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Helping A First-Time Hunter

Do you hunt? Do you have a buddy that may want to hunt? Would you like to take him/her hunting? If you answered yes to these questions, you might want to continue reading. I’ve been hunting for about 50 years. Over those years, just like most of you, I have accumulated a little knowledge and a pile of hunting stuff like feeders, cameras, guns, camo clothes, four wheelers, stands, calls, knives, head lamps, etc.

But, for a first-time hunter, all of these things can add up quickly to a pile of money – maybe more than a new hunter is willing to spend. My friend James Howard said he wanted to give hunting a try, but he does not own a rifle, a stand, a feeder, camo clothes or any of the other stuff we all have acquired over years of hunting.

I hunt in Georgia and live in Florida, so my hunting license cost me $300. This is just one more expense I figure on spending each year, so it is not a problem for me. However, for my buddy James this was a big expense – just to see if he really wanted to hunt.

On his first hunt, James really wanted to hunt with someone with a little knowledge (I did say “a little”), but he did not have a stand, and I do not have one large enough for two people.

What if he had gone out and purchased all of this? A stand for $250, a license at $300, camo clothes at $100, snake boots at $150, and after the hunt, decided that he did not like it?

So, I have a solution for the first-time hunter that may or may not want to get into hunting.

All of these hunting expenses add up quick, so I thought we would go to a “pig pay” place to see if he liked to shoot pigs before investing a pile of money in an activity he may or may not like.

The only “pay pig” hunts I have ever been on were at Tiger Island Outfitters in Cedar Key, Florida (www.TigerIslandHogHunts.com, 352 543-0851). Each time I have gone there, it has been more fun than I can stand. Their hunts are guaranteed or “no shoot pig...no pay.”

The “no shoot pig” thing has never happened for me, as most of the time I have shot several (or could have shot several), so bringing home some meat was not going to be a problem.

I bounced this idea off of my buddy and sent him some videos I recorded of hunts there. James was all about it, so I called Tiger Island Outfitters and booked a trip for him, Phil Baker and myself.

Over the next few weeks, James was so excited that he called me with more questions than a small kid. He was excited about going!

On the day of the hunt, we all met at his house to load up. I brought one of my favorite rifles for him to shoot – an stainless H&R .45-70 that I had developed a hand load for that produced almost “one hole” groups at 100 yards. I was pretty sure this would be enough to drop the pig, regardless of shot placement.

For myself, I brought my newest handgun – an EAA 10mm Hunter – that shoots as accurately as some rifles. For Phil, an experienced shooter, I brought an H&R .30-30 that, like most H&R’s, is very accurate.

The drive down felt like Christmas Eve. We arrived around 6 a.m. and were met by Tiger Island owner Crichton (pronounced Kryton) Allen. After exchanging a few hunting and fishing stories, we loaded up in his little truck and headed to our stands. I asked if he would take James and I to the large stand in the back so we could hunt together, while Phil headed to another ladder stand.

As James and I were sitting and waiting, we went over how the gun worked and where to place the scope crosshairs. I had him rest the rifle on the stand and practice looking through the scope.

After a few repetitions, I was convinced he was ready to execute a one-shot kill. It was not long before the first group of pigs showed up. As expected, they came in a group of about 10, milling around and feeding on corn on the ground as James and I discussed which one to shoot. He picked out a nice little 100-pound sow, but she would not turn broadside to give him the perfect shot.

After a few minutes, that group moved off, but not long after another group showed up. This group had two 100-pound sows that were eager to present us with broadside shots. James eased out of his chair, rested the rifle on the stand, pulled the hammer back, and with a slow squeeze of the trigger, the pig fell where it stood. James had made a perfect one-shot kill!

We exchanged high-fives, and I congratulated him on a great shot. He looked just like a kid, wearing a giant ear-to-ear smile. He was hooked! We sat there for a while talking about the shot and how much fun hunting was and how he could get started hunting with his son.

After a while, it was time for me to get down and stalk my own pig with my EAA 10mm Hunter handgun. I love easing through the woods in search of pigs. This is what I grew up doing and still love it. After a short walk, I came up on three real nice sows. I eased around so the light wind was in my face and found a tree that provided some cover and a rest for the handgun.

A minute or so later, one of the sows eased along and gave me a perfect 40-yard broadside view. I pulled the hammer back, took aim and slowly squeezed the trigger. BOOM! One well-placed shot entered at the rear of the shoulder and penetrated through the pig before exiting the other side with a nice heart shot. The pig ran 30 feet and dropped.

By this time, James had radioed the guide, and his pig was back at the cleaning station, where mine would be shortly. I walked back to the camp to join James while the guides headed to pick my pig up and bring it in.

Phil had not yet shot, as the resident emu (a bird the size of an ostrich) would not leave him alone. So he climbed down to stalk some pigs. After a little walk, he saw three and eased up close enough to get a one-shot kill using the dead-on H&R .30-30 rifle I had brought.

Phil took aim, and dropped his pig with one squeeze of the trigger.

After we harvested our bacon, we stood around the cleaning area telling stories and reminiscing about our hunts. Even though I had been to Tiger Island Outfitters several times, each hunt is like the first – filled with anticipation prior to and excitement during the hunt. I feel fortunate that my buddies James and Phil were able to share in the fun of pig killing at Tiger Island.

We did not spend a pile of money on James’ first hunt, and he is now hooked. He intends on trying it again with his son. Now that he has experienced the joy of hunting, he is ready to do more and introduce his kid to the sport.

If all firearms were treated as if they were loaded, there would be no more accidental shootings. Shoot Straight, Shoot Safe!

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Jim Hammond has had some sort of gun in his hand since he was 5 years old. He started with a Daisy BB gun as a small boy, and with careful instruction from his very safety-minded father, has become a skilled and knowledgeable shooter now willing to share his knowledge and experience as he has FUN SHOOTING. “Safety first and everything else will follow.”