Many hunters get “buck fever” — the adrenaline-induced, heart-pounding excitement experienced when you finally see that monster buck you’ve been after all season.
But what about “hog fever?”
William McKey had a nighttime case on Friday, March 24 — and with good reason.
The 24-year-old Baton Rouge hunter was on 200 acres of family land north of St. Francisville when a massive 325-pound boar he’d been pursuing finally presented itself for a shot.
“As he’s coming through the woods, you could hear him grunting,” McKey said. “He’s got that deep, deep bellow.
“My heart was just thumping out of my chest.”
It was after 9 p.m., and McKey was in a box stand overlooking a food plot that consistently showed signs of hog activity along with his buddy, Chase Walker of Monroe.
The two were actually waiting for the opening day of turkey season the following morning, but decided to kill some time to see if they could track down the big hog on another section of the property.
“I’ve had him on camera for four months. I’ve been following him around for a while,” McKey said. “We’ve got a ton of hogs, and this one was popping up more and more often.”
Their property is on the edge of the Tunica Hills, and hogs wreak havoc on their deer trails.
“I don’t know where those things sleep. I don’t think they’re sleeping on our property. They’re sleeping somewhere else and coming onto our property at night,” he said. “My guess is because it’s private land … it’s like a haven for them.”
Having seen the size of the big boar on trail cam pictures in relation to other hogs they’ve taken down, McKey and Walker had a firepower plan if their paths crossed with the beast: McKey was armed with a 5.56 Smith & Wesson M&P 15, and Walker brought along a Remington .270.
“I knew if we shot that thing and it didn’t drop, I doubt if we’d have found it,” McKey said. “They’re so tough.”
Shortly after settling in, two small hogs came through, but fortunately the hunters decided to hold off.
“We were kicking ourselves because we let them go,” he said. “It was just five minutes into the hunt, but we were kicking ourselves.”
But their patience was rewarded just a short time later.
Less than 20 minutes after letting the small pigs walk, the big hog stepped out of the woods at about 50 yards, illuminated only by a little moonlight and McKey’s green-filtered flashlight.
“This thing came out and he was covered in fresh mud like he had just gotten up for the night,” McKey said. “You could tell he was big. Just from looking at the trail cam pictures, I knew he had that high back and that size.
“We both knew immediately that was the one.”
So with the hog barely 10 steps out of the woods, they fired.
“We synchronized and counted down,” McKey said. “I shot him straight in the head and Chase shot him straight in the side — and that thing just dropped.”
A small celebration ensued in the pitch black of the box stand.
“If you were in the woods, you would have heard us whooping and hollering like a bunch of kids,” he said. “I knew right then we had hit that big boy we had been watching.”
But that’s when the real work began — it took almost 30 minutes to get the muddy beast into the bed of McKey’s pickup.
“With that mud on him, he stunk, stunk, stunk. He was nasty,” McKey said with a chuckle. “We couldn’t even drag it. We tied a rope around its leg and both got in the truck and got its back end up, and ratcheted it off to a tie down.
“Then we both got down to pick his body up and put it on the tailgate. It tooks us forever to load.”
The big hog stood more than 40 inches at the shoulder, was more than 6 feet long and tipped the scales at 325 pounds. Its two bottom tusks measured about 3 ½ inches long — and now it’s destined for a spot on McKey’s wall.
“He’s in the freezer. I caped him out for a shoulder mount — that’s going to be the coolest one I have in my arsenal,” he said. “That’s the biggest hog I’ve shot out there for sure.
“It was a helluva rush, let me tell you.”