Hunter’s luck may sometimes be good or bad. In this instance I had RFD (Rural Free Delivery) of a wild hog which fed its way into my back yard in time to be cornered by my dogs and taken by a Woodman Arms .50 caliber muzzleloading rifle. That particular rifle had completed Georgia’s nearly six-months-long deer and turkey seasons without a kill. As an outdoor writer, I shoot almost every different piece of game with a different gun. When a maker sends me a gun it is with the understanding that I will test it, with the hopeful culmination that I use it on a successful hunt. It was past time that the Woodman rifle needed to have some dead game on the ground.
The rifle had been carried on more than a dozen hunts on my farm and also on a trip to Florida in hopes of taking a deer, hog or wild turkey. I liked the way the 6-pound rifle carried. In order to retain its favorable carrying characteristics, I had equipped it with a Red Dot sight that weighed only three ounces. This combination resulted in a fast-acting rifle that was perfectly sighted for my usual close-in shooting, which is often in thick cover at under 30 yards. This sight is also adequate for game out to 100 yards, should I have such an opportunity. Despite many hunts in two states, I could not put any legal game that I was willing to shoot in front of the gun.
A small doe had provided an early opportunity for the Woodman rifle early in Georgia’s muzzleloading season, but I hit the animal badly because the stock loosened on the mile walk into the stand. I finished this animal off with my 1858 Remington percussion revolver and made a repair on the stock. From then on, it was like the gun was jinxed. I just could not see any game to take, despite many hours spent in some of the best game country in the Southeast.
Because wild hogs may be taken on private land any time of year and without limit in Georgia, I had kept the two guns I had prepped for the 2017-18 hunting season loaded. I prep two guns each season so I have a back-up gun, should I have a mechanical failure while on a hunt. One gun was the Woodman Arms with its repaired stock and the other was a Markesbery .50-caliber muzzleloader from the 1980s that had the same barrel length, but was a pound heavier with its iron sights. I had also done a repair on the cracked fore-end of the Markesbery by fitting steel reinforcing rods in the fore-end and a new desert ironwood fore-end cap.
To simplify loading I the 209-primed Marksbery, I used 90 grains of Blackhorn 209 and a 250 grain copper Markesbery copper (bronze) Beast Buster bullet which had a very deep hollow point. In the Markesbery rifle I used a no. 11 percussion cap in the out-of-line ignition system and 90 grains of Old Eynsford FFg Black Powder and a 295 grain Power Belt bullet. The heavier Markesbery with its larger stock was the more comfortable gun to shoot, and I also liked that I could silent-cock the external hammer. Silent cocking is important when you may have hogs only a few feet away. I had every reason to expect that both guns would be equally effective on hogs and deer.
Getting my Hovey’s Knives of China products ready for the International Blade Show in Atlanta consumed a lot of my hog hunting time after the close of turkey season. In previous years I had often hunted them in June. One year I took six at one time and on another occasion I killed one that weighed over 200 pounds under June’s blue moon.
The day I shot the hog I was working on rebuilding a Dexter boning knife. This had been a dirty, knife with a heavily stained grip. I had ground the grip away and replaced it with one made of rosewood designed to fit a large hand. This grip, like many of my knives, is designed to rest upright on the table with the blade clear of the surface. It also thickens towards the palm and has a thumb rest. This was one of the knives I was hoping to finish for the Blade
My work was interrupted by loud, insistent barking from Hera, my white Lab-Sheppard mix, and my half-dog Fred. Fred is a mixed breed with some Lab, Sheppard and hound. I call him a half-dog because of the time-share arrangement that I have with his owners who live nearly two-miles away. Fred is spooked by thunder, storms and gunfire. When he thinks a summer thunderstorm might be approaching, he comes to my house for shelter. This is no real problem. He is welcomed, fed, watered and comforted. He also provides a playmate for Hera and acts as effectively as a guard dog for my house as he does for his own.
When you live with dogs, you know from the tone and persistence of the barking episode when something serious is happening. I thought that they had found a 7-foot black snake that I had scooted off my back porch the day before and went out to rescue the snake. What I saw was a medium-sized hog standing under one of my pecan trees being confronted by the two dogs. The hog was not too much disturbed by the dogs. I went inside the house, retrieved the Woodman rifle, made sure it had a primer on the barrel and returned to the yard.
Although there was nothing that might be called a chase, the dogs and hog had moved about 30 yards from where I first saw them. I had to shoot while I had a clear shot before it stepped back into the briers and timber. I turned on the Red Dot sight, took the safety off the gun and aimed low on the neck to pass the bullet transversely through the hog. When I fired the hog went down instantly. Good thing too, as I had no reloads with me, although I did grab my 1858 Remington Sheriff’s Model and stuff it in my belt as I walked out the door.
In a very few seconds the hog was dead. Surprisingly Fred, the thunder and gun-shy dog, was interested enough to stay around. Hera cautiously sniffed the hog, but Fred would not approach it closer than 10 yards. He obviously wanted nothing to do with it. Good thing too, because that 125-pound sow outweighed them both. That is the reason that the hog did not run. It was confident that It could take on both dogs and win, should they be so stupid as to attack it. Although I tried to get the dogs to pose with “their hog,” they would not. The best photo that I could get was a picture of them sitting in the seat of my truck when I took Fred home before I started cleaning on the hog.
I thought it fitting that I use the boning knife I was working on to clean the sow. I also took advantage of my RFD hog to test out my Aspen Leaf Skinner and Billy Joe Rubideoux Rib Chopper. The Skinner has a leaf-shaped blade with two cutting surfaces, palm swell, flat-topped grip and an unusually long grip. The Rib Chopper was forged from a lawnmower blade, has a pipe grip and a hook to help handle meat. I will admit that my Rib Chopper would make any New Guinea Head Hunter proud, but it use is purely culinary. Both the skinning blade and the rib chopper worked fine, but the one-pin attachment allowed by the single hole in the boning knife’s tang allowed the blade to swing upward in the rosewood grips, threatening to break out of the grip scales.
The field testing on this hog allowed me to identify this problem with the boning knife, detach the scales, install another pin and correct the problem. All of these actions regarding testing the knives and working up the hog are recorded in my YouTube video, “Backyard Adventures with Hog, Hera and the Half-Dog Fred.” Just as our ancestors did when they settled this part of Georgia in the 1790s, one has to be ready for the unexpected. Sometimes these happenings are adverse advents, but on other occasions they may be beneficial.