Most of the hog hunting I've done is incidental.
It starts out with me sitting in a deer stand somewhere, and a big pig comes lumbering by when you least want to see one. If you ignore him, maybe he'll leave.
Clint Carpenter and his friends from the foothills up in Rabun County, Ga., actually go out of their way to hunt hogs - but they do it with hounds.
And they do it in style.
Last weekend, after an all-night drive, they were gracious enough to let me tag along with them during a hog-dog hunt in McDuffie County. The objective was to remove as many nuisance hogs as possible from private land.
In addition to blistered feet and some briar-torn clothes, the adventure yielded an interesting glossary of hog-dog hunting terms.
Here are some of the ones I can print:
Starting lineup: The first pack, released at daybreak where fresh hog tracks bisect a logging road. There is Molly, Sidewinder and Smokey, the hog-chasing hounds. With them is a Norwegian elkhound named Lobo.
Catch Dog: A big-headed, small-framed dog named Diesel. Half English mastiff and half pit bull, Diesel's claim to fame is that he once chewed the aluminum door off the dog cage on Clint's truck. Diesel is kept on a leash.
Strike: What you call it when the dogs scent a hog and vanish ahead of the hunters. It is the official rule of hog dogs to lead the hunters through the thickest, muckiest terrain available - even if there is no hog.
Hog Dog Hunting: Looking for hog dogs that have run away and vanished. Clint once recovered a missing dog at a neighboring farm - being fed and driven around in the landowner's wife's Cadillac!
Bar Hunting: Nope, it's not searching for a place to have a cocktail after dinner. It's what hog hunters from the mountains like to do during bear season.
Bayed Up: The point at which the wild hog and the pursuing hounds are stationary - and awaiting the arrival of the hunters who bring along the Catch Dog and some nylon rope.
Catch Dog's Duty: Once a hog is held at bay by other hounds, the catch dog leaps into the fray and holds it by the nose until it is tied and subdued, or simply killed.
Sheer craziness: The most tactful way I can describe the process by which some hog hunters leap onto a captured wild hog and tie its feet so the animal can be removed or relocated alive.
Let Go: A foot-long plastic cylinder, like a giant soda straw. Blowing gently into Catch Dog's ear with the long straw, according to the handlers, is one of two ways to make him "let go."
Break stick: A stout piece of wood used to pry Catch Dog's mouth apart if the Let Go mentioned above is not working properly.
Cut collar: A wide, thick collar used to protect a dog's throat from the teeth and tusks of wild hogs. Boar bites are most threatening, but even a sow has teeth up to two inches long.
Body armor: A thick body suit, made of Kevlar (also used for bulletproof vests) that armors a hound's entire body.
Hog hunting with hounds is an experience unlike hunting anything else. Clint and his friends spent two full days chasing hogs throughout McDuffie and Warren counties. Total harvest: three Saturday and four Sunday.
Reach Robert Pavey at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 119.
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