The first time I had on night vision goggles was while driving a U.S. Army deuce-and-a-half full of soldiers four hours round trip along a dirt road in the desert to a phone bank so they could call home.

I don't know if you've ever tried to follow a dirt road in a desert, but there isn't a whole lot of difference between the road and the desert.

Under blackout conditions the entire trip, I could only hope that the grainy, green view through my goggles allowed me to discern well enough the edges of the road to get the troops there and back safely.

The second time I had on night vision goggles was while I was walking through a field near Jackson with Adam Lee and Chris Au looking for feral hogs.

The stakes were not as high, but there wasn't much tactical difference.

These two guys have been doing their part in helping eradicate Mississippi of feral hogs for the last few years by practicing light discipline to sneak up on unsuspecting targets.

Night vision goggles and night vision scopes are an integral part of their success.

I met up with Lee at a busy gas station just south of Jackson. On the ride to meet Au, Lee told me a lot about hunting hogs at night with night vision gear.

"The farm where we are going is about 400 acres," he began. "This land has been maximized as far as food plots go - two- and three-acre plots - in some prime Pearl River bottom land.

"There ought to be a lot of deer, but it ain't got crap for deer."

In fact, Lee and Au only saw maybe a dozen does and five or six bucks through their night vision gear last year. They considered this very strange, since they both knew they should be seeing lots of deer at night.

"(The landowners) blame it on the hogs," Lee said, as he explained how he and Au received permission to hunt this particular property. "The hogs don't move much during the day, with all the deer-hunting activity going on.

"Night is when they move."

Lee went on to tell me that the hogs we would be hunting were going to move some time every night. The two hunters have wrapped up well before midnight on may occasions, but they have also had to wait them out to the wee hours of the morning.

The reason these hogs move is to eat. And, like deer, the more acorns on the ground, the less they have to move.

"Last year was the best acorn crop I've ever seen," Lee said. "When you got all those acorns on the ground, hogs don't come into the fields nearly as much. Three years ago, though, when we first starting hunting them at night, there were no acorns anywhere.

"Those hogs were like ants on an ant bed. They rooted them up, and they looked like mine fields."

Lee recalled that the rooting was so widespread that it looked like somebody went in them with tractor and a disk, and just went nuts and tore through them as fast as they could.

"There were holes out there that we fell off in and would be knee deep," Lee said. "We got a lot of acorns on the ground now, so they aren't moving a whole lot right now, but the sign has started looking good the last couple of nights."

As soon as we met up with Au, he started pulling night vision goggles and scopes out of their storage cases. He attached one scope to an AR15 6.5 Grendel and another to a SCAR .308.

We might have been hunting hogs, but I was immediately taken back to Desert Storm upon sight of these rifles.

"We started out shooting for fun, and these ladies came by to tell my boss she has problem with hogs," Au told me, as he packed up the weapons for the short ride to the fields. "My boss told her talk to Chris. She thought I would not come, but we do it for fun, and I showed up.

"We been killing the stew out of them ever since."

Au claimed he killed them so well that this lady had no more hogs on her land.

"What happened when we first started coming was we would see 20 or 30 hogs at a time," Lee added. "They were out of control, tearing up the place. We shot a good many of them out, but they're still coming into these fields to feed. We're basically killing hogs that are feeding on the place rather than living on it."

I asked Au, a self-proclaimed gun nut, if he hog hunted with night vision gear as a way to use his equipment he already had or if he purchased the equipment just so he could be able to hog hunt.

"Both," he said, "because we go out to kill hog, and all we had was the PS 7 goggles. We put on goggles, look out there and used red laser to shoot. That doesn't work too well because the goggles don't have illuminator."

Because he enjoyed pursuing hogs at night so much, Au started buying more and more night vision gear. The beginning was not much more than trial and error with very basic gear, but now Au and Lee go after hogs at night with what Au called generation four technology.

"Now, nothing but the best," Au explained. "Generation four - military says no such thing as generation four, but the company that makes it says I call it whatever I want to call it.

"Because generation four is so good they charge $1,000 more than generation three."

After arriving at the fields under blackout conditions, Lee decided to rock with the SCAR, while Au went with the AR 15.

I followed the duo as they crept across the field, and saw Lee and Au through my night vision goggles constantly scanning the landscape through their scopes.

They looked like soldiers on a mission as we traversed the field to a fence line that would allow them to watch over two ryegrass fields from one vantage point. Although light, the wind was blowing straight at us from the direction Lee and Au expected the hogs to appear.

Au eventually set out on his own to patrol a section of pine plantation on the edge of field, while Lee and I held down the fence-line fort.

Intermittent squeals and grunts filled the cold night air, and it wasn't very long before Lee spotted something at the far edge of the ryegrass field.

"Put your goggles on and check out that hog," he whispered to me. "It's about 200, 250."

A suppressed shot sounded behind us as I lifted my goggles. I got them to my eyes just in time to watch the rear end of the hog disappear into the timber.

A few minutes later, I could tell through my night vision that Au had returned to his vehicle.

Lee and I waited about another half hour, but the chances of any more hogs coming out on either of these two ryegrass fields was slim to none after the shot.

We loaded up and drove a few minutes, and stopped at the edge of about a three-acre food plot.

A short spot-and-stalk pushed a couple of deer off the edge of the plot, but there were no hogs to be found. According to my hosts, the lack of wind probably had something to do with our lack of action.

"They will smell you if the wind isn't right and you never know they there," Au explained. "Best time to hunt is with 10 or 15 mph wind. You walk right up on them, especially in the fields where they eating.

"Sometimes we get within 20 yards of them and open up on them."

As for other variables that have affected past hog hunts, Au and Lee pointed to temperature and moonlight as most important.

"You can hunt hogs year around," Lee said, "but we don't come out here when it's 70 or 80 degrees. It's too hot and miserable, especially with the mosquitoes.

"But I can't say the cold has been all that great either. I don't know if temperature has any bearing on it, but our best nights have been 40 to 50 degrees."

Au said moonlight has a real impact on success.

"And a full moon makes night vision work even better," he said. "Night vision gather and magnify available light, and we don't even need the illuminators (small LED lights on the side of night vision that looks like a mag light through night vision gear) on full-moon nights. Full moon make the entire field of view through scope brighter than illuminator."

Admittedly, hunting ferrel hogs with thousands of dollars worth of night vision gear isn't for everyone. But if you've got wide-open fields and an even wider wallet, hunting boar hogs under blackout conditions is an entertaining way to put a serious hurt on the local hog population.