Hunting at the famous Christmas Place is filled with dangers. The land is rugged and steep. The ridges are sharp and rocky and a misstep on the side of one of them could be disastrous.
This is what happened to my good friend, Greg Jones, and was the start of a terrifying night.
Greg had hunted in the steep hog back ridges on the east side of the property. He had gone in that afternoon to hunt on the ground on top of a sharp peak overlooking a junction of three hollows. He hunted all afternoon with no luck. He left his ground blind after dark and headed back to camp. He wore a headlamp to see and worked his way across the more open side of a very steep ridge. He hurried as evening fell into heavy darkness and somewhere along the steep slope; he lost his footing and slid down the hill. His body twisted as he frantically tried to grab a small sapling or root to stop him. He finally grabbed a vine that held for a second then broke and he went spinning over a steep precipice and into space.
Greg landed on his back in the fork of a small tree. The heavy clothing he wore had protected him from breaking a bone, but the tree quickly bent backwards and he slipped out, head down toward the ground. His leg somehow became entangled with vines and the fork of the tree, holding him tight but leaving him dangling barely two feet off the ground. He hung there, bruised and scraped up, as he surveyed the area with the still attached headlamp. He could see his rifle lying about eight feet away but was helpless to get free or reach it. This was when he heard the first loud grunt.
The startled herd of wild hogs must of been using that area to bed in and Greg had landed right in the middle of them. They were confused and angry and circled around him grunting with anger and fear as he could now see them rushing in and out of the glow of his light as he twisted in the darkness.
Greg tried to twist and turn to reach up and free himself but could not as a huge hog rushed by and cut his down jacket with its huge tusks. Greg immediately swung himself around trying to get a stick to use as a weapon and was able to use his hands to fling himself out of the way as another hog slid by him. Safe for the second, he could not reach a stick and no matter how much he kicked and twisted, he was held fast in his upside down position. Grunting and squealing the hogs swarmed around him and he knew it was
only seconds until one hit him solidly and sliced him open. He yelled as the thought of his face and chest being ripped open seized him and he struggled to find any means of escape.
Suddenly everything grew quiet. He could not even hear the hogs breathing as they stood still as statues around him. In the silence he could hear the sound of approaching footsteps. The hogs suddenly and silently fled. He heard them leave as fast as possible, and then everything grew silent again. A few seconds later he could hear the heavy footsteps approaching him. They approached until at a distance of about 20 yards red eyes suddenly appeared in the light. The large red eyes seemed 7 or 8 feet off the ground.
That is all he could see through the darkness. The huge thing slowly circled him at that distance and he followed it with the headlamp as best he could. It moved closer once it got behind him and then he heard a low terrifying grunt as the beast stood only about 10 feet behind him. Then he heard the footsteps move on around him and at last he picked out the eyes again to his right. The eyes disappeared and he heard the huge animal as it walked down the hollow and out of his hearing. Greg was finally able to get his folding saw out of his backpack and cut himself loose. He will not venture a guess as to what the big animal was, but he won’t hunt in that area and he won’t go at all without carrying a pistol on his side.