Tuesday, March 31, 2009

East Tennessee Bush

Sweat was dripping down and burning my eyes and mosquitoes tortured me with their constant attempts to land in my ears. I remembered all the other times I had climbed the Brier covered bank up off the road then fought through the tangles of vines left in the area cleared at the end of every summer. This pilgrimage led to the only public land that I know of where I can shoot a ground hog then skip on down to the edge of the lake and catch some bluegill without running into another human. The hike itself is not long but I have to carry my Marlin 22 mag, a telescoping fishing rod, a trash bag, and a cooler making the task much more difficult in the humid south. On this day I was alone and still in a state of panic over a 3 month old baby I had left at home. The smell of honeysuckle was thick in the air and the poison Ivy which climbed every third tree and covered much of the ground was a rich and dark shade of green. I entered the Field opposite the lake and was relieved to see that TWRA had mowed recently. I laid down under a popular tree shading me from the noon day sun and proceeded to glass the field with my Simmons binoculars. The little brown spot I had seen before now stood up and looked my direction. He was more than 200 yds away which is out of my 22 Cal. comfort zone so I left my supplies and crawled back into the woods. I slipped back out to the edge of the field but the whistle pig had moved during my short hike in the woods (closer to his hole as I later found out) so the shot would still be a little longer than I might of liked at 140 yds but manageable. I pushed my fanny pack out in front of me as I laid prone and let the barrel of my rifle lay on it. After placing my cross hairs at the top of the hog's head I slowly pulled the trigger and the mini bear disappeared. I waited a few minutes then walked to where I thought the G-hog had been standing. I was surprised to find his hole, and after closer inspection with a flash light I saw his back legs in the hole. Now, I knew he was dead but if you know how vicious a ground hog can be you understand my hesitance in reaching into his hole to retrieve my prize. I spent considerable time thinking about shooting him again....but that would ruin some meat. So I finally settled on poking him with a stick a few times then jerking him out quickly as though he would revive like a zombie . Freeze G-hog I said to my self and after laughing at myself and putting Mr. hog in the bag and jamming him into the cooler I sat down on the cooler at the waters edge and tried to finish my freezer filling day by fishing. Although I kept a watchful eye on the field in case he had company in that hole. That night as I sat cleaning the fish and ground hog, I couldn't help but feel connected to the world. I had retrieved my own food from the world. After packaging with a foodsaver and tossing them into my lay down freezer I said to myself "who needs McDonald's when you have McNature".


  1. You're taking me back to my youth with this kinda stuff.

    I've spent many long days whacking G-hogs and catching bluegills. Although I was particularly found of the .243 but we shot farther than that. I often confess to giving a 'hog in the hole a finisher with the .22 pistol before laying hold. A friend from high school is missing the last 1/2" of his pinky finger for reaching too soon.

    My favorite spot was the pond of a local farmer, basically let us shoot as many 'hogs as possible out of the pasture and as long as we left his bass alone could keep anything else out of the pond.

    Darn, those were some good days.

  2. Great post! It's been awhile since I've been able to spend a day or a weekend doing nothing but living off the land. I'm jealous and now you've got me dreaming. Making time for both hunting and fishing in the same day does wonders for a persons' attitude. Let's you know how good you got it.