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Later, Gator (Page 2)

A first-ever gator seemed like the hard part of this swamp hunt. That is, until the author tried her luck on Florida’s hogs.

That evening it was time for celebration as our group’s gator and hog numbers climbed.
Out came the Russians—Dimitri Krasilnikov and Dimitri Shapovalov—or the Dimitris as we called them—and out came the vodka. Dimitri No. 1, who spoke English compared to No. 2’s bits and pieces, explained Russians like vodka because it is a social drink that goes well with food—and with hunting stories as we partook in the Russian custom.

The next day Hoppy took Kim, Mark, Phil and me to a new area for hogs. While stalking along the cypress swamps, you’d never know you were so close to the crowds at Disney World. I told Hoppy his operation made for the hunter’s perfect hunting/amusement park combo vacation. Plus, not only are Florida’s game limits liberal but Osceola Outfitters regularly churns out trophy-class animals.

Kim and I were unsuccessful that afternoon, but in the South, tomorrow always presents another opportunity. And then I caught motion in the weeds—something scurrying for cover.

“Five piglets!” I said, grabbing two and handing one to Kim. It was hard to believe they would be 100-pound nuisances in  two months. We had the right rifle for the hunt—especially as the Dimitris said Vepr is Ukranian for boar—but piglets weren’t what we had in mind.

The next morning we rejoined Hoppy, who said Florida’s wild pigs may be hunted on private property year-round with no license or bag limit and that they remain the state’s second-most popular big game after deer. Introduced by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto around 1539, they now run rampant statewide but prefer palms, marshes and pine flatwoods. Clearly, we were in a good spot.

After several “skunkings” on hogs, we were due for luck. And on cue, opportunity knocked. Fortunately, it’s not when it knocks that matters but how you answer the door.

Hoppy hit the brakes. We grabbed our binoculars, stunned at the huge and oblivious porker at field’s edge.

“You’re up, Kim,” we said, as she, Phil and Hoppy eased out of the truck, leaving Mark and me to note how her positivity and focus would need to make up for the fact the trio had to stalk boldly in the open from behind.

“Kim’s about to get the biggest hog yet,” I said. Phil’s camera was rolling as she hoisted her rifle onto the sticks and fired. The hog never knew what hit him. Her Hornady ammo laid him flat.

As the hunt wound down that afternoon, I realized my VEPR and I may go home empty-hog-handed. Finally—a nice-size black pig not far from camp. Phil hoisted his binoculars for a peek as I flung the rifle on the sticks. “Never mind,” he said, laughing. “It’s Porky.”

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2 Responses to Later, Gator (Page 2)

Tina Friedrich-Hawthorne wrote:
January 05, 2014

Karen!!!Geeze!! Who would've thought the little girl who cried because I stomped an ant hill in the front yard would grow up to be a 'gator hunter'!! So happy for you and proud of you for following your dreams!!!! What a rock star!!!!

Glen L Oney wrote:
October 16, 2013

Sounds like a great hunt and a good time wish I could have been in on it