Finally we come to the edge of a clearing, and the swampy palms give way to an immense pasture sprawling out hundreds of acres in front of us. We slow to a crawl as Bo says, “Ya see ‘er?” I squint out at a stand of palmettos a hundred yards ahead. “See what?” I say, noting nothing but a blot of shade on a sun bleached savannah. He points to a black dot 400 yards away, racing hell bent out in the open, and I raise my scope.
It’s a pig alright, and we’ve caught him in a pickle. He has no place close for cover but that’s not to say he’s defenseless.
“Are we close enough?” Bo asks. I’m afraid I may have impressed him at the rifle range and now he expects me to pull off a miracle shot. But the stationary “soder bottles” I was potting a few hours ago were much closer and standing still. I ask him to cut the distance in half, and with a belch of smoke and a grinding of gears the swamp buggy lurches forward, braking so abruptly I almost fall out of my seat.
Kneeling on the deck of the buggy I’ve forgotten my daughters, but they are good kids and this isn’t their first rodeo. They know when Dad’s wielding a rifle they are to stay sput and do as they are told. I quickly wipe the sweat from my eye with the back of my cuff and bring the cross hairs down I front of the darting swine.
It’s hard to figure the lead you need to give a running target, and I wouldn’t argue with those who say it’s not the best shot to make. But the fact is, I hadn’t seen a pig all day, and this was probably the only chance I was going to get on this target. So, I swung my crosshairs left, and took two breaths before I squeezed the trigger.
My .30-06 Weatherby answered, throwing 150 grains of soft-point bullet down range. At the time I thought I had cleanly missed and shot somewhere behind the pig as it didn’t slow down or miss a step. Actually, I had barely missed a definitive blow, my bullet cutting through the pig’s scalp and out the skin on top of its neck. I quickly worked the bolt to reload, and took a more aggressive lead, based on the notion that I had missed.
The second shot hit the dirt in front of the pig, and a cloud of dust made him turn abruptly to his left. Now he was running towards me, a much better angle, cutting slightly in front of the buggy’s path. I led on the front quarter and fired again. Like a scene from my nightmares, the pig cut back right, showing a large wound on its left hip where my bullet had run it through, end for end, and exited one of the hams. I watched through my scope, dumbfounded as Bo jumped up and said, “You got him, I’ll release the dogs!”
The next thing I saw was the pig disappearing in the swamp grass with two war hounds hot on his trail. I fell backwards on my butt as Bo gave the swamp buggy the gas and I fumbled with a box of loose ammo trying to reload. Seconds later, we heard the squeal of the hog fighting the dogs in a ferocious melee, out of sight in the brush. We got close and I leapt off the deck, camera in one hand, the shutter clicking away wildly at the fight in front of me, my rifle in my other hand, and no regard for the fact that I was now on the ground with a large and very angry wounded animal that would like to return the favor and stick his cutting teeth in me if only he could shake these two savage biting curs at his sides.
Bo jumped in the middle trying to get his dogs off, but was able to get only one away when the 130 pound sow whipped back to the right and rolled the other dog flat on his back, crying and running away. That was the moment I needed, and I ended the discussion as the Weatherby rang out once more.
I made a quick check to assure Bo was ok, but he was trying to find his lost dog (which we never did get to come home that day, but we saw him unhurt) and I ran back to the swamp buggy to make sure the princesses knew I was alright and not too freaked out by watching what had been a pretty intense fight.