Another holiday means another trip to the farm and time around the in-laws. For most people, that’s not a getaway they look forward to, but this date is permanently marked on my calendar. If you’re a regular here, the reasons are obvious. New here? Read on, you’ll see what I mean. Some parts of these hunts are pretty predicable. One thing I don’t know this time is how the .308 Norma BONDSTRIKE ammo will perform out of a sixteen inch barreled PWS rifle or what running the big PWS will be like.
I would love to say that Labor Day means the weather is finally cooling down in Texas, but not this time. However, Labor Day historically delivers great hunting weekends for me. A solo hunt this time, I have no one to help photograph, video or share in the carnage. But everyone can live vicariously through the SHWAT™ social media pages (@SHWATteam) and see the videos from my Pulsar XP50.
Rifle – PWS MK216 MOD 1
Since Jonathan decided to flee Texas for cooler temps, steeper scenery and mountain biking, Casey is now my local hunting buddy. During our many hunts, we’ve discussed swapping guns mid-hunt so I could try out his PWS MK216 MOD 1 but these swaps never materialize. However, for this solo hunt, I choose to borrow Casey’s 308 PWS to see if the hype about this rifle is real.
Arriving at the farm, I zero in behind the house. After pulling the PWS rifle out onto the picnic table, I attach the Silencerco Omega 300 can. While heavier than what I’d usually grab, this gun feels sweet! It’s both solid and smooth. Tightening the DLOC mount on my Pulsar XP50, my oldest daughter reminds me that I have very willing and able slave labor available to assist me with magazine loading. I love the dad life!
Ammo – Norma BONDSTRIKE
On this hunt, along with Casey’s personal PWS I use .308 180gr Norma BONDSTRIKE Extreme. My exposure to Norma before this is limited to our first ever test of their 180gr BONDSTRIKE Extreme in 300 WinMag, but I am curious to see how the .308 ammo will perform on these hogs. There will be plenty of involuntary testers! If you want a more technical BONDSTRIKE review, jump back to Casey’s story. If you want a far bigger body count and how the four legged invaders responded to it, well, you’re in the right place.
Transport – Kioti UTV
Besides gun and ammo selection, this hunt is different in another way – It’s the first time I use the farm UTV. I don’t know which model but it is a Kioti brand. Now this is more of a work UTV than a hunting UTV. The pretty loud engine would scare off one sounder. On the other hand, with the front windshield removed I can scan with thermal in all directions, a huge benefit.
The First BONDSRIKE Strikes
The first night comes together beautifully! I quickly spot a lone boar with my Pulsar Helion XP50. With the wind was in my favor and a new moon, the clueless pig chomps away on the crops.
I trek into the field, get into a good position, and set the rifle into the cradle of one of my go-to items for hunting, the Primos Gen 3 Trigger Stick. My left pointer finger slides to the top of my Trail pressing the button to zoom in from 1.6x to 3.2x magnification. I then gently turn the focus knob making sure the picture is clear.
My right thumb moves the PWS selector from “safe” to “shoot” as I pull the rifle into my shoulder pocket and take a very deep breath. I tell myself to make this shot count. The last thing I want is to start the hunt with a miss.
I gently squeeze the trigger and… nothing.
Just kidding, Casey’s PWS has an aftermarket Geissele 2 stage trigger and I only pulled through the first stage. The reticle was a couple of inches below and towards the back of the boar’s ear. I pull through the second stage and the 180gr Norma Ammo BONDSTRIKE bullet covers the 101 yards almost instantaneously and the first victim drops.
Literally. The boar falls over, shows me a little stank leg and stops moving. Success! The night is off to a good start.
BONDSTRIKES 2, 3 & 4
A nice sounder of 25-30 hogs mulls around the next field. Not sure why I didn’t get closer, but when I found a good position, I set up. Focusing on the lead sow, I put the crosshairs on her and swivel the rifle from right to left as she slowly moves across the field.
My first shot drops her and as you know, the hogs start running everywhere.
Shot #2 misses, then shot #3 drops another hog. The fourth shot drops a 3rd hog. Shot #5 drops hog number four and shots #6 and #7 miss. Not bad! (Do you feel like you’re listening to a sports caster there?).
Four dead hogs with my first five shots is pretty good for me. The first sow fell at 122 yards. The night is young and promising!
Calling with the Convergent Bullet
Like a boss I cruise over to the CRP field (Conservation Reserve Program) in the Kioti. Having a blast running about 30 miles per hour on these empty county roads I spot a lone boar. He does not survive our encounter and I move on.
Arriving at the top of the “hill” at the CRP,through my handheld thermal I can see two different sounders and a lone boar in the field . The two sounders are at least 400 yards away and I really don’t want to walk across the field at the moment; the boar is much closer.
Thankfully, I remember the Convergent Bullet which I previously reviewed ridding shotgun in the Kioti. Will it call in the loner? I broadcast the “Boar Magnet” track form the Bullet but this boar remains unfazed.
I crank up the volume hoping to get some sort of reaction, any reaction, but still nothing.
Scanning the field with my handheld, the hogs in the closest sounder (in the middle of the unsown wheat field) look like they are spooked by the call, moving away from me. Bummer, right?
As I scan back to my right to see if this stubborn pig was going to play along or leave, I crank the Convergent Bullet volume up to full blast. The boar is either deaf or just doesn’t care. I guess it’s time to begin the stalk….or is it???
The sounder I thought was moving away from me is actually headed straight towards me now. Color me shocked!
Wanting to make sure that I get this on video, I toss the Pulsar Helion into the front seat of the Kioti instead of the HSGI taco on my belt. Getting behind my Trail, I start recording the hogs voyage towards me. I am in shock! Did I mention that already?
As the hogs continue their march toward certain death I wish for another shooter. Soon I’d wish I waited 20-30 more seconds before engaging the group.
My shooting is premature and I only take two of them down. If there was another shooter and we waited just half a minute, there would have been many, many more dead hogs.
My experience with the Convergent Bullet amazes me. 50% of the time, it works every time. Yes, you read that correctly.
Wrapping Hunt Night Number One
I find yet another sounder on night one and get a couple more pigs there. In hindsight, I should have called it a night after that. I’m out four more hours but don’t see anything shootable. Ten hogs and a coyote is a pretty good solo hunt so with that I crawl into bed as the sun crawls out.
Side Note About Getting Stuck On Country Roads
The next night starts out nicely. I drop a boar right by the cemetery while headed to the CRP. Irony?
On a side note, at 11 pm I notice my brother-in-law driving a farm tractor down the county road to my north. Why is this significant? Have you read the story about me getting stuck in the wet roads and needing a tractor pull me out? This time, my brother-in-law is rescuing some city slickers who got their truck stuck in the sand. Haha! Glad to know I’m not the only person to ever get a 4 wheel drive truck stuck in the country. At least the roads were super wet when I did it. Not sure what their excuse was.
Poor Shooting and Good Ammo
A couple of pigs moving around on the east side of the CRP catch my eye, but I want to check the west side. On the prior night’s hunt the action was all on the west side, but no hogs want to play there now. I proceed east in pursuit of the the other pigs.
Wind less wind than the night before to hide the sound of the Kioti, I park a little further away. I don’t want the diesel engine noise blowing my cover.
Even though the hogs are lying down in the field, they still stick out like a sore thumb on the handheld thermal. As I close the gap to about 75 yards, I realize I’m looking at three hogs and a piglet. Yes, one piglet. There is a first time for everything I suppose.
A sow stands and I place crosshairs from the Pulsar Trail on my preferred kill spot. While not super close, I wonder how the other hogs (which are still lying down) will react to this first shot. Regrettably, I am more concerned about that than making sure my first shot counted.
My mind wanders, and while the shot is a hit, the pig does not go down. The other two pigs and the piglet scramble. I quickly turn my attention to them, shooting the two pigs. I hit both both, and while the first one dropped, the other limped away.
Not forgetting the first one, I quickly swing back to my left. The second pig is hard charging in my general direction. After putting a couple of rounds into her, she expires leaving me with a little time to dispatch the remaining piglet.
None of these shots were good shots but it is a testimony how good ammo can sometimes make up for poor shooting. Done with this field for the weekend, I head to the river.
On my way I run across a boar and my crappy shooting continues. Two shots, two misses. Frustrating, but my redemption story is coming.
Arriving at the river, I see a lone boar and what I thought were 3 coyotes several hundred yards beyond the boar. After walking about 300 yards to get in a good shooting position I scan the rest of the field to see if the coyotes are still there. Surprise! I’m actually looking at a coyote and 2 boars.
They are at least 200 yards away and a strong wind is in my favor. I’m not sure how they will react when I next squeeze the trigger. At 75 yards away from the first lone boar I pull the trigger and drop him with a single shot. Immediately, my attention turns to my other furry friends in the field. Surely they would bolt.
For the second time on this hunt, I’m shocked. All three of them are still in the field!
As I begin my second trek in the same field, I strategize in my head, thinking about the best way to proceed. I also muse about possibly getting a shot at all of the animals.
Now I’m tracking their movements closely; the boar farthest from me when I started this stalk is moving back to the west and now and is closest to me. Each step I take is a strategic step to get to the best position to shoot all three animals. But that boar to my west is moving at a pretty good pace and I have to do something.
After quickly deploying the tripod and steadying the rifle, I manually focus the Trail on the nearest boar and lead him just a hair.
Boom! He drops and I spin about 130 degrees to my left. Then I notice the other boar and the coyote did not hear the shot. The mental ping pong game of “Pig or coyote, pig or coyote, pig or coyote” is going off in my head and 10 seconds after shooting the first hog, I’m locked and loaded on the 2nd hog.
Whack! The BONDSTRIKE drops the hog and while certainly the coyote is escaping, it’s a young coyote and it does not leave. Big mistake.
Three shots and 3 dead animals in about 30 seconds. The poor coyote looks as if it swallowed a grenade that went off in its stomach.
The .308 BONDSTRIKE Body Count
I failed to mention another boar I shot about five minutes before the last three you just read about. Dead in this field there are now 4 from night one and four from night two.
What a great night! A total of eight dead pigs and one coyote dead, another injured pig that ran away to die and a pig that I shot at twice and missed.
What impressed me was the nine dead animals from 17 shots fired. Six of the nine dropped the moment they were hit. You can probably say that the Norma BONDSTRIKE is doing its job. Oh, and if you see Casey around, let him know it looks like I shoot his PWS MK216 MOD 1 better than he does. I might have to get one as I doubt he’ll loan it back out after reading that!
Perhaps no records were set that weekend but a solo hunt that produced 18 dead pigs and 2 dead coyotes is what I think most people would call a success.
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