Epic Hog Hunt of 2010: The Afteraction Report

So, after gorging ourselves on brisket at Mule Breath’s on Thursday evening, TOTWTYTR, Limey Buddy and I headed out Friday for Mexia and the 4 Pines Ranch, site of Epic Hog Hunt 2010.

Okay, so it didn’t turn out to be totally epic, but it was enjoyable nonetheless, and the ranch owner did his best to put us on the swine. A couple of us scored, a couple of us missed, and a couple of us left without firing a shot.

That last number included me, unfortunately. But I did get to see some good friends, and got to hook one friend on guns, and an experienced shooter on hunting, so I’ll chalk it up as a success.

After a brief stop at Cabela’s to buy licenses, we turned south to Mexia to meet Matt G., Daniel Scott, Alan and Jeff Brosius at the ranch. Jeff and Matt were running a bit late, so the rest of us took a brief trip to the range to check our weapons, take the tour of the ranch, and get on our stands before dark.On the ranch tour, we discovered that even cattle can have bad hairpieces:

No really, it looks perfectly natural. The heifers are gonna LOVE it. Srsly.

Limey Buddy was the least-experienced of us at shooting, having last shot Enfields and various other vintage military-type weapons years ago, so I gave him my sporterized 8mm Mauser, and set up a target at 100 yards, just to make sure he could get on the paper. I should have been a more diligent shooting coach, because as I watched him line up on his target, I noticed he didn’t have a good cheek weld, and was crawling the stock quite a bit. Before I could stop him, however, he touched one off.

He looked a bit surprised, but I just reached over and examined his right eyebrow, already knowing what I’d find. Sure enough, he was bleeding. Still, with application of a little Derma-Bond from my trauma bag, he was none the worse for wear, and now gets to claim a scope gash as a souvenir of his first hog hunt. To his credit, he sat down for another shot, and managed to put that one downrange with acceptable minute-of-hog accuracy.

So, having established that Limey Buddy could indeed hit a bull in the ass with a cello, we hied forth to our blinds to get a couple hours of hunting in before nightfall. Since Matt G. hadn’t yet arrived with more weapons, I left my .270 in my truck for Jeff, set Limey Buddy up with the Mauser, gave TOTWTYTR my AR15, and relegated myself to the .17 HMR in case anything came out sufficiently close to try a head shot.

We heard a shot right before dusk, and it turned out to be Daniel with this nice 200-pound sow:

Mmm, the other white meat!

After admiring Daniel’s kill and offering unhelpful advice while he dressed and quartered it, Jeff tossed a few steaks on the grill for dinner, and we availed ourselves of a few adult beverages. Considerably more than the ones pictured were consumed, but we did managed to line up a few in the missing man formation for LawDog, who was unable to make the hunt due to unforeseen circumstances.

LawDog, we missed ye. Hopefully next year.

Those of us who hadn’t consumed alcohol opted to go out on a night hunting expedition, so we paired up, one to run the spotlight and one to fire the weapon, and set out for our blinds. Unfortunately, the pigs declined to cooperate with our plans. Never let anyone tell you that the hunter has the advantage when hunting, even with all the technology at our disposal.

Saturday morning saw us all get skunked, but I did at least get to watch a gorgeous sunrise over Texas hill country, and that is worth the price of admission itself. Limey Buddy missed twice that morning, including a standing broadside shot at 25 yards. To be fair, he is somewhat of a novice shooter, and the scope gash of the day before and a wicked case of hog fever could conspire to make anyone jerk a trigger. Naturally, we all assured Limey Buddy that it happens to the best of hunters, and the ridicule would only last until, well… forever.

Missing such an easy shot is an easy thing to forgive, especially when you consider that British marksmanship like that probably aided us greatly in becoming an independent nation.

We amused ourselves in the heat of the day by airing out our rifles at the range, and turned a lot of money into smoke and noise with Alan’s full-auto Ingram Mac 11.  Both Jeff, Limey Buddy and the ranch owner had permanent grins on their faces from the visceral pleasure of emptying a 30-round mag in less than 2 seconds. Unless I misinterpreted the ranch owner’s reaction, that full-auto goodness might just get us a discount on next year’s hunt.

I got to shoot a gun that has been in my family for over 100 years, and had likely not been shot in nearly as long. It’s a Winchester 73 in .38-40, the proverbial Gun That Won The West. The one I have is a standard sporting rifle, Third Model, manufactured in 1889. The history on it is a bit fuzzy, but as best I can tell, my great-uncle bought it used shortly after the turn of the century, and never shot it again after mangling his right hand in a railroad accident in his early twenties. He gave it to Dad when he was a youngster, and as far as I know, it hasn’t been shot since 1908 or thereabouts. Unfortunately, it looked like it hadn’t seen a bore brush in nearly as long.

Naturally, I had to try it out.

I'm itching to kill a hog with this one.

Shooting wimpy cowboy action loads from Black Hills, the recoil in this thing is negligible, and even with it’s pitted bore, it still shoots well enough to allow me to bounce a can around at will at 50 yards. Perhaps with some hotter handloads in it, I’ll be able to take a hog with this one next year.

Jeff had to head to Austin late Saturday afternoon in order to make his lectures early Sunday morning, so he spent the early afternoon on the Pink Thang, aptly named for its hot pink camouflage paint job. Luckily, deer as just as colorblind as the hunter who painted it. Around dusk, we heard a shot from his direction. So I texted him, “Got one on the ground? Need help tracking?”

He texted back, “Nope, missed him. Crosswind.”

When the rest of us got back to the cabin, Jeff was already bound for Austin, but he did leave us a note:

Excuses, excuses.

Consider that for a .308 shooting 150 grain bullets at roughly 2800 fps, a 90-degree crosswind at 10 mph should result in a lateral deflection of 1 inch at 100 yards. 20 mph, 2 inches, and so on.

So, for a .270 shooting 130 grain bullets at roughly 3100 fps, to miss an entire hog standing broadside at 70 yards would require a crosswind roughly equivalent to… an F5 tornado.

And wouldn’t you know it, but it touched down right in Jeff’s shooting lane, and none of the rest of us even noticed!

Other than Jeff’s epic case of hog fever Saturday afternoon, none of the rest of us even saw a hog. Well, to be correct, Matt G., Limey Buddy and I saw three porkers cross the road ahead of us on the way back to camp, but were unable to get a shot off.

Before dinner, we heard hogs fighting in the brush barely a hundred yards from camp. Daniel and I, in our best mall ninja fashion, tried a spot and stalk by moonlight, but the hogs, unfortunately, were on the other side of a property line, and we were unwilling to be inconsiderate neighbors and shoot hogs on another landowner’s property.

After availing ourselves of twice-baked potatoes and grilled pork tenderloin from Daniel’s sow, we hunted until near midnight, and all of us retired to the cabin for Scotch and cigars. I discovered that, while strawberries make an excellent palate cleanser between samplings of wine or champagne, Cheetos do not work as well to cleanse the palate between samplings of Speyburn and MacAllan scotch.

But they are filling, at least.

Admittedly, not the best combination in the world.

Sunday morning saw us getting desperate, since our hunt ended at noon. Once again, we heard one of us shoot, and we arrived back at camp to discover it had been Daniel. Again. Being blessed with blind shithouse luck the excellent hunter that he is, he managed to score on another hog, a 150-pound boar.

Next time, I'm going to hunt in Daniel's back pocket.

Daniel informed me that the ranch owner had taken Alan and TOTWTYTR out on a spot-and-stalk after they got off their stands, in the hopes that someone else would score on a hog. Sure enough, we heard shots.

“Too far away to be us,” Daniel judged.

I wasn’t so sure, and within a few seconds, we heard more shots, “Pop. Pop pop pop… pop.”

“That’s an AR15,” I said positively. “That was pretty fast for a bolt throw. They’re on the hogs.”

Presently, the ranch owner pulled up with TOTWTYTR and Alan in tow. Turns out they had jumped several herds while still-hunting. Alan hit his hog, but was unable to find a blood trail after 30 minutes of looking. TOTWTYTR, on the other hand, had managed to anchor his hog, running at around 150 yards, no less, and administered a coup de grace with a couple of close range pistol shots.

Okay, maybe it was more than a couple, including a close range .223, but hogs are tough critters, and TOTWTYTR admitted to having a bit of the adrenaline shakes that may have affected his aim.

Edited to preserve his Sooper Seekrit Identity

That’s about an 80 pound sow, just right for Thanksgiving dinner.

In all, it was an enjoyable time, even if the weather was still warm enough that it was difficult to lure the hogs out of the deep woods. Many thanks to Matthew Cousins of the 4 Pines Ranch for his hospitality, and for doing everything he could to put us on the swine. Next year, we’ll do better!

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