Monday, July 22, 2013

Black Hawg Down


Among the many scourges brought to the North American continent by European explorers, settlers, and colonizers in the post-Columbian era, one particular porcine pest presents preeminently.

The Colonel refers, of course, to the pig. 

Porker.

Hog.

Bacon on the hoof.

Ham hauler.

Americans have a serious love – hate relationship with swine.

We love our barbecue, bacon, and ham.  The mouth waters in want at the mention.

We hate the habits of a hog.  The nose winkles in disgust at the thought.

A hog will eat anything.

A hog will seek out the foulest mud hole in which to wallow.

A close-up whiff of a grown boar’s scent will put the hungriest man off his feed.

Throughout the American South feral hogs (farm escapees) crossed with Russian Boars (game fame escapees) are undergoing a frightening population boom.  Fed by large scale agricultural practice, and blessed with an amazing fertility rate (a grown sow can begat three litters of pigs a year), wild hogs now rival whitetail deer in numbers in many areas.

Deer can put a serious dent in a farmer’s row crop. 

Wild hogs will put him out of business.

Hogs aren’t content to graze on greenery.  They root up the whole plant.

Like deer, wild hogs have become increasingly nocturnal. 

And, a hog is much smarter than a deer – attempts to control porcine population through trapping is futile.

Enter the Colonel’s Number One Son – firearms enthusiast and serial entrepreneur.

Number One owns a gun store (TGCOutdoors.com), specializing in what is popularly known as “tacticool.”

He builds custom tactical rifles – equipped with cutting edge optics (night vision and thermal imaging) and suppressors.

Ideal for night pig population control patrolling.

Serial entrepreneur that he is, once he figured out how to ensure a relatively high success rate, he began taking paying customers on guided hunts in fields of local farmers who were all too happy to give him free rein to kill as many of the crop marauders as possible.

The Colonel and Number Two Son went along on one such adventure last night.

Equipped with bike-helmet mounted PVS-14 night vision monoculars and night vision-scoped rifles, we eased onto a half-mile wide soy bean field and scanned the upwind far tree line. 

The Colonel couldn't help but remember other nights peering intently through night vision equipment -- but this new stuff was light-years better than the gear he'd had back in his infantry days.

Soon enough, we spotted hogs emerging to forage on the foot-high bean plants.  But, a deer down-wind of us blew a warning and the hogs retreated out of sight in the thick underbrush of the tree line.

A move further down the field put us in just the right position to catch a small hog shuffling out to feed and the Colonel ended his crop depredation days with a quick shot.

Number Two Son complained loudly that the Colonel hadn’t given him a chance to shoot.

The Colonel was his usual understanding self:  Tough.”

We sat in the dark for another hour while every mosquito in North Mississippi dined on our blood – ignoring the liberal coating of Deep Woods Off.

We began to feel woozy from the blood loss and decided to call it a night.

As we trooped across the field in the dark, Number Two, who has a sense of direction rivaling a ten-year old Canada goose, made a beeline for the corner of the field beyond which the truck was parked.

The rest of us drifted off to the right, looking at hog sign and marveling at how much damage the hogs were doing to the beans. 

Less than a hundred yards from the edge of the field, we heard a rustle in the tree line and looked up to see in the light green light gathered in our monoculars the unmistakable bulk of a very large hog hustling straight at us on to the field to feed.

The Colonel dropped to one knee, flipped the night vision monocular up and out of the way on its helmet mount, shouldered his rifle and immediately acquired the target in the night vision scope.

Wasn’t hard.  The hog was in a hungry hurry and was quickly closing the distance between himself and his favorite patch of bean sprouts.

The Colonel was kneeling in the hungry hurrying hog’s favorite patch of bean sprouts.

The hungry hurrying humongous hog was rapidly filling the rifle scope’s field of view.

The Colonel squeezed the trigger and the rifle scope filled with a thrashing hog and flashing tusks and for a second the Colonel wondered if he were about to have a close encounter with said flashing tusks.

But the hog was down and Number One Son finished him off with a quick follow-up.

Number Two Son complained loudly from a hundred yards to the left, “Hey!  You guys didn’t even give me a ‘CaCaw’ to let me know there was a hog to shoot.”

The Colonel was his usual understanding self...,

Cacaw.”  
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