It’s not very often you can get a group of strangers from across the country
to pull together for a hog hunt, and even more rare when all of the hunters
are women. What started out as a thread on Bowsite.com’s
bulletin boards turned out to be one of the most thrilling hunts I’ve
ever had. You see, I had posted an inquiry last summer, looking for
other women who’d be interested in a ladies-only hog hunt at our Oklahoma
Ranch Hunting Camps. The roster filled quickly. When the weekend
finally arrived we were blessed with good weather as each of the guests
drove into camp. After the gear was unpacked and bunks had been claimed
we began studying maps -indicating stand locations. The wind direction
was favorable for many of the stands and everybody had quickly decided
on which location they would like to hunt. Within minutes, everyone was
camouflaged and scent-free.
Being the outfitter and guides for this hunt, my husband Matt and I stayed
in camp as each of the hunters walked down the trail toward their stands.
We had five women join us on this hunt, Claudia
from Arkansas, Barb from Kentucky, Donna
from Missouri and Deb and Linda from Minnesota.
We had seen over a dozen deer from the road into camp so this was a good indication
that the animals would be moving that evening. With wild hogs, you just never
know what to expect. An area can be crawling with them one day, then void
the next. As the hunters headed down the trail, I learned later that they
had encountered a passel of hogs running through the brush ahead of them.
They had considered stalking the animals, but made the decision to get to
their respective stands instead. From all accounts that night, the hogs were
really on the move. Everyone had seen at least a half dozen or more hogs
of varying sizes before dusk. As daylight began to disappear, one by one
the hunters returned back at camp.
I knew that if anyone was returning before dark, it had to be for good reason,
and was thrilled to hear that Claudia had made a good shot on a hog down at
the creek stand. Before I could get my boots laced I could see Donna walking
up the trail. She too had hit one, and from her description it sounded like
a well placed arrow. As Claudia and I headed to the creek to track her hog,
I heard the radio crackle as Linda and Deb both reported hitting hogs. Four
of the five hunters not only saw animals, but made good hits on them that
night. One by one, we began the arduous task of tracking and hauling the
hogs back to camp.
|As Claudia and I walked into the woods near Claudia’s stand she related
her hunt to me. She hadn’t been in her stand long before animals started
moving through the area. There was still plenty of daylight when a group
of hogs followed the creek past her stand. Claudia drew her recurve,
released the arrow, and then watched as the hit hog ran back down toward
the creek bank. She was confident the hit was good, and heard the thrashing
of brush behind her as the hog made it’s last run. It’s not uncommon
for hogs to leave a scant bloodtrail, and this was the case with Claudia’s.
As she climbed from her stand, no blood could be found, but she knew exactly
what trail the hog ran down. Being confident in her shot, she returned
to camp for help. Within minutes, we were following the bloodtrail which
led right to the spot where her hog had expired - 40 yards behind the
tree Claudia was perched in. This being Claudia’s first traditional bow-killed
animal made it even more special for both of us.
|Next on the agenda was Donna’s hog. She too had been hunting from a
ladder stand and watched as her hog ran into the thick brush that engulfs
the small opening she was hunting. With hogs milling around beneath her
all evening, she wasn’t even able to leave her stand until after dark.
By the time I had arrived she had marked the bloodtrail and had followed
it into the thick brush. Despite a perfect hit on this hog, it left very
little for us to track. We picked up pinhead-sized droplets, following
the trail into thicker and thicker cover. One of us would mark the last
blood as the next struck out ahead searching for the next drop. Suddenly,
Donna yelled “There’s my hog!”. As we approached it, I could better see
why the hog left so little blood. With a perfect double lung hit, this
hog died on the run sprawled out in the greenbriers that filled the forest
floor. Her hog was a mature boar weighing just under 200 pounds, and
with a thick shield covering it’s vitals. That shield, along with a boar’s
thick hide effectively sealed the “leak” in his thorax. While skinning
and quartering Donna’s hog, we found something interesting- a three-blade
broadhead embedded firmly in the hog’s spine. The broadhead penetrated
the vertebrate and was sticking out the other side. I don’t know how
this animal survived without being paralyzed. It appeared as though the
blade should have severed the spinal cord. Donna refers to that piece
of spine as her “third trophy” and is a good testimony to how hardy wild
hogs can be.
|While Donna and I struggled to drag her big hog through greenbriers,
Deb and Linda were on their own search. Linda had made a good hit and
had the good fortune of seeing her hog drop within sight of her stand.
By the time Matt got around to picking her up, she already had it dragged
to the road. They then moved on to Deb’s stand. Deb was sitting in a
stand located near some of the densest thickets on the property. Despite
making a good shot, her hog ran directly into these thickets. From the
second it was hit, her hog had left a generous bloodtrail, something you
learn to appreciate when hunting hogs. They thought they had an easy
tracking job in front of them when seeing how much blood this animal was
losing but after tracking the hog over 200 yards, they finally reached
the end of it’s trail. This hog had run right in the midst of an area
that was hard hit by last year’s ice storm. Being surrounded by deadfalls
and fallen greenbrier vines, they soon learned that shooting and tracking
the hog was the easy part compared to fighting your way through briars
while wearing a 3-D Scent-Loc suit!
|Barb was determined not to leave without filling her
tag. She continued hunting hard while the rest of us packaged meat and
capes for the freezer. After working hard all day to package the meat
from four hogs, I settled in front of the campfire for a relaxing evening,
never suspecting that we’d have a repeat of the previous night’s success.
With three more hogs being taken Saturday night, these ladies proved to
be out for more than just a walk in the woods! Sunday morning however,
turned out to be the crown jewel of the weekend. Shortly after daybreak
Barb returned to camp. For the first time since we started guiding on
this piece of property, we had a hunt with 100% success. Barb was hunting
with a longbow and thought she had hit her hog just a little bit high
as she could see her fletching as the hog ran off into the brush. She
was sure she heard the hog moan and then rustling in the brush just a
short distance away, but thought it best to wait a few hours before tracking
it. Once she got out on the trail though, she found that her hog had
in fact expired within seconds. Her broadhead had severed the hog’s aorta,
leaving no question as to how quickly it died!
This hunt turned out to be one of the most exciting hog hunts we’ve hosted.
Not only were these ladies some of the most devoted hunters we’ve been around,
but they all pitched in to help each other. If anyone needed help with field
dressing, there was always plenty of assistance. Everybody pitched in to
help everyone else with every aspect of the hunt, and we all shared each other’s
excitement every time an animal was brought into camp. Even though we were
all strangers to each other Friday morning, by Sunday afternoon I felt as
though we had known each other all our lives. The camaraderie and stories
that were shared around that campfire won’t soon be forgotten, and I think
I can speak for everybody when I say that.