SHWAT™ Hunts with Bill Wilson at the Circle WC Ranch

Now that you have read about what makes a Wilson Combat firearm so legendary, you may be wondering what they are like in the real world of shooting and hog hunting.  I’m here to tell you, they are truly great.  They have earned the reputation fair and square.  Here’s how we found out:  Jonathan and I were invited by Bill Wilson to join him for some hunting at his Circle WC Ranch.

Wild HogBill is an avid hunter as well as one of the best known premier gun makers.  He has hunted on multiple continents and has quite a trophy room.  Bill also founded the International Defensive Pistol Shooting Association (IDPA), a competitive shooting organization focused on the safe and proficient use of real world defensive equipment and techniques. He did this as a way of promoting the development of skills that could be applied in a defensive scenario.

Bill Wilson has a few favorite things to do in life – building some of the best firearms you can buy and hunting big game around the world are a couple of them.  Since those two things might not be an option for you and me this weekend, let’s talk about one thing he loves to do that we could put on our calendars:   hog hunting!

Bill does a lot of it.  With over 1,000 hogs taken, one-shot-one-kill style, always recording the specifics of each kill, he is widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable hog hunters there is.  Who wouldn’t want an opportunity to hunt and spend some time with the world famous Bill Wilson?  So, when we got the invitation, of course we jumped at the chance!

When the time came, Jonathan and I headed to Northeast Texas to Bill’s ranch, the Circle WC.  Upon arriving, we discovered that this is not just cattle land turned hunting ranch.  This is an 8600+ acre hog hunting paradise.  It has a spacious lodge for guest accomodations, with attention paid to details.  It’s clean, beverages are in the refrigerator, there is a place to put your muddy boots, and plenty of space to relax after a good hunt.  No doubt, it’s one of the nicest accommodations we’ve seen.

After a quick look around, it’s time for a quick change of gears from travel to hog hunting. It’s late afternoon.  The sun is dropping to that low angle that makes you push  your sunglasses up as you pass through the shade of the abundant trees.  Everything starts moving this time of day. Rabbits are feeding, the dogs are ready to go as the heat dies off and HOGS are ready to be killed.  It’s time to start hunting.

Thermal Scope

We are joining a hunt already in progress.  Jerry Barbo, a recently retired west coast executive, who pulled up stakes and relocated to North Carolina, is a Wilson Combat connoisseur.  Jerry is also a bit of a tactical training junkie.  He says that hog hunting is the natural progression of his tactical training experience.  For him, the logical place to do it is at the Circle WC with Bill.

Sometimes, hog hunting is just that – hunting.  Finding hogs can be a challenge at times but not at the Circle WC.  Within a minute or two of heading out on the Kawasaki Mule with Bill and Jerry, we see hogs.  Bill isn’t fazed by them and they aren’t fazed by us.  As we continue driving, I see more hogs than I’ve ever seen in a single day.  The land is carefully managed to make it ideal for hog hunting.  The Sulpher River is there, as are plenty of other water sources.  There are multiple roads and clearings designed to set the hunter up for good shots.

Some people might think this could make things too easy.  But when you hunt will Bill, you aren’t going to come back with just any random small pig.  The challenge comes in finding the big ones and getting just the right shot.

Tonight, Jerry takes up the sniper role, shooting his hog from a stand.  Jonathan and I ride with Bill in the Mule looking for the right opportunity.  Moving along in the very last light of dusk, I scan a meadow with a pair of Meopta binoculars.  There  I spot a hog.  I confirm it with a Nitehog TuskIR384 thermal scope when no one else could see it.  It’s a beautiful sight, that unmistakable thermal hog silhouette burning brightly in the scope.

Bill Wilson and SHWATJonathan is up first, using a Wilson Combat AR chambered in .458 SOCOM.  This is one of Bill’s favorites. We dismount, then Jonathan and Bill start diagonally off to the right, closing distance on the hog and working the wind to their advantage.  At roughly 80 yards, Jonathan set up the shot with the .458.  Topped with a Zeiss Victory HT 2.5-10×50 scope and PVS-22 Gen 3 night vision unit, he’s good to go.

Bill is a huge fan of shooting sticks, and while this is a new piece of kit for us, it quickly becomes apparent why he likes them so much.  The sight picture through night vision is perfectly steady.  Patience does not create fatigue.

One thing Bill doesn’t like doing:  looking for wounded hogs.  So, Jonathan patiently waits for the perfect angle, then squeezes the trigger.  Still at the Mule, watching through the Nitehog thermal scope, I watch the hog drop like a sack of potatoes.  A perfect shot on a hog that’s most of 200 lbs.  We regroup, and head over to pick up Jerry who is waiting with a dead 200+ pound hog.

After a great dinner personally prepared by Bill, we enjoy some good conversation.  I learn that when on a motorcycle, if you ride too closely behind a cattle truck you might think it’s raining, but you might just be wrong.  Thanks Jerry for the tip!

With that story out of the way, Jonathan and I experiment with some Night Vision (NV) gear from Laser Devices Inc. (prototype SPIR IR illuminator and a DBAL I2 Dual Beam Aiming Laser) and TNVC (Torch Pro IR illuminator).  Ignoring our presence 120 yards away,  some hogs across the lake from the lodge posed in the dark for pictures.

Morning comes and Jerry has more success, while I blow an easy shot trying to close distance on a hog.  Instead of just getting out of the Mule and taking a clear shot, I move up the road to get closer.  In the process, I loose sight of the hog which wanders off deeper into the woods.  Good thing it was’t the Taliban.  I’d be dead.  I earned quite a laugh from everybody for that.

Wilson Range TimeDuring the afternoon Bill takes us to his range for some coaching.  We shoot several Wilson Combat guns including 1911s and ARs.  Each is amazing.  One of Jerry’s WC guns was a 9mm 1911, an early model that had an issue.  Bill immediately diagnosed the problem and arranged for a timely resolution.

After some coaching at the pistol range we move to shooting steel hog targets with swing out vitals at 80 yards.  It immediately turns into a competition to see who could go fastest from a ready position to making a kill shot on the steel hogs.  Bill, with shot timer in hand, goads Jonathan and me until we get our times under 2 seconds and under 3 seconds respectively.  Not bad.  Shooting with one of the most accurate ARs around certainly didn’t hurt us any.

The day fades to twilight, and it’s time for me to redeem myself from my morning blunder.  Bill finds a group of  hogs resting near a feeder.  We close the distance slowly.  Other than a slight rise at the midpoint between the hogs and us, there is no cover on the narrow dirt road.  At 80 yards we pick the hog.  I need to place the shot in an area the size of a baseball, half of which is obscured by the high spot in the road.  I’m using the same .458 SOCOM AR Jonathan used last night, but without the NV attached.  I take the shot and get back on target.  No movement from my pig.  Tonight, nobody makes fun of me.

Stephen HogI could say more about the other big hogs Jerry got or the time spent learning from Bill, but you get the idea already.  What I will say is that if you ever have the opportunity to hunt at the Circle WC ranch, you will enjoy the weapons, the company – and yes, the food too!

So what is the real world Wilson Combat experience?  It’s impressive, from equipment to coaching, to the whole package.  The shot I took that night with the .458 SOCOM might have been impossible with lesser equipment.  The performance of Wilson Combat guns is truly impressive.  No rattling, no jamming, no corners cut!  A crisp, buttery smooth trigger and  fantastic accuracy.  As Jim at the factory says, “Best fit gives best function. Best function gives best accuracy.”  The coaching? The opportunity to learn from a top competitive shooter and one of the world’s foremost experts on hog hunting all in the same setting is one I hope to get again.

One thing I’ll add:  Don’t waste your mental energy second guessing Bill Wilson on the weight of a hog.  He had it within 10 lbs of the scale every time.


On the Web:

Circle WC Ranch:  http://www.circlewcranch.com/

Wilson Combat:  www.wilsoncombat.com

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