|Big Bore Big Boar|
|Jim Chapman and Eric Henderson head out on a Texas hog hunt at Lone Star Hunts.|
|Here I was, back in Texas for another big game airgun hunt with Eric Henderson of Bigbore Airgun Adventures. We had planned to do the hunt in December; however my work schedule had precluded it. But then fresh into the New Year, I'd been called down to Dallas for a meeting .... and was able to schedule an open day for me.
About 4:00 the day of the hunt (not my favorite wakeup time) Eric rolled up to the front of my hotel in the "Bigbore Truck" and after loading my minimal gear we were off. To make my travel easier, I left my guns at home and opted to use his. After a two and a half hour drive northwest of Dallas, and still in the dark, we rolled up to the gate of Lone Star Hunts. This operation is run by ranch owner Allen Shaffer, who after running dove, quail, and puddle jumping duck hunts for a number of years on his 2000 acre holding, decided to expand the opportunity for feral hogs and trophy rams.
The ranch is open pasture with mesquite dotting the landscape, with particularly heavy cover along the creek running through the bottom lands. While Allen has a number of blinds and stands set up at strategic sites around the property, Eric and I both prefer still hunting, so that is exactly what we did. In this brief recounting of our hunt, I"m not going to go too deep into the story telling as I'm saving that for another time. It was a fun hunt with a lot of action and some tales that deserve telling in their own time. But to give a quick run down ..
We took four boar, hunting from sun up to sun down, each of us taking two animals. The way we hunted was that one man was shooting while the other worked the video camera. This always resounds to my favor, in that no matter how good Eric does on his stalk and kills, my shortcomings as a photographer come into play. On the other hand, no matter how sloppy my approach, Eric's skill with the camera is going to make me look good. I quite like this arrangement.
|Lone Star Hunts
|The bullet was loaded backwards creating an enormous hollowpoint. The expansion was excellent, and the bullet penetrated clear through the body, lodging under the skin on the off side.|
|Jim posing with the bigger of his two hogs, this 160 pound sow went down before the DAQ .50.|
|After a hog was shot, we'd drag it back to an area where the jeep could get access, then load it on to the bumper rack and strap it in for the ride back to Allen's shed.
Eric showing his first kill of the day, which was another big sow. Eric hit this one square in the head while she was facing him head on.
|Pig number one was spotted about an hour into the stalk, with me shooting. I was using the DAQ .308, and as we hiked away from the creek and up into a large pasture dotted with trees and mesquite we spotted a small group of hogs rooting. The first sighting was about a hundred yards out, and with minimal coverage we had to move slowly towards our quarry, freezing up whenever one of the pigs looked up. At about fifty yards I extended my shooting stick and set up for the shot. The pigs would not cooperate and kept moving behind the brush and tree limbs, which were sparse enough not to give cover, but heavy enough to block my shooting lane. After a few minutes of moving and adjusting without getting a shot, we dropped to the ground and crawled/scooted into about thirty five yards. The wind favored us and gave me time to set up, but I still couldn't get a clean head shot so decided I'd take the lung shot. Squeezing the trigger I heard the thwack of the bullet and the squeals of my pig combined with his herd mates as they took off. My quarry did not go with them though as he dropped on the spot. There is more to this story which I'll save for a later time; but the pig did have a little life left and as we were walking up popped back to his feet and charged Eric. This little tusker was literally within inches of slicing up his leg, which I did point out to Eric would have made compelling video viewing (if we'd been filming anyway). But in the end, this little 100 lb piggy went to the skinning shed.
Pig number two had Eric shooting, using Bob Deans .57 caliber titanium bigbore creation. As we were making our way along the creek in heavy brush, we heard grunting and squealing combined with a thrashing of the brush, as a herd of hogs moved through the brambles and bush along the creek. We spotted a small break away group move up to the border of the tree line not too far distant from where we'd taken my pig earlier, though we approached from a completely different direction this time. Eric slowly moved inside of fifty yards, again taking the slow methodical stalk and freezing anytime one of the hogs looked up. He would move in a couple of steps then freeze and hold, perfectly still, until he could move again. We were in camo and these animals don't have the best eye sight, but with their acute sense of smell and keen hearing they are a real challenge. Once reaching a workable shooting position, Eric had a couple of different targets he could have opted for, but patiently let these go by waiting for the largest (and least accommodating) hog in the group to finally present a shot. After a few tense minutes the big sow turned facing directly towards us, I think sensing that something was not quite right. As soon as the shot opened, Eric let it fly. The heavy 400 grain bullet smacked into her head right between the eyes, dropping the 150 lb pig on the spot. While radioing back to Allen that we had an animal down, the heavy hog was dragged a couple hundred yards to a location the old ranch jeep could access, and thrown on the rack for the drive back to the shed.
|Kneeling beside the boar and sow I harvested on this hunt. I needed both guns shown here to kill the sow.
Eric had to do some tracking to put this tough little guy down. He was hit hard in the cheast, but lead us on a chase before he was dispatched for good.
Allen was busy taking care of the animals while we hunted. He was an excellent guide and I'll be hunting with him again
|At this point it was afternoon and we'd been aggressively hunting the ranch for about five hours and we were all hungry. Allen, Eric, and I jumped into Allen's truck and drove the few miles back to the little town of Henderson, to a café tucked away in the back of the local grocery store. We had a quick bite and chatted with some of the locals before heading back to the ranch for an afternoon hunt. We had both decided to take a couple of hogs, and as the first two had taken the morning our expectation was that the next two would make for a full day.
I was up next, and on this hunt decided to use the DAQ .50. I loaded the heavy cast lead bullet into the gun backwards, effectively making a massive hollow point. Driving further back onto the ranch than we had earlier, we forged the creek and started driving up a little hill where we planned to launch our stalk. Coming over the rise, Eric could see (from his vantage in the elevated rear seat) a herd of pigs feeding in a stand of trees on the hill side. We jumped out and grabbed our gear, then ran up the backside of the hill to the first stand of trees. Working our way quietly towards the hogs, we could hear them grunting and rooting as they were moving away from us. On reaching the border of the tree line we discovered that the pigs had moved across a clearing into another clump of trees about sixty yards away. Just then two animals split off from the group and started moving though the deep grass feeding. The wind was in our favor, though it was starting to shift and I was afraid they would wind us. Flipping out the shooting stick I lined up the shot from a standing position, which was the only way I could get above the grass. I tracked the hog as it slowly walked along, and as soon as it stopped, fired my rifle. The hog squealed and took off running into the thicket. Keeping in mind that there had already been one charge that day, we moved in carefully. We found my hog down but not finished, but as we came in the herd spotted or scented us and all hell broke loose. Pigs were crashing through the bush everywhere, and dropping to my knee I lined up on my badly wounded animal as it staggered away, and shot. The gun literally exploded in my face! I had accidentally flipped up the bolt handle as I'd run to take up a shooting position, and on discharging the gun had blown the bolt open and sent a blast of air right into my eyes. Thanks to DAQ guns being over-engineered, I hadn't done myself any real damage, but had broken the bolt. Now I had an irritated 160 lb sow staring at me and no gun. But Eric slipped up beside me and handed over his DAQ .45 pistol, and putting the read dot on the sow I finished her off. We loaded up the third pig of the day, and Eric and I took off in the direction we'd seen a splinter group of pigs move off in, while Allen headed back to hang and gut our hogs so they could start to cool.
Now with Eric on point we headed off for our final stalk of the day, which also ended up being the longest. We tracked animals through the muddy creek beds, where the tenacious mud threatened to suck the boots right off our feet. We went through bramble patches where every vine that hit exposed skin would draw blood. We crossed pastures, crawled through thickets, and did just about everything we could to get a shot. On five or six occasions, it looked like everything was a go. But then the wind would shift, or a branch would snap, or the pig would move into the tangle of tree branches and tall grasses before a shot opened up. Finally, belly crawling up to the bank of a stream Eric was able to line up a shot at about 20 yards, taking aim and squeezing the trigger .... the bullet slammed into the one tree branch between him and the pig. This sent the herd scattering for parts unknown, so with this stalk blown and the afternoon sun dropping we radioed Allen to pick us up and drop us off at the other side of the property so we could start over again. Driving along we saw the biggest herd of animals yet about a half mile away, there must have been more than thirty hogs on the run. We saw that they were heading down to the creek, and that the only chance we were going to have was to drive to the end of the dirt road then run about a hundred yards to a thicket that stood between the hill and the creek bottom to set up an ambush. We got positioned about two minutes before the sound of hundreds of pound of hams on the hoof cam charging over the rise. As they moved towards the thicket, Eric was down on one knee using the grass for cover. Just when they reached us, they made out the hunter kneeling in the grass and with warning grunts and squeals veered off. One animal that had been running in from behind stopped dead in his tracks, giving Eric the moment he needed to make his shot. It was a solid frontal chest shot, but boar are tough and this animal started running away. We tracked the injured pig for about a mile before getting in close enough for the follow up shot, but Eric finally closed to about thirty yards, and bringing up the huge DAQ pistol made a headshot that finished the job there and then.
By the time we got the last hog back to the shed for skinning and dressing, darkness was well and truly on us. A few remarks to conclude with; first this was a great hunting experience, challenging, big hog populations in the area, and lots of different types of cover. Allen Schaffer is an excellent guide/host, and his Lone Star Hunting outfit is a quality operation. I would recommend it strongly to anybody wishing to a hog hunt. If still hunting is not your game, there are many blinds and stands on the ranch that you can hunt from. They have a good population of feral hogs, but they have gotten enough hunting pressure and there is enough terrain that you will have to do your part. Allen will put you on to hogs, so the opportunity is yours to make or break. And finally, DAQ guns .... what can you say? I believe that these are the best big bore airguns available today, built for hunters by a craftsman that really understands what is needed to succeed in the field. If you like hunting and you like airguns, you have to give this a go!