Jay Bailey of Black Creek had never seen a wild hog anywhere near the property he regularly hunts near Lucama in Wilson County. No tracks. No rooting. No wallows. No crop damage.

So, no shock when a hog that was well over 400 pounds appeared in a broomstraw field in front of his ladder stand right at dark on the afternoon of Dec. 6? Wrong.

"I was familiar with the law that was passed around Oct. 1 about feral hogs, but I didn't pay it any mind, because I'd never seen any sign of one around," said Bailey, who works at the Bridgestone plant in Wilson. "I was in my deer stand right at the edge of dark when I saw something black moving through the broomstraw.

"It was so big, I just knew it was a bear. And I was 20 feet up in a ladder stand and happy about it."

Then, Bailey got a better look at the intruder. "I could see his head, and I could tell it was a boar, so I got my rifle up and shot him through his shoulder," he said. "He ran off to the woodline about 30 yards away."

Bailey got down from his stand, feeling like he'd made a good shot with his Browning .30-06 topped with a 4x10 Nikon scope.

"I got to the edge of the woods and heard him grunting, so I got out my cellphone and called for backup," he said.

Bailey's stand was on the edge of a woodlot that backed up against a cutover, a place he called a "staging area" for deer between the woodlot and a nearby bedding area.

When help arrived, it took Bailey, two other adults and his 12-year-old stepson, Justin Scott, more than three hours to drag the huge hog back out to the field; the animal had gotten 30 yards back in the woods before dying.

"We got him to the edge of the woods, hooked a chain on him, and G.F. Wade dragged him out with his 4-wheeler," said Bailey, who was amazed at the size of the black boar.

"Our club had a scale that goes to 400, and he bottomed it out, easy," Bailey said. "I've got a friend who works at Smithfield Packing, and he saw a picture and guessed the hog at about 500 pounds."

The huge hog had tusks broken off a half-inch or so above the gumline, tusks that measured 1-1/4 inches in diameter. And Bailey said its shoulders carried the scares of numerous fights.

"He was so big we knew he had to have been around for several years, but we'd never seen any sign of him," Bailey said. "I know we've got a freezer full of sausage now."