It was his last cartridge and his last hope. The 192-lb. wild boar had already gored Dr. Joseph “Larry” Jackson Sr. twice and had him right where it wanted him.
It had all happened in a whirlwind… the quick tremble of leaves in the thicket, the scrape of tusks and teeth against his rifle. Dr. Jackson chambered his last round, knowing a movement too quick would probably be his last. Blood was already puddling around him.
The hog locked its eyes on the downed physician and lowered its head to strike again.
The Fourth of July had actually started off nicely for the 64-year-old Waynesboro physician. It was just after sunrise when he and hunting buddy John “J.R.” Rountree spotted the big black hog inside a pasture at Old Town Plantation in Jefferson County.
Dr. Jackson took a 350-yard shot and heard the .243 bullet hit, but it missed the heart by an inch. The hog ran along a fence line and out of sight. J.R. went for the truck while Dr. Jackson took off through the pasture on foot.
Meanwhile, the bullet-hit hog was hunkered down in a thicket no bigger than a compact car. When the doctor came into sight, the boar charged Dr. Jackson.
“I fired from my hip and just missed,” Dr. Jackson recalled from the leather recliner in his living room. “He took my feet out from under me and was on top of me.”
The hog backed off and charged again, this time burying a tusk in the doctor’s arm. He used his Remington .243 as a club and managed to hold back the hog’s head as it drove into him again and again. A pair of binoculars blocked a blow to his gut.
“These saved me from having my belly ripped open,” he said, running a finger along scrapes above the lenses.
When the hog backed off again, he knew it was his last chance.
“I didn’t want to make any quick, sudden motions,” Dr. Jackson explained, remembering how the hog stared straight at him as he reloaded his rifle and eased the barrel around.
As the boar lowered his head to attack again, Dr. Jackson squeezed a point-blank shot into its chest.
“I never felt any pain, and I was never afraid,” he said. “I was just trying to fight for my life.”
As the boar went down, the doctor realized how badly he was hurt.
“I could see I was spurting blood, so I knew I had a problem,” he recalled.
He used his good hand to keep pressure on the gash until J.R. arrived with the truck.
“I lost 3 pints right there on the ground… another three minutes and I would have been dead.”
J.R. heard the shots but didn’t suspect trouble until he rounded the bend.
“J.R. knew something was wrong then,” Dr. Jackson said, noting the whole attack was over and done within minutes. “He said he’d never seen a hunter and hog on the ground at the same time.”
J.R. rushed Dr. Jackson to the emergency room in Jefferson County where they learned the hog’s tusk had severed the artery in his wrist and sliced through three tendons. Unbeknownst to the doctor, the boar’s tusk had also pushed through his boot and severed his calf muscle.
“It looked like a cherry bomb went off in there,” he said, glancing at his thickly bandaged leg.
It took orthopedic and vascular surgeons at University Hospital in Augusta nearly four hours to repair the damages.
Dr. Jackson hobbled to his gun safe and pulled out his Remington.
“It was a fight to the death,” he said, pointing to the bite marks and gouges along the barrel. “One of us wasn’t coming out of there alive.”
He returned to his recliner, sporting a deep tan and athletic shorts. He looked himself, despite the cuts and lumps and the perfect purple hoof mark imprinted in his thigh.
He said J.R. returned for the hog and will soon deliver packages of bacon, sausage and cubed steak. There will be a skull mount arriving soon, too, complete with the razor teeth and 4-inch tusks that came so close to taking his life.
Dr. Jackson pointed to the wall where it will likely hang and recalled the flash of black-and-white stripe across the boar’s shoulder.
“I will always remember that pink eye staring right at me,” he said.
The incident won’t discourage Dr. Jackson from returning to the woods. Just as soon as his body will let him, he’ll be back at it looking for some more bacon and sausage.
Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Billips is the associate editor at The True Citizen in Waynesboro and interviewed Dr. Jackson at his Waynesboro home on July 7.