The next day, I drove out to meet Oleg again for a feral hog hunt.
Let me say this right now: I have no problem with hunters. I just don't like the idea of killing an innocent animal, so I personally will not do this. I realize this makes me a gigantic wuss and that I am neglecting important survival skills, but that's my problem and not yours.
So when Oleg invited me to join him on a hunt, my initial reaction was to say no, and then explain why. He was kind enough to inform me that I didn't have to participate if I didn't want to, but that it would be a good way to meet people inside the gun biz and maybe get me out of my shell a little bit. I thought about this, and figured "Well, the pig is going to die regardless of what I do, so I might as well hang out with people."
As it turns out, getting there was half of the adventure. Short version:
- Drive several hours to a place in Cocoa.
- Don't find anyone at that place. Call Oleg and ask WTF?
- Wait for owner of business to show up.
- Follow owner back to his family's home. This was another 20 minutes of driving, some of which was on unpaved roads.
- Meet Oleg at the house. Observe that there were quite a lot of these folks, one of whom had tattoos down both arms and up to his neck.
- Realize that my feelings of intimidation at seeing large tattooed man are prejudicial and I shouldn't be judging him by his appearance.
|He really was a nice guy, but dang. Neck tattoos just disturb me.|
Picture courtesy of Oleg Volk.
- Remain freaked out regardless of logic.
- Move my gear into Oleg's rental.
- Drive what felt like several more hours well south of Melbourne.
- Ask Oleg, "So, uh... just how well do you know these folks?" Be informed that they "passed the sniff test." Not sure how to take that.
- Get off the interstate and drive several miles on dirt roads through palmetto groves and hammocks.
- Arrive with basically an hour of daylight left.
As it turns out, they really were very nice people and I felt like an ass for having my doubts about them. As a dog person, I cannot help but feel that anyone who loves a dog is a good person, so seeing the way Buck and Dwayne treated their dogs really put me at ease.
The subject of a hunt was a truly massive feral hog. Oleg took pictures of it in the back of the trailer as the menfolk used a cattle prod to corral it; I studiously ignored what was going on and concentrated on getting to know the dogs. Slim and Trim, shown above, are the chaser dogs of some breed that I don't recall. They were quite feisty and once let out of their cages they ran around chasing each other. Slim (who isn't very slim these days) just wanted to chase, and so I ran around a bit with her, but Trim was far more friendly and mobile and had a habit of jumping onto the tailgate of the jacked-up pickup. This put her at eye level with me, and she enjoyed licking my face. Awww!
|Who's awesome? Trim's awesome!|
Finally, the fateful moment had come. Oleg handed me his camera and readied his rifle. My job was to follow him and take pictures once the hunt was finished. Buck and Dwayne released the hog, and Slim & Trim took off after it, harassing it and keeping it from running in a straight line. Oleg took off after them, and I followed him.
It was while I was crashing through the palmetto grove that I had the strange experience of hearing my own voice inside my head talking to me. The conversation went something like this:
Erin, you're chasing after a 300+ pound feral hog with only a camera. Are you really sure this this a smart idea?
Well, I have two dogs and a heavily-armed Russian in front me. I should be okay. And I do have my pistol with me as well.
Okay, but just keep in mind you are running towards danger when the sensible course is in the opposite direction.
Duly noted, self.
As I was chasing after Oleg, who was chasing the dogs who were chasing the hog, I noticed that there were a few times when he had what I thought was a clear line of fire. I later discovered this was Oleg being sporting and giving the hog a good run.
The details of the next part are pretty vague, but I recall at one point Hank was set loose in order to corner the hog -- perhaps Slim or Trim had gotten too close and were in danger of being mauled. Once Hank got his teeth in, the hog basically gave up.
It was time for the shooting. Slim and Trim were called back to safety; Hank was given the "release" command; one of the men made a "booga booga" type sound. The hog got up and, from my vantage point, appeared to charge straight at Oleg.
How did my pistol get in my hand? Huh. I'm proud that my finger was off the trigger and the muzzle was pointed at the ground, but I was ready to empty the entire magazine into it if it came at me.
The hog charged. Oleg raised the rifle, and smoothly shot it right in the head at a distance of what looked like five feet (but was actually more like twenty). It dropped, as things shot in the head are wont to do.
This is the picture I took of him immediately after the hunt. I took at least a dozen pictures using his expensive high-tech camera. I think maybe he liked two of them.
Oh well. Like I told him, "You get what you pay for."
After that the pig was posed and other pictures were taken, this time by Oleg.
As twilight began to settle in, we were given the opportunity to shoot the RFB for ourselves. Once again I was able to bask in a moment of awesome by reaching into my gear and producing something unexpected but useful: a shooting mat by Voodoo Tactical.
Two targets -- a chunk of wood and an empty Gatorade bottle -- were placed approximately 25 yards away. I shot first at the wood, in a prone position, and then at the bottle in a seated position, using a Nightforce 1-4x24 scope.
Here's how I did:
My thoughts on the RFB are as follows:
- A very accurate rifle.
- I love the ergonomics and the fact that it's ambidextrous.
- Recoil was not a problem for me, as I shoot a Mosin.
- Unfortunately, after each shot the rifle spat a cloud of gunsmoke right into my eyes.
This last point is a huge factor: A semi-auto that forces me to look away from the target because I am blinking away tears from acrid smoke in my eyes is no use to me. If Kel-Tec would fix this one issue, I would rave about the RFB and its operation and recommend one to everyone, but as it stands now I will not own one.
EDIT: Oleg tells me that the smoke blowing into my eyes is a result of the suppressor. Not having shot an un-suppressed RFB, I can't comment. If I get the chance to, and my opinion changes, I will be sure to let everyone know. /edit
After the shoot, we packed up and drove back to Cocoa, where Oleg and I had a celebratory dinner at a Thai restaurant. Given the excitement of the day, I was half-expecting ninjas to jump out and attack us.
Sadly, there were no ninjas. :(