Even though she was hoping to find him, the hog still caught Heather Pratt off guard when it strolled past the ground blind where she had been pondering the beauty of nature.
“I was sitting there reflecting on how lucky I was to be in the outdoors, that even if I didn’t shoot anything this is a great experience and anything else was just a bonus,” she said.
While Heather was content to collect the bonus, that isn’t the reason she made the trip to Arizona. She was looking to put wild pork in the freezer. Heather ranged the hog at just 17 yards. Adrenaline was flowing as she leveled her bow, and with her heart pounding, Heather drew back her arrow. On the business end of the arrow was a new broadhead she had been asked to field test. As Heather released her arrow, she felt confident it would find its mark.
Heather’s hunt for the wild hog started long before she made her way to the ground blind. Early this year, Heather and Kevin, her husband of 18 years, stopped by Desert Outdoor Sports to look over the inventory. By the time they walked out of the shop, Heather was holding a new bow, and Kevin was saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
Next up was the Wildlife and Habitat Improvement of Nevada banquet in March where Kevin made another purchase, a guided hog hunt at the Fort Rock Hunting Ranch near Kingman, Ariz. After paying for the hunt, Kevin handed the certificate to Heather and said, “Happy anniversary.”
Since the couple’s anniversary date is in June, that is when they booked Heather’s hunt. When the day came, they made the two-hour trip from Las Vegas and settled in at the ranch’s bunk house.
Heather’s hunt got underway the next morning when Scotty, the ranch manager, took them to a location where they could glass the side hills and valleys in search of movement. Though they saw a variety of animals, none were what she was after. So, Scotty led the way into a water hole, and that is where Heather first saw the hog. After deciding that was the animal she wanted, Heather put a long sneak on the hog, only to have it interrupted by other animals whose presence made getting a shot impossible.
Though she had the chance at two Russian boars, Heather thought they were too small and passed on them.
While strategizing over lunch, Heather decided she wanted another chance at the hog she had seen earlier that morning. So she opted to sneak into a natural ground blind overlooking the same water hole in the hope that the hog might come back into water. That proved to be the right choice, and the shot opportunity came.
Heather watched as her arrow found its mark, but to her dismay the broadhead she had been asked to test bounced off the animal’s side.
“My heart sunk into my stomach as I watched the hog jump and start running toward the watering hole,” Heather said.
Luckily, the hog settled down and awhile later presented Heather with another shot, this time at 20 yards.
Again she drew back and released an arrow, only this time she opted to use her broadhead, and the arrow found its mark.
“I was so excited, but there was no one around to share it with until the boys came back to retrieve me about a half-hour later,” Heather said.
Later that evening, with the hog cleaned and hanging in a cooler, and despite being tired, Heather was too excited to sleep.
“So we just sat out on the porch and enjoyed the sounds and stars until I calmed down enough to sleep,” Heather said.
It seems to me like she got her hog and her bonus, too.
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.