Last night I went on a hog hunt in Hamilton, Texas, where Billy the Kid is rumored to be buried. C—, a friend of mine who is an ER doctor, went along as he’s one of the few people I know who can stomach this type of thing. We changed out our guns (from scopes) and fitted them with red dot sights which gave us the ability to sight quickly on running animals, but limited our accuracy to a range 60 yards and below. It’s hard to relay the challenge involved in this type of hunting, but imagine trying to kill an animal who will run as soon as it sees, hears, smells or gets spooked in any way and can reach speeds of 40 miles an hour very quickly and naturally wants to run towards bushes or trees. Not to mention they will attack if cornered and it’s your goal to get within 25 yards of them for a quick kill.
We arrived at the 1200 acre ranch around 6pm and had our guide drive us around the property to familiarize ourselves with the layout and terrain. Where are the boundaries, the water sources, game trails, etc. First we tried an ambush tactic wherein C— and the guide tried to flush the hogs towards me where I was waiting at the mouth of a clearing. That didn’t work so we hunted “safari” style the rest of the trip. This means we’d be standing in the back of a moving truck, driving through fields and over half-roads hoping to spot the hogs before they spotted us. Soon, I spotted 2 or 3 hogs in the distance and we stopped the truck and got out. The wind was blowing hard, roughly 20 mph or more into our faces, downwind so we had the advantage. We quickly got into a tree line and followed it as far as we could until there was a clearing between us and the hogs. We were still 50 yards away and they were rooting in some tall grass unaware of our presence. C— and I used motions to communicate as we moved in a crouching position slowly, closer. We moved from bush to tree to bush until we were 30 yards away and this was a far as we could go safely. I gave him a thumbs up to let him know I was ready and at that point we knew to count to 3 in our heads and start firing. I decided to give him the first shot since he was using a semi-auto AR 223 and I wasn’t sure his first shot would drop the hog unless it was a head shot. I was using a 30-30 which would do substantially more damage and after the first shot they’d start to run and I was looking forward to a moving target. C—’s first shot hit the bigger hog and it dropped to the ground, got back up and came around a tree where I sent a bullet through it’s back and severed it’s spine. That hog was done. They obviously didn’t know where we were still as the other hog came around the corner towards us and C— put two bullets into and it was done. These hogs were smaller, roughly 50 and 30 pounds, but these are the best to eat so we were pleased. It took us 5 minutes to get into position and from first shot to last shot about 5 seconds. It happens very, very fast.
The rest of the night was less eventful. We’d find a few hogs here or there with the spotlight, but they were all 75 yards away or more and by the time we got out of the truck and started to stalk them they’d have disappeared into a creek or into the moonless night. Or they’d take off running as soon as the spot light hit them and we’d lose them in the brush before we could even stop the truck.
Overall, it was pretty exciting since it’s a true stalk your prey style hunt. We’re not shooting deer 6 football fields away or something lame like that. It was also pretty disgusting and something I’ll do again, but I’m in no hurry.