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By BILL ROBERTS
When we lived on four acres next to the Double F Ranch, the kids had to walk from where the school bus let them off at Mrs. Hart’s store at Moss Bluff, in Marion County, down a dirt road, next to a pasture that belonged to the ranch. My daughter, Donna Gail, got off of a different bus than the boys, and was alone one day when she saw what she thought was a big, black yearling calf crossing the dirt road ahead of her and go through the pasture fence into what we called the Lake pasture. When I came home that evening she told me about this big calf that was getting out and going where it pleased.
This story didn’t make any sense to me so I told her to show me where this happened. When we got to where the calf crossed a dirt road, I could see right away it was a hog track and probably a big boar. On the barb wire where he had gone through the fence was a tuft of coarse black hair.
After looking around I spotted several tracks from the same hog. He was making a habit of traveling the same course pretty often and mostly at night. But the thought of the kids encountering a single boar hog this size made chills run all over me.
This was really unusual because I have never heard of any hogs being on this ranch. But one thing I knew, we had to kill him before we had a disaster. I told the kids to wait at Mrs. Hart’s store and their mother or I would pick them up until we could catch the hog. The next day was a Saturday and I called Buddy Fort who worked cattle with me and told him to bring a gun and his dog, we were going hog hunting.
At the time neither one of us had a hog dog but maybe we would get lucky and get a shot at the hog. Well we tracked the hog down next to the Oklawaha River and into a big thicket. About that time our two dogs took off barking right into a bunch of palmettos. Buddy and I jumped up on an old tree that had fallen down. All we could see was palmettos shaking. About that time our dogs came tearing out of the brush howling and whining like the devil was after them. We never got a look at the hog but there was no doubt he was in there.
The smell was rank enough to make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. We knew then we needed some professional help. Once we got back to my house, we called down to Leesburg and got a hold of John Newsom, a cowboy friend of mine, that I knew had some real hog dogs. John said it would be next weekend before he could make it. We continued to pick the kids up that week and John showed up on Saturday with two big Florida cur dogs. We went back into the same area where Buddy and I ran into the hog a week before. It wasn’t twenty minutes before John’s dogs bayed up. We eased in close as we could get to the dogs and the hog, and I got a good shot with my .22 Magnum rifle right into his ear and that was all it took. He weighed 350 pounds and had a set of five inch cutters.
A hog’s jaw has a set of whetters on top and a set of cutters on the bottom. When he is ready to fight, you can hear him popping his jaws together. He’ll rub those cutters against the whetters until the cutters are razor- sharp. And you better be ready because he’s coming at a speed that’s nothing but a blur.
Back in the Everglades on two separate occasions, I killed the hog at the end of my rifle barrel. But he still knocked me down and splattered me with his blood. But I wasn’t shooting a .22, I was shooting a 300 Savage that could knock a bull down. And did once or twice.
Bill Roberts is a Cedar Key resident, an artist and a cowboy.