Sitting on a plane right now flying back home from Texas, where I attended the airgun show put together by friend and colleague Tom Gaylord. As soon as the one day event was over, Rossi Morreale and I jumped in a truck with our camera crew from American Airgunner and headed off on a multitude-day hog hunt about three and a half hours west of Dallas. One of the things that made this trip fun was that I was bringing Rossi on his first Hog hunt. Also, one of the crew was Clay Pruitt who has become my primary cameraman on my solo hunts. We’ve become pretty good friends over the last couple years. Funny what being locked in bunkhouses and hunting camps will do …. You either become better friends or can’t stand the sight of each other!
I’ve hunted this ranch before, and pig populations are generally good but weather conditions were putting a strain on movement. The method of hunting is to use brush blinds that have been set up around feeders or water holes in the early morning or evenings. Most people spend the mid day napping to recover from the predawn start, but I like to stalk the thickets and cedars for spot and stalk action.
On our morning hunt all four of us sat in one blind near a feeder, so we could get footage for the show. As day break, several large rats started running around, then rabbits started popping up everywhere, quail came out chasing each other around, there was a lot of activity but no pigs. Then I looked up and saw a smallish pig at about 75 yards out, rooting in the scrub. It was hard to see more than the animals back, as the grass between us was fairly high. I told Rossi to get ready as I watched through my binos. There was a feeder about 40 yards to the pigs left which would have brought him into shooting range for the guns we were using, but instead he started drifting away in the opposite direction.
After returning to camp for an early lunch and to rehydrate (it was hot!!) we geared up and took off for the hills as it were. Walking down the road to the far side of the property, I felt like I was leading an old time safari, walking out front with Rossi, Clay, and Chad behind me. Chad and Clay were loaded down with camera equipment and the shooters had their guns slung over a shoulder. When we got to a high point using the dirt road for access, we headed into the very dense thickets. Walking through, actually part walking part crawling through the tunnels of brush and cactus, we pushed a pig. It didn’t seem over alarmed but knew something was amiss (from his point of view). No matter what we tried, he kept ahead of us where we could hear but not see him.
I decided to split the group, where I could make a flanking move to get a head and work my way back toward towards the others. Clay came with me and leaving our packs to lighten our loads, off we went. It took about a half hour to circle the stand of thicket before starting the walk back, where we hoped to push the pig back (unless I could get the shot). Reaching a little clearing with a couple cedars popping up here and there. I sat for 5 minutes glassing the area looking at the base of the trees and anywhere I thought might hide a pig, but saw nothing. As we stepped around a tree I found myself face to face with a big coyote 25 yards away. He was already spinning and launching himself. I snapped up my rifle and fired as he took off directly away from me, but missed just shooting over the dogs head. It was a low percentage shot, but they were having a lot of predator problems and I’d been asked to shoot and coyote or bobcat that we came across.
With that, I went to reload my gun before moving on, only to realize I’d left my ammo in my pack sitting back with the other guys. OK, so I wasn’t going to get a shot but we could still push the pig back towards Rossi. I’ve got to tell you it was by now VERY hot, and we were getting stabbed and ripped by the thicket/cactus gamut we were traveling through. As we came to an area where it was possible to stand and see several yards a head, a grunt came through the brush. With the wind in my favor I very slowly crept towards the sound with Clay right behind me. We held up right behind a tangle of brush and looking though I had a clear look at three decent hogs bedded down completely unaware of us.
I silently chided myself for being there with an empty rifle and slowly backed us up then around these animals, beating a path back towards the other guys. It took us a while in this thorny jungle to locate them, but once we did I loaded my rifle and started back. We’d gone the 400-500 yards towards the bedded pigs when we heard a snort, a squeal, and an explosion of sound as the spooked pigs exploded away.
We got back to the bunkhouse, sweaty, bloody, dehydrated, and tired. By unanimous decision we opted to stay in the air conditioned hut with bottles of ice cold water, to rest up for the evening hunt out of a blind. The ranch manager had found a place in a remote part of the ranch, where even though there were no feeders or water, pig sign was everywhere and it seemed they were using the area as a transit point. He’d cut down a bunch of branches and piled them to make a small wall we could all hide behind. I will tell you we had a pretty exciting afternoon/evening here and took a couple nice boar, but that whole episode was captured by our trusty cameraman and will make it into this seasons American Airgunner. So rather than telling you about it you can see it when the show airs.
I’m on my way to Japan in a couple days, but have many more hunts lined up when I get back! I did get some down time on this trip to do some rabbit hunting using one of my new favorite springers the Diana 340 N-Tec, and had a lot of fun with this very accurate springer.
I’ll have more coming your way soon!