American Hunter - June 2013 - 44

Mangrove Hogs
By Ron Spomer, Field Editor

I

t was supposed to be a fishing trip
for snook. Tampa Bay in February.
Ah! Sun. Fun. An escape from the
long Idaho winter. It turned into a
muddy hog wrestling contest in a
fetid mangrove swamp. We loved it.
Florida and hogs are a natural venue.
This is where the first pigs were introduced
to North America, escapees from Spanish
explorer Hernando de Soto's explorations
in 1540. Today they continue ravaging the
tidal flats where Capt. Joel Brandenburg
of the Ana Banana Fishing Company sees
them while guiding snook anglers. Thank
goodness. Betsy and I had trailed a cold
front down from Idaho. The snook weren't
playing, so we went after the hogs.
"See the digging there?" Joel nodded
toward a mud flat plowed like a freshly
turned garden. "Rooting for clams. They
were just here." Joel, his 11-year-old son
and first mate, Joseph, had loaned Betsy
and me a Weatherby .300 Win. Mag. and
a Savage .243 Winchester. We beached

their sleek fishing boat and waded the
mangrove edge as the mid-morning tide
ebbed away, exposing ever more mud flats
for hogs to plunder.
We ducked and peered under manFishing guide Joel Brandenburg drags
the fixings for a Tampa luau pig barbecue to the party's boat.

june 2013 ❘

grove limbs as we went, seeing plenty
of tracks and churned mud, but no pigs.
They were foraging close to cover and
could slip away unseen at the slightest
alarm. Splish, splash, four of us wading
seemed alarming enough, yet I nearly
walked into a group of hogs 'round a point
of mangroves. They raced for the trees. I
knelt, leveled the Weatherby and pulled
the trigger when the reticle covered the
shoulder of a spotted pig that had stopped
for one last look.
"Barbecue!" Joel crowed. We dressed
the hog and dragged it into the shade. "Perfect size for eating. Let's get more." This was
no punch-your-tag-and-go-home hunt.
Sky's the limit. Betsy moved to the front
and we waded deeper into the swamp,
curling through narrow waterways where
herons and egrets flushed. Crabs skittered
in the shallows and puffer fish blew up
in alarm. Old hog diggings lay melting
under healing wavelets, but fresh diggings
beckoned. The sun climbed, and where the
mangroves blocked the cool north wind,
we began feeling like we were finally in

42 ❘  americanhunter.org


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American Hunter - June 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Hunter - June 2013

American Hunter - June 2013 - 1
American Hunter - June 2013 - 2
American Hunter - June 2013 - 3
American Hunter - June 2013 - 4
American Hunter - June 2013 - 5
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