Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Post-mortem: my first pig hunt

My first pig hunt (click here for Part I, here for Part II) has left me a lot of food for thought - yes, pun intended. Here's what I've learned:

Gratitude: No matter how bad I feel about my shot, I should remember first and foremost to be grateful and thrilled that I came home with meat - and that I have a boyfriend who knows how to turn it into wonderful things. Yesterday I was feeling a little down, and Boyfriend brought me a cup of broth made from the roasted bones of my pig. It was delicious. I was thankful for it.

Knowledge, Part I: When I got home from the hunt and, with some trepidation, opened my overflowing email, I'd gotten a note from Terry Scoville of the Women's Hunting Journal (a newcomer on the huntress blog scene - definitely check her out). Clearly, she'd been checking out the photos of my target shooting, because she said, "If your rifle has a pistol grip and you have to reach for the trigger then each time you squeeze the trigger you actually tighten the rest of your hand (grip) and pull your shot. I pulled to the right and I shoot R. handed."

Well, I shoot left-handed, and sure as hell, I've been pulling to the left - both in practice and on my pig on Sunday. And coincidentally, when I was doing all my practice for this hunt, I'd told Boyfriend it felt like I was having to reach too far to pull the trigger.

Now I know I need to do a couple things: When I'm using Boyfriend's rifle, I have to be really conscious of that pull. And when I get my own, I need to see if my bud, gunmaker Dale Tate, can help me out on that fit issue. I don't want to buy a kid's rifle because I have long arms, but I do have girl-sized hands.

Knowledge Part II: After reading about what Phillip was doing when I was out on my hunt Sunday morning, I realized there were two reasons my shot was so horrible. I knew where to aim on the animal when it is broadside, but for some reason I can't fathom, I hadn't figured out that I need to adjust that aim when the animal is quartering to make sure the bullet is still heading toward heart and lungs.

Duh. it's basic geometry. Even if I'd still pulled to the left, aiming at the proper spot would have minimized meat damage, spoilage potential, and most important of all to me, the animal's suffering.

On suffering: Why was I so wracked up about my bad shot? Part of it is being a perfectionist. (Remember that, Native, as you watch your little Virgo girl grow up). But the other part is that I hate suffering. It took my dad two miserable years of slow decline to die, and it was horrifying to watch. I decided then that a quick and merciful death is what I wish for every living thing. (My dad's dad dropped dead of a heart attack in his garden - could there be any better way to go?)

That said, I understand it just doesn't always work that way. I distinctly remember watching a nature show where a crocodile took down a grazing animal at the waterhole, and the narrator said it took SIX HOURS for the prey to succumb. My pig, with his blown-out gut and broken femur, lasted five or ten minutes. Not great, but by nature's standards, not the worst thing ever.

Pictures!: For someone who completely flipped out about the apparent destruction of the photo of her first duck ever, and for someone who took about 200 photos of Jim dressing his pig on Saturday, I was a complete idiot on Sunday: I don't have one single photo of me and my pig.

Friends: This hunt revealed that I am amply blessed with many friends: I had a great time hunting with Phillip, whom I've known a few months now, and Jim and John, whom I met for the first time at 4 a.m. Saturday. I was really happy to meet Native Hunt owner T. Michael Riddle, and guides Sam and Mike, and the rest of the crew there at Native Hunt. And I am grateful for all the friends who comment here - whether I've met you or not.

If you haven't checked it out yet, you've got to see Phillip's version of events this weekend - both the Saturday hunt and his hunt on Sunday. And keep an eye on the Hunting with Jim website, where they'll be posting video of Saturday's hunt. Editing video - especially the high-quality way John does it - takes longer than just writing, so it may be a while, but I promise you it'll be worth the wait.

Thanks everyone!

© Holly A. Heyser 2008

12 comments:

Phillip said...

Keep digging, Holly... you're learning a lot from the introspection.

As far as geometry, this is something that bowhunters are very good at, but it's not emphasized enough (in my opinion) to gun hunters... and that's to aim at the exit wound, not the entry. As you figured out, it's not so much where you hit him, but what the bullet does after it goes through the skin.

As far as good eats.. I think I'm done with pork for a little while. Pig heart on Sunday night, a little roast on Monday, and bbq'ed ribs last night gave me my fill... everything else is in the freezer for a day or two. I may have to go pick up some shrimp or something tonight for a break.

What a weekend...

NorCal Cazadora said...

Go for sushi, man! That's my antidote to red meat overload.

As for me, live and learn. It bugs me because I should've figured that out, and I'm normally good at such things. But that's what learning is about: making mistakes, doing better next time.

Phillip said...

Sushi tomorrow night! Oh yeah...

Blessed said...

I understand about not having a single photo of such an important event - I don't have a picture of my first duck or my first goose... just my memories!

SimplyOutdoors said...

I got done reading your post and had something all ready to write, and Phillip had already taken the words from my hands.

I learned from bowhunting to always aim for the exit hole. It works like a champ.

Still a great shot though for your first big game hunt, and as you said, compared to natures standards for suffering, 5 minutes is nothing!

I do understand the need for perfection though. I am cursed with that as well.

gary said...

I love the fact lady hunters are learning from other lady hunters, good advice from Terry. Greetings to Giblets.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Simply, are you a Virgo too?

And Gary, here's a link to a slideshow of my little kitty (who is SO HAPPY I'm home because she hates to be further than five feet away from me). There's music to it, so be sure to turn up the volume...

flanhammer said...

Can we dare to hope for a similar hunting-and-cooking slideshow someday?

NorCal Cazadora said...

Yep, I'm working on that. Boyfriend's still doing a few more things with the meat, so the photo collection isn't yet complete.

deb said...

Hi Holly,

Wow. You and Hank really are very intriguing people and reading your sites I appreciate what you two do to put on your table and how you present. I met you both at the Potluck, My daughter Meg (12) was there and she kept going back for more of the duck you both brought. Then she came home and asked her step dad to take her duck hunting..

He used to hunt wild boar around Lake Sonoma for years.

Happy Tuesday

Tom Sorenson said...

Great stuff - It is refreshing to see someone learn so much from their experiences!

And by the way, I LOVE the drawings!

NorCal Cazadora said...

Ha - thanks! But you can see why I became a writer, not a sketch artist...