Enough already! All week people around me were obsessed over dove season’s opening day. I’ve dove hunted. It was fun. We limited out in less than an hour and went home. I’ve never limited out in hog hunting, not even close. In Texas that’s not even possible. And I never have to wait for opening day either.
Obviously, it was Labor Day weekend. I drove to the farm on Saturday and got there early enough to unpack, visit for a bit, load up my gear into the truck and do some scouting before the sun slipped beneath the horizon. Excitement mixed with anticipation.
I had a brand new 6.5 Grendel from Alexander Arms with a 16” barrel and their 120g Nosler® ballistic tip ammo. You may have read that Jonathan and I used a 6.5 Grendel a couple of months before and the results from that hunt were nothing short of fantastic. Since there is usually a lot of stalking involved in our hunts, the weight of the rifle tends to play an important role. Thankfully, the rifle weighed just a touch over 7 pounds before adding the can and the thermal. All very manageable when hiking through the fields.
This night would be my first time to get to use my suppressor, an AAC SDN-6, that was recently released from jail. FINALLY, my own suppressor! I could no longer be called “A Savage” for not shooting suppressed by new SHWAT™ Pro Staffer, Casey Jones. And of course, I had my trusty Pulsar Trail XP50 thermal scope with a ZRODelta Mount on top of the rifle.
Theoretically this was a pretty solid setup and it was only a matter of time before I put this theory to the test. Needless to say, I was eager to see how I would do.
Round 1 – The World’s Weirdest Coyote
My father-in-law told me there was hog activity evidence around, yet no hogs out destroying his fields in the daylight. My scouting trip mirrored his report. Having scouted most of the fields I planned to hunt that night I headed for the house and some dinner. About a mile southeast of the house, I spotted a lone coyote in one of our fields. Usually, as soon as a coyote hears, sees or smells a human, they are off and running. For whatever reason, this coyote was not bothered by my presence at all. Was this world’s most lifelike decoy and no one bothered to tell me?
I exited the truck watching the coyote as it continued just standing there, no more than 75 yards away. I was so confused by the coyote’s behavior, I left the truck running in the middle of the road and didn’t even bother to grab my tripod. Surely the coyote would take off at any moment. I kept thinking it would bolt yet it maintained its pose, unfazed by my presence.
Every once in a while I have seen coyotes exhibit similar behavior when they’ve had really bad mange. Tired of second guessing the coyote’s intentions, I shouldered the brand new rifle and put the coyote in the crosshairs of the Pulsar Trail and gently squeezed the trigger. One of the benefits of hunting with thermal is that you can use it in the day or night and don’t have to swap optics (everyone knows how much I hate zeroing). I connected, a little further back than I wanted, but the coyote didn’t drop and it didn’t run. It never even moved! WHAT THE HECK!?!
It just kept standing there. Now the coyote was the one with the puzzled look on its face because it knew something was wrong but couldn’t sort it out. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt bad for shooting a coyote or pig, but I did this time because it was a bad shot that left most of it’s stomach hanging out onto the ground. I dispatched it quickly, noting the damage the 6.5 Grendel had inflicted. Afterwards it was back to the house for some dinner and conversation with the world’s best in-laws while like the hordes of hogs I waited for the cover of darkness before going back out.
Round 2 – Sows and Piglets
About an hour after the last vestiges of sunlight had dissipated, I jumped back into the pickup and started my search. Driving the desolate dirt roads with the lights off, I scanned the pastures with the Pulsar Helion XP50 handheld thermal monocular. One of the disadvantages of hunting solo is having to drive and spot at the same time. There are some nights where I don’t encounter a single vehicle on these dirt roads but I am always very cautious when driving and spotting.
The Helion detected the first set of hogs one mile west of where I shot the coyote earlier in the day. There was a pretty decent wind out of the south helping to conceal the sound of the diesel engine. Slipping the truck into park, I slowly opened the door then gently set it back, not quite shutting it. As I set the rifle into the tripod, the lead sow was slowly but surely coming towards me. There wasn’t much time because the hogs were about to cross the road and go into another field where we can’t hunt. On another note, if I could play farm monopoly, I would definitely purchase the piece of land these hogs were about to enter.
I inhaled, exhaled, paused, and squeezed the sweet Alexander Arms trigger. It was a hit! She didn’t drop in her tracks but scurried twenty yards across the road before running out of gas. The rest of the hogs scattered like roaches in a spotlight but not before I took out another sow. You may or may not like the next part.
Sometimes when you take out a sow there are some young ones left confused. The piglets act like they don’t have a brain if mama isn’t leading the way. Sometimes the piglets run to safety but sometimes they start looking for mama. The only problem for them is that I know where mama is waiting and she’s not doing well. I ended up getting two of the piglets because piglets eventually become big destructive beasts. With a satisfying start, I headed for the next field.
Round 3 – Keeping Score
Cruising down to the river on one of the few paved roads in the area, I spotted a group of about ten hogs at my 9 o’clock. After pulling over onto the grassy shoulder of the road, I grabbed my rifle from the passenger seat and the tripod kept on the flatbed and started to boogie. The hogs were trekking from the open wheat field into the brush and I needed to close the gap and close it quickly. With the strong wind in my favor, I wasn’t concerned at all about the amount of noise I produced. It was 150 yards from the truck to where I set up and a couple of hogs had already made it into the brush. Looking through the Pulsar Trail I could still see the hogs in the brush but they weren’t as easy to get to at the time. Like the predators you might see on the National Geographic Channel, I decided to concentrate on the ones that had been separated from the sounder. The closest hog to me was about 75 yards away with a handful of others a little further but still in the wheat. The reticle was right behind the ear when I shot and the hog dropped. The remaining few were literally running for their lives when I shot the second one. It was another hit, this time in the back leg (which seems to be my trademark shot), but it kept running with a severe limp back into the wheat field. I shot again and the hog stopped dead in his tracks. Score: 3 shots, 3 hits and 2 pigs. So far the Alexander Arms 6.5 Grendel functioned flawlessly as expected. I’m still working on being flawless, but may have a way to go.
Round 4 – Curiosity Killed the Dogs
After heading west I was back in the same field where I shot the coyote. This time, there were two more coyotes in the field. Learning from the mistake of their sibling, they decided it was a good idea to run when they heard the truck getting close. Almost to the fence line on the east side of the property, across hills and beyond the tall vegetation on this 120 acre field, it wasn’t easy to find them in the thermal. Had I been using night vision, I don’t think I would have ever spotted them. My loud yip got the best of their curiosity, and at 200 yards they stopped to investigate. XP50 on target, I lit them up – one after the other. Both are down! Three coyotes down in the same field on the same day and I wasn’t even calling them. If that were all I accomplished, I’d say it was a successful hunt.
To date, this was my best solo hunt. There were a couple of loner boars that were also introduced to my 6.5 Grendel that night, but we’ll save those stories for another day. While I really do enjoy the solitude of being in God’s country with just me and my rifle, it can also be lonely when you make a great shot or have a great hunt but there’s no one with you to celebrate the victory. Fortunately, the Pulsar Trail records the hunts and so you can actually show what really happened to the people that don’t believe you when you tell them you killed 10 hogs and 3 coyotes by yourself. Worth every penny right there, folks.
I’ve shot a bunch of different rifles in different calibers and I have to say that even though I’m just becoming familiar with this 6.5 Grendel, I have never had so much confidence in my ability to put down pigs with a rifle. This thing is like a laser and I know that as long as the animal is in the crosshairs of my Pulsar Trail, they aren’t getting away. I’ve hunted with a bunch of different calibers but as of right now, this Alexander Arms 6.5 Grendel is the King of my Hill, Pig Hill that is.