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Mrs. and ElevenBravo's 2015 Hunting Adventures

 
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ElevenBravo
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Jul-13-15, 
07:53 AM (MST)
"Mrs. and ElevenBravo's 2015 Hunting Adventures"

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The Mrs. and I are fairly avid hog hunters and venture down to East Texas around Easter every year to do our part to help control the feral hog population.

This year was a bit more exciting year for us, we recently moved from Las Vegas to Idaho Falls and planned on going on a bear hunt in Idaho shortly after our hog trip in Texas.

Preparation....
An old saying (incorrectly) attributed to Abraham Lincoln: "Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree, I'll spend the first four sharpening the axe". I'm a meticulous planner, probably to the point of overplanning. A habit I picked up while in the Army. This was our third hog hunt, and our second to this particular ranch. Last year, the Mrs. got her first hog after coming up empty on her first trip the year before. That's hers on the left:

I had sold off her Remington 700 7-08 last year as it was not shooting acceptably and wanted her to have something with a bit more horsepower for bear. We settled on a Tikka T3 in .308 Winchester as it isn't too heavy on recoil and can take down just about anything. I shoot a Tikka T3 in 300 WSM, which has proven to be complete overkill for anything under 100 yards... but my Rule #1 is bring enough gun.

I'm also a reloader and do all of our target and hunting loads. Since our bear trip was 2 weeks after our hog trip, we used the opportunity to test out our bear loads on the hogs. I planned on using a 220gr Nosler Partition Round Nose, and for the wife's .308, a 180gr Barnes TSX.

Using the OCW method, I came up with a pretty good load for my 300 WSM:

Mrs. 11B's shooting with her Tikka with Barnes bullets. That's 2 shots through the same hole:

Since we had planned the hunts a year out, we'd spend at least one day a month at the range (usually more), and go more often as the day of the hunt got closer.

Oh, did I mention that we had just purchased archery equipment and were going to be bringing our bows along? This was going to be a wonderful experience going through the airports with a rifle case, a bow case and a crossbow case.

Traveling
I wished we had flown out of Idaho Falls to Houston, but it costs somewhere around $300 extra per person to fly out of here, so we drove down to Salt Lake City (4 hour drive) and flew out of there. Where we hunt in Texas is about halfway between Dallas and Houston, but we had flown into Dallas twice before and wanted to check out Houston.

So of course, we have to show up early so TSA can X-ray our rifle case. The airline flipped over the Mrs.'s crossbow case- it was pretty large, bulky, and unusually shaped. I spent at least $20 on cart rentals for the whole trip, sideswiped several people with the rifle case, and not a few unkind words yelled at various people. Lots of hostile looks on the shuttle bus to the car rental agency.

... and tomorrow actual hunting stories!

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 Subject   Author   Message Date   ID 
 RE: Mrs. and E...  ElevenBravo      Jul-14-15   1 
 RE: Mrs. and E...  ElevenBravo      Jul-20-15   2 

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ElevenBravo
(524 posts)
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Jul-14-15, 
08:10 AM (MST)
1. "RE: Mrs. and ElevenBravo's 2015 Hunting Adventures"

Hunting Day 1
We arrive at our hunting area where we are welcomed by the owner, Joe, and we settle in at the cabin he has set up for hunters. Our first hunt will be that evening, and we decide for the both of us to hunt in our own spot. Mrs. 11B gets set up in an area where she took a couple if young pigs last year, behind a tree stump facing down a long straight path.

I set up further south, in an elevated chair stand that is rapidly deteriorating in the East Texas weather. Some of the welds coming apart and the seat is completely filled with water from rain. We're hoping that we're getting in between thunderstorms, but the clouds to the south of us look threatening and the weather changes out here really fast. I have a clear lane of fire out to about 250 yards and the wind is in my favor. Before dropping me off, the owner drops some corn on the ground in front of my area of fire. Wishing me luck, he says that he'll come when it gets dark and drives off in his Mule.

It gets quiet. I'm by myself in the East Texas river bottoms, and suddenly I'm hunting again. Start relaxation mode. I listen to the crickets chirping and the birds fighting over the corn when a single brown spotted piglet wanders out and starts helping himself to corn. At first I couldn't even figure out what it was because it didn't look like a hog at all, but I figure that if a piglet is out there eating, more will show up shortly.

About 20 minutes pass and no additional hogs show up. The piglet gets his fill and wanders off into the brush. Weird. Maybe his mama was shot and he's fending for himself. I'm sitting in the chair, Thermacell blazing away and keeping the skeeters at bay. Another 20 minutes go by, the sun is starting to get low in the sky. Suddenly, a small pack of hogs burst out of the brush and make themselves at home with the corn.

As you can see, I took my time to find a nice hog and wait for a good shot to present itself. The shot took out both lungs, but I didn't know it at the time. After shooting, I gave the hog about 15 minutes to find a place to bed down and die. I went out to where the hog was and started to track it.

Except there was no blood.

None. Nothing on the ground. Cursing myself, figuring I had missed a pretty easy shot, I walked into the brush where I had seen it run, looking for blood, broken branches, a dead hog laying under the mesquite trees. After a half hour of looking, I found nothing. Now I'm really mad at myself. I'm covered in scratches and insects, sweaty and no hog. I go back to my stand and collect my gear, figuring that the hogs won't return after having a shot taken at them. I ruck up and stand a bit off to the side of the clearing where the chair stand is to wait for Joe to return at dark.

After 5 minutes of quiet, I can't believe it, a smaller group of hogs show up about 150 yards from me and start chowing down. never get a second chance like this. Despite being on the ground and out in the open, they don't see me and the wind is still in my favor. Time to get Sneaky. As quietly as I can, I get the ruck off my back, on the ground in front of me and sloooowly lay down behind it. Thankful that I usually keep a round chambered while I'm in the bush, I work the rifle into position as slowly and quietly as possible. I'm hoping that between my boonie cap, shemagh and laying behind my camo rucksack, my outline is broken up enough that I don't look like a human laying on the ground pointing a rifle at a hog.

Being downwind of them, now I can smell the hogs. I think my sense of smell has always been a little sensitive for hogs, as I can usually smell them before I see them. They smell like swamp or the inside of certain Portapotties. I'm glassing them pretty hard from my improvised hide, trying to set up for a shot. In my scope, I can see them chomping away at the corn, and hear the crackle as their teeth crunch on the kernels. Occasionally one of them will look directly at me. Every time that happens, I think "I'm busted", but I guess they're just trying to figure out if this new green lump at the side of the road is a threat.

It is.

A smaller hog moves to the back of the herd, exposing a nice big one that is perfectly broadsides to me. I settle the crosshairs of my Vortex on the shoulder and let one fly. The sound of the shot scatters the herd and the all take off running. I give it 10 minutes to settle down and let the wounded hog and head on over to where I shot the hog to start tracking.

No blood again. What the heck is going on here? I confirmed my zero that afternoon. I look all over the place trying to find any sign that I hit the hog. Jeez, miss two hogs in a row? I hear the engine of Joe's Mule as he drives in with my wife, who came up empty on her hunt. I tell Joe that I took a shot at two hogs but couldn't find any sign that I hit either of them. Joe has seen me shoot before and doesn't believe that I missed either of them, so I show him where I took the shot at the first one. It's getting pretty dark as we push out way through the mesquite and scrub oak. About 20 yards in, I can smell hog. My wife sitting in the Mule can smell it. We spend a few minutes circling around when Joe finds the body.

A few minutes of huffing and puffing, dragging a 150 pound hog in the dark through the scrub, we make it back to the Mule. I show Joe where the second hog was when I shot it and he shines his flashlight down at the ground- lo and behold there's a spot of blood that I completely missed. Joe finds another spot of blood about 10 feet away, in the direction that I saw all the hogs break.

So we follow this intermittent spotty trail when it turns for drips and drops to what had to be a torrent of blood gushing from this running hog. We're crawling on hands and knees under some of the thickest scrub I have ever seen, following that is almost a river of blood. Blood everywhere. Ray Charles could have followed this trail. I'm amazed at the distance this hog managed to run after losing so much blood. After 200 yards of crawling through the mesquite, we finally find the hog. Of course, he managed to find the spot furthest from where we can drive the Mule, and we still need to drag him to a trail through all the brush. I guess this is his way of giving me the finger in defiance for shooting him.

How the heck did a hog manage to run 200 yards after losing that much blood?

The one on the right was the first hog, shot at 50-ish yards that you can see in the Youtube video.
The one on the left was shot at 150 yards from my improvised hide, and ran 200 yards, jetting blood for most of the way.

After we got the hogs back to camp, we gutted them. The first hog shot was a double lung shot, but his shield mostly kept him from leaving a blood trail.

The second hog... we did an autopsy on him because even Joe was amazed at how tough this hog was. Turned out that this hog took a 220gr Partition from my 300 WSM directly to the heart, completely pulping it. It's blackish-red goo, and there's a 4-finger hole in his right side. I have a great pic of the heart but I won't post it here.

Don't let anyone fool you- feral hogs are tough critters! This guy managed to live for several minutes without a heart and jetting blood everywhere. He had some nice sized cutters and was so tough, he's being immortalized as a Euro mount

...and tomorrow, Mrs. 11B gets her first of the trip and makes a new enemy!

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ElevenBravo
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Jul-20-15, 
07:32 AM (MST)
2. "RE: Mrs. and ElevenBravo's 2015 Hunting Adventures"

Hunt day 2

With 2 hogs already in the cooler, I decide to trade in the rifle for my Mathews bow. I'm outside shooting a few arrows into a target bag while the Mrs. is over at Joe's looking at the new batch of hogs that were recently captured in the area. There is a big red hog in the pen where the boars are kept, and he's mean. All the other boars are all huddled up in the corner of the pen, and Big Red has them absolutely terrified. He sees my wife looking at him and charges at her, smashing his face into the fence separating him from her. He's standing there popping his teeth and pawing at the ground, staring daggers at the both of us. The only thing keeping us from being attacked is some good ol'country engineering, a piece of fencing and wire. My wife flips him the bird and says "I'll be seeing you later". Big Red charges the fence again.

Well, it turns out that Joe took that hog and a few others and dropped them off in the area where we would be hunting that morning while we were having some breakfast. This is a different area with a lot of swamp that the hogs like to hang out during the hot days. Joe drops me off with my bow near a wallow, he will be guiding my wife while I go solo. I creep behind windfall of trees where I see a lot of hog tracks. The wallow is on the top of a small hill in front of me and there's two trails that the hogs are using to go up and down. I can hear them slashing and squealing up there and occasionally see some brown fur.

Suddenly, I hear the sounds of a serious fight going on at the wallow. Squeals, water thrashing and teeth popping tell me that this is not a couple of young 'uns playing around. About a dozen hogs come thundering down the hill. I'm surrounded by hogs but completely oblivious that I'm there in their effort to get away from the combat above. I didn't even have time to draw. Whoever is up in that wallow, they're going at it like a couple of mortal enemies. This goes on for a couple of minutes, and I'm starting to regret being down here with only my bow and knife, and not my trusty Coonan on my hip- I remember the story of Joe's son in law, who was laid open by a hog two years earlier. He almost bled out, and it took hundreds of stitches to close him up. And my wife is wandering around in this area with Joe. His last instructions to me were "If a hog charges you, just put a tree between you and him".

The sound of fighting dies out as quickly as it started, and a big brown boar comes running down the far trail. Of course, he took the far trail so he's too far away and too many trees to get an arrow in him. I'm starting to wonder if he hurt or killed whoever he was fighting with. I hear a sound to my right, and it's Big Red sauntering down the trail closest to me, and his coming directly at me.

Oh damn.

All that is separating me from him is a pile of trees that were blown over in the wind. I have an arrow nocked, but not drawn. Red is coming closer and closer, and I have no ready means of killing him, and if I scare him he might charge. All I can do is hold perfectly still and hope I can draw my bow once he passes me. I have no Plan B.

He's chuffing and coming down the trail from the wallow like he owns the place, I'm guessing he won the fight with the big brown boar. The trail passes right in front of the windfall I'm hiding behind. He's 5 feet away, stops, and looks directly at me. I can see fresh cuts where the other boar tore him open. He has a big mohawk running down his back, he has a lot of razorback blood in him. 170 pounds at least.

My bow is in the low ready position, I have my release attached to the bowstring, and I'm just waiting for him to either pass me by, or charge and maybe, just maybe I can get an arrow off before he rips me open. Big Red is looking me directly in the eye, and I'm staring back at him. It reminds me of being in boot camp, with the Drill Sergeants yelling at us new recruits "YOU EYEBALLING ME RECRUIT?! WHAT, DO YOU LIKE ME OR SOMETHING?!! WERE YOU GOING TO ASK ME TO TAKE A SHOWER WITH YOU?". I think the wrong answer here is going to cost me more than a few push-ups.

This goes on for what I think is at least a minute, but is probably only a few seconds. With one last glare, he chuffs and pops his teeth at me and starts walking down the trail. As soon as his head is pointing away from me, I raise my bow and draw... he hears me pulling back and bolts before I can get the pin settled on him. He crests a small hill and disappears, I can hear him breaking through the brush as he narrowly escapes death.

As soon as the swamp settles down, the hog herd starts making its way back to the wallow. I think I understand what's going on here- Big Red wants to be the Big Pig, but the herd doesn't want him. A nice sow is standing on the trail about 15 yards from me, her head is not turned in my direction. I pull back on the bow, settle the 20 yard pin on her shoulder and let it fly.

The arrow hits, and makes that SHWAK sound as the Shwacker broadhead deploys the blades. Well, one of the blades at least. It goes through the sow, and stops with the broadhead sticking about a foot out the opposite side. The hog grunts when it hits her, but doesn't run. This is a new experience for me as I'm usually a rifle guy, and all hogs run when they hear the gunshot. Instead of running, the hog just starts walking down the trail a bit with the arrow sticking out of her and stops about 10 yards away. I have another arrow nocked and at full draw, but the hog is just standing there.

Slightly at first, but getting more noticeable every second, the hog starts gyrating like it's drunk or at some silent rave. It reminds me of ED-209 after Robocop shoots it with the Cobra assault cannon (the original Robocop, not the reboot). After about half a minute, the sow falls over like an AT-AT on Hoth. Just falls over sideways. Hooray, my first bow kill. Too bad it wasn't Big Red.

I link up with Joe and Mrs. 11B. She's on a quest to get the Red hog since it charged at her, and now it's a vendetta. I tell her about my encounter with him near the wallow. Joe says that he wants that hog out of here if he's that mean, otherwise he may tear up the herd he's maintaining or it may attack one of his hunters. We decide that my wife needs to be up in an elevated position rather than being on the ground, for her safety, so we get her in a chair on a 14 foot tripod.

Joe and I will try to find the hog herd or Big Red and flush them towards her. We split up (probably not the smartest thing) to find hogs. I'm creeping through the swamp, trying to stay within sight of Joe as he's making his way on the opposite side of a draw. He disappears from sight, behind a stand of oak. A few seconds later, I hear him shouting like he had fallen or something. I run over there and he's sweating. Turns out that he had stumbled right on top of Big Red- apparently he's not real good at hiding and overconfident when he beds down as he didn't bolt until Joe literally stepped on him. Fortunately, Joe carries a good piece of hickory with him and gave Red a whack on the beak. Red runs off to bed down somewhere else.

We eventually find the hog herd and spook them in my wife's direction. From her position, there is a nice clear area that the hogs will run through, she should be able to get a shot. I eventually hear the sound of her Tikka 308 firing. I'm about 50 yards downhill from her, and once again the hog herd is charging right in my direction, and I'm again surrounded by charging, panicking hogs. The hog she shot is staggering downhill. I'm at full draw and sighted in, but wait to see if the hog is going to go down on it's own or if I need to shank it. The hog takes a couple more steps, loses its footing and rolls down the side of the hill.

We collect the two dead hogs and now the wife wants to switch over to her crossbow, and she wants to shoot Big Red. After lunch we decide to set her up near the wallow that I was at, but behind a fence for her safety. I'm good on hogs, so switch back to my rifle just in case, and will spend the rest of the hunt trying to find and drive Red into a position where the Mrs. can shoot him. I spend the rest of the sunny, humid day trudging through the swamp looking for Red, but couldn't find him. I do have a pretty impressive collection of skeeter bites, covered in mud, sunburned, and I smell like a swamp.

Wouldn't have it any other way.

At the end of the day, we collect everyone and I hear that Red actually did show up. He bebopped down that same trail that I saw him earlier that day. He found a nice puddle of water that was about a yard in front of my wife, on the other side of the fence, where he bedded down. 3 feet away from her, and she couldn't take the shot. It's almost like this hog is teasing everyone to try to take a shot.

Today's take- 2 hogs. 4 hogs total.


The next day is the final day of our hunt... will Big Red meet his demise?

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