Bolt actions are boring, I once thought. Kind of funny that my most spectacular filmed hog hunting shot to date would feature me shooting a bolt action Weatherby. Granted, it was a Hog Reaper chambered in .308 topped with an Aimpoint Hunter. Could I have pulled off the same shot with a semi-auto .308? Probably. And having a few more rounds might have been nice as well. But having only five rounds when I’m used to a full thirty round magazine forced me to think, and rethink in the few seconds that eventually lead to a cartwheeling hog. And that, friends, is valuable.
Wild hogs are everywhere it seems, with new sightings in odd locales constantly generating news reports. But perhaps like you, I’ve come up empty handed from time to time. But not at the 90,000 acre Spike Box Ranch near Benjamin, Texas. I’ve had a few opportunities to hunt there, and I’ve never failed to put down feral pigs. So when I had the chance to head that way to work on future plans with ranch manager Mark Baugh and hunting manager Anthony Ainsworth, I jumped on it.
I had looked forward to this hunt for quite a while. This Weatherby Hog Reaper rifle had been begging for attention, but I just wasn’t sure what kind of attention to give it. For a fairly traditional bolt gun built on Weatherby’s Vanguard 2 action, it looks ridiculously cool with the stock dipped in the Proveil™ Hog Reaper™ pattern. The Monte Carlo style stock is lightweight and easy to grip with its semi-tacky finish. The whole rifle weighs only seven pounds. That’s about 17% lighter than your average AR-10. Weatherby builds the Hog Reaper with a 20 inch 1:10 twist cold hammer forged barrel. That build comes with a sub MOA (Minute of Angle) accuracy guarantee.
Pulling the trigger should put a smile on anyone’s face. It’s a two stage, easily adjustable down to 2.5 pounds. They claim no creep, and that’s definitely the case on mine. Equally nice is the bolt. It runs pretty fast, for a bolt anyway, and is devoid of slop. All in all, a great looking, accurate, lightweight package to send five rounds of .308 down range.
I could have slapped any traditional optic on it, but the idea just didn’t grab me. Then we did a big event called Hog Heaven with Aimpoint at the Sportsman Shooting Center in Grapevine, Texas. Before shooting live rounds at a movie screen, we practiced in a simulator with faux bolt guns and Aimpoint optics. The simulator put running hogs at various distances, and I found the red dot and instruction quite helpful. Okay, really helpful, as evidenced by the shot you’ll see in the video. Suffice it to say, I put an Aimpoint Hunter (H34S) on my Hog Reaper.
Granted, my T-1 would have been lighter weight, but it looked goofy. Can’t have goofy and Hog Reaper skulls on the same page… It’s against the rules. The Aimpoint Hunter is essentially the same red dot optic in a longer tube with a 34mm diameter. Mounting proved tricky. In the end, I wound up with a Talley picatinny rail and rings. They are very well built with tight tolerances and a money back guarantee. Hard to argue with that. While this set up is too tall for consistent long range shooting, it worked out quite well at 120 yards. Well, not so much for the running pig I killed.
So, equipped with that kit and Anthony filming with an ATN ThOR thermal site and DVR from Ultimate Night Vision, I stepped out into the predawn light of West Texas. It was unseasonably cool, and the group of a dozen hogs were cooperatively consuming a wheat field meant for someone else, simultaneously munching and walking north. The wind was reasonably favorable. I had to stalk them along an East – West fence line, but couldn’t quite get in front of them. Bear in mind, barbed wire fences mean nothing to these feral swine, but the few trees along the fence line gave me something to fade into.
As I closed the distance, the leaders of the group picked up on me. Or at least the idea of me. They stopped eating and started a slow trot. I took a knee and shot at a little under a hundred yards AND MISSED! I guess I wasn’t ready. Nor did I connect on my second shot. I’m still working on a good excuse for that one. I was zeroed a little low at 100 yards. I’m sure I shot over them, and you call that choking.
For the third shot I had time to slow down and think. I put the red dot just in front of the running hog’s nose and squeezed the trigger. I hit the dirt behind the hog. The piggy was moving fast, and beyond 100 yards. I ran the bolt again, put the dot a full length of hog ahead of its nose, and squeezed the trigger again. The 135 grain boat tail DRT bullet did the perfect ear piercing on that pig! Ms. Piggy was so excited to get her ear pierced that she cartwheeled as her final act of celebration.
The round then entered the hog’s neck, and blew out the back after penetrating five inches. Rarely does DRT Ammo leave an exit wound. It usually dumps its energy entirely into the target as the metallic powder core explodes in the animal. But with only five inches of tissue to work with, you can do the math.
A big grin accompanies my thoughts of this hunt. New gear doesn’t always do what you want or expect. Especially when it’s not the kind of gear you typically use. Needless to say, I’m suddenly very attached to my .308 Weatherby Hog Reaper and what seemed like an over sized Aimpoint! They worked together exactly as they should and didn’t weigh me down. DRT Ammo proved it’s performance once again. That pig was Dead Right There. What better result could you ask for from your gun, optic and ammo? This is just one of my Spike Box Ranch adventures, and there will be more to come. The record stands – Spike Box Ranch is the one place I’ve never been skunked. If you want to try a one-off bolt gun set up, build one like mine. With Weatherby’s great accuracy and trigger along with a bombproof optic from Aimpoint, who knows? Maybe it will become the new normal for shorter range bolt gun hunting.