in the first place.

Next post – The Final Surprise.
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Last edited by Colorado Rick; 07-22-2008 at 10:54 AM.
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  #55  
Old 07-21-2008, 03:51 PM
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Rick,
Man, that frickin' bites for both you and Cheri. Congrats to Cale! Have ya been able to get him to stop grinning?
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Old 07-21-2008, 04:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Va Hunter View Post
Congrats to Cale! Have ya been able to get him to stop grinning?


This was taken just before he learned how to dress a hog.
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Last edited by Colorado Rick; 07-21-2008 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 07-21-2008, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Va Hunter View Post
Rick,
Man, that frickin' bites for both you and Cheri.
Hang in there VA. I"ll wrap it up here and show why we don't feel that way.
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Old 07-21-2008, 04:26 PM
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Va, not only has he NOT stopped grinning, don't forget, he has bragging rights over mom AND dad!!! way to go Cale. only bad part Rick, now he's hooked for life. only gets more expensive from here.
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Old 07-22-2008, 04:44 PM
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Default The Final Surprise

As Nate and Randy were plodding through the thick underbrush searching for pinhead-sized droplets of blood, Kevin called to get an update. He called after every hunt; I’m sure in hopes that would tell him we were successful. I advised him of the situation and Cale’s great hit. He immediately asked how Cheri did, and I regretfully told him of her plight.

Now Kevin, if nothing else, is direct. I appreciate that very much. His response was classic Kevin. “You should try to get a hunt in before you leave tomorrow morning. I’ll bet Nate would be ok with that. Cheri needs to get a hog.”

After an internal debate, I confirmed with Nate that he was indeed ok with it, and Randy was obliging as always, so I had Cheri make arrangements with her family to push things back a bit. We were in for one more. Cale of course was thrilled because he got another chance as well. I opted to sit this one out.

I chose to sit with Cheri in the stand and just enjoy the last hunt there for no other reason other than I wanted to see the new setup in action, and since Randy was going to set up at the square feeder again, I felt the odds were pretty good that she would get one.

We sat in the stand for what seemed like an eternity. Again the feeder went off, and again the bigger ones made it in to devour the corn, but the feral hogs stayed away. To say we were disappointed was accurate, though a bit of an overstatement. We got the adventure we were ultimately looking for. Cale got off two really good shots that surprised even Randy. I got away from the humdrum of work and life for a while. Cheri got a good taste of what she is capable of, and a stellar example of a saying Kevin’s wife has been known to toss around:

“That’s why it’s called ‘hunting’, and not ‘killing’. Sometimes you just go home empty handed.” Yup…

Around 8:00am or so, I was literally falling asleep in the stand. Cheri and I decided we’d pack it in, so she took off her release and placed in her pack. She quivered her arrow, and let out a big sigh. “Well… this was really fun babe. We’ll get one next time.” I broke a branch off that had been bothering me and, attempted to hit Molly in the butt. She gave me a dirty look, and went back to munching the corn.

I decided to call our bank and start making the math work out for the trip home. At some point I must have changed the phone setting from vibrate to audible, and as I dialed, I watched the for hogs reaction, if any. Molly jumped a bit at first, but then ignored it totally. The others either didn’t hear it or didn’t care. Hmmm…

I was just about to input the account number, when from out of nowhere two feral hogs came into the feeder. Cheri’s mood went from defeated to hopeful so fast I was worried that psychiatric care might be needed. “Oh God babe! Look!” she whispered. I was looking, and trying to kill the phone at the same time before it spooked them out. “Get your release Cher.” She reached for the bow and I think she may have wanted to draw, until I repeated the statement. I held her bow while she quietly removed her release and applied it to her wrist. She took the bow back, and tried to attach the release to the d-loop, and I stopped her. “You gonna hit it with an invisible arrow dear?” She noc’d an arrow and picked her target.

Like my set from the previous night, these two were darting all over creation, and only leaving a good broadside for half a second at best. Cheri drew and held for a long time, but had to come back down. The brown one came around a fallen log, and Cheri drew again. The hog was moving parallel with the log, and never deviated from the line he was on, and at one point, the point at which Cheri decided to release, he stayed in one spot.

Unfortunately, That was the point she decided to release. She waited a quarter second longer, THEN she released. For the hog, that may or may not have been a good thing. We’ll never know. The hog decided to lunge for a kernel just ahead of him as she let fly, and the shaft hit him in the belly. Well, let me rephrase: it BLEW through his belly and TACKED him to the fallen tree for a moment.

The first thing I noticed Cheri’s bow was quieter because it hit the hog and the tree and I never heard it go.

The second thing I noticed was that the hog was stuck.

The third thing I noticed, after he got free was the huge blood spot on the log. I could clearly see it from the stand, which was 18 yards away. That hog was HIT people. The only question now was how far would he go. It sure looked like a liver/gut hit.

Randy and Cale decided to call it a day, and came into our stand. Randy walked over to the log and said, “Yep. You got him! Oh wow! He broke off the broadhead too. It’s in the center of the blood.”

WOW! Folks, that broadhead was an Eastman Game Tracker. 1/16th inch thick steel, two-blade, cut on contact, 125-grain nastiness. She was shooting 9.1 grains per inch on a 24-inch arrow. I come up with 343 grains that tacked that hog to the tree. And then he broke the broadhead at the ferrule, leaving about an 1 1/8th of steel buried in the wood. If that isn’t enough to convince my dear readers how tough and rugged these hogs are, listen to the rest of this story.

We did a small track, Nate brought Abby, but we couldn’t complete the track. Randy called a gentleman who they use to track blood. Catchrcall and Eagle were about 2 hours away, and thankfully, they came down anyway to play. While we waited for them to make it down, we packed up the van and went to Wal-Mart to get ice for Cale’s hog, and stock up for the trip to Oklahoma City.

When Catchr arrived, he took about 15 minutes to wear Eagle down some as Eagle is a ball of energy, and once the bell leash was on, off we went. Randy, Cheri, Cale, and I took a position where we knew the hog crossed a pathway, about 50 yards from the shot, and waited for Eagle to do his thing.

Eagle did in 3 minutes what took poor Randy and Nate 45, and out of the brush he bounded heavy on the track. I learned quickly what the bell was for. That dog, once on the scent, was a freight train on a rail. I could easily see, (and God forbid this happens) Catchr’s arm trapped in a leash or worse with this driven dog dragging him through the brush hell-bent for leather.

We lost sight of Eagle, but hot on his tail were Catchr, Nate, and Abby. Our moods rose anew as we saw Eagle work, but time was not with us. At 4:00pm, with a five-hour drive ahead of us, and after 200+ yards of solid tracking turning up nothing, we had to leave.

I can’t begin to tell you how sad Cheri and I were. Not because we didn’t bring down the hogs like we wanted, and not because we put three people and two dogs through what we deemed utter hell. No, we were sad because we were leaving an area that had come to feel like home. We were leaving people we truly wanted to be around. We didn’t give the most incredible performances, and on more than few occasions I fully expected Randy and Nate to toss us out on our ears or rears without a second thought, but they didn’t. They encouraged us at every step. Our victories perceived or otherwise, were their victories. No one felt worse than Nate that day we talked about Cheri’s past, and her need, her real need to be successful at this. No one, sadly myself included, spent as much time with Cale as Randy did.

It truly hurt to leave 4D Outfitters Camp that day, and there isn’t a moment that goes by that we don’t wish we were there. Numerous times, all of us stated on the trip back to Colorado that we should just say, “Screw it!” turn right around and head back. Kevin is a short 45 minutes away, Randy and Nate are even closer, and all would be right in the universe.

As you know, we did return home, and for days after returning to work, I was describing the hunt, the hogs, and the people in Mexia, Texas. It was one heck of trip, and even if we didn’t get the hogs we were dreaming of on the way down, we got friends that will last lifetime, and memories that last even longer. Who can ask for more?

Thanks Kevin for suggesting a hog hunt in the first place and being a good friend all the way through. Thanks Nate for providing not only the land and the stock, but the advice and information we so needed. Thanks Randy for giving Cale his moments of triumph, and for taking such good care of him, and us. Thanks all of you for the friendship, courtesy, and sportsmanship.

Next Post - Epilogue
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Last edited by Colorado Rick; 07-22-2008 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 07-22-2008, 09:40 PM
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Wow...what a story!

Don't let the mishaps get you two down. Maybe you just need to shoot something that'll die easier, like a big ol' muley!!

I'm still up in the air, but let's plan for it anyway,
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