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Hog Heaven

AdelmanBy Bill Adelman

-- Clear back (that's huntin' language) in 1973, I met my soul mate, Gerry. At the time, she did not know the difference twix a huntin' knife and a 4x4. After explaining how important huntin' is to me, she kinda understood, to the degree that anyone can understand something they know nothing about. My thought was to take her on a two-day deer trip, tents and all, for her first exposure to the outdoors. Need I mention that "the great outdoors" to her meant a view out of the 10th story window at the Tahoe Hilton overlooking the lake?

She was, however, not only amenable to my suggestion, but actually wanted to experience this huntin' business that had me in a semi-trance for the entire deer season. My first question was - do you have a pair of boots?

Now this sounds pretty basic, unless you don't foresee all possibilities. Yes, she responded. After giving her a clothing list, we made up our menu, went shopping together, piled all of the camping gear in my garage and set the wheels in motion.

We arrived at our destination late Friday evening, put everything in order, hit the sleeping bags and set the alarm for oh-dark-thirty. She popped up like a fresh kernel of corn, dressed out and didn't complain about the grounds in her coffee. We were off for a day in the field. As we sat on a ridge, partially hidden in a manzanita patch, our eyes were straining just to spot movement. As light slowly approached, my worst fears were realized - I had screwed up royally. She was dressed exactly as I had advised, save for the Nancy Sinatra, almost thigh-high black "these boots are made for walkin" footwear. I was mortified. How do you explain to a neophyte that often "boots" aren't really "boots?"

Fast forward to this past February - 30-something years later. This very same woman now owns three rifles, a shotgun, a handgun and seven pair of Realtree camo boots. She matches all of this with about 25 huntin' shirts, 20 huntin' pants, nine huntin' vests and three huntin' jackets or coats. Let's not overlook the waterproof camo rain outfit with matching 9-inch high rubber, slip-on boots, and her personal, complete collection of turkey gear. Camo hats and caps - don't even ask. I shudder every January when we attend the hunting show in Sacramento. Thank the Lord we both own pickups.

We've hunted together every season since that first outing and she's dun good. Her harvest includes white-tailed, blacktail and mule deer. She's dropped an elk and popped turkeys. BUT, the elusive hog had avoided her like I avoid breakfast gravy made with 2-percent milk.

Bet you thought this story would never take shape.

We headed off for an area just below Clear Lake in Northern California, with another hog hunt in mind. This time the only rifle along was her Remington 700 in .308.

The morning proved to be uneventful, with two futile stalks taking place and a few hogs spotted somewhere in Northern Nevada, I believe. We took up residence under a beautiful oak for lunch, watching the geese just meander around a lake. Early afternoon found us overlooking a huge meadow with about 5 inches of standing water everywhere. We both came to attention as seven hogs were spotted entering the meadow. Of course, they were clean over on the other side, a half-mile away.

We hopped back into the vehicle, drove back around a mountain - about a 2-mile trip - and double-timed it to the ridge. There were the hogs about 400 yards away feeding. A stalk down to the edge of the meadow was pretty easy, but at the edge we had only a fence line for cover. We crawled to a fencepost, she set up with her shooting sticks, for the first time in the field by the way, and we waited while the hogs just worked in our direction. At 126 yards, the hogs suddenly stopped at full alert. "Rassafratz," I murmered.

She settled in on a pretty decent boar, and as it turned broadside, one of us said, "Tekim." At exactly the moment of trigger pull, the right side of her shooting sticks slid out due to the mud and the shot scared those hogs we had seen in Nevada. She "harvested" a rock about 15 feet to the right of the boar.

Then the unexpected happened.

Her shoulders slumped and a rather rude invective was released from her lips. Her eyes had dropped as I almost hollered, "Reload! Reload!"

The hogs had run only about 50 yards and stopped, this time at only 145 yards. Now she took the more reliable stance of elbow on knee, crunched the stock up against her shoulder and fired again.

The "thump" was the most beautiful sound I could have heard. The lurch and stagger wasn't bad either. Her first hog meant more to me than any I've taken. She'd tried for 21 seasons to get a hog, but everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. That day it all came to an end, in 5 inches of standing water, and right above my desk is a hard copy of the photo we took that day. She was so appreciative of all my hard work and guiding abilities, she actually shared a small piece of "pig" backstrap roast with me, after weighing it on her postal scale.

Bill Adelman
Gerry "Double G" Madrid
San Pablo, California

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