Kayla Heafner, a 25-year-old Locust resident, got her big-game hunting career off to a rousing start on Jan. 31, killing a 327-pound Union County hog with one shot at 165 yards – at night.

Heafner was hunting with her boyfriend, Sean Casey, who is co-host of the Dish Network show “704 Outdoors”, when she dropped the hog with a single shot from Casey’s .270.

“After we started dating, I went deer hunting with Sean maybe a half-dozen times,” she said. “But we never saw anything.”

Casey said he and his father had hunted deer from the same two-man tree stand near a food plot, and late in the season, he almost had his first run-in with hogs on the stand.

“One of the last days of deer season, we heard hogs coming through the woods, but they didn’t make it to us before it got dark,” he said. “We hadn’t seen any hogs before that and didn’t know they were there.”

Casey decided to bait the food plot with Hog Cheese, an attractant made from fermented peanuts. He dug a hole in the ground and dropped in a shovel-full of Hog Cheese, refreshing the bait twice a week.

“(Hog Cheese) has a terrible smell, but hogs apparently like it,” said Casey, who along with a friend, John McPherson, killed several hogs in January, the largest weighing 200 pounds.

On Jan. 31, Heafner and Casey climbed into the stand about 5:15 p.m. Because feral hogs can be taken at night in North Carolina – except on Sundays and on game lands – Casey uses a device called the Sniper Hog Light when he’s hunting after dark.

“I like red lights because things show up more clearly,” said Casey, who has the 66-millimeter light mounted on top of his scope. He can activate it by depressing a pressure switch.

At 6:30 p.m., several hogs came into the food plot. Casey said he could see the largest boar without his scope light.

 “I thought at first the (boar) was too small; it took a while for my eyes to adjust looking through the scope,” said Heafner, who finally saw the hog well enough to put the crosshairs behind its shoulder and squeeze the trigger.

“I hit a little behind, but it was a decent shot,” Heafner said. “My adrenaline was pumping like crazy. The first time we hunted hogs I shot my dad’s 30-30. It was too far, and I was discouraged (by a miss). But this time I kept saying, ‘Did I hit it?’ ”

The hog ran toward them and entered a cutover 40 yards from their stand, where Casey found it after a 10-minute search.

“I never thought I’d say I want to put a hog shoulder mount on a wall, but we’ll probably do that,” Heafner said. “It’s mine, so I’ll make an exception. I want the nose wrinkled up, so it looks like it’s snarling and mean.”

The excitement of her first hunting experience sharpened Heafner’s taste for more.

“Now I want to get a wild turkey and a coyote,” she said.