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The Finisher

Mar 29

Written by: Dr. John J. Woods, PhD.
3/29/2012 7:00 AM  RssIcon

If hunters would be honest with themselves, they would admit to having been faced with this at one time or another.  Sometimes you take a good shot on a game animal and it runs out of sight or falls where it is only wounded.  Then the ethical decision comes.  Do you fire another shot from your big game rifle to dispatch the animal ethically?  Do you wait, climb out of your stand or shooting house, or just approach the animal to determine its fate? 

GovernorI have faced this situation myself twice now and I did not particularly favor my options at the time.  One whitetail buck I shot with a 38-55 single shot 1885 Winchester.  The buck fell immediately, but from my stand it was obvious the deer was not dead.  I hustled out of the stand rushing to the buck using my rifle to end its life. 

The second time the buck ran out of the food plot leaving a hellacious blood trail.  By the time I got to the spot with a flashlight, it was nearly dark.  I radioed for help from other hunting club members and they quickly assembled to help with the tracking.  We found the blood trail but after an hour we did not find the buck. 

With cold and rain settling in, we decided to retreat to camp for heavier clothes, rain gear, and much brighter spot lights.  We had half dozen guys back in the woods looking for that deer and we finally found it.  Not dead.  Again we had to use a high-powered deer rifle to complete the task. 

I always felt this was a less than acceptable manner to end such an episode, but the redeeming value was that we did recover the deer.  But I have kept thinking, what would be a better option? 

Hogs a Tough Hombre!

Admittedly I am not a seasoned hog hunter like many of you.  I cannot speak from long experience as a hog hunter here.  However, as an outdoor writer having done many stories on other hog hunters’ exploits, I have learned a few things I am now trying to apply to my own hog quests. 

One thing I have certainly heardover and over, and saw for myself in Oklahoma, is how tough hogs can be to knock down and keep down.  On a deer-hog hunt last year in Oklahoma I was testing the new Smith & Wesson Performance Center M&P-15-PC (AR-15) chambered for the first time in the relatively new 300 Whisper, which I hope to detail on performance in another article here. 

Anyway, we had deer hunted that morning and Lady Luck for once smiled on me.  I took a very nice buck with a .223 MP-15 so my afternoon was free.  After lunch my guide loaded me up for a tour of the ranch with the idea of prospecting for coyotes or any other legal targets of opportunity.  Hogs were on the menu as well.

As dark was closing in, it started to rain.  Justin wanted to check one more green plot for hogs.  The field was full.  We rushed into shooting position.  I powered on the EoTech sight and got a two-toned, white-black hog in the sight’s red ring.  Ka-pow.  We both heard a solid hit but the porker headed out of the plot and into the abyss. 

Winchester Long story short we never found the hog that night or the next day.  My point is that as hog hunters, we cannot always count on a 100 percent of the time clean kill shot.  Hogs have been known to absorb bullets and magically remain fairly unencumbered.  These critters are tough and the bigger ones even tougher.  We may often have to resort to taking multiple shots, or a close quarter killing shot to write the end of the story.  Again the typical hog firearm, may not be the best choice, nor would a bow or crossbow in every case. Or, what if you dumped 30 rounds from your AR-15 at herd of 50 hogs in a field, and there’s one dragging himself toward you 10 feet away?  It happened much like this to SHWAT™ Co-Founder Jonathan Owen. So what other options present themselves?

Enter the Finisher

I was recently sent a new handgun for field trials.  It is the Smith and Wesson Governor.  This is a six-shot revolver with a long cylinder capable of handling three different rounds.  It will chamber the .45 Colt, the .45 ACP, as well as the .410 shotshell in any sequence mix you choose to pick.  Its primary purpose is for self defense at close ranges, but obviously it has other applications as well. 

After handling the gun for just a short time, it occurs to me this would be a perfect firearm for hunters of all kinds, but especially hog hunters to carry into the field on hunts as a sort of back up gun.  It could be just the ticket to finish off wounded game with a close up deliberate brain shot.

Excusing the .410 shotshell option for this finishing work, it would still be ideal for taking out pesky snakes or other vermin.  I would certainly carry a shell holder or elastic loop shell belt carry with a half dozen .410s for the ready.

Otherwise, either the .45 Colt aka the 45 Long Colt, or the .45 ACP would be fully capable of handling such a task and more.  A good .45 Colt load such as the Winchester PDX would bear a 225 grain bonded PDX bullet with a muzzle velocity of 850 fps and a muzzle energy of 361 foot pounds.  The .45 Colt is plenty more than enough power to function as a close quarter finisher to wounded game including hogs. 

Ditto for the .45 ACP.  Again Winchester has a 230 grain bonded PDX bullet with an MV of 920 and a ME of 432.  With this load or other good selections as well, the .45 ACP in the Governor would make a good choice for hog hunters to carry afield, in a nearby vehicle, or on an ATV for example for ready access.

Why the S&W Governor?

I wish at this point you tactical hog hunters could pick up a Governor and see what I mean firsthand rather than trusting my descriptions.  The Governor is made for field work.  It is made of lightweight scandium for the frame and the cylinder is stainless.  The gun’s overall finish is a subdued black matte.  Its weight is only 29.6 ounces unloaded.

Governor HolsterThe Governor sports a synthetic rubber-like grip with recoil absorbing qualities.  The front sight is a Tritium night sight with the “rear” sight being a machined groove down the top of the frame.  It's available from the factory with optional Crimson Trace Laser Grips. This handgun fits well in the hand and will carry well on the hip or in a shoulder or cross draw holster.  Though I guess practically any handgun could fill the role of a game finisher, it seems to me the S&W Governor is particularly well suited to the job. 

Field carry for the Governor is made easy in a crossdraw rig made by DeSantis or a strong side hip carry in a Hunter Company #1145 holster.  Hunter also makes an excellent cartridge belt for this Governor holster that has loops for .45LC round as well as .410 shotshells.  This makes a perfect hog hunter combo.

The idea of having to field a game finishing gun is perhaps not an especially appetizing prospect, but then again, wounding game does happen.  So do rattle snakes and water moccasins.  After all even a wounded hog deserves that fair and ethical treatment.  Even more so we owe it to ourselves as ethical hunters.

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Smith and Wesson Governor

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