Josh and I just returned from an AMAZING weekend in South Carolina. We headed down on Friday with two of our friends, Tim and Kyle, and met Adam there that night. Deer season is open down there, and unlike PA you can use a rifle or a bow to harvest a deer. As usual, my main goal was to see some of my stinky friends....and this trip was no exception. But I am getting ahead of myself, so I will start from the beginning. We headed out early Saturday morning, dropping the boys off at various stands around the property. Josh and I headed to the other side of the road to sit in the graveyard stand. We sat all morning and saw a few deer, but not the deer (or hogs) we were looking for. Tim and Kyle both harvested hogs-and to say I was jealous would be an understatement. Don't get me wrong, I was excited for them, but Kyle had harvested an oreo sow and that color is at the top of my list. We got cleaned up from our morning hunt and then introduced Tim to the greatest bar-b-que in the south....Lester's! Delicious as usual, I was put into a pork coma and took a glorious nap until it was time to head out for our evening hunt.
I decided that I wanted to sit solo in the ditch stand because I have had amazing luck with piggly wigglys in that stand. I packed my backpack with my most important hunting accessories: Blackberry, snacks, snake defense-The Judge, Kodak cam, and of course my 243 (or 234, but that is another story). Josh drove me over in the ranger and I climbed up and took a look around so I could mark my range. Unfortunately, I all could see were branches. The trees around the stand had grown over the past few months, and I did not have a clear shot from any angle. Time for a quick change of plans. Josh put me in the pine cone stand on the other side of the road since I was still interested in sitting solo. Low chance of seeing hogs, but better chance of getting a deer. I got myself situated and within five minutes realized I was bored. The stand Josh was sitting was no farther than around the corner, but I knew that if I even stepped around that corner to sit with him, and spooked a deer for him I'd be in big trouble. So I sat tight and tried to make shapes from the clouds. About thirty minutes later I saw my first animal...a fox! First one I have ever seen and my fancy new binoculars allowed me to enjoy him in all his furry glory. Then, I noticed a rustling down one of the lanes. Way too small to be a deer....not fat enough to be a hog...yep...an armadillo! I know they drive hunters crazy because they are so noisy for being so small, but I think they are hysterical to watch. He was burrowing under the cut grass and then flinging it into the air as he moved along. That little guy entertained me for a good hour.
Eventually it began to get darker, and a few deer came into the field. There is a heavy trail to the right of my stand that opened up to the field in front of me. Josh assured me that I could shoot anywhere in that field. I then realized that I had no clue what I was doing. Hunting hogs by myself is one thing, but deer is another. I am just beginning to learn how to age deer, so when the first doe stepped out I got a little nervous. I thought that she was a good sized doe, but I really have no idea. (For you non-hunters. You want to shoot older deer, not babies. The bigger the deer the older it is. I know to use clues like if their belly dips down to help age them, but deer in SC are smaller in general than PA deer so it gets a little trickier.) So I used my reasoning skills from college and waiting until another deer came out so that I could compare. An adorable cow spiked buck came out next and then another doe. I could tell that the first doe was bigger, so I took aim. Deep breath in...deep breath out. I fired. I missed. Unfortunately I didn't realize I missed until Josh and I spent thirty minutes in the dark with flashlights looking for signs of a hit. I was bummed, but that is the way hunting goes. I learned a valuable lesson that I am NOT ready to deer hunt solo.
The next morning Josh let me pick my location...clearly I chose the ditch (he had headed out on the tractor super late the night before to clear shooting lanes for me-BEST FIANCE EVER). I was thrilled that he was choosing to sit with me. The ditch is a great hog stand...good for deer too, but not his favorite. We had trail cam pictures that showed hogs in that area around 7AM. (I'll post some of those trail cam pictures later because we got some really neat pictures of hogs, coyotes, racoons and armadillos). He was selflessly giving up his deer hunt that morning to get me a pig (if that isn't true love I don't know what is).
For those of you who do not know, I love pigs. More than deer, more than turkeys, more than any other animal that is legal to hunt. I could hunt pigs day and night. I think they are not only hysterical to watch, but tasty to eat. I get excited when I see them on trial cam pictures and when I hear that they have been in the area. To get specific, an oreo colored boar is my life goal. Time and time again, the boareo (oreo boar-thanks Jarrid) has eluded me. Josh and I were chatting and as I glanced to my right, I noticed a black spot in the road. That was not a deer. Binoculars confirmed my first thoughts. It was an oreo colored hog (at this point we didn't know if it was a boar or a sow). My entire hunting career flashed before my eyes. THIS was what I had been wanting for the past three years. Missing this hog would be devastating. I slowly pulled up my 243 and took aim...
...to be continued. Sorry :o)