Challenge of the Hunt: Sunshine State Swine

Intrepid Outdoors’ “Challenge of the Hunt” series continues this week in a place where Intrepid cameras have never been before, Myakka City, Florida. Intrepid Outdoors producer Bob Lott was invited by his good friend Beau Kearns to film a hog hunt in the swamps of the Sunshine State. Bob did just that and reflected upon the experience in this week’s web exclusive video blog.

cAs I traveled that road to getting to where I’m at today, I was blessed to meet many new friends. One of the best guys I’ve ever stumbled across was my good friend Beau Kearns. Beau and I met in Nelsonville, Ohio while attending Hocking College. I was there for Wildlife Management and he was enrolled in the Forestry program. We had one very common thread and that was hunting!

I was 23 years old and Beau was like 10 I think….? Needless to say, I was older and much wiser, at least in my mind. Beau did have an attribute that I was hungry to add to my hunting resume, however. He was a fantastic turkey hunter. I on the other hand, had had never seen a turkey in those days. Our friendship grew because of my disadvantage. I went out before, during and after season with Beau, calling and learning a lot of tricks on how to get those stubborn birds to come to my — not so professional — calling. Long story short, after college we stayed in touch, and 20 plus years later we still try to go on at least one hunt together each season.

Challenge of the Hunt, Hog Hunt

Intrepid hunter Beau Kearns took down this big hog in Florida last year.

In 2011 that one hunt happened to be one of our favorites, hunting wild hogs in south Florida with archery gear. For many hunters, hogs can seem boring or even too easy, but they’re actually pretty intelligent animals.

If you don’t believe me, then ask the tens of thousands of ranchers, farmers and outfitters across the south, who have tried by all means possible to rid their land of them. They are relentless survivors that may never be at the numbers most would like to see them.

For many years I have been invited down south to hunt with good friends Timmy Young, Danny Godwin and their fantastic families. These folks have always taken us in, treated us like family and have always put us on hogs. Hunting hogs with bow and arrow is a blast, but we always take advantage of the opportunity to take the dogs out at night and chase a big gnarly boar hog down on foot.

Running in on a squealing hog that has been caught by his ears by dogs, and trying to grab a back leg with your bare hands is a rush that is indescribable. Having said that, I think I’ll save that story for another time.

Intrepid Outdoors Beau Kearns

Beau Kearns had to look for his downed hog almost all night before finally finding him and posing for pictures.

After a late night hog hunt with the dogs, we usually head right into a real early sit on a feeder with bow in hand. This kind of action will definitely try your endurance and makes for many fun-filled, exhausting days. About two weeks before our hunt was to begin, I shipped Tim a couple of Wildgame trail cameras to do a little scouting for us. Once we arrived to our location, the big town of Myakka City, we immediately went out and checked the cameras to see what was coming in to the golden kernels. The first feeder had two real good black boars coming in each evening immediately after the feeder was going off, so we opted to wait for our first evening hunt before trying it.

We instead, chose the other less active feeder for our first morning hunt, but only saw a few Osceola hen turkeys and a couple of noisy Sandhill cranes. By the time our first hunt was over, we were both ready to pass out from exhaustion. We had driven 16 straight hours, checked trail cameras, ate way too much food, chased and caught three big boar hogs during the night with dogs, and hunted for three hours in our Ameristep blind with no success.

We needed a good nap, a little practice with the bows and a southeast wind to make our evening hunt turn out better than the morning’s.

After some much needed rest, a little practicing and another huge southern cooked meal, and yes, we were blessed with southeast wind, it was on. Beau was up first! We quietly approached the feeder and carefully set up our blind where the hogs wouldn’t notice us. During our setup, we also made sure to pay attention to the wind and place it so the wind was in our favor. Beau and I climbed in and waited for what would hopefully be a slam dunk on the two hogs that we had patterned with our trail camera. The feeder went off at 6:30 p.m. so we expected to see hogs by 6:35.

Intrepid Outdoors Beau Kearns

Intrepid hunter Beau Kearns reacts after successfully harvesting a Florida hog.

We had set up early enough to do our normal cuttin’ up on each other, and also to do a little texting with family and friends. Right around 6:30, the feeder, — as it always does — made Beau and I jump a little when it went off spreading golden cheer all over the ground. It was go time, so we wasted no time getting bow in hand, and record button ready to be pushed. It took about 10 more minutes than we expected before Beau, with his bionic ears, heard the sound of a twig snap.

While hunting with Beau over the years, I’ve learned to trust his ears. I hit record and waited for the first sign of a black figure to appear. It took about 20 seconds and boom. There in the tall bull grass walked a good 150-pound boar hog that was being followed by another one of equal size.

Beau readied for the shot because as we’ve learned from previous hunts over feeders, he may only get one crack at a clean kill shot at these very jerky and spooky animals. I was filming and getting as much as I could under the circumstances. Beau and I went back and forth a few times on when and which one to shoot, but he and I were able to get on the same animal. That’s when Beau let his arrow fly. Smack!

It was, as expected, a perfect shot right behind the shoulder. The hog ran off into the thick cabbage trees and palmettos and sounded as if it crashed a short distance away. We opted to hang out and give it some time and to also see if another hog would come in before dark.

Unfortunately for me, nothing else showed up that evening, but we were pretty pumped to have one fatally hit hog to trail up. After a very time consuming 80-yard blood trail that zigged and zagged through some of thickest and nastiest palmettos, Beau was a tiny bit surprised when he nearly crawled right up on the now expired beast. After he calmed down a little, Beau was able to drag the big hog out of the thick and in to a near by cow pasture. Once in the open, we were able to get a better look at his trophy and with a little bit of camera work and a few pictures for the scrap book, it wasn’t long before we were off to the skinning pole.

We were met at the barn by Timmy Young and as usual, he took over and had the hog in a cooler ready for transport in about thirty minutes. I never had a chance to shoot a hog on this trip, but that never matters when you spend quality time with great friends in a place that always holds a special place in my heart, Myakka City. Florida.

Tune in for this weeks episode of Intrepid Outdoors Monday at 6:30 PM ET, Fridays at 3 PM ET and Saturdays at 12 PM ET.

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