John's Journal...


My Connection with the Wild Boar

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: The Chickasawhay River swamp in Greene County, Mississippi, may have one of the oldest populations of feral pigs in the nation. The area has no record of a time when this river-bottom swamp hasn't homed hogs. Fences and property lines never have bound the free spirits of these feral hogs like the wild boars of old. They roam at will, foraging for food, hiding out in the big cane thickets and briar patches along the edges of the river bank and wreaking havoc on croplands by night. Hunters with packs of hounds and live traps and sportsmen with rifles and bows never have eliminated these free-roaming pigs. They have become as much a part of the land as the earth itself.

When I made the decision to bag the young black hog, I pulled my bow to full draw without making a conscious effort. I locked into my shooting position. I saw the hog turn broadside as I looked through the peep sight. At that instant, an eerie, ghostlike feeling overcame me. My body, mind and spirit seemed transported to another time and place. I didn't realize at what moment I touched the trigger on my release. My bow felt so much a part of my body that taking the shot seemed more natural than breathing. In less than a heartbeat, I launched my arrow. For the first time in my life, I could see a shaft moving in slow motion. Even though I was shooting a speed bow, my arrow seemed to travel at the same speed as an arrow shot from a longbow. I felt as though an eternity had passed between the time of the arrow's release and the 120-grain broadhead's impact. I never had seen an arrow fly a straighter path or a hit a target more perfectly.

Click to enlargeThe hog took the arrow. Half the shaft with its green fletchings remained outside the hog's shoulder. I knew I had made a good hit when the pig lurched sideways. As I watched the hog run across the grassless bottom and into the woodlot on the other side of the old slough bed, I had an out-of-body sensation. Ancient eyes seemed to replace mine. I became keenly aware of the kinship I now had with the archers of old, the Europeans who built bows of yew and other traditional woods and whose very existence depended not only on their hunting prowess but also their skills with longbows and swift shafts.

I realized that in centuries past the hog I just had arrowed represented food for a family of four for two weeks or longer. In the act of bagging the hog, I relived the execution of the survival skills so essential to my forefathers in Wales when they too hunted hogs. As the buckskinners of today feel a kinship with the mountain men of old when they don their hairless hides, I too experienced that same sense of history and heritage in this split second of time. I heard the hog stir in the leaves and then only silence. With a mystical mood in the air, I stood motionless with my bow in my hand, oblivious of time, space and the event that had occurred. Yet, I felt strangely comforted and more in touch with my identity than at any other time in my life. But I finally realized if I didn't come out of the tree soon, I wouldn't have enough light left to recover the hog. After I lowered my bow out of the water oak tree, I slowly and methodically worked the tree stand to the base of the tree. I turned on my flashlight. Instead of looking for blood, I walked straight to the spot where I expected to locate the hog. But in the darkness, I failed to find the pig. I had searched for about five minutes when Taylor drove up on his 4-wheele and inquired, "Did you get him, John?"

Click to enlarge"Yeah, I'm sure I did," I answered. "I made a solid hit, and I heard the pig fall. But I just can't find him." "Let's go back to the place you took the shot," Lee suggested as he turned on his flashlight. We walked back to the small dip in the ground where the hog had stood when I released the arrow. When I reached the spot, I saw the blood trail. The trail led us across the bottom to the edge of the hardwoods on the other side. About 10 yards into the wood-line, the blood trail went beside a fallen tree and stopped there. The hog could have turned and run under the tree, gone straight or moved to the open woods on the right.

"You stay here, John, and let me circle," Taylor said. Taylor walked 10 yards to the end of the fallen tree before circling to the left and announcing, "here's your pig, John. You made a good hit." The arrow had penetrated the hog's shoulder, gone straight through his heart and exited out his chest. The black pig weighed 72 pounds, making it a fine meat hog. As I grabbed the leg of the porker to help Taylor drag it back to the 4-wheeler, I once more experienced a supernatural sensation of another time and place. Then I snapped back into the present. I loaded my pig on the 4-wheeler atop the nice hog Lee had taken earlier in the afternoon.

Click to enlargeRiding out of the woods, I asked Taylor, "how long have hogs lived here?" "They've been in this vicinity longer than anyone can remember," Taylor explained. "I guess they came over with the early settlers to this part of the country, and they allowed the pigs to roam free. Even when the fence laws were enacted in the early 1900s, farmers never could round up all the hogs. I imagine the bloodlines of these pigs can be traced all the way back to hogs in Europe."


Check back each day this week for more about HOG HUNTING FOREVER

Day 1: My Mississippi Hog Hunt
Day 2: My Connection with the Wild Boar
Day 3: My Hog Discovery
Day 4: What About Hogs
Day 5: More About Hogs



Entry 299, Day 2