Feeling Lucky, Punk? Handguns, Hogs and the MIssissippi Delta

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What was supposed to be a non-typical deer hunt quickly turned into something completely different.  Non-typical because we were hunting with handguns in the pursuit of a bit more challenge than the usual shoulder mounted deer rifle and big end scope.  Turns out for a few minutes another quarry in the woods may have been stalking us.

Long before tactical hunting techniques took hold, I was out of my tree stand walking an old river road along the Chickasawhay River in George County north of Leakesville on land owned by the family of a best friend Charlie Garretson then of Hattiesburg and now of Ellisville.  Charlie neglected to brief me on the other wild game prowling this spooky river swampland timber.

A noisy ruckus came beside the road off to the right in the thick of a thicket.  Then a small animal with a long snout busted out of the cover.  Then another and another came out until eight were standing there in the road twenty yards from me doing the stare down.  Some were brown, black, mottled, spotted, and rust colored.  They were piglets.  Cute I thought at just that moment.  I dropped to one knee to get a better look on their level.

As you SHWAT hunters have learned well in advance of me, stealth is the password when it comes to tactical hog hunting.  It’s hard to play stealth in an open roadway when your hulk tips the scales at 225.  Kind of like trying to hide a B-1 bomber behind an Apache, the profile sort of inevitably sticks out in the open.  Hence often comes the sudden urgency of hog hunting.

A low guttural moan uttered from the bushes next coming from the same cover where the small pigs had just exited.  Every hair on the nape of my neck was standing at full attention.  The bushes moved apart as the coal black shadow evolved into view.  All I thought at the sight of it was “wow”.  It was the first mega wild hog I had ever seen in the woods.  It must have gone 300 pounds easy.

I drew my Smith and Wesson 29 with the intention of sending a 44 Magnum, 240 grain jacketed soft point into the vitals of that sow hog.  Funny thing was that momma sow had not yet discovered my presence, though I was knee down right in the middle of the same road where she stood.  I was thinking, “is this your lucky day…..well, is it punk”?  That was foolhardy on my part.  If only I’d had some tactical classes under my belt to back that up!

I fixated on the sow, but my peripheral vision detected the little ones moving off to my left.  They walked right into my scent trail that was blowing that direction.  When the two met, all heck broke loose.  The piglets scattered like ants when their hill is stepped on.  The hackles on that sow’s back went up about the time I thumbed back the hammer on my Dirty Harry Special.

She bolted and I blasted.  Both her hide and my bullet vanished into thin air.  There is no adequate way to describe how quickly all this transpired.  I only wish I could have seen the look on my own face.  When I relayed to whole story to Charlie he just busted out laughing.  I’ve kept that hog encounter episode alive in my memory bank for a very long time.

Well, after all, impromptu tactical hog hunting is better than no hog hunting at all!

Big Delta Hogs

Everything grows better and bigger in the Mississippi Delta.  That includes cotton, soybeans, corn, other row crops, snakes and catfish.  The fertile black gumbo soil also grows tremendous deer, big bodied turkeys, and hulk hogs.  In fact, now there are way too many hulk hogs roaming farmlands in the Delta.  Reports of habitat damage are rampant.

Their destructive rooting behavior is wrecking havoc on farming land and wildlife habitat all across the Delta.  Besides putting their plow snouts into the ground tearing up the soil leaving rutted trails everywhere, they can also devoir crops at a fast pace.  Area farmers are not the least bit happy about any of it.  Thus an increase in the interest to hunt hogs in the Delta is ever expanding.

Norris OutfittersSome hog hunting outfitting businesses have even started booking pay hunts for hogs.  If interested in going that route give Alton Norris a call at 662-873-4400 or check their web site  for more details.  I think that would be a way cool hunt.

Charles Ezelle, his brother Josh and Jason Pope of the Jackson area have gotten into the Delta hog hunting scene.  “I hunt with Charles and his brother on their place south of Rolling Fork.  During deer season we might just take an errant hog that strays by a deer stand or get down stalking them for a shot”, says Pope.

“When we actively hog hunt tactical style, in quiet, slow, stealth mode, we walk the roads listening for squealing up in the woods or out on CRP land, then we put the stalk on them.  On these hunts we may use a bow or 12 gauge shotgun.  When deer hunting we opt for a 270 or 308.”

Many Mississippi hunters have yet to join the AR hunting bandwagon except for varmint hunting.  An AR in deer camp brings lots of off shadow comments about “machine guns” and such.  It’s an educating process, and guys like me are starting to break the ice.  Once you let one pull the trigger on a full magazine, they are hooked.  Then comes the tactical training.

Public Pig Ops

Mississippi Hog HuntWild hogs are classified as nuisance animals by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.  Hogs are lumped in with beaver, coyotes, fox, nutria, and skunks.  What a group to keep company with huh?  The operative term though is nuisance and this is what they have become on our state’s public hunting lands as well.

A few years ago I was interviewing Billy Endris the area manager of the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area north of Jackson about deer hunting that public land.  During the interview Billy incidentally mentioned the increasing number of hogs observed on the property when deer hunters were out in the area.

He said that several of the deer hunters had also harvested hogs as sort of targets of opportunity.  He pulled out a couple photos of hogs taken the past year.  He also commented that several other WMAs across the state were experiencing an upsurge in hog observations and hunting as well.  This was the first clue I had that another type of hunting opportunity was opening up across the state.

Pearl River WMA has the type of wet, swamp like habitat that hogs like.  The woods are dense and so is the underbrush in certain areas which is ideal for hiding hogs.  Pigs are not exclusive to this WMA by any means, so if a public land hunt for hogs is of interest, contact the MDWFP to inquire about other public lands where hog hunting is an option.  Hunting hogs can be one more great hunting opportunity.

If you want the full excitement of a hog hunt, then go tactical.  Gear up with an AR platform in any number of available cartridges ideal for big hogs including the .308 which I use in a Rock River Arms LAR-308.  Don the full dress camouflage, paint up, and like a Navy Seal, slip around the edges of wet swamps, drainages, always looking out for signs of that high value target, the wild boar.  And stand ready in case one walks out of the bush on top of you.

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