“The Perfect Hog Hunt”
Me and “Bones” left for Missouri on Saturday morning, December 27 and it was nasty in southern Iowa. Freezing rain had started falling around 6:00 and it was already 1/8” thick on the car by 8:00. I had taken “Mustang Millie”, our Daughter’s mule, to my buddy Loren Basham’s in Belle, MO a few weeks ago so I could drive Sheila’s little 38 mpg Cavalier when I go hog hunting and I wanted to get further south and out of the ice as soon as possible. 10 minutes south and the road was wet, not icy. Our winter has been horrible already and things were looking up!!
I usually drive a 3500, 4 door, Chevy diesel and me and Bones feel like we are riding a roller skate when we take the little car, but filling up the tank for $15.00 is great!! The car is small, but there is room for our gear in the trunk and Bones can ride comfortably in the back seat.
Bones is my 7 yr. old Catahoula and he is a HOGDOG Son-of-a-gun!! I got him in Arkansas in the wintertime and I felt guilty subjecting him to winter in Iowa, so I moved him into the garage in a kennel so he wouldn’t freeze to death and he never had “an accident” at all and to make a long story short ……… he soon became a HOUSEDOG!! He sleeps every night right next to our bed. Sheila doesn’t understand because at home there isn’t a growl or snap in him, at anything. I dropped an egg one day and Bones shared it with i a kitten, then he will catch a hog!!
We got down to Loren’s, sat around and told a lie or 2 (Bones doesn’t lie), then went and had a good steak and hit the hay early.
3:19 AM Loren opened the trailer door with a cup of coffee and let Bones out. I got dressed, caught up Millie and got her saddled. A bunch of other Iowans or “Yankees” as Loren puts it came down to hunt and they showed up about then. DeWayne, Terry, Charlie and Pastor Chuck caught up their mules they had put in Loren’s arena and saddled up. We waited and waited for Steve and Jeff to finally show up (4:15) and we were off!!
A good cup of coffee in Rolla, breakfast at McDonalds in Ava and we were unloading and gearing up by 8:00 and headed out in a crisp, still, 24 degree morning. The frost was thick and as we dropped down into a “holler” the frost came and went depending on the thickness of the woods. We all got lined out and headed out with much anticipation.
I have a GPS tracking system with 2 collars and we had them on Bones and Loren’s tracking dog Snapper. We have also been running one of Loren’s tracking collars on Bones in case they get too far for the GPS system and he runs one of his on Tom, his Blackmouth Cur catch dog. I really like this system. It points the direction where the dogs are and tells you how far out they are.
We had only gone a half hour or so when Bones opened once. A cold trail! Very cold. It was 10 or 15 minutes before we heard from him again. I would call Bones “semi-silent”. When running a trail he will open (bark) every couple of minutes and he has a pretty cold nose. Not like a cold nosed ol’ hound, maybe, but a pretty cold nose. We knew it was a cold trail as there weren’t any tracks in the frost, so the hogs had to have been ahead of that. Snapper was running around acting like she could smell the hogs and she opened once 5 minutes or so after Bones did, which is unusual as she is silent and doesn’t say anything ‘til she bays. At this point it “felt” like something good was going to happen.
Bones opened a couple of times, moving on. I looked at my GPS tracker and he was 315 yds. out, Snapper 312 yds. We had to get going!! The thing about hog hunting is when the hogs and dogs get together there is a chance that the dogs could get hurt, so we try to get to the bay ASAP. What that means is that you have to keep up with the dogs. If the dogs are going fast, you need to go pretty fast …… and we did!!!
Extended trot, slow lope … Bones 425 yds. Snapper 418 yds. ………
We hit a trail, slow lope, mud hole, creek, fast lope …. Bones 310 yds. Snapper 300 yds.
Look behind, everyone here????? …. Maybe??……… Go again!!!
Off into the brush, thick brush, circle around a hill, back to the trail ….. Bones 485 yds Snapper 475 yds.
Bones is opening every 2 or 3 minutes, just like he’s supposed to ….. COOL!!
Down the trail again … loping, another creek … whacked in the face by a branch …OUCH!!
Going, going … Bones 350 Snapper 347
We stop on the trail …. GPS says they are 200 yds. away from the trail … Doesn’t look like they’re moving ….. maybe a bay??!!
A big hill in front of us. Everyone here?? Off through the brush … it thins out … We can see where the hogs have been “rooting” around. 1st we’ve seen of any hog sign … they are bayed!!! 50 or 100 yds. away they have 3 hogs bayed!!!!!
This is where the video starts if you go 'back'. It's kinda hard to see, (we're just learning) but you can see what we're doing if you look you can see the 3 hogs bayed with dogs running around them, then they break, with Bones after one, then to Loren in the water :-)
This is very cool, 3 dogs have 3 pretty big hogs bayed and keep them there while we get off our mules and stand in awe, watching. THIS IS HOG HUNTING!!
What do we do now?? 3 dogs circling, how do we shoot?
About that time Tom (Loren’s catch dog) dives in and the hogs take off. 3 hogs, 3 dogs, 3 directions!!
I’m going with Bones!!! He heads down the holler and the other dogs come to him and they catch the hog in the creek!! The best part is that Loren wades the creek to help out and gets his feet wet!!!! Aww!! (I ‘m really glad he did it so I wouldn’t have to … but he’s younger and more resilient!!!)
As we were heading back to the truck I told Loren, “If we were smart we would probably quit hunting right now, ‘cause I don’t know how we could have a better hunt.
We had great weather, great friends, IDEAL conditions for the dogs to track, a great race of 2 or 3 miles, a TRAIL to go down for a good part of it, a great bay with 3 hogs, 3 dogs, got a nice hog, nobody hurt ………THE PERFECT HUNT!!!!
The GPS said Bones had gone 11.84 miles when we got back to the truck, at 12:30.
Fellas … it doesn’t get any better than this!!