Focusing on managing Texas wildlife habitat and natural resources for native and exotic wild game species, for this and future generation of hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.
It was Friday night on November 13th, 2009. I arrived at Escondido Ranch
earlier that afternoon with a mission to help eradicate spikes, hogs
and other genetically inferior whitetails
off of the ranch. Needless to say, I was ready for the
challenge. Over dinner, Kurt, Tony and I spoke about the brazen numbers of hogs
trail cams during the wee hours of the morning (1-3 am). I volunteered to get everyone up at the right hour to increase our chances of success…to which I received unenthusiastic responses. I guess those guys needed their beauty sleep. Oh well… Therefore, since the dirty deed still needed to be done, shortly after dinner, around 9 pm, we jumped into Escondido’s
vintage military jeep modified with elevated back row seats and a cross-bar shooting support, and went out on an evening of spotlighting. Kurt was at the helm, Tony was operating the spotlight and I was the designated shooter; perched along with Tony on the back row.
We ran into a technical problems a few moments after the departure. The spotlight kept flickering on and off. After fidgeting with it for a few moments, we determined that the problem was with the broken wiring inside the casing. Nonetheless, Tony managed to keep the spotlight “on”, while Kurt took a path “less traveled” along one of the back roads crisscrossing Escondido's terrain
As the powerful beam skirted past the brush line, it illuminated multiple pairs of eyes staring back. With the unusually high amounts of rainfall this year, there was an abundance of natural vegetation throughout South Central Texas
. All the native and exotic animals
on the ranch, from axis
to whitetail deer
, along with elk
and feral hogs
gorged on the natural buffet during the night and stayed hidden during daylight hunting hours
. So, it was refreshing to see so many animals glaring back at us from beneath the shadows of the underbrush.
Kurt took a hard left and we found ourselves on a road leading to Betty’s blind. As the vehicle swung around, on the fringes of the light, we caught a glimpse of a backside of a large, feeding animal standing just a few yards ahead us. “It’s a hog!”, I exclaimed, as the animal heard our approaching jeep and jolted forward. Someone started to say something about a sika deer
, but then Tony zeroed in on the moving animal and we could all see the corkscrew tail of a hog. The shadowy figure dashed from left to right as it tried to stay ahead of the trailing beam of light.
Kurt brought the vehicle to an immediate stop. I lifted the rifle and locked the bolt into place. Quickly resting the .270 across the shooting bar, I looked over the top of the scope trying to anticipate the hog’s next move. As I swung the rifle along the path of the fleeing animal, I spotted its backside in the scope as the hog quartered away from me. In a split moment, I decided to try to stop the animal before it reached the safety of the brush and squeezed the trigger. Shot rang out…and then everything went black…
Apparently, the faulty floodlight turned "off" when Tony, in an attempt to preserve his hearing, stuck his fingers into his ears. Kurt was barely able to do the same before I pulled the trigger.
Then, before anyone had a chance to ask THE question, we heard the not too distant squealing of a mortaly wounded animal. By then, Tony was able to re-engage the contacts and point the revived beam in the direction of the hog. As the light cut through the veil of darkness, a large, black boar
came into focus.
The animal was feverishly digging its front hooves into the ground while frantically swinging its
head from side-to-side in a feeble attempt to jolt its backside forward. It quickly became apparent that the first shot broke the hog’s back. But before we could safely approach it, the hog needed to be put-down. Since the head of the hog was swaying from side to side, I took aim at the heart and pulled the trigger. The boar
first dropped to the ground, but then surprisingly, reared back up on its front legs. The final, head shot, put it down for good.
A few moments later we backed up the jeep to the boar and had a clear look at the expired animal. This was certainly not the largest feral hog taken on Escondido Ranch
and most likely not the biggest one currently residing there, but at just under 200 pounds this was an impressive specimen, nonetheless.
We loaded the animal into the jeep and cruised down to the cleaning station in the valley below, along the way recounting the pure excitement of the hunt. The smooth execution by the Hog Tag Team made this hunt exciting and productive!
The meat from the hog
was donated to the Wild Game Charity Dinner, while the skull will most likely grace one of the walls at Escondido Ranch
Labels: texas feral hog hunts, wild boar hunts, wild hog hunting