‘Twas the night before hunting, and all through the motel room…there was no silence, whatsoever. It was the eve of my 12-year-old daughter Grace’s first hog hunt, and the excitement level ranged between pitched and manic. We’d arrived in Yazoo City, Mississippi, after midnight, but that didn’t deter Grace from vibrating with anticipation as we unloaded the truck.
Prepping, Tween Style
Preparation technically began years earlier with carefully regimented gun-safety lessons and range time, but Grace’s interest in hogs was new. In the usual 21st-century-kid way, she’d spent hours perusing YouTube, watching endless footage of hapless hunters being charged, chased, and gored.
Despite reassurances these instances are the exception, not the rule, she was nervous. She’d been hunting before, but never for game with razor-sharp tusks and a bad attitude. We’d sit in an elevated stand for her first hog hunt, both to avoid apparently vengeful pigs and to gain a view of the country.
Checking the Rifles
After our late arrival, morning came fast. Grace donned her camo, applied every scent-blocking product in our arsenal, and squirmed impatiently while we adults got a much-needed coffee infusion. Guns needed to be zeroed, so we stopped at a range to shoot a few rounds. The side benefit was giving Grace trigger time with a few rifles she hadn’t tried before.
Grace settled in at the shooting bench as we eyed the sky. The weather report warned of a coming storm, and thunderclouds loomed on the horizon. She tucked the first rifle’s stock into her shoulder, took aim, and missed the target entirely.
The scope was so far off it wasn’t even on paper. Even so, she had it zeroed within a few shots. She moved to another gun as rain began to fall, but it was done: the rifles were zeroed, and it was go time.
The Waiting Game
After waiting out the storm, which fortunately passed quickly, we headed for the raised hunting blind that Jay Coleman, the property owner, called Peabody. Peabody had a wood frame and was accessed by a ladder that we climbed, lugging packs and guns. It had three windows, one per wall, with the fourth wall being taken up by the door.
There was enough room for two chairs that gave visual access to the windows, and space for another chair in back. During Grace’s time on a gun, that third chair would be occupied by the self-designated photographer/videographer/silent cheerleader—namely, me. Brian McCombie, who agreed to help guide Grace, took the seat to her right. Windows were raised, rifles were readied, and the waiting commenced.
Waiting, and the patience required with it, is something every big-game hunter is achingly familiar with. Sometimes the wait is punctuated by sightings of game either out of season or in the wrong spot for a clear shot, but sometimes it’s simply empty air. Grace filled the time scanning the fields with a binocular, at first becoming excited at the flashes of movement that turned out to be a variety of native birds, then settling in for the long haul.
Her pack contained spare magazines, a box of Remington Hog Hammer ammunition, a water bottle, a can of Coke, a candy bar or two, and other assorted junk food. A sizeable dent was made in her sugary stash by the time the sun began to set. Although she became concerned we wouldn’t see anything, I assured it was actually prime hog hunting time. Sure enough, as the sky became tinged with the tangerine orange and cornflower blue hues of a Mississippi sunset in summer, the action started.
The Three Little Pigs
Out the window to our left was a raised path several feet higher than the brush-heavy fields flanking it. The path was knee-high with Johnson grass, growth known for its deep-rooted attachment to the silty-clay earth of the Yazoo River region for which the city was named. Thanks to that grass the hogs almost managed to escape detection—almost.
Grace was using a Remington R25 GII chambered in .308 Win. The GII is a full pound lighter than its predecessor, and with a Hogue pistol grip and SuperCell recoil pad, it’s comfortable enough even for the slighter build and grip of a slim 12-year-old. Its camo finish helps you blend in, and it was about to prove its lethality.
The three pigs were similarly sized, and she took careful aim at the one in the middle. Although excited, she calmed herself enough to shoot by taking a few deep breaths before looking carefully through the Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 1.75-5X 32mm scope. There wasn’t time to waste; the path was only 10 feet wide and the pigs, whose backs and ears were barely visible, would disappear entirely once they crossed over.
She squeezed the trigger. Hog down!
Bringing Home the Bacon
After a moment’s pause, we made our way to the spot where the hog had fallen. Grace had made a clean 125-yard kill shot, dropping the boar where he’d stood.
Grace’s hog yielded nice ribs and around 40 pounds of meat for excellent sausage. But as good as the meat was, the memories for both of us are even better. Bringing up the next generation of hunters really is hog heaven.