I have no idea what time it is or how long I’ve been waiting, but the sunset shining directly into my face through tall pine trees tells me the hogs should be coming soon. I’ve been lying on the ground with my Barnett Jackal crossbow long enough for my arms to grow tired, but no amount of time will be enough for me to comprehend how I was talked into putting on a Ghillie Suit and literally lying on the ground to harvest hogs.
The idea, like most great ideas, started as joke. My coworker Trey Crossno is good friends with Rex Holmes Jr., founder of Vapor Trail Scents, and the two laughed about the thought of having me lie on the ground for at least one of the hunts during our two days in Natchez, Mississippi. Then my pride and willingness to be “one of the boys” for my first hog hunt got the best of me, and I find myself coated in Vapor Trail Scent’s 33 Point Buck — a product that destroys and hides human odor — and lying completely still under branches and brush. If pride and the need to fit in weren’t enough for me to go for this unique hunt, his final pitch went something like, “For your story you won’t be writing about someone doing it, you’ll be doing it.” I was sold.
So here I am, on the ground, just waiting. During the duration of the hunt, emotions have been all over the place — excitement to boredom to nervousness then back to excitement and so on. There have also been several moments I go back to questioning what I’m doing. Sure, I’ve been hunting, but the most hunting I’ve done in the last decade is a squirrel hunt earlier this year. Yet here I am, waiting, hoping and wishing a hog will show up … within reaching distance. And this thought brings back the nervousness.
Suddenly I hear a sound … I see a critter! “Game time,” I say to myself, snapping away from nervousness. But just as quickly as the excitement comes, it leaves. The critters are three raccoons, coming to eat from the feeder that sits less than 10 feet in front of me.
And the wait continues. I don’t know for how long I continue to wait, but I do know the sunlight directly ahead of me through the pines isn’t as bright as it was 10 minutes ago. We’re running out of time.
Over time the coons have finally scurried off, but soon enough I hear them coming back. One of them is close enough to my right that I consider reaching out just to scare it. I suddenly realize it nearly stepped on me. But just as quickly as I get frustrated, I realize it’s not a coon!
“Game time,” I say to myself, again, as a hog trots within 3 feet to my right. The moment arrives, and I’m not going to ruin this opportunity.
I raise my crossbow, trying to get a feel for where I need to be to make a good shot. Unfortunately for me, I’m brand new to crossbows — as in never held one until this day — so I’m making more noise than I intend. The hog hears me and runs 20 feet toward the woods, but I’m pleasantly surprised when he comes back.
My mind is racing while I remain remarkably calm. Time isn’t an existence at this moment, and I’d later be surprised to see just how long it took me to make the shot. While I watch the hog eat I’m going through all the advice Predator Xtreme editor Mark Olis gave me a week earlier. Overall, I feel prepared. I just need to execute.
Time continues standing still while I watch the hog eat. I’m curious why I haven’t taken the shot. A moment passes when I even watch in wonder while the pig eats just 5 feet away from me. I realize this isn’t reading about predator hunts — this is truly living it! The hog is right there!
I wait for my shot … and wait … and wait. I think that surely the hog at this point knows I’m there and that’s why it won’t turn so I can get a perfect shot. So I decide it’s now or never.
I pull the Barnett’s trigger ever so easily, not wanting to snatch and miss the shot. I watch the arrow leave the Jackal then watch the hog run away full speed. I don’t know if that’s good or bad news, but after nearly two hours of following the trail and exploring the woods in Avalon, I can assume the answer.
Trey and I don’t see a hog the following morning and the pressure really starts building, especially when I replay what happened the day prior. Following the first hunt, Rex, Trey and I watched the video Rex recorded. I sit in disbelief as I watch the hog trot 2 feet from me, never once knowing I was there. What an image to see. My first hog hunt, and it was that close!
The missed opportunity never leaves my mind after not seeing any hogs during the morning hunt of Day 2. We spend the day in Natchez and seeing the Vapor Trails Scents office.
Vapor Trails Scents came on the scene when Rex invented The Vapor Maker, a scent dispersal system. Rex has introduced many other scents and products, including lights, mounting kits and attractants, to the market, but none are more popular than 33 Point Buck. Some hunters don’t believe in repellents, but you can absolutely write me down as a believer after I watched a hog come within 2 feet of me and keep moving toward the feeder like I wasn’t there.
That late afternoon we head back to Avalon, private land outside Natchez that Rex frequently hunts. The land has plenty of critters, and my goal is to see some, specifically hogs.
Rex and I return to the spot of the unsuccessful morning hunt and Trey moves to a new spot where fresh hog sign is seen. I’m confident at least one of us will harvest a hog.
My experience of hunting from the ground did not continue after the first day, and I’ve also traded the Barnett Jackal for Rex’s T/C Encore Pro Hunter .308. As I sit in the treestand all I want is an opportunity — a chance at redemption.
The wait is brutal. I’m constantly thinking about how we can’t head back to Birmingham, Alabama, without some meat. All we need is to see some hogs.
Suddenly, it happens.
Out of the woods to my left trots four hogs. They go straight to the feeder and begin eating. I’m all business as I square up the .308 on the largest of the group. Rex whispers something that I don’t register. I respond, “I’m going for the that one.”
The shot is louder than expected, but that’s not a complaint. It was actually more of a thrill. I watch the sow run into the woods and hope today will be different. Tracking this hog doesn’t last more than 30 minutes and indeed is the ending in which we all hope.
The next morning, Trey and I pack up everything, including two YETI coolers full of meat, and headed back to Alabama with a story to tell. The story is a classic, one of redemption, but the prelude is unique — lying on the ground and hanging out with a hog.
Have you had a similar hunt or considered getting up close and personal with hogs? I’d love to discuss. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.