In a previous SHWAT™ Article I referred to the superstition of the Black Butterfly and its mystical correlation with Black Butterfly Ammunition. Some may see my inferences as farfetched, but the story tells the tale. I’m not a superstitious person and I’m a believer of the science, not the luck or coincidence of natural events. The Black Butterfly’s folklore is well documented and its symbolism of death or misfortune is a reality for many cultures. The story I’m sharing with you in this article is 100% true and the pictures and video below are raw and unedited. Here we go….
The two hour trip to the northwest corner of Lake Okeechobee has been repeated many times over the years, but this time it was a bit different. The weather forecast was not very favorable and rain chances were pretty high for Sunday morning due to an approaching cold front. Regardless, the hunt was a go! Me, my dad and my buddy Carlos loaded his RV and drove up late Saturday morning. We discussed the weather often and the gloomy skies and rain was a concern. Four other hunters were joining us on Saturday afternoon at the Aruba RV Resort, the rendezvous point for Sunday’s hunt. It looked like our beer and BBQ pre-hunt tradition would be a bust. If you read my first 458 article, you’ll understand the irony.
Upon reaching Clewiston, we stopped for lunch and just as we headed back out the clouds started to clear. What luck! The muddy mess predicted for Sunday morning may not be in the cards. We arrived at the RV park shortly after 2PM. The sun was out and you can see the dark clouds quickly retreating to the south. It was freaky, like watching a fast forwarded time lapse video.
It didn’t take long for the grill to get fired up and the first beer to be raised in the air celebrating another year of good food and friends. The pre-hunt festivities continued throughout the evening and before we all knew it, it was time for us to get some sleep. I swear I just blinked and the iPhone alarm tone was piercing my ears like daggers. The mad rush for coffee, camo, guns and ammo was in effect. If I were to film this scene it would look like something from a Three Stooge’s episode. LOL!
As I opened the door, the morning air rushed in. It was cool with a hint of moisture, which told me fog was going to be a challenge this morning. The sky was clear and the constellation Orion greeted me again as I collected my gear. Amazingly, no mosquitoes! Those blood thirsty freaks of nature are a constant in the Florida swamps and we were all well prepared with ThermaCells and Sawyer Insect Repellant. Comically, it must have been the cigar smoke from last night’s festivities, or was it something else? The folklore behind the Black Butterfly tells many tales and we may have just added a new one. Superstition aside, this was great news and we swiftly loaded the coolers and gear in my buddy’s truck. It’s time to go!
The outfitter rolled in at or rendezvous point and we convoyed over to the property. We heard the roar of the buggy starting up as we approached the entry gate. You could see the grins on everyone’s faces. I’ve been to this property many times, but the familiar sounds and smells get me in the hog hunting zone. Can you relate? Many great memories have been made here and as in every hog hunt, the story is always different.
We loaded up on the buggy for the initial drop off. In Florida, it’s customary to start the hog hunt in the stand and transition over to the Hog Dogs no later than mid-morning. Once the sun comes up, the rise in temperature is not conducive to pig movement. Feral pigs tend to move during the cooler overnight hours, but there is a good chance to see them at first light and dusk. The dogs did not keep us company for the initial drop-off. They will come out to play in a few hours. I love to observe them in the early morning as they awaken to pre-hunt activity. They know what’s coming and Hog Dogs live for these hunts. No matter how banged up they get, they recover quickly and ask for more. Have you ever experienced a hog hunt with dogs? If not, definitely add this to your bucket list.
I asked the outfitter to drop me off at my favorite spot. It’s an elevated olive green painted box blind facing a large open area with a small pond. My first SHWAT article was based on a spot and stalk in this area. What a great memory! The open area in hunting terms is considered a “transition zone” for wild game. The tall grass provides concealment and the pond is a water source. On several occasions, I’ve seen turkey and whitetail deer use it. Some hunters stay in their blinds until the outfitter comes by to pick them up, but not me! Where’s the adventure of sitting around when I can spot and stalk. The blind is a place to observe and stay concealed, but after there is just enough light to see, it’s time to go find some pigs.
The vegetation surrounding the transition area is very thick, but there are a few openings and game trails that can be used as entry points. It’s extremely difficult to move silently through these areas, as the saw palmettos, vines, palms and trees clump together making some areas impassable. Moreover, the dead vegetation lying on the ground gives away one’s location with every step, so you need to move slowly. This is extremely important to achieving a tactical advantage on a spot and stalk hunt. Any noise will spook wild game and in this vegetation, you’ll hear them run, but you’ll rarely, if ever, get the animal in your sights.
I walked throughout the area for just under two hours and spotted plenty of sign, including a death zone which had several pig carcasses and skulls lying around. Honestly, it looked like someone held a voodoo ritual here, but what I’d observed was simply a location used by coyotes. Their den is definitely in the immediate area.
I did spot plenty of fresh pig scat near the pond. It looks like the pigs were moving at night and at this point they were probably concealed in deep cover. On a lighter note, I did spook several deer along the way and they were kind enough to wave their white flags back at me.
A familiar voice echoed from my shirt pocket. I carry a Uniden FRS/GMRS 2-Way radio to keep the communication open. Cell phone reception is limited at best in these areas, so other forms of communication are a necessity especially for emergencies. One of my hunting buddies took a shot at a pig this morning just before sunrise. No blood was found, so it looks like he didn’t connect or connected in the wrong spot. It happens… If we’re not missing shots we’re not hunting enough. Soon after I signed off I could hear the buggy heading my way. It’s time to unleash the hounds!
Unless you’ve experienced it, hog hunting with dogs may not seem appealing. Hunting wild boar with dogs is a tradition which started centuries ago in Europe. Back then, hunters on horseback used spears. Today, we use swamp buggies and a wide variety of firearms, including traditional spears. Hog Dogs are raised and trained for one job: to find wild pigs.
The hunting group was split into two buggies and we moved out to a different part of the property. Most of the hunters secured their rifles on the buggy’s hood, but I like to keep my 458 close. Hunting pigs with dogs sometimes provides unique opportunities and that’s exactly what happened.
The hunt was on and the buggies zoomed in and out of trails following the GPS collared Hog Dogs. Our guides, Dean and his wife Jessie, yelled directions back and forth to each other as we headed toward the first hog to be bayed up. The rookie puppy, which was still in training, had the much larger black boar cornered. One other dog was in the fight and what a melee it was. The fight was brutal and bloody. Bright red blood was everywhere and we all thought the puppy was severely injured. She didn’t hold back for a moment. The pig was dispatched and luckily the puppy was not hurt too badly. Fortunately, it was a simple cut near her ear and nothing a few staples can’t fix. She will fight another day.
The two buggies moved on and the second buggy accelerated following what seemed to be a bayed up hog two hundred yards away. We followed closely behind. Suddenly, I observed three black pigs running in a small clearing to our right. We broke from the chase and engaged the new opportunity. Jessie yelled out, “Who’s ready?” Since I was the only one holding a rifle, I was the chosen one.
Let’s give this some thought for a moment. The one buggy I’m on spots pigs running which is great and the general plan. Not just one, but three and they are all black in color. Are you as freaked out as I am? The superstition is well documented regarding the symbolism behind three black cats. Why would three black wild pigs be any different? Furthermore, what’s the coincidence that I spotted them and I was the only one ready to engage them. The probability of all these variables coming into play is truly farfetched, but it’s all on video. Is this all part of the Black Butterfly’s plan?
We lost the pigs in an oak hammock for a moment and the buggy squealed as it raced forward. I heard Dean say, “I’ll try to get in front of them!” We all held on tight, dodging low tree limbs and vines trying to get a clear shot at the group. There they are! The three black pigs were still together, running away from us, approximately 75 yards to my left in a single file. The buggy had not even stopped when I fired a shot, aiming for the last pig as it turned the corner. The buggy came to a stop and I immediately got off, jumping onto the sandy trail. Me and four others sprinted toward the last spot we saw them. The pigs had turned to our left, just out of sight. We all looked for fur and blood, but nothing obvious was present. It’s common for feral pigs to not leave traces of blood after the shot. Their fur soaks up the blood like a sponge.
A little bit of frustration kicked in as I felt confident I connected. I made a point to listen for any movement as they can’t be too far. When I hunt with my 458 I wear a Silynx Clarus Pro Noise Cancelling Hearing protection Headset. The headset also serves as amplifier which can be very helpful in these situations. It was worth every penny as I picked up rustling nearby and quickly engaged the animal. The canopy of palms, trees and vines blacked out the sun, concealing the pig. I got down on my knees, looking for movement. An ear and partial pig silhouette is all could see in the shadows. I fired and my camera man Carlos yelled out “Hit him again!” I sent another round and this one connected. I quickly moved forward, ducking under the palm fronds. The thorny vines tugged at my clothes and rifle. I kneeled behind a palm for concealment, peering through all the underbrush for movement. I found him through a small opening and fired the last and fatal shot. The Black Butterfly landed, unleashing its wicked destruction with finality.
Just after confirming the fatal shot, the young boy assisting the outfitter appeared to my side and helped me pull the pig out of the underbrush. We had to duck and crawl a bit to get to him. It’s amazing how strong wild pigs are. The shot I took from the buggy was a hit. The bullet tore a baseball sized piece of flesh cleanly off the left rear ham. The shot slowed him down keeping him in the immediate area. The first follow up shot hit a hidden palm tree, but the second shot hit the heart and lungs. He wouldn’t have gotten very far. This was not visible at the time due to the dark cover, so the last and final shot was necessary. I attempted a head shot, but the bullet hit low, ripping through its ribs like a zipper and severing its spine. The Black Butterfly 260g MAXIMUS FRACTURA performed as designed and its technology is a clear game changer in the 458 SOCOM space.
The myth and legend of the Black Butterfly is a tale for those who wish to believe. The ammunition behind the story is real and its wicked destruction has been evidenced by hunters throughout the United States. The science behind the ballistics makes the 458 SOCOM an exciting platform and the reason why firearm manufacturers continue to innovate and promote its use with civilians, law enforcement and the military. The Bowers Group is such company and their VERS 458 Suppressor is the most popular 458 suppressor in the market. I’m excited to say that my 458 is now part of the “Silent Versatility” family and I can’t wait to use it in the field. So much more on this to come! [Read Part 1]