Due to the fact that I am such an avid archer, it is not uncommon for me to shoot five to six flights of arrows (a flight consist of 12 arrows) per session and I often shoot three to five days a week. Consequently, with all of that practice, I am often capable of grouping six arrows within a one inch circle at twenty yards and I have even shot the nocks off of them on occasion. Consequently, I can honestly say that in all of the years I have been hunting feral pigs with a bow, I have only missed once! However, that one time will forever live in my memory as one of the most exciting pig hunting experiences I have ever had!
On this particular occasion, I was hunting on a privately owned barrier island located off of the coast of Georgia. In addition, the center of the island is covered in a palmetto thicket that is so dense that in places, it seems like using a chainsaw to get through it would be a good idea! Consequently, it is exactly the type of habitat that feral hogs look for when bedding down for the day and for use as a nursery to bear and raise their piglets. However, not only is hunting them in there is nearly impossible, it bears a certain amount of risk as well because there are some very large and very mean boars in there (I have heard some hair rising fights take place) and sows with piglets are not to be trifled with either. Furthermore, you cannot see them coming until they are right on top of you.
Consequently, I had spent the morning patrolling the edge of the thicket looking for pigs that were out feeding on the abundant acorn crop that year but I had not had much success. So, since the tide was receding, I had decided to stalk along the coast line just inside of the band of live oaks and crepe myrtle trees that grow on the island in order to look for pigs that were headed out into the marsh grass to feed during the low tide. However, I was not having much success using this tactic either and thus, I made the mistake of letting my guard down.
You see, as I was moving north along the west side of the island with the marsh on my left and the palmetto thicket on my right, I encountered a deep cove that intruded well into the shoreline which would have required me to make a long and tedious detour to get around it. But, because I had not seen any pigs out in the open all day, I errantly decided that there was no need for me to make such a long detour.
However, just to make sure, I pulled out the Steiner Predator Pro 10 x 26 compact binoculars that I always carry and carefully scanned the woods ahead of me to make certain that there were not any hogs in the woods around the cove. Thus, because I did not see any movement of any sort, I mistakenly assumed that there were not any pigs in the woods ahead of me. So, rather than make that extensive detour around the edge of the cove, I decided to take a shortcut across the cove instead. But, this decision placed me out in the open where I was entirely exposed to anyone or anything that happened to be watching without so much as a stitch of cover anywhere to be found.
On the other hand, because it was only about thirty yards to the other side, I did not think that it would pose a problem but, I was wrong! In fact, as I was moving slowly across the wet sand, I approached a ridge of dry sand on the far side that extended from the edge of the woods to the water’s edge and, just as I got with twenty yards or so of it, suddenly two piglets and a larger pig wandered out of the woods behind that ridge and began sniffing the sand looking for something to eat. So, I immediately froze and watched them for a few minutes.
As I was watching them, it occurred to me that it’s odd to only see two piglets that small together and even more odd to see them without their mother in the near vicinity. Furthermore, the larger pig that was with them was obviously too small to be their mother and thus, I assumed that it must be a brother or sister from a previous litter since pigs are very social animals. But, as I was watching them and waiting for them to move on so that I could continue on across the cove, I decided that I might as well attempt a shot at the larger pig.
So, I ever so slowly reached behind my back and removed an arrow from my CAT quiver, brought it around in front of me, and managed to nock it to my bow string without being seen; much to my amazement! However, apparently someone failed to inform the pigs of my plan because, instead of moving away from me, the two piglets climbed over the sand ridge and started sauntering down the shoreline towards me while the larger pig stayed where it was at. Consequently, all I could do was stand there and watch as they drew closer and hope that they decided to turn around.
Now, by this time, my heart was pounding so hard that it felt like it was going to explode because those piglets kept getting closer and closer and, since I knew that I was going to be discovered at any moment, I decided that I might as well attempt to draw my bow for a shot at the larger pig which was only about twenty yards away. So, as I slowly drew back the string, I also proceeded to raise my bow into shooting position while watching the piglets out of the corner of my eye and, by divine intervention I am sure, they were so busy looking for something to eat that they somehow failed to notice the stubby tree that was standing there in the open where no tree should be.
Therefore, I was actually able to come to full draw without spooking them and settle my twenty yard sight pin on the vitals of the larger pig which had, by this time, crossed over the ridge of dry sand as well. Consequently, by this time my senses were so hyper aware that it literally seemed as if time had slowed to a crawl and thus, I was imminently aware of both the approaching piglets on my left as well as my quarry in front of me as I moved my index finger forward to place it on the trigger of my release aid.
But, as I proceed to tighten my finger to release the arrow, the piglets, which were now only about five yards away, suddenly caught my scent and stopped dead in their tracks while letting out a blood curdling squeal as they wheeled 180 degrees and ran in the opposite direction as fast as their little legs would carry them. However, because my index finger was already in motion, I was unable to stop my release and thus, I watched my arrow leave my bow and sail towards my target in slow motion as the piglets squeal alerted the larger pig that something was amiss.
Now, I have gone over this next part in mind many times and each time I am absolutely flabbergasted that any animal could possibly move that fast because I have the trigger on my release aid set so light that you can nearly breath on it and cause it to open and it literally only takes about a tenth of a second or so for my arrow to travel twenty yards.
But, as my arrow left my bow, I watched the larger pig squat and then launch itself forward toward the edge of the woods just as my arrow arrived exactly where I had aimed it; thus causing it to pass though empty air where that pig had been standing broadside to me just a fraction of a second before!!! So, after loudly expressing my disappointment to the surrounding air using some less than gentlemanly language, I continued my hunt but did not see any other pigs that day.
Thus, goes the story of the only time I have ever missed a pig with my bow and yet, had I released just a fraction of a second before I did, I would have not missed that pig but would instead have been sharing pork that night with my hunting buddies!