There’s hogs at the Buster place!!!!!
That’s all it takes. A call from Jimmy saying that to get us fired up and figurin’ out how soon we can get schedules together and head south for a weekend of hog huntin’, fine eats, stimulating conversation .. and .. “refreshments”.
The “Buster Place” is a farm Jimmy has where he raises cattle and bermuda grass hay. Wild hogs get in his pastures and hay fields and tear the heck out of things, so Jimmy likes us to come down and get rid of the hogs. Jimmy and his buddy, Buddy, like to ride and hunt so we bring the dogs to provide the entertainment. The old one story house has become a cabin with bunk beds, shower, kitchen, wood stove and eatin’ room and they have really nice pens for our mules.
The Buster Place is the only place we have to hunt where we can wake up, saddle up and go catch a hog!! Trucks get shut off when we pull in on Friday and don’t start again until we leave on Sunday.
It’s as good as it gets for a “Yankee”, as they call me, that really likes to chase hogs. Quite a lot of that ‘conversation’ revolves around the differences in how we talk. “Hogs are traveling more because the ice storm really hurt the “akerns” this year”. Acorns are one of the main foods for wild hogs and being from Iowa, the “Tall Corn State”, I questioned them as to what they call that yellow stuff farmers grow. “Corn”, they said. “O.K. then why is corn called corn and acorns are akerns?” (one syllable). They used the “Y” word to explain that some folks from northern regions can’t talk right. Their point was further proven when I asked how long it takes the water to go back down after a big rain and they, very helpfully, explained to me that the water was running by in a “CREEK” not a crick, as I put it. These fellas are AMAZINGLY good cooks and feed us like kings when we’re there. Supper always includes piles of “taters” and Jimmy is a master at “bringin’ back” the leftover taters for breakfast the next morning along with biscuits and gravy, a huge pile of bacon and eggs as you like them. Coffee gets started around 5:00AM and we’re normally worn out and asleep by 8:30 PM.
We got there about 1:00 on Friday. Jimmy had called when we were about an hour away and told us it had rained 3 ½ inches the night before and had just stopped at 10 AM, so we figured there wouldn’t be any hunting that afternoon as hogs are usually out feeding at night and any sign or scent would have washed away.
We decided to go out for a short hunt after we got there and proved that we sure enough knew what we were talking about when we thought it would be a waste of time!! We had a great ride though. It’s great country to ride in filled with timber, bluffs and really rocky. They have been doing some logging around there and we were amazed of how horrible it looks when they get done. They sure don’t clean up very much. It has obviously been going on for some time as parts of the country, “clear cut” as they call it has been logged a few years ago and left alone and now is a thicket of 1” trees 15’ tall, 8 or 12 inches apart and brush that is almost impassable. There is one are of clear cut that is older and those trees are 2 – 3 inches across and really is nearly impassable for a person, let alone a mule. Of course, hogs LOVE it!!!!
We were setting around outside after we got back and someone thought they saw a hog way out in the pasture. Jimmy’s cows were grazing around and we could see … something way out there. It was finally decided that it was a coyote. I had my old (1954) Winchester 30-30, so I told Cole to take it and get the coyote. We all watched Cole sneak out across the pasture and get about 125 – 150 yards from the coyote. We saw him pull the rifle up and shoot. “He got it!!” “Great shot” we were all surprised. That’s a heck of a shot with a 30-30!!
Jimmy is always nervous, “the pressure is on” as he puts it, until we get a hog. When we were eating supper that night Buddy told me “If you were to write a story about this, be sure to mention that ‘Waddle’ let us down!! We didn’t find a hog today!”
I heard Jiggs turn on the coffee pots about 5:00 AM Saturday. Me an’ Bones were sleeping on the lower bunk and Jiggs above us. We had heard Jiggs tossing and turning for quite a while before he finally got up. I wasn’t too crazy about getting up yet as the “refreshment” part of the Buster Place was working on my head a little, so me an’ Bones rolled over and went back to sleep. We finally got up around 6:00 when everyone else was rousting out. Bones wasn’t ready to get up yet, but decided to get up since everyone else was. (They also tease me about a hog dog sleeping with me!!!)
A big breakfast and we were off!!
Buddy was sure to point out, “Waddle, the pressure is STILL on until we got a hog! Tim, remember that for ‘the story’.”
We headed out and the dogs hit a hog right away. We headed after them. When we got to the ‘crick’ it was running full, fast and wide from all the rain the day before. We had a couple of 6 month old pups with us and they weren’t too crazy about crossing, but they soon got across. Bones and Loren’s dogs, Smoke and Snapper were working and working trying to figure out where the heck them hogs went. They were in the ‘clear cut’, back out, back in and we were trying to decide the best route to get to them. That stuff is so darn thick that we tried to find a way around it, but finally decided we better get to the dogs, so we headed up a timbered ‘holler’, and into that thicket.
I was leading on Mercedes, a 12 yr. old mule I am selling for a friend and this was my 1st hog hunting trip on her. She is been a really nice, quiet mule, but I hadn’t had her in anything like this. It got so thick I had to take my feet out of the stirrups, let them drag back beside her flanks, hold the butt of my 30-30 (I carry it in a scabbard, butt to the front beside her neck) so it didn’t get caught, duck my head and give her head to her so she could pick her way through. If you’ve been in this kinda stuff you know what I’m talking about. It’s passable, but not too fast and not too much fun!
The dogs worked and worked, found the track, then lost it, found it again, then we came out in a clear pasture with a bunch of cows, some with new calves, and the dogs lost the track. We were glad to get them called back and get away from the cows. The last thing we want is to have, or cause, problems with someone’s livestock.
In retrospect, I think the hog, or hogs, had been quite a while ahead of us and had went into and through the cattle and the dogs lost the trail in amongst the cows.
“Tim, remember ….. 10:30 and ‘Waddle’ hasn’t found us a hog!!” Buddy said.
We decided to head over to different area, but we had to go back through the thicket to do that. Loren was leading, then Cole, then me and all the others behind us. Loren and I talked about it and decided the shortest way out was to go down through a ‘holler’, or ‘draw’ (that’s yankee talk) and we headed down. It got steeper and steeper. Loren was probably 15’ to 20’ in front of me, but he was also half that far below me with Cole in the middle. Then we got into some vines. You know those vines? They are an inch or so across, in the trees and brush and on the ground, alive and tough as heck ….. Loren was making a switch back and was only 6 or 7 feet away from me, but down that much or more and he asked if everyone was still coming. I could see Jiggs behind me, but it was too thick to see anyone else. I commented on how good Mercedes was doing on this ‘trail’ he had picked out and joked that he might want to do a little more tree trimming as he went along. Cole made the switchback and as he did I saw his mule pick up a vine in her back legs as she slid down the 3 or 4 feet, the vine raised up off the ground then she drug her back leg out of it. I wondered if Mercedes could get across it since they had raised it up, but there wasn’t any getting around it, so… down we slid! By the time we were halfway down the slide I knew I had ‘issues’. The vine came up around my right leg and I could tell it was somewhere under or around her front end, but it was too steep to tell where it was. Mercedes stopped, held by the vine, calm as could be. I asked her to back up, but she couldn’t. It would be like backing up a wall in your house. I turned to Jiggs, behind me and said, “I’ve got some great big trouble here! If she tries to go, or gets panicky … I’m gone!” I had to switch back as it was too steep to go straight down, even if we could get out of the vine …. What to do???? I kept talking to Mercedes; even though she was relaxed as could be (I was anything but relaxed!!). I tried breaking the vine but it was too tight and too green to break…. I carry a Leatherman Super Tool and I remembered it has a saw on it, so I dug it out and, hanging on that steep slide, sawed the vine in two. Me an’ Mercedes just headed on down to the bottom, no worse for wear. I got to the bottom and told Loren “Now I REALLY like this mule!”
We made another big circle and hadn’t seen any hog sign at all. “It’s 12:30 and ‘Waddle’ hasn’t found us a hog!!” Buddy commented.
Maybe 10 minutes later we were headed up a steep hill and Bones and Smoke took off up over a bluff. Half a minute later Bones opened (barked) and all the other dogs took off after them. Kevin was in the lead. He hunts a lot and knows the area. He said there was a spot a little ahead we could get up over the bluff. The bluff wasn’t high, maybe 20 feet, but shear rocks. Kevin found a spot to go up, but it was covered with loose flat rocks from plate size down. Kevin started up on his 17h mule ‘Bob’ and Bob’s feet went down into the rocks and he kinda sat down and started to go over backwards. Kevin stepped off and got Bob around and we started going up. I stepped off of Mercedes and told Cole, ahead of me, to catch her when she got there and grabbed her by the tail so she could help me get up. Everyone got to the top and we could hear that they had the hog bayed!!!
We took off and they were only 300 or 400 yards away. I have to mention that Buddy was in front of me and as we made a corner around a hickory tree, he got his hat tore off with a branch and got a beauty of a fat lip!!! We got to the hog, Richie in the lead (the 1st guy to touch the hog is a big deal to the younger guys … not so for us older fellas) and he and Cole got him killed. The big boar was under a cedar tree with dogs all over him so a gun was out of the question, so Cole stuck him with his knife while Richie held the hogs back legs!!!! He wasn’t an old hog, but a big one and fat as a butterball. We guessed him at 400 lbs.!! There are bigger hogs, but this one weighed a lot.
“Hey Waddle, the pressure is off!!!” Buddy said.
Now …. I wouldn’t hear the end of it if I left out the part of the weekend when I got on ‘Crow’ my personal mule, Sunday morning. He’s a 16h 1200# mule. I had gotten on him to take off, but then decided to do some gear changing on my dogs. I went to get back on him and … well between the 30-30 under my leg, his 16h and a number of other things including the fact that I’m getting’ old and weigh toooo much, I stabbed him in the rear with my spur as I threw my leg over. So, while 6 or 7 guys set there within 20 feet watching, he tucked his head and jumped around for ‘what seemed like quite a while’. I stayed on …. one stirrup and all … raking him with my spurs every time he jumped. I wear a strap, an ‘O …. Crap … handle’, on my saddle to help stay on in this kind of situation, but didn’t get ahold of it. Someone asked if I was hitting the saddle horn, and I wasn’t, but I was as close as you can get. Darn sure as close as I wanted to be!!!
We are all looking forward to the next time Waddle call and says, “there’s hogs at the Buster place again!!!!”