The other bloggers who were on the hunt with me might put up separate posts about their experiences, but as a newbie hunter I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on it.
We got to the ranch, our lease was on a working ranch, around 4:30 in the afternoon. We signed our individual lease/waiver agreements, got a briefing from the property owner, and a brief tour. Since our lease was for hogs and coyotes, our hunting hours were unrestricted. So, we headed out for the blinds before sunset, hoping to at least get a glimpse of something worth shooting. I paired up with Ambulance Driver and we walked out to a double width blind with a feeder set up about 100 yards away.
Now, I know that some people are going to think that it’s unfair to shoot innocent little pigs who are just minding their own business eating deer corn at a feeder. Right. First of all, these are ugly beasts. They are wild hogs, and look nothing like those cute pink things that you see in cartoons. Covered with thick, coarse, insect infested hair, the boars have tusks, and full grown ones can go over 200 pounds. They are also smart and while having mediocre hearing and sight, they have an incredibly good sense of smell.
So, there we were in the blind and AD was giving me some pointers. Which I appreciated, even if they didn’t all make sense until I had some context to put them in.
After a couple of hours of listening to acorns fall to the ground (which is incredibly loud) and not seeing anything we walked out and went to the camp. Which was a smallish shack, but it had electricity, TV, and hot running water, as well as bunks. Spartan, but certainly sufficient for our needs.
Oh, and one of the other guys had shot a 190 pound hog. We all stood around while he butchered it and telling us how he got it.
I realize that this story can get incredibly boring, so I’ll try to shorten it a bit.
Here are some things I discovered while sitting in a blind or stand waiting for something to happen.
It’s pretty peaceful sitting in the woods or on the edge of a large field watching the sun come up (or go down) and being alone with your thoughts.
The woods are a whole different place at night, every sound is magnified and it’s amazing how noisy the place is.
Sometimes game does walk right up to you. As in the three (off limits) deer that sauntered to within 50 feet of the blind I was in, looked right at me, then continued wandering around the field.
Squirrels are endlessly with the game feeders and try endlessly trying to figure out how to get into them. Some day one will and he will be the King Of All Squirrels.
Occasionally I’d hear a shot from one of the other blinds, but no one else was hitting anything. I of course wasn’t even seeing anything, other than squirrels and some extremely large wasps. Not quite large enough to shoot, but larger than northeast wasps.
This sort of thing went on until Sunday morning, when the guy who had taken the first hog took his second of the hunt. The rest of us had a combined score of two shots taken and nothing hit. Matt G, a very experienced hunting hadn’t even seen a hog, let alone shot at one.
We were back at camp when the land owner drove up and asked Alan and me if we won’t to head over to the “walkaround” which is a wooded area surrounded by pastures and a small swamp. He suspected that there were a number of hogs over there and we would be able to find some and maybe even get a shot off.
We eagerly agreed and drove over to the area. We walked up to the wooded area and circled it. And saw nothing, but sign. I don’t know about wild bears, but wild hogs do shit in the woods. A lot. Finally, Matt the property owner told us that he was going to walk down to the other end of the woods and fire a couple of shots into the ground to try to spook some hogs. We were to wait until we saw some hogs and then shoot at one.
Well, he never got that far as Alan spotted a large hog in the woods and took a shot. Which hit, but didn’t down the hog. As the shot, a large number of hogs starting running into the clearing where I was. I brought up AD’s scoped AR 15, aimed, and shot. And missed. High I think, but hog fever no doubt. Then a group of four broke from the woods about 100 yards in front of me, but disappeared before I could get my rifle back up. Then a third group broke from the other side of the woods about 150 yards away. The land owner was yelling for me to take a shot, so I brought the scope up, sighted on one of the running hogs and fired. And saw one of the three stagger for a second then disappear from view.
“You got him!”
Now, I’m the first to admit that there was a large element of luck in that shot. I’m not even sure that the one I hit is the one that I had the cross hairs on. Still, it felt good that to get a hit, even if it was a marginal hit. The land owner assured me that my hog wasn’t going anywhere, so we went to help Alan try to track his hog down. After 20 minutes of fruitless search, we left Alan to keep looking and went back to the field to check on mine.
She was still alive, but unable to walk due to the round I had put through her hind quarters. See, I told you it was dumb luck. So, Matt handed me his .45 semi auto and told me to shoot her in the head. I shot from about five feet away. And missed. And felt silly. So, I got closer and put two round nose .45 slugs in her head, which only seemed to annoy her more. Then two more into her chest, followed by another .223 into her head. THAT finally finished her off, but for a 78 pound sow, she sure was hard to kill. Which I attribute to my nervousness and lack of recent target practice.
While I didn’t exactly prove my self to be the great white hog hunter and cover myself with glory, I did in fact kill one sow. Which as it turns out was the only one that any of the rest of us shot.
When we got back to the camp, it was time to butcher the hog and I deferred to AD and Matt G. Who did a necropsy/butcher process because they wanted to see what the wound ballistics were like. I’m always happy to further science, even if it’s by accident. I also gave the meat to Matt G, since he was heading back to his neck of the woods and I had no way to refrigerate it. I’m sure he’ll do it justice.
For the record she weighed in at 78 pounds. Smallish, but still it’s one less sow to have a couple of litters a year. And it provided more than a couple of pounds of fresh meat.
Here are the things I learned for future hunts.
An AR15 can be used to hunt, but not by a novice hunter like me. AD would have done a much better job with it than I would. Next time I go hog hunting, I’m going to bring my Marlin 336C in 30-30 and it will have a scope on it.
Hogs aren’t easy to find, let alone shoot.
Hunting, even if I don’t get anything is fun. The camaraderie with other guys is part of the enjoyment, as is sitting in a blind or stand just watching the woods at work.
It’s even more fun if you do shoot something. Not to mention that it’s more exciting.
Sometimes luck matters more than skill.
I need to get to the range more and become more fluid in my rifle shooting. I have the fundamentals, it’s just a matter of making the process more automatic. At least I’d like to think so.
I’m looking forward to my next hunt.
Of course now I have to start watching hunting shows on TV and learn to tell hunting stories like a redneck.
“Well, that hog lit out about 150 yard from me, so I put the scope on her and fired one shot just to anchor her. Then I walked up and finished her off with another shot close in. I figger she’ll dress out to 50-60 pound or so…”