Spike Box Ranch, West Texas: I saw the hog top the hill several hundred yards away and start heading down in my direction. I put my scope on him and watched a younger boar, head up and moving fast right down the trail and towards my hunting stand. Part of me wanted to take him on the move, especially when he got within 175 yards, but he kept getting closer. Closer. Wait, I told myself.
Then he ducked into the mesquite and brush along the trail and disappeared.
I was still kicking myself for not shooting, scanning the mesquite without luck, when I heard the tell-tale squeals of a sounder of young hogs. They trotted right down the exact same trail as the lone boar, over a dozen younger hogs, noisy, jostling each other.
A feeder lay between me and the top of the hill, about 110 yards from my hunting stand on the Spike Box Ranch. These younger hogs knew about the feeder, and their internal dinner bell had rung and rung hard. But the light was fading fast. They got to the area near the feeder, under a large, spreading tree, just as dark was about to fall.
Now or never. I lined up my crosshairs on a lighter-colored hog, a cream colored guy that weighed about 100 pounds, let out my breath and squeezed the trigger. The surrounding hogs scattered so fast, a veritable whirlwind of pig, I lost sight of my hog for a few seconds. Did I miss?! Oh, man, don’t tell me….
And then I saw movement, swung my scope over the area and saw the kicking feet. My hog was down. He went still in a half minute.
1 to 0 and my night’s hog hunt was just beginning!
I’m very fortunate in that I get to travel around the country in search of great hog hunting destinations. So I often get asked: Where’s a really good place to go tactical hog hunting? A guided hunt, with good accommodations, where you know there are lots of hogs?
The Spike Box Ranch, in Benjamin, Texas, sits at the very top of my list.
I’ve hog hunted the Spike Box twice, and have many friends who have hunted there, too. All of our experiences points to the same conclusion: the Spike Box has a great staff, a huge expanse of awesome land to hunt, day and night hog hunting opportunities, and lots of hogs. What I call a “Hog Rich Environment.”
How rich? One gloomy dawn last August, my Spike Box guide and I drove a blacktop road on our way to a potential ambush spot a few miles distant. On the way, we passed at least 200 hogs in the fields on either side of the road. Once we’d parked and hiked back to the ambush area—a large field the hogs like to forage in before heading to their daytime bedding areas–three sounders totaling 60 hogs were strung out in front of us.
While sitting in Spike Box hunting stands set up near feeders, I’ve seen singles, doubles, and triples of hogs, plus sounders up to 2o hogs strong. I’ve also jumped sounders of 20 and better crossing ranch roads, while I was in vehicles and on foot.
Both my Spike Box Hunts were arranged through the ranch’s partnership with Hunting and Fishing Destinations by NRA Outdoors (NRAO). NRAO president Gregory Ray and I began talking about doing a tactical hog hunt last summer. It was already July and plenty hot in most parts of the country where hogs live. That meant we’d have to hunt nights ands early mornings. Ray’s first suggestion: the Spike Box, a working cattle ranch in West Texas, 100,000 acres large and spread out over rolling, rocky hills, intersected with canyons and arroyos, and much of it covered in mesquite, cactus, and scrubby brush.
“Cash Parrish [the Spike Box Hunting Manager] says he’s got hogs hitting his feeders every night,” Greg told me a couple days later, obviously excited. “He can put us on hogs at night. I told him we’re coming down. When does it work for you?”
Spike Box hunting staff is overseen by manager Parrish, who has two decades-plus of guiding and hunting under his belt. Parrish has a crew of local guides he works with, all of them experienced hunters and guides, and they all know the Spike Box like their own backyards.
Hunting flexibility is what the Spike Box is all about. Parrish and his crew can set you up in hunting stands near feeders, for day or night hunts. The Spike Box crew also knows the hog bedding areas and travel routes so well, they can place you in a good ambush spots to catch the hogs coming or going, at dawn or duck. The ranch has miles and miles of sandy, rocky roads a hunter can walk in search of pigs, too.
Recently, the Spike Box has seen a growing number of hunters who come there specifically for tactical hog hunts, and that’s no surprise to Ray.
“AR-platform rifles are a perfect fit for hogs,” Ray says. “Unless it’s a lone boar, hogs usually travel in groups, so you can get multiple shooting opportunities, which makes an AR a great choice. A lot of places, like the Spike Box, have so many hogs on their lands, there’s no bag limit, either.”
For hunters with Night Vision or night hunting lights, night hunting is growing in popularity at the Spike Box, especially in the summer when hot, dry West Texas days have the hogs going pretty much nocturnal. Hogs like to graze the ranch’s many agricultural fields at night; driving past these fields or setting up on the edges and waiting, and then stalking the hogs when they appear, are favorite tactics for finding and killing night hogs.
The hogs also hit the feeders at night, and sitting in a stand into the wee hours of the AM has accounted for many, many Spike Box hogs.
As far as accommodations, the Spike Box offers a very comfortable hunting lodge for guests, with beds for ten people, plus two bathrooms with showers. The lodge also features a full kitchen, a dining area, and a washer and dryer. The lodge is air conditioned and heated. There’s also a separate “Man Cave” kind of room, complete with a big screen television, pool table, and wet bar.
The Spike Box cook house is where you’ll eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and all meals are home cooked, filling and tasty. If you leave the cook house hungry, it’s your own fault—portions are generous and there are always seconds. And the Spike Box steaks, grilled over chunks of mesquite by Parrish himself, are darn near worth the trip all by themselves.
The ranch also has a 150 yard shooting range a few hundred yards from the hunting lodge, where you can check your zero and practice on steel or paper targets. If long range hunting is your game, a 650 yard range with a couple of steel rams will be a lot of fun.
The largest Spike Box hogs in recent years have topped the scales at 400 pounds, though Parish notes an average hog, boar or sow, will more likely come in between 125 to 150 pounds.
My largest Spike Box hog was a 230 pounder, a cream-colored wooly boar I took one night in February of this year using a Mossberg tactical shotgun, a Leupold Hog Scope, and Winchester Ammunition’s new Razorback XT 12 gauge hog slugs (SHWAT review on this hog rig to come).
Costs? That depends on the size of your group, any special accommodations you may require, the size of your hunting party and length of your stay. Figure a ballpark estimate of about $300 per day, per hunter. That includes your lodging, use of ranch facilities, three meals a day, guides taking you to and from your hunting areas, and then getting you and your hogs back to the ranch proper. The Spike Box crew will field dress your hogs, too.
You will also get, if you ask for it, a good deal of hog hunting information and advice from Parrish and the other guides, all of them, in my experience, knowledgeable veterans in the world of hog hunting.
You do not have to be a member of the National Rifle Association to use this service, though NRA members do receive a discount. Also, a portion of every NRAO hunt sold goes to the NRA to help protect our Second Amendment rights.