Jonathan Florence admitted that it was “pure luck”, but neither he nor his father, Bruce, is about to downplay the hunt last Friday in Transylvania County that ended with Bruce Florence killing a 707 ½-pound wild hog he said could be best described with one word: buffalo.
The Florences, who live in southern Caswell County, travelled to North Carolina’s mountains last week because one of Bruce Florence’s friends told him they had on some property plenty of wild hogs and some big ones.
So hunting in a general area between Brevard and Lake Toxaway, the Florences headed up the side of a mountain the morning of Jan. 16 to get started.
“We probably walked for about two hours; it was really steep,” Bruce Florence said. “I got tired and sat down, but Jonathan walked another 80 or 90 yards up the mountain.
About that time, Jonathan Florence heard some rustling in a thicket of mountain laurel that covered the bottom of a hollow He started into the opposite side of the thicket from his father, and in short order, he drove out three sow hogs, then three more sows. Then, he said, it got interesting.
"I was probably about 20 yards from getting through the laurel thicket when the big boy blasted out of there,” Jonathan Florence said. “When I ran him out, he headed straight for my dad.”
Bruce Florence was sitting down, holding a single-shot .25-06 rifle, when the hogs started to emerge from the laurel thicket. Florence, a serious wild hog hunter who has killed porkers up to 150 pounds, admitted he wasn’t quite ready for what was heading in his direction.
“Out came this buffalo; that’s the only way I can describe him,” Bruce Florence said. “He was bee-lining right at me.”
The hog broke cover about 90 yards from Florence and was bearing down on him at around 30 yards when it angled off to one side, giving Florence a broadside shot. He squeezed off his only round, aiming behind the hog’s shoulder. At the shot, the hog started to stumble; Jonathan Florence, who broke out of the laurel in time to witness the shot, said the hog “went digging another 15 to 20 yards” before it went down for good.
“When he came out of there, the hair on his back was standing up like he had a Mohawk,” Bruce Florence said. “And my hair is only 1/16th of an inch long, but it was standing straight up.”
The Florences had done most of their climbing up a logging road, and they started dragging the hog, which was 7 feet, 4 inches long, back down the mountain.
“If you know anything about Transylvania, it is just one big cliff,” Bruce Florence said. “Gravity really helped us. Then, when we got to the bottom, we got seven or eight boys to help us drag him and load him into the truck.”
When they got the hog back to his friend’s house, they dressed him out. They didn’t have a big enough scale to weigh the hog, so Bruce Florence’s friend weighed the gut pile on a set of scales at 127 pounds. When they were finished and headed back to Caswell County, Bruce Florence took the rest of the hog to a truck stop and weighed it on a set of certified scales.
“I’ve got a ticket from the scales that says 580 ½ pounds, so with the guts, he would have weighed 707 ½ pounds,” said Florence, who described the hog as a “Russian boar, a razorback.”
“Pictures just do not do this hog justice,” said Florence, who is having taxidermist Stanley Thornton of Burlington do a European mount of the skull and the tusks in the lower jaw – which were better than 4 inches long – as well as tanning the hide.
“We got some good bacon and sausage off this hog,” Florence said. “We’ve already eaten the ribs. We got about 150 pounds of sausage, a lot of bacon, and we got one ham and the tenderloins out.”
Florence, who runs Florence’s Landscaping with Jonathan, said the trip was not the last he and Jonathan will make to Transylvania County.
"They’ve got another one up there bigger,” Bruce Florence said. “He’s got a track as big as a cow’s track. They've got people up there afraid to go outside because of him.”