THE LAST HUNT
by Chris Keck, submitted by Marty Moenning
"This hog is dandy" I said to Casey, as he shook his head in agreement. Through thick BlackJack and Post Oak brush, we both could see a very large wild hog biting and charging at Nelson's dogs, who were doing their best to hold the hog at bay. "Get him boys!", Nelson yelled, just twenty yards away sitting on his horse, on one of the well-used game trails. Little did Casey or I know, this would be our last hunt with one of the 'Pioneer' hog hunters of North Central Texas.
Nelson Moenning had been one of the first hunters in this area to train, breed, and use dogs for hog hunting. I have lived here most of my life and there haven't been any hogs here until about 1983. Now days it's hard not to find one along any creek or brushy area. Nelson had many dogs, but his favorites were Treeing Walker, Rhodesian Ridgeback, and Mountain Kurr crosses. We all had great fun chasing hogs from horseback, and Nelson was always a pleasure to hunt with.
This particular hunt had begun about a mile away when the dogs caught a small pig, and between the biting and squealing, Casey Don Uselton spotted a big dark colored hog, racing across the Needle Grass pasture. "Thar he goes boys! Thars the one we want.." Casey yelled. With the dogs called off the little pig, we could now turn our attention to trailing the big one. Nelson was in high gear in two shakes, spurring his mare into a lope. He rode hard to intercept the fleeing hog. "Perfect" I thought, "This is going to be great!". Nelson is going to lead the way on the chase. The dogs knew exactly what was going on, having many hunts under their collars. And like following the Yellow Stripe down the highway, they were locked on this hog. Only Sand Man would talk on a hog's trail, and it was getting harder to hear him as the brush grew thicker.
This area of North Texas grows some of the thickest, most eye jobbin', coat tearin', leg scratchin' brush anywhere. And "YES I HAVE seen the brush country of South Texas", but this is different. Green briars, knee high, and eight foot high thorn trees make it impossible to ride a horse through, and it's real tough just to walk in it.
Inside this fortress of brush and briars, the hog made his stand. Working in as close as possible I could see that three of the dogs had deep cuts on their sides and shoulders. And to make matters worse, there was a small ditch, with about six inches of water in it. The hog had his rear end guarded by the dirt bank, and was biting any dog that would venture in. We wanted this hog for eating, so I called the dogs back to allow Casey Don a clear shot. Nelson with his bad back, just sat on his horse, and listened to the whole affair. At the shot I was completely shocked, I have killed many hogs, and they have always dropped stone dead, with proper bullet placement, but this hog just turned our way and looked. Casey was using a Ruger GP101, .357 Magnum, but his choice for bullets had been a bad one, instead of penetrating the skull they just glanced off. "Step Back!" I told Casey, and at the report of my Colt Anaconda .44 Mag, the hog hit the mud, chin first. There is always a sigh of relief on my part, when everything ends well after a tough hunt, but today on that day it was "extra sweet". Nelson was pleased his dogs had done so well, and as he tied lariat ropes together to drag the 285 pound hog out, he smiled at us and said "We've had a Jam-Up good time, ain't we?". We (Casey and I) just shook our heads in agreement.
Less than a week later, I got a phone call from Stacy Smith, Nelson's daughter, who told me Nelson had suffered a massive heart attack. Three days later, he died in a Dallas hospital, far away from the brushy draw where we had our last hunt together. Well, we're still after em, and that's the way Nellie would want it. I know that Nellie is watching over us now, and he helps guide us to the hogs. I know at the end of the day, he makes sure all of the dogs and all of us, get home safe, so we can do it again next weekend. All of us, Nelson included, still enjoy the Thrill of "The Chase".