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MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 2007
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Zak Smith, 12, with his father, Eddie Smith, left, and grandfather, Neal Smith, right. Zak killed four wild boars and one deer with his Ruger Minature 77 .308-caliber rifle.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Zak Smith, 12, with his father, Eddie Smith, left, and grandfather, Neal Smith, right. Zak killed four wild boars and one deer with his Ruger Minature 77 .308-caliber rifle.

12-year-old drops four boars, one deer with six shots
Family hunting trips yield plenty for Priceville Middle School student

By Paul Stackhouse
sports@decaturdaily.com· 340-2460

Zak Smith doesn’t carry a six-shooter on his hip and walk around claiming to be the best shot in the world. But this young rifleman, a seventh-grader at Priceville Middle School, needed only six shots two weeks ago to make hunting memories that he will never forget.

Smith, 12, carries a .308-caliber rifle when hunting big game. The high-powered firearm came in handy when Zak and his father, Eddie Smith, and his grandfather, Neal Smith, went on a hog hunting trip to River Oaks Plantation in Alapaha, Ga., on Jan. 1-3. They also went hunting Jan. 5.

During that span, Zak needed only half-a-dozen shots to bring down four wild boars and one four-point deer.

Eddie Smith said Zak has hunted for about six years and that he practices good and safe hunting habits. With that in mind, he allows Zak to take part in hunting trips like the one to Alapaha.

For Christmas, Zak’s grandfather gave him the hunting trip as a gift. A chance to visit a place he recognized excited the young outdoorsman.

“That is where Hogzilla, the largest wild hog that has ever killed, was at,” Zak said. “He weighed over 1,000 pounds and his tusks were over 18 inches long.”

They planned to hunt only one day, but that changed.

“We left on Tuesday the week following Christmas,” Zak said. “We planned on driving Tuesday, hunting Wednesday and driving back Thursday. When we got close, though, we called the owner, Mr. Holyoak.

“He said the afternoons were the best time to hunt so we decided to hunt Tuesday afternoon and again Wednesday afternoon.”

Before taking to the field, the hunters were given specific instructions.

“Before we went out, we got the rules and ‘where to shoot’ speech from Mr. Holyoak,” Zak Said. “He told us to shoot behind the ear. You can’t shoot them behind the front shoulder like a deer because they have a protective plate which is very thick.

“This makes it very hard for a bullet to penetrate and kill the animal. I didn’t worry about this because of the type gun I shoot, which is a Ruger miniature 77 .308-caliber rifle with a Simmons Aetec scope. I knew I was going about a week before we went so I had (fine tuned) my scope and knew it was (accurate) at 100 yards.”

On the first outing, Zak and his grandfather went to one shooting house, and Eddie went to another one. It didn’t take long for the youngster to write the first chapter of his big trip.

As soon as Zak and his grandfather pulled up with the guide, they saw a big sow and eight piglets run into the woods. Also, a boar weighing approximately 150 pounds was in sight about 50 yards away.

“Granddad reminded me to shoot it behind the ear,” Zak said. “I took aim (at the boar), and it hit right where I was supposed to.

“The wild hog dropped and my granddad made me shoot it once more to make sure he was dead. He was surprised I could shoot that well.”

Later, they saw another big boar.

“Granddad missed a huge one that afternoon,” Zak said. “He just had eye surgery and saw six hogs in the field. There were only three, though. He must have shot at the one that wasn’t there. I told him to shoot the one in the middle next time.”

The following day found Zak and his father together in a shooting house. Early on they saw three big hogs but were not able to get a shot off.

Later, the three returned, and Zak’s aim was true again. This time, he harvested a 350-pound boar.

The second animal came within range, and Eddie Smith decided to take a shot. The shot hit the boar but it didn’t take the animal down.

Eddie Smith didn’t have a line on the hog for a second shot but Zak did. The 350-pounder dropped after the shot without taking another step.

Zak also harvested a third wild boar that weighed in more than 350 pounds as well.

“Over two afternoons, I killed four wild boars in five shots,” Zak said. “One shot was a ‘make sure’ shot that wasn’t necessary. We got 700 pounds of meat from the hogs since only 60 percent of the total weight is meat. We had so much meat to bring home, we actually had to rent an Xterra and dropped the rear seats and filled it with coolers.”

Heading back home Thursday, Zak still had plenty of reason to be excited as his holiday vacation still had one more hunting trip planned.

On Saturday, the father-and-son team went deer hunting with Zak’s other grandfather, Glen Perry, in Paint Rock Valley. Zak was able to get off one more shot, but this time he harvested a four-point deer.

“When he killed the deer, it just added icing to the cake,” Eddie Smith said. “I thought we were going to have to let some of the air out of his head to get him through the door it was so big.

“That weekend will provide him memories for a lifetime that he can share with his children and grandchildren.”

Something tells me there will be plenty more chapters written in Zak’s world of hunting book before he takes his own kids out for their hunting adventure of a lifetime.

“The only bad thing about the trip was that Grandad didn’t get a wild boar,” Zak said. “That gives us a reason to go back.”

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