Remembering my first trip to Rick Haney’s ranch, north of Abilene, this trip set the tone for the rest of my visits for the next 10 years! This time I was exposed in grand style to the excellent food prepared in an old, original, bar-b-que pit, to the fabulous hunting, the inherent dangers and, surprisingly, to an unnatural being!
After a 6, hour drive from my office up to the ranch, it was too late for much of a quail hunt, so we decided to go out and try to shoot a feral hog. Driving for a couple of miles to the place where the road ended at a creek, Rick and I got out of his truck and walked across the shallow, stream. After crossing, he sent me up a hill to watch for a hog in the small valley below and then he walked to the next hill and took up his position.
At last light I hadn’t seen anything, but Rick’s rifle boomed and shortly he walked up and yelled toward my “hide”, “Hey, come and give me a hand.” Heading his way, we drug the 100 pound, plus young male, hog back to the truck. He gutted the hog, we loaded it up, then headed back to the old ranch house.
We processed the hog, ate a late supper prepared on the old pit, then hit the sack with visions of quail dancing in our head. Waking up once during the night, I heard a clump, clump, clump out on his porch, that circled two sides of the house, but I paid no attention thinking it was Rick walking around.
Early the next morning when we got up, it was cold and I asked Rick if he had been up walking around during the night? His reply was, “No, it must have been animals under the house. They bump into the cross beams and make noise.” Pretty good answer, I thought.
Starting near his house, we worked east toward the creek near to where he shot the hog yesterday. Putting Gus out, soon we bumped into a nice covey of birds and shot 4. A good start as we continued hunting along the creek. Finding several more coveys, for the morning hunt we accumulated a good mess of birds. We loaded up Gus and headed back to the ranch house, cleaned and iced the birds, ate a sandwich, took a quick “power nap”, then got in the truck and headed back to the creek. Walking across, we put out Rooster and began our afternoon hunt.
Not having gone a hundred yards, Rooster locked down on a hard point, we walked in and “Whirrrrr”, a nice covey of about 20 birds took flight. Bam, bam, bam, bam, we unloaded on the birds and 3 fell to our fusillade. Rick and I fetched a bird each and Rooster hunted dead and after several circles, found the last one. Rick said, “I marked those birds going over the hill, right by those mesquites. I’ll loop around and try to push them back toward you. You walk on ahead and we’ll meet about 400 yards up the creek.”
Rooster ranged out up over the hill and loosing track of him for a minute, I pressed on up the creek. The next thing I knew, here came Rooster running fast and right behind him a really big hog, 250 pounds or more! Rooster was heading my way with the hog in hot pursuit. What to do? No trees big enough to climb! I can’t out run him! Shoot him with my trusty, 20, gauge, skeet grade, pump, loaded with number eight shot? Since hog’s have a thick, muscle like covering, over their shoulders and head, bird shot won’t faze them, and my trusty .22 mag pistol, was back in the truck.
Then, I remembered a line from the late author and classic chronicler of African hunting adventures, Robert Ruark and a novel about lion hunting, that if you shot a charging lion in the nose with a shotgun, it would stop the charge. So I stood my ground, shouldered my weapon, and shooting right over Rooster’s back, bam, bam, bam, as Rooster ducked behind me, I noticed the shots didn’t even faze the hog, Ruark must have been using 00 buck! The hog came so close to me I could clearly see his tusks, the moisture droplets on his nose and even the individual hairs on his back. It literally blew past me, within six inches of my left leg and as he passed by, my trusty dog, Rooster, quickly moved to my front.
The hog kept going. Sitting down on the ground, in case of a return engagement with the hog, I reloaded my shotgun as Rick walked up and said, “Birds? You OK?” I replied, “Yeah, but do I have a story to tell you.”
I was lucky again, because that big hog could have inflicted major damage to my body parts!
Hunting with Rick for the next 10 years, I became intimately involved with the midnight thumping too!