My hunting season has been going great, harvesting five deer and 45 hogs so far on Louisiana public lands — but I’ve had some setbacks dealing with vehicle tampering.
It started when I was driving on Highway 90 with the cruise control set at 65 when suddenly my tire started shaking violently. Before I could hit the brakes, both the tire and rim completely fell off, rolling past me while my truck jerked downward out of control.
The tire jumped the 3-foot barrier and rolled into oncoming traffic. Luckily, it dodged several cars before landing harmlessly in a swamp. Meanwhile, I was trying my best not to total my truck, with the rear driver’s side dragging metal onto the asphalt. But it was a scary few seconds when I lost control of the truck.
Somehow I made it to the shoulder safely. I crawledl through the neck deep swampy muck and cut grass to retrieve my tire. Apparently, someone had stolen or loosened my lug nuts and put back the plastic rim cap which hides the lugs. At least that was the insurance company’s best guess.
Later this winter, I had a cracked side view mirror, a slashed tire, a beaten on and broken bed cover — and then someone scattered corn by the doors of my truck trying to get me in trouble. As if I’d ever stoop to illegally baiting to hunt. Apparently, some people don’t like it when you hunt “their” spots on public land.
Yet, I haven’t come across another person hunting in the woods because I hike well over 2 miles to most of my spots. I often park at locations that are further away from parking areas near where I’m hunting because I need to cover more miles for ultra-marathon training. The majority of my hunts I have been walking 20-plus miles all day, never stopping at any location. I let many deer walk, and only harvest one or two from a particular tract of land each season. These fools don’t any realize any of this, and must think I’m hunting close to the parking lot where they do.
However, with my truck in the shop being repaired - which took three weeks – it meant I was in a rental. And I wasn’t about to pay double the amount for a truck since it was a dry fall without muddy roads — so a small compact car it was.
But I remembered to get the insurance this time. On a previous solo bear hunting trip in Idaho, I skimped out on the insurance and locked the keys in the truck. I didn’t realize it until after the evening hunt, with no reception on a desolate road far into the Rocky Mountains — without enough clothes and the temperature dropping quickly.
I used a big rock to shatter one of the windows, allowing me to get back to the campsite and out of the cold. The rental company wasn’t too happy about that, along with several other dents from mountain roads and a bunch of missing parts from the bottom that got scraped off. I had the American Express insurance policy, but there’s a reason why it’s a free service with the card: It’s tough to get claims handled, and only pays a percentage.
But this year I was determined to not mess up this car. However, I do know that dirt and grime could be cleaned, so I wasn’t about to hold back on the hunting. But I quickly realized dried blood on carpet and leather doesn’t just vacuum up.
The first morning with the car, with most of my hunting gear at the camp, I stopped for a bow hunt on the way up. I shot a nice sow stalking in a swampy slough. My dog, Rouge, assisted in blood tracking the pig for me. I had no knife, and the car was loaded to the brim, with the trunk and backseat full of clothes and food. So I stuffed the dirty 150-pound sow into the passenger seat with my poodle.
The pig kept making gurgling noises from the wound with every bump the car hit. Big Rouge was not too happy about the seating arrangement, thinking the pig was still alive with all the noises, but the meat stayed very cool in the AC during that long ride.
Later that weekend, I shot another hog very deep in the woods. Once again, I had forgotten the knife and it was hot. Back at the car, I had my huge razor-sharp Tree Shark broadheads. So I ran back in and cleaned the pig with the broadheads, packing out just the meat on the passenger seat this time.
I had jumped a monster boar, and the next weekend I was determined to strike it down.
That weekend, I had downed two other small pigs that I backpacked out to the car. Then, I stopped Sunday evening to hunt the monster. I had hiked deep, stalking every thicket and nuttall in the forest near where I had last seen it.
Suddenly, I thought I saw a big fallen tree, but it was the beast. He was feeding slowly under a big striped oak acorn tree out in the open. With the crunchy leaves, this smart guy was using the surroundings to his advantage. I slowly crept from 100 yards to 30 yards away undetected, moving every time the hog went behind a tree or looked away.
Once in range, I fired a shell of tungsten Super-Shot-sized BBs into the pig’s front shoulder. The massive creature dropped like a rock. Video clips of this hunt and many others can be found here.
To me, an old mature boar is a very smart beast which is just as much a trophy as a nice buck. I like skull mounting them, so I cut off the bloody boar’s head and hiked it out. It rode shotgun the entire way home.
The following weekend, I struck a doe with my recurve on R.K. Yancey Wildlife Management Area. This weekend I had my Vizsla, Shasseh, who tracked the deer for me. I backpacked out the meat, but needed to keep proof of sex to remain legal. So Shasseh rode in the passenger’s seat with doe’s head and all the tasty meat sitting alongside her.
I shot a few other hogs during those few weeks in the rental — the blood was piling up in every nook and cranny of that vehicle.
By then, my truck was finally fixed up and the adventures in the rental car had come to an end. It took quite some time to clean out that car before bringing it back looking brand new — I just hope they didn’t inspect under the seats.
It brought back many memories from the time I took my mom’s car in my college days the year my first-ever truck broke down for good.
I had put my first-ever buck with a bow inside my mom’s Ford Taurus wagon and rode home from Three Rivers WMA to Thibodaux. Momma wasn’t too happy, so the next week I put a doe I shot with my bow on the roof.
I thought the blood stains all over the car were awesome — but Momma did not agree.
Later that week, I shot a big stinky boar. This was before I knew about backpacking the animals out in the field. So the pig rode all the way home in the station wagon that Sunday night, and the car never smelled the same again. In fact, my mom soon sold that car.
So remember, just because your vehicle is in the shop, it doesn’t mean hunting has to end. Unfortunately, they have low-lives everywhere, so be wary of where you park.
I’ve had several other vehicle issues in the past. During the process of moving in with my wife, I had my window smashed and $13,000 worth of gear stolen out of my vehicle one night while I was fishing.
One year while hunting, I had all four tires slashed. Other times, my vehicle was keyed, written on and dented up. I often wonder if putting a fake Mississippi license plate on when hunting there would avoid these outcomes.
Still, I find the joys of hunting public land far outweigh any negatives I encounter. I’ll continue to not allow anything to detour me from enjoying my time in the woods. However, some type of surveillance system may just be what I invest in next.