Hog Fest Weekend
An opportunity for something different arrived in the form of a phone call from my cousin located in Houston, Texas. My cousin Ben and his son Daniel had been leasing some land south of San Antonio to hunt white tail for the last couple years, and to their delight, there was more than deer on the ranch. Some of their first hunts included sightings of feral hogs. Being natives of Michigan, made these swine encounters exciting and rejuvenating. It did not take long for them to realize that the long snout is very functional and the “white tail scent free routine” was going to have to be kicked up a notch.
Being an avid bow hunter for the last 15 years in Ohio and after doing my fare share of wildlife management for the only locally abundant big game species, “deer” I was more than pleased to accept this mid January invitation to “Hog Fest Weekend”. With a month to prepare, a frequent to the archery range was priority. Countless shots later I was sighted in like a hoard of acorns ten feet under.
The only fear remaining was “airport security”. Turns out that the fear was for nothing. Actually, even with toting a bow case with knives through the airport I made better time than the previous time when I flew luggage free and forgot to take off my shoes upon walking through the metal detectors.
With my feet on the ground and the weather comfortable for a Yank, we packed the ride with the equipment headed to the “Hills” of Texas. The temperature was around 40 degrees with a never ending drizzle. It sounds bad but if you have ever hunted Ohio in the middle of January, then one would realize how grateful I was.
After a good nightâs rest, we headed into the tree stands an hour before sunrise making my surroundings a complete mystery. After first light I was able to observe the landscape which was riddled with cedars (ten foot shrubs), rocky soils and mountainous terrain comparable to Kentucky. The first hog I saw looked in excess of 300 lbs. but was well out of bow range. Not discouraged, but excited just to see something while hunting (thatâs all I ever ask for…at least on the first or second hunt).
The next couple hunts were not as successful, turns out hogs are not as routine as the deer because I did see the deer during all occasions. Finally, on the third morning waiting on the sun to rise I noticed some movement. My eyes were still adjusting from the lack of light, but all I could think of was “Kangaroo?”. Actually, they turned out to be jack rabbits. Yet, another surprise for a Yank. Jacks are huge and I am sure would make for an interesting bow hunt, but I was here for a hog. It was now around 8 A.M. and some birds blew past the stand. Less than five minutes later a sow and five 80 pound piglets slopped in about 25 yards out. I quickly pulled my mask down past my chin, too fast because the sow caught my movement and stared me down. Like a stone I waited for her to start eating the special blend of corn that my cousin had thrown on the ground after dropping me off at the stand. Even though she looked at least 150, I wanted a boar. I started browsing the piglets and about that time the “Boss” walked in. This boar looked to be about 200 and was at 16 yards. I had good camouflage from the limbs behind me, but the front was very exposed. I drew the 70lbs draw bow 1/4″ at a time all the way back to 28″. I started to worry because the draw was taking so much time, but at 16 yards it does not take much to get attention from any form of wildlife. Finally after what had felt like an eternity, the 20 yard pin rested on the black of the boar and the arrow was gone. Notice how I did not talk about the aim, I forgot to do that. Anyway, the thump of the arrow was something else and now the arrow was 50/50. It was not perfect shot placement, but ethical. I started shaking like I was freezing, 10% cold 90% nerves, awesome. Within minutes my cousin who had watch the entire hunt from his rifle stand on the mountain ridge came down to congratulate me. He explained that he watched all the hogs run out of the cedars with the exception of the boar that I shot (meaning it was down). What a relief. We waited 2 hours and returned for the harvest. The boar made it approximately 30 yards from where I had taken the shot. This big boy came in around 180. I guarantee that I wonât miss the 2nd annual “Hog Fests Weekend”. From this time forward my deer hunting is only preparation for the boars.