Ian Hayes | Texas

FTR-Small-LogoIt is a nice warm day in Texas, and my wife Darlyne and I are sitting in folding chairs on top of a weathered plywood platform 15 feet up a tree with her 7mm-08 clutched grimly to her chest. After 12 years of marriage I find out that she's afraid of heights.

Today is the end of a yearlong journey for her. It's her second hunting trip ever. Her first was the previous year, but the hogs didn't show up for her. For the year between hunts, she was determined to make her next one a success. Weekly we went to the range to work on marksmanship. She studied pictures of hogs on the Internet to learn the best spot for shot placement. Darlyne even started reloading after I showed her how superior that handloads could be over factory.

For our first morning hunt, our guide recommended that we set up in treestands in a bottom. Upon learning that we were going to be hunting up in the trees, all thought of going home with hog meat fled from her mind. She gave me a terrified look, but with grim determination, climbed the ladder to the stand and settled in.

I set up in the stand on the neighboring tree and chuckled quietly to myself. We didn't have to wait long — within 10 minutes I had bagged a nice 90-pound meat hog. Darlyne was still sitting in that folding chair with a grip so tight on her rifle, I thought she was going to warp the barrel. Suddenly, a large hog, sniffing and huffing, wandered into the clearing in front of her. Immediately her fear of heights vanished.

With practiced ease and speed her rifle snapped up to eye level. I heard her take two slow breaths and just as she reached the end of the second breathe…BANG! Direct hit, right through the heart. In one shot, my gentle, dear wife who has never killed anything in her life bagged a 190-pound sow, topping my record by 50 pounds. In her excitement, I had to remind her that she couldn't jump out of the stand, and instead had to climb down.

Despite a discouraging first hunt, she persevered. Despite her fear, she overcame it and answered the call of the hunt in the best traditions of a true hunter. I'm so proud of her, and she can't wait to climb onto a rickety plywood platform next year.


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