Wild hogs are something that I have not had much experience with — but I do not want any more.
When I was about 14, Daddy and my brother, Tommy, had been chipping boxes in the Pigott Branch area, and my sister Hazel and I were following behind them and spraying the boxes with a bottle of acid. Bad job!
It was late August, and the pears in Winn Howard’s field were ripe. I climbed over the fence and went to the large pear tree. I was under the tree when I heard a loud grunt. I then saw a huge, long-tusked sow coming toward me.
My heart almost stopped. I ran as fast as I could toward the gate and managed to climb (or jump) it just as the old sow hit the gate’s boards with her tusks. She had a litter of pigs in the field, but I did not know that and didn’t even know she was in the field at all. I would not have gone back in that field for all the pears in the world!
Clay Sikes of Liberty County is a great storywriter and photographer. He has a sites on Facebook titled “My Georgia Coast” and “Short Stories from the Heart.”
He graciously allowed me to use his story about wild-hog hunting around his family’s property at Maxwelton.
“A Hog and a Dog”
by Clay Sikes
Hog hunting hit South Georgia with a vengeance in the early to mid ’60s as the feral-hog population exploded. Wild boars brought top dollar if caught and delivered alive to the many professional hunting preserves popping up all over Tennessee and North Carolina. Here was a sport with no restrictions, and we youngsters loved to hunt and were getting paid for it. Our property on Maxwelton on Colonels Island was the perfect place for hunting wild hogs.
One of my early childhood heroes, Rembert Rollison, had been a high-school athlete and was in a military college. He wanted me to take him wild-hog hunting while he was home. Anxious to impress, I had but one day to pull a hunt together, which is short notice. Tried as I might, I could not find a pack of dogs. My only hope was one man who had a very tough bulldog who just may be up to the task.
While the idea of a “single catch” dog excited Rembert, I knew that without trail or bay dogs, we would literally have to be on top of a hog for this to work.
As the day began I was not optimistic, and as that very day ended, I was lower than whale manure in a deep ocean crevice. The events of this day would remain with me forever. I am not proud of the course that followed, and the ending is too incredible not to tell!
We loaded an old truck with a borrowed bulldog that was more a family pet than a bona fide catch dog, but because the owner was a close family friend of my dad’s, he reluctantly agreed when I asked to take his dog hunting. He reminded me to be careful with Butch and to feed and water him when I returned from hunting, as he and his family were going out of town for a few days and Butch would have to be taken care of. The family lived in town, so Butch was chained to an iron post in the backyard under a large oak tree.
I told my hero that we were not going kill a hog but to catch one. He insisted on taking his .22 rifle. I knew our chances were slim on finding a wild hog, so I thought there was little chance of Butch getting hurt which relieved me very much.
As soon as we reached Colonels Island, Rembert was raring to go, bouncing out of the truck and into a thick stand of palmettoes right off the road. Butch jumped out of the truck and followed Rembert, and before we were even settled good, we saw Rembert jump straight up into the air and shoot straight down. I honestly thought he had gotten on a large rattlesnake.
Startled, I called, “Did you get him?”
He answered, “Yes.”
“What is it? What is it, Rembert?”
His answer froze me. “Butch,” he said.
“What? Where did you shoot him, Rembert?”
His second answer froze me even more. “Right between the eyes!”
I was sick. How on God’s green Earth would I ever explain this? I leaped from the truck bed and over the palmettoes to see if my worst nightmare had come true. It had — Rembert had made a clean shot, apparently startled by the dog, shooting him squarely between the eyes. I wanted to cry as I saw Butch laying there with a tiny squirt of blood oozing from his head.
I picked Butch’s lifeless body up carried him back to the truck. My hero was now a goat, and he knew it. His trigger-happy gung-ho crap had created big problems for me. The hunt was obviously over as I racked my brain as to how I would ever explain this.
We rode around the island and talked about burying Butch, but I couldn’t get a handle on doing anything but taking him home. We took him right back to his chain, chained him to his collar, leaving water and food behind. It would be two days before his family returned, and other than wiping the little bit of oozing blood, he looked like he was sleeping instead of seeing all his buddies in dog heaven.
I rode by the next day, and he was still lying in the same position. I didn’t stop. His family would be home the next day and the telephone call would come. I would decide whether to deny any knowledge of his death or come clean. I would know the right answer when the call came.
I waited and tortuously waited for the next day. I slept little, tossing and turning over how to deal with this nightmare. The day and night passed with no call. I knew they had to be home. Perhaps they assumed he died of natural causes. Tomorrow would surely tell.
Still, no call. What was going on?
Puzzled, I rode by the house again to see anything that would answer my now-bedazzled mind. Nothing prepared me for what I was about to see — and I mean nothing. To my shock, and to my greatest amazement, Butch was sitting up in the backyard in his normal position, looking as normal and healthy as he did the day we picked him up!
I was clueless how this could be, but at that instant I didn’t care. Though I didn’t do this, I wanted to jump out of the vehicle, run across the yard and lick Butch like dogs do when they hadn’t seen their owner in a while. I was so stunned and happy that I couldn’t hold my emotions. I think I cried tears of pure joy. I now knew why there had been no call.
Butch was fine — but how?
The answer would not unravel for several more years. As fate would have it, Butch’s owner later moved to our property on Colonels Island and Butch was allowed to freely roam. He died at an old age and was buried on our property. I always intended to dig him up after the family moved.
Several years later, they moved and I dug to see his skull where the bullet went in. Obviously, the small .22 bullet penetrated without dealing the thick-skulled bulldog a fatal blow. The bullet had knocked him out, which we mistook for sure death.
I honestly cannot answer what I would have said if the “inevitable call” had come, but I’m certainly happy we didn’t bury old Butch!