Most hunters know hunting is a family thing. It's no different with mine. I love hunting with them, and do so every chance I get. But the first weekend in March was more special than most hunts I've been on, for a few reasons.
The last several years I have hunted for Russian boars at Sunrize Acres in Michigan. This time around, though, my sons Josh and Justin and family friend Derek Hansen made the six-hour ride there with my wife, Connie, and me. For the boys, this was completely different than anything they had ever experienced. Derek and Justin have hunted deer before and Josh has hunted turkeys, but they've never hunted anything that could chase them. And with Justin being home on leave from the Army, this was even more special for us.
We all saw lots of game, from hogs to rams to deer and buffalo and were all using various weapons to hunt. Connie, Derek and I all opted for archery gear, and Josh and Justin used shotguns. It's good to have choices. The weather early in the morning proved to be awfully cold. It was a mere 10 degrees when we arrived, but as the day wore on, the weather got nicer, and it seemed to get the pigs moving better.
Early on, things were slow and with the other 20 or so hunters out there, no one had success. In fact, it was after 10 a.m. before anyone got anything. Easy, it wasn't.
But eventually after sitting in the stands and blinds, getting aggressive was the order of the day. We all ended up having to stalk the pigs, which is a bit intimidating, especially after hearing about how several guys got chased the day before. And if you have ever been face to face with those pigs, you know what I'm talking about. But that's half the fun of it, and the hogs we got all ranged from 190 pounds on up to 325. Can you say BBQ?
But aside from the hunt, we got to hang out with the owner of the property, Ted Nugent. It's hard not to know him if you hunt, as he is one of the biggest advocates for hunters' rights and gun owners across the country. He brought the executive director of the NRA, Chris Cox, with him on Friday, and he talked with us about Second Amendment issues, and why we need to keep fighting for our freedoms. Those guys really knew their stuff.
But the next day we all met at the ranch again, not to hunt, but for a BBQ. Ted came out again, and we all sat around the fire and gave thanks to one of the many true American heroes who fought for our freedoms, Dustin Rhodes. This was Dustin's first trip to Sunrize and he scored his first hog, too.
Dustin, who is confined to a wheelchair and is suffering from Lou Gehrig's Disease, was a guest, thanks to one of the good people from tednugent.com, Pete Odland. Ted wanted to make it a point to get him there, as he does so often for veterans, and unless you saw the smile Dustin had on his face all weekend from a successful hunt, it's hard to picture anyone happier.
As far as Ted went, everyone enjoyed having him there. He told a lot of stories from his music career, told a lot of funny jokes, signed a ton of autographs, posed for numerous pictures and even played a couple of songs for us. We had a blast, and with my kids joining us for the first time on this trip and meeting one of our soldiers who hunted pigs for the first time, it's pretty hard to top a trip like that. For me, 2010 couldn't be off to a better start.