John's Journal...


My Hog Discovery

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.

Click to enlarge"Although we harvest about 20 hogs per year, the biggest hog we've ever taken weighed around 300 pounds," Taylor mentioned. "The hogs' numbers never seem to dwindle. But we don't hunt them every day -- usually just on weekends during archery season. However, we can hunt hogs all year in Mississippi, and we have no limit on the number we can take. Although many farmers would like the hogs wiped out because of the crops they destroy, my family thinks the hogs are heirs to the land as much as we are." We returned to the camp, gutted the hogs and hung them in the cooler. The next morning, we skinned and butchered them before I left camp.

Click to enlargeAs soon as I arrived home, an unknown force seemed to guide me to take the meat to a friend who owned a barbecue restaurant and ask him to roast the pig over the flames in the open pit where he generally cooked his meat in the same ancient way people cooked hogs many years ago, before they had electricity and modern cooking devices. I experienced some strange emotions again when I arrived home and walked up the steps to my bedroom. As I looked to my left, I saw the Phillips' family coat of arms hanging in our hallway. I'd passed that wall plaque many times but never really studied it. Many families have coats of arms, and some families have researched their histories and genealogies carefully. But a friend had given me the Phillips' family coat of arms as a Christmas present. I'd simply hung it on the wall, not giving it much thought. When I looked at my coat-of-arms plaque, I saw a black boar's head above the shield. The shield had four sections with the first and fourth panels bearing three boars' heads each. Panels two and three each had a cross with four V-shaped objects known as pheons or broadheads on them.

Click to enlargeNow everything I had felt on the day of my hog hunt made sense. Apparently, my family came from an ancient lineage of Welshmen who hunted hogs with swift bows and sharp broadheads for centuries. The Phillips' family immortalized this form of food gathering on their coat of arms for all to see and for future generations to understand the importance to the family's of taking wild swine with swift shafts. I believe when I drew my bow on that young black boar, I relived the hunt of another Phillips in a time and place when his family's survival depended on successful boar hunting with a bow and arrow. When I released the arrow to take the hog, my spirit rode the shaft with my kinsman's whose very existence depended on his taking a wild boar. Bowhunting wild hogs now is more than a sport to me. It provides a link for me with my ancestors and a re-association with a family tradition and way of hunting so important to my family that my Welsh forefathers preserved it forever on our coat of arms. I was born to hunt hogs with a bow.


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 3