Can I get an amen?
Hog hunting is, in itself, a dirty business. Aside from the filth of the feral hog, there's the tromping through water, bushes, trees, and the wild, which can leave a man, woman, horse, dog, or four-wheeled entity bathed in stink and bits of nature.
I contemplated not telling about the hog hunt or showing pictures, because it's just not pretty, but I can't ignore this part of our lives. And if Katie's going to have to find a place to store all these "blog books" for future generations, I think this deserves a mention, since her daddy really thrives on it at times. Plus, there's a lot of bravery and hard work involved, and catching them is often a gift to farmers and ranchers in the area.
However, to appease our sensitive natures, I've cropped the pictures, so that The Great Big Huge Pig isn't showing. I think you can guess a lot just by seeing his legs tied up by the scale reading; and in the way B has to hold him with rope for the ceremonial picture-taking. You know, to prove this really did happen, hoo boy!
I think the last picture is very telling of what the man goes through in hunt of the hog...ripped shirt, mud-caked jeans (Let's hope real big it's just mud.), sweat, grime, and blood. Man, I could really do without the blood....
And that's just him! That doesn't even address the dogs.
Look at those broad shoulders and that mischievous grin...what's a girl to do?
The dogs usually come away panting, scratched, maybe torn, tongues lolling, and happy as the day is long. After all, they see this as their "job." They can hardly be contained when the truck and trailer stop; all they want is to FLY out of the trailer and start the hunt.
My second question at the end of a hunt I don't attend is usually, "Well, did you catch any?" My FIRST question is always, "How are the dogs?"
Okay. Honestly? For a hunt I don't attend, the very first question is always, "Where are you, and when will you be home?" So, two questions. Whatever.
I haven't actually been on a hog hunt since before I was pregnant. In fact, not really since that one time when things didn't really go so smoothly. When I did go, I usually had one of two jobs. If 4-wheelers were involved, I rode the biggest and slowest one, though not alone. No, I got to share that queenly throne with the bulldog. The catch dog. The big, drooly, grunting, jaw-chomping secret weapon. He's the one that gets released at the end to descend on the action and clomp his steely-hinged jaws on the offending hog. He (or she!) holds fast until the hunter or hunters can run up and, well, hog-tie the beast.
Hog-tying. So aptly named.
That's where I see the bravery. If someone told me, "Hey...go run in the middle of that prickly brush and swampy water, dodge the baying dogs and the bulldog that may or may not be whipping around in the air, and use this scrap of dirty rope to tie up that hundred pound animal that is LESS than stoked about the situation. Feel free to sit on it, straddle it, whatever it takes to stay awake and alive. But be sure and tie it up real tight now, so that it can't get loose and hurt the dogs. Oh, or us. And we don't want it to get loose in transport, so, you know...do a good jog."
Riiiiiiiiiiight. Where do I sign up?!
Anyway, back to the bulldog. The whole time we're riding the 4-wheeler around at the back of the pack, this dog is totally crowding my space and breathing down my neck. If the wind turns, I might feel a splatter of doggie spittle. It's downright elegant.
I'm sure I originally thought I'd just bring a book along or my phone and entertain myself at the back, while they all traipsed up and down the planet, but it never quite worked out that way. I had to be all quiet and stealthy and pay-attention-y. I had to listen for that whistle that would signal me to Release the Dog.
Anybody else hear the jailhouse door clang open just now?
Mr. or Mrs. Bulldog would already be outfitted in his or her VEST. (You heard me...dog is dressed for protection...stylish!) I'd unclip the leash, and the dog knew just what to do. Every. Single. Time.
If it ever didn't go right, it was my fault. Big shock to all of us.
Sometimes, there would be horses instead of 4-wheelers, which just meant I rode in the back of the parade and hoped my horse would behave with all the dogs under foot. It was usually just a fun day of riding.
We've had many adventures on hog hunts, and I can't even pretend to remember and know what all B has been through in his hog travels, but I've seen (or heard) myself get bucked off a horse into concussion; B swim across the Navasota River in his blue jeans; the whole hunting crew on foot in the dead of night, where shoes got left behind in mud thick enough to bog down a house; some silly girl lose the entire sole of her boot while climbing a steep hill on a moonless night (who, me?); men bound over fences like they were outfitted with jet packs; dogs turn up MILES and DAYS from where they started; and that same silly girl pull stunt antics on a 4-wheeler, just to clear a ravine in pursuit of her man.
On second thought, look at him, turning me into that Girl Power Ranger after all....