Whew, what a hog hunt I had last night and on into this morning!
It’s no secret – I like to spend my evenings hog hunting on my ranch, the Circle WC. If you read my first Special Hog Weapons and Tactics™ article, you already know I have a well tested kit for these evenings, with plenty of good options available. I know this gear well, right down to my Kawaskie Mule. Well, this hunt, this evening, was going to be like no other. I should have had a clue when I lost drive in my Mule, almost getting stranded.
Here’s the short version: I spotted three hogs at the SW corner feeder, close to last light. As those of you that have been to the ranch recently know, the hogs have wallowed out quite a mud pool under that feeder. All three hogs were in the mud, a third of the way up their bodies, so it was impossible to sex them or properly judge them for size. All I could do was wait, and hope that one or both of the two larger ones would step out of the mud onto solid ground, turn so I could sex them, and get a better idea of size.
Well, five minutes later a deer blows and spooks them enough to come out of the mud. First out, the smallest one was a obviously a boar. The second was the next to largest one, about a 160 pound boar. The biggest one finally gave me a view to verify it was a boar. Of course, then he immediately moved off into the thick woods and the other two followed.
Based on the number of hogs, and when the feeder last threw, I knew there was still corn there so I waited impatiently as it got darker and darker. Finally the two smallest hogs came back out and went back to feeding, then at absolutely last possible light to shoot (8:25CDT) the biggest one came out and gave me a marginal shot angle. Had I not been using my favorite Trijicon scope, I don’t think I could have made the shot is such low light. It was now or never, so I took the shot with my .458 SOCOM from about 60 yards. At the shot all three hogs disappeared. Not what I had hoped for, since I thought I was on for a shoulder shot.
OK, now it’s dark and I have a roughly 200 pound wounded boar to find in the really thick and nasty stuff all hogs love!!! Some of my buddies think I’m a little OUT THERE, but I actually enjoy the adrenalin rush of following up a wounded and potentially dangerous animal in the dark by myself. It was a REALLY dark night so I took an extra flashlight, knowing that if my light went dead I would never find my way out of the thick woods. After a few minutes I found where the hogs went into the nasty stuff, and had a very marginal blood trail (not good) to follow.
After about 30 minutes, and a distance of some 60-80 yards, I came upon the hog down and I wrongly assumed it was fatally wounded. I figured he just needed a finisher. Following up hogs in real thick areas like this, I normally only take my .45 with laser grips. With all my past years of hearing damage from competitive shooting, I knew it was going to be LOUD. I tucked the .45 under my armpit, and let the light get off the hog while I got ear plugs out of my pocket. Well, about halfway through this process I heard the hog take off! Since he was less than 15 feet away, fortunately he went the other direction! Can you say DUMB and poor judgement?!
Well now I have four problems. #1 I have a wounded hog that apparently still has a lot of life in him. #2 He is now leaving a very poor blood trail. #3 The mosquitoes are eating me alive. #4 I’m supposed to be at my neighbor, Greg’s, for fish dinner (a meal not to be missed) at 8:45. OK, what to do?
I weigh the facts of the situation in my mind as I mentally kick myself for not shooting the dang hog, letting my ears ring, and being off to dinner! I figure since he was already down in less than 100 yards he must be pretty sick, and wouldn’t go far, so I decide to push on a little bit further. Well,I follow the almost non-existent blood trail for another 20 yards or so until I can’t figure out which way he went, and I’m now late for dinner. I mark a tree with a paper towel I fortunately had in my pocket, and figure I’ll come back in the morning to look for the body. It’s supposed to rain, and there will be no blood trail.
As usual Greg was understanding about me being late (wasn’t the first time a hog made me late for dinner), and fed me another AWESOME meal. About 10:45 after solving most of the problems of the world, we decided to call it a night. I asked Greg to check the weather on his iPhone. Sure enough it was going to rain. Figures. I’m going to find that hog tonight!
Back to the scene of the crime I went. A little smarter this time, I put my Thermocell in my back pocket! It took me over 30 minutes to find the spot where I left off, and another 30 minutes to follow the extremely poor blood trail 10 yards. Well, now it’s almost midnight and I decide to give up. By the time I get back to camp and shower, it will be at least 12:30 a.m. before I get to bed. Woke up the next morning and sure enough it’s pouring down rain. Following a blood trail now is definitely out.
Got coffee’d up, checked my email and by then it stopped raining. I’m gonna find that dang hog! It was much easier to find my last point of reference in the daylight, only taking five minutes. No blood trail. So all I can do now is follow hog trails (they usually follow these when wounded). Well, it seems I haven’t learned a lot from last night, and figure I’m looking for a dead hog. No Thermocell, no ear plugs in my ears and my .45 in it’s holster. After about 30 minutes, I see the obviously-still-alive hog fifteen yards away. At the same time, he sees me. Up he comes as I draw my .45. Before he can take two steps I give him a double tap of Barnes 185gr TAC TX bullets to the shoulder area (all those years of competitive shooting pay off sometimes). He takes off into the double thick stuff! Unbelievable! Again, my ears are ringing, and I still don’t have this Terminator hog on the ground! This hog hunt just keeps getting more fun all the time.
I crawl through the tangles of everything that will stick and scratch you. By the way, did I mention that I didn’t bring my Thermocell, and the mosquitoes are feasting on me? I finally get up to where the hog was when I shot him, finding a fresh blood trail a blind guy could follow. After about 15 minutes, and a half a pint of my own lost blood to the mosquitoes, I FINALLY find the dead hog! Original shot with the .458 SOCOM, the 300 grain Barnes TAC TX bullet was too far back and had missed the lungs completely. My two .45 shots were right in the shoulder, and had obviously wiped out the lungs based on all the blood that was everywhere.
This was the sixth hog shot with poor .458 SOCOM shot placement (luckily the only one I’ve done) that we have recovered now. I don’t think any of these hogs would have been recovered if they had been shot with a .30-06 or lighter caliber. Quite an adventure and I learned AGAIN when you have a shot, TAKE IT!