It was nearing sunset when I happened to glance to my right. What I saw made my heart jump; at the end of the trail of peanuts, with its snout on the ground, stood a hog. I gathered my rifle and, slowly, laid it across the window of the stand. The hog was quartering sharply towards me. I placed the cross hairs of my Nightforce scope just behind the on-shoulder and squeezed the trigger. I was chambering a round as I came down out of the recoil from the 7mm Remington Magnum. The shot had flattened the hog, but just as I re-centered the animal in the scope’s field-of-vision, it struggled to its feet and staggered into the dense hardwood forest that bordered one side of the food plot. Before climbing out of the stand, I grabbed my headlamp for the trek into the rapidly-darkening forest.
First Night’s Arsenal – .475 Turnbull, 7mm Remington Magnum and a Manurhin in .357 Magnum – A bit of overkill?
Upon reaching the spot where the hog had been feeding, I was heartened to see a large splash of blood. Fortunately, the blood trail was easily followed into the dense stand of Saw Palmetto that made up most of the hardwood understory. I knew that I could/should wait for Woody or Jacob, but I was worried about losing my first hog. I didn’t need to worry. I followed the blood trail for only 25 steps before coming to the dark grey animal that had fallen in mid-flight. I used the barrel of my rifle to poke the animal’s rump. Producing no reaction with my prodding, I then moved around to the head and gently poked its already-glazing eye. Again, no reaction. Not relishing the idea of staying in the dark forest any longer than necessary, I grabbed one of the back feet and started dragging the hog toward the food plot. Needless to say, the 100-pound boar made quite an anchor, especially as it managed to catch on every Palmetto trunk in our path. One last heave deposited my trophy into the middle of the buggy track. Now I was able to enjoy the sights and smells of the sub-Tropical environment of the Georgia Gulf Coastal Plain. Yes, the mosquitoes and other insects were thick in my headlamp’s beam, but I really did not mind too much. The owners and staff of Gum Log Plantation had provided me the opportunity to overcome the long odds of harvesting a feral hog in the daytime.
Lest you think that I was unbelievably lucky to run across the only crepuscular hog that liked to eat his peanuts hot, I need to relate a bit more about my experience at Gum Log Plantation. During my day-and-a-half stay, I sat on three different stands. I saw hogs from two of the stands, including what looked like a large sow on the last night. The shot should have been an easy one to make, but I shot right over its back. I can argue that I was just trying to leave something for the next time I visit, but that would belie my colorful language as I watched it tear across the plot and crash into the forest! Likewise, the other two hunters, Darren and Will, saw hogs from both of the stands that they occupied; Darren harvested a boar of similar size to mine.
What is the point I am trying to make? Just this. There is a reason that most outfitters who go after feral hogs conduct their hunts after dark, using night-vision optics. Hogs are almost always nocturnal. Why, then, are daylight hunts at Gum Log Plantation so successful? I have a few observations that may or may not account for this success. First, Woody et al. bait, but so do many of the outfitters who rely on night-vision optics to help their hunters harvest their hogs.
But, at Gum Log, baiting occurs every day regardless of hunters being present or not. Second, the staff refuse to let hunters shoot from the buggies; they want the hogs to associate the buggy noise with food, not the disappearance of family and friends! (As an aside, Darren’s and my boars were covered in fat, with some of the fat being as much as 2/3rd of an inch thick. I am guessing that peanuts might be the cause…) Finally, Gum Log Plantation has a thriving population of feral hogs.
For those of you who desire to [successfully] hunt feral hogs, I would recommend a visit to Gum Log Plantation. If my experience is anything to go by, there is no ‘better’ time of the year to book your hunt. However, my intention is to see if I can convince the owners and staff to let me come down for a combination hog/whitetail hunt this coming Fall. I’ll let you know if they are willing to take me back!