The Great Apocalypse Pig Hunt was born of an evolving concept. Originally it began as Camping in the Mountains Apocalypse Vacation. However, due to the fact that hubby and I just had to buy a few more guns it became Camp in the State Forest Apocalypse Trip. Finally it was decided that the best thing to do with all the vacation time we had accrued, and our lack of money, was to get out of town with almost all of our firearms and go hunt and camp in the swamp for a few days, in case the locals went all Walking Dead on December 21, 2012.
Then Murphy stepped in and decided that some heavy thunderstorms with the possibility of tornadoes would be appropriate. Then there was the small matter of my digestion. I have a gluten allergy. A few days before we were scheduled to depart we had been hunting in another part of the swamp all day. When we emerged we went to Red Bay Grocery to acquire some sustenance The special involved sides of mac-n-cheese and Texas toast. I was cold, tired, and hungry and was not using my best judgement. I ate the mac-n-cheese AND the two pieces of Texas toast. Now for the uninitiated let me give a quick overview of my gluten allergy: I can’t eat things with wheat in them or else I basically get hay fever in my guts. It is not pretty. I will spare you the details. Some people scoff at those of us forced to be “gluten free” and accuse us of being a bunch of overly-sensitive, hippy, nances. However, if you were me and you ate a pop tart (stolen from your hubby) and then almost immediately began vomiting (and hubby laughed at you) then you would become a believer. Enough about my digestion. Long story short: I was not feeling great when we departed for our trip.
The weather had been unseasonably warm up until the day we went to our camping and hunting area. That afternoon a cold front came roaring in from Canada and the Rockies. The temperature literally dropped about 20 degrees as we were making camp. Hubby opted for tent camping, as opposed to hammock camping, due to the precipitous drop in temperature. I’m unsure of his exact logic because he generally eschews 98% of spousal activities that might keep one warm while sleeping on the ground i.e. snuggling. We don’t even sleep on the same air mattress when camping, mostly because the last time I tried inflating the queen-sized mattress with the manual air pump I nearly had a heart attack. This time, due to the turbulent state of my guts, I nearly had a stroke inflating the two twin air mattresses.
The predawn conversation the next morning went something like this:
Hubby: Get up, it’s time to go hunting
Hubby: Are you coming or not?
Me: Just shoot me now and use my carcass for pig bait!
Hubby: (too enthusiastically) Ok!
Me: That is NOT what you are supposed to say! Besides, baiting game on public land is illegal, now go away before I shoot you!
Hubby went out in the swamp for a couple hours and I went back to sleep. Eventually I decided that I could move without dying. I’d been looking forward to this trip all year and I was going to go do my best to shoot a pig or a deer! I texted hubby and he came back to get me. As we set out to his previously scouted “magic pig spot” a crazy crop-dusting plane started buzzing the tree tops and we thought maybe the Apocalypse crazies were getting an early start.
We spent a few hours skulking around a really promising looking pig wallow, but the cool weather was not conducive to porcine hot-tubbing. Hubby decided that we should go walk around and try to flush something hoofed. We snuck around in another area of the swamp for several hours and then went to back to camp for lunch.
After lunch we took the truck and went around to another area we had hunted a couple of years before. On that occasion all we got were some ticks, but there was a lot of deer sign in the area. Unfortunately all of the deer we spotted or flushed on this hunt had mastered the uncanny skill of only exposing their rear ends to a clear and unimpeded view and were, therefore, unshootable! Imagine a deer that is imitating an ostrich with its head in the bushes instead of sand and you will get the general idea. Seriously, I think the deer had affixed brush to their upper halves above the shoulder, so even if they were broadside there was no way to tell if they were antlered! It was getting late in the afternoon and we were getting frustrated. We had a good idea of where the last two deer had gone and we were trying to cut around and ambush them when we ran into an old dude hunting with a big-arsed muzzle-loader. We stopped to talk with him for awhile and then continued to cut around where we thought the deer might have gone.
By then there was maybe 1.5 hours of daylight left at best, it was after all the Winter Solstice. We were both tired and hubby had just been grumbling about never being able to find the pigs, and something about me being bad luck, when he heard a sound ahead of us on the overgrown trail. I was maybe 25′ behind him and didn’t see what he was looking at initially. I thought it was a shadow under a bush until it moved, then I realized he was not too far away from a huge black sow and her two piglets. Hubby dropped down to a crouch in the middle of the trail and started doing some of his unintelligible pseudo-military-adapted-from-SCUBA hand signals. I eventually figured out that he wanted me to take the shot at the sow with him, but I hesitated because he was sort of between me and the sow and I was afraid that if I missed she might go after him, and get him, before I could take another shot. He realized I wasn’t going to fire and took a head shot.
Then all Hell broke loose! The sow took off, away from hubby fortunately, into the thickest brush imaginable, at close to the speed of sound with her hysterically squealing piglets behind her. Hubby took off after the sow, crashing through the brush, and I took off after him. The piglets doubled back, but when they got to me they turned on a dime and raced back toward hubby. He took a shot and dropped one of the piglets!
Still looking for the wounded sow, hubby left me in charge of the piglet and disappeared into the brush. The piglet was covered with coarse cinnamon hair and a couple of black markings, but otherwise looked like a typical farm pig. It weighed maybe twenty pounds. Hubby had shot it through the spine and it died pretty much instantly. I picked it up by its back feet and followed the crashing noises through the now very thick brush, after hubby.
I had a pig in one hand and my rifle in the other because it kept getting tangled in the underbrush if I slung it over my shoulder. I was getting very tangled in the brush and felt like Frodo from LOTR, when he is tangled in the giant spider web. Then hubby yells: “watch out, I think you’re over where the sow might be!” My thoughts went like this: “Lovely, I may encounter an angry wounded pig who will disembowel me while I am stuck in the brush clutching my rifle and her dead offspring!” At that moment I decided to take up handgun hunting with a large-caliber revolver in a chest holster.
When I finally got untangled we backtracked to where the sow had been standing when hubby took the shot. We couldn’t find any blood. I sat on the trail with the piglet carcass while hubby walked ever-widening concentric circles. Still no blood, other than where the piglet had fallen. We concluded that he had missed the sow and that we had better get back to the truck before we completely lost the light.
We went back to camp while I made some food and hubby cleaned the pig. We roasted the heart in the fire with some butter and ate it, but we saved the rest of the meat for home. Ever since I learned about feral swine, when we first moved here, I have been hoping one of us could harvest a nice oven-sized piglet for roasting, so I was very pleased with hubby’s kill. The cold weather became fortuitous now because it allowed hubby to hang the butchered carcass to cool thoroughly in the frosty air. It got so cold that night, 34F, that when I got up to have a pee in the predawn hours I was met with a frosted wonderland bathed in moonlight, instead of the pine savanna clearing where I had gone to sleep.
We packed up camp and went home. I roasted the front quarters of the piglet in the oven and it tasted like any other pork. As an added bonus I didn’t find any helminthic parasites in the flesh! Even though I didn’t get a pig, or a deer, on this trip it was great fun and I am really looking forward to doing it again in 2013. I will of course be getting both a deer and a pig and the pig will be bigger than hubby’s pig, but not too big, so it will still fit in the oven.