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- Prostaff Member Steve Johnson
Cherokee Run Hunting Lodge is located in Chesterfield, South Carolina. After speaking with Tom Naumann (owner) at multiple hunting shows over the past year, myself and 12 buddies were excited to head down to South Carolina for a 2 day hog hunt that was described as “Great”, especially during this time of year.
Dates Hunted: February 18th and 19th 2011
Species Hunted: Hogs
When we arrived in camp we were greeted by the head guide Scott who showed us into the lodge. The lodge was clean and had all the necessities required for a 2 or 3 day hunt. There were two bunk beds in each room and with 13 total hunters in camp we used every one of them! They have a nice open area/kitchen for people to sit, along with a nice front porch to relax and talk hunting. They also have a pool table room and another sitting room with satellite TV to pass the evenings and mid-day if you weren't hunting. Over all I would say the lodge meets the expectations of a hunting camp, nothing too fancy but everything you need.
Food was not included on this hunt, although head guide Scott took it upon himself to get up and cook breakfast for us on Friday morning. Eggs, sausage and biscuits got the day started right! And, there was enough left over that we heated up the next morning and breakfast was taken care of both days. We brought and made our own lunches and some of the guys cooked dinner at the lodge. A few others headed out to take in some southern cooking at the local restaurants.
Scott is the main guide in camp and works at the lodge full time. Cherokee Run hired a second guide, Matt to help handle the thirteen hunters in camp. Matt's sole duty was to drive us to the stand locations and pick us up. The first morning he had a little trouble finding his way to the drop off point, but we still made it plenty of time. Scott seemed to know the land pretty well and where the stands were located. When asked about hunting the wind, he replied “the wind swirls down here, so we don't worry about that”… That had me worried, swirling wind or not at least we could try to avoid detection.
My first morning on stand I was setup on a hill top in a two person ladder stand. The stand was comfortable and had some camouflage wrap around it to conceal movement. On the way in I noticed there was corn on the ground along the flagged trail to the stand. The corn looked fresh and it had not been disturbed by hogs or any other creatures of the woods from what I could tell. That morning, no hogs were heard or spotted…
Arriving back at camp and speaking to the other hunters I realized that not a single hog was spotted by any of the 13 hunters! Needless to say this news wasn't what I was expecting and I started to get concerned. After speaking with Scott a little more we were told that most of the hog sightings happen in the evenings right at dusk and it wasn't unheard of to not see any hogs on a morning hunt.
Friday evening about 3pm everyone piled in to the Chevy Suburban's and headed back to the same stands we hunted that morning. Darkness came and again not a single hog sighting in my area. I also knew the other 6 guys hunting this particular farm hadn't shot, but I was hoping they had some good stories of hog sightings. After I got back to camp it didn't take long before we realized that only one person had spotted 3 small hogs. They came out on a power-line roughly 350 yards away right at dusk and presented no shot opportunities.
After a full day of hunting with 13 guys in the woods, only one person saw a hog and no shot opportunities for any of us! I asked Scott what he thought and he just said be patient everything is ok. I proceeded to ask him when my stand was last baited; he replied that he put the corn there Thursday afternoon. So 12 hours prior to me sitting in that tree-stand, he had baited it. So I then asked, well I didn't see any signs that hogs were eating it, when was it baited prior to that..? He replied “I think Tom baited it Monday or Tuesday”… Now I am no hog expert and this is my first hog hunt, but I do know that there were no signs that hogs or any other animal for that matter had found the corn in this area. I expressed my concern over this and he said he would try to think of another stand for me to hunt. Later that evening we were informed that myself and one other hunter would be moved to different stands, but everyone else would be going back to the same stands on the second morning.
Saturday morning we awoke to find a couple guys were going to skip the morning hunt. Can't really say I blame them with most hog “sightings” happening in the evening and the lack of hog sightings thus far, sleeping in sounded pretty good. Not me though, I am here to hunt every minute I can. I arrived at my new stand right at daylight to find a single ladder stand. The stand had no shooting rail and no padded seat to sit on, just a metal grate. Realizing that the feeder was 60+ yards away I decided to make a shooting stick before my ascent up the ladder. It wasn't comfortable in that stand and I was pretty disappointed that they would send me to a stand without a seat, but at this point I just wanted to see and get a shot at a hog!
That morning I heard some hogs grunting and breaking sticks behind me about 9:00. This got the blood flowing pretty good. I could see down two cut roads in that direction but no hogs ever set foot outside the thick under brush. We were scheduled to be picked up at 11am and it was a few minutes prior to that when I caught movement to my right. Sure enough it was a hog, he stepped out onto the cut road and just as fast back in to the thick brush. He didn't look very big to me, but based on our situation I was taking any legal hog! I texted our guide that I would like to stay on stand for a little while longer incase the hog came back. At 11:35 it seemed that the hogs had moved on and I climbed down to meet my guide at the pickup spot.
Back at camp for lunch and again not a single hog sighting by the 9 hunters who went on the morning hunt. At this point our hunters had sat on a total of 35 “Sits” (morning hunt is one “sit”, afternoon would be a second “sit”) and only 2 of us had spotted a hog. I was content to go back to the same tree that afternoon, but the other hunters complained a little about not seeing anything and requested hunting new areas. It seems that Scott did not have anywhere else for them to go, so they were forced back to the same stands for the last afternoon.
We were told by Scott (head guide) that Cherokee Run has about 3,200 acres they hunt. I don't know what the real number is, but I do know that the 7 guys that hunted out of my Suburban only hunted one 200 acre tract. I could literally hear the guy coughing in his tree-stand behind me and I could hear feeders going off on two other occasions. 7 guys on 200 acres is pretty tight in my opinion.
That last afternoon I heard the hogs come back down towards me but again they never got close enough to see. It seemed to me that they were well educated to the hunting game and knew better than to go anywhere near that feeder during daylight hours. So at the end of our last afternoon not a single hog was spotted by our entire group.
13 hunters hunted 2 days (few guys skipped the second morning) and not a single shot opportunity was presented to any of us. I would call that unacceptable for a guided hunt and it was a huge disappoint for me as well as the rest of my group for many of which this was their first guided hunt. It was also brought to our attention around the campfire that South Carolina's rifle season opens September 1st and runs through the end of December. We were told that Cherokee Run takes over 200 deer hunters every year from September through December and I feel like this contributed to the minimal daytime movement we experienced.