Michelle and I bailed on yet another round of family Christmas parties and Dirty Santa games. Dirty Santa, if you don’t know, is the $10 gift exchange game, where I usually end up going home with a deck of “Bulging Beauty” playing cards. Those are, of course, playing cards adorned with obese, naked women. My cousin and I have been exchanging the same deck for a number of years. That cousin, by the way, is a preacher’s wife …
Anyhow, this Christmas Day found Michelle and I on the road to South Florida for a pig hunt. Yes, I know this is a deer blog, but pig hunting is a guilty pleasure of mine. Yes, I know pigs are invasive and bad for native habitats, and DNR agencies across the country would rather outdoor communicators not highlight it. But the fact is, hunting pigs is a hell of a lot of fun. And cheap if you’re on an outdoor writer / teacher budget. Up until yesterday, I’d only ever bowhunted them, either from a treestand or spotting and stalking.
Tom Walker guides hog hunters in the Punta Gorda area, and he warned us that hunting over bait sets is tough right now due to a bumper crop of acorns. Just like whitetails, a hog would rather eat from under an oak than from under a corn feeder.
“But,” Walker said, “if you guys want to get some meat in your cooler, we’ll turn my dogs out and you can stick one with a spear. We can even do that for a couple hours before you get in the stand.”
In short, extra hunting time. Extra opportunity. Extra pork. I relayed this information to the wife who, of course, quickly dismissed such a barbaric idea. And so I did what any red-blooded ‘Merican male does in such a situation. I said, “Please, Baby. Let’s just try it.”
Usually, that line does not work. But in this case, Michelle answered with a rather terse “whatever.”
And so we arrived at camp and shook hands with Walker and Trevor, his hired hand. Both of them are transplanted Yankees. Trevor is a young, cordial fellow from Minnesota. Walker is from Michigan and a big guy; shaved head, tattoos, biceps, and full of grand tales of conquests past. Most of those conquests involved some level of violence. He sat there in a Max-1 t-shirt, sans the sleeves, honing the edges of the spear with a file. I asked if Michelle and I could pack our bows along during the dog hunt. "You can if you want," Walker said, "but you won't need them."
Within 15 minutes, the dogs struck the first pig, a 200-pound black boar that Walker insisted on calling a “mean sonuvabitch.” The boar and dogs crashed into a palmetto thicket, and for a bit, it sounded as though the Mayans were correct about the end of the world, if only a few days late. Walker screamed for Michelle and I to “put those bows down and come on!” and so we did.
Palmettos are, of course, nothing if not thick and abrasive, but their lashing tendencies are especially noticeable when a pitbull and four curs have ahold of a thrashing boar hog at your feet and a tattooed wild man is attempting to get the pig in a choke hold while commanding everyone else in sight to “hold that @#$#@er’s head down!”
I was holding the spear at this point, searching for Michelle in the thicket, whom I assumed was frozen somewhere behind me in fear. But frozen in fear is not where I found her. Instead, that fourth-grade teacher had ahold of one of the boar hog’s back legs and was yelling for me to “Stick him, Will!”
And so I did. Lest you think this to be a brutal practice, that pig was dead in two seconds.
We leashed thrashing dogs and dragged my hog out of the palmettos. "You ready to get one?" Walker asked. Michelle grinned. Her outlook on pig-stickin' had suddenly taken a new direction.
The dogs soon bayed on a second pig, this one a fat, spotted sow. Walker and Trevor again wrestled the critter into submission, and Michelle stepped in with the spear. Within an hour of hunting, we had two hogs for the cooler.
Personally, I’m looking forward to sitting in a bow stand this afternoon. Relaxed pigs. No fighting. Peace and quiet. That sort of thing. But Michelle, whom we're now calling Vlad the Impaler, has her heart set on another dog and spear hunt tomorrow afternoon. If it happens, I’ll be carrying a video camera along.
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