Texas Night Hunt
South Texas Night Hunt
It was going to be my last hunt of the season, a
return to South Texas for a quarry that had foiled
me on three hunts to date. This animal is not
uncommon, it is not overly intelligent or hard to
hunt, many people roll out and bag one early in
the first attempt, but for some reason the
southwestern deserts little porcinoid javalina
continued to elude me. Iâ€™d have been
surprised and not gotten off a shot, Iâ€™ve had
equipment failure, and Iâ€™ve just plain struck
out â€¦.. so this time I was determined.
I booked a hunt through Pete Reyes on his
property about 80 miles south of San Antonio,
with the plan to hunt Javalina with my .308
cnterfire and bring a selection of airguns for
coyote, bobcat, raccoons, hogs and whatever
small stuff came my way. I would have liked to
hunt the javalina with an airgun, but as it is a game
animal airguns are expressly forbotten. It is
somewhat ironic that I can legally take a 300 lb
hog with my .45 airgun, but not a 50 lb peccary.
However, Texas is one of the truly hunter friendly
states so I wonâ€™t complain! I will leave this
part of the story by saying, I am still after my
javalina and believe that when I finally bag one it
will be one of the most expensive trophies on my
wall! But the portion of my hunt I want to tell here
relates to a night out with my airguns.
The original plan was to fly in on Friday and get in
for an afternoon stand, then on following days
hunt morning and afternoon for javalina, then mid
day and night for varmint, pest, small game, and a
mixed bag of the diverse fauna of this part of
Texas, until I had to depart on Monday
afternoon. In the end an emergency at work came
up and I received an email (curse the Black
Berry) on Saturday night telling me I needed to
be back for a meeting on Monday morning. So
on the spur of the moment I had to book a flight
home on Sunday, leaving me only a night hunt on
Saturday. So getting back to the lodge after the
afternoon hunt, I ate a quick dinner, grabbed my
gear, loaded up my guideâ€™s truck, and was
off for what had become my last chance to shoot.
I was taking along a couple PCP air rifles that Iâ
€™d done bench testing on; and decided that I
wanted to get a raccoon, possum, bob cat,
coyote, fox, ringtail cat, and may be a couple
rabbits. The two animals that I really wanted for
mounts in my trophy room were the bobcat and
the ringtail, two of the prototypical critter species
of the South Texas Senderas.
We drove out to a ranch on the river bottoms
about 40 minutes west of the lodge, watching the
deer gliding across the road and disappear into
the heavy brush lining the highway. Pulling up to
the ranch road, I jumped out to open the gate,
acknowledging two inescapable aspects of
ranching; first is that the driver is legally and
morally freed from opening the gates themselves,
and secondly no two gate latches work in exactly
the same way! But after working out the Rubik
cube of a locking system and passing the truck
through, we were on our way.
Continued from above
A little bit later a bobcat came walking across the road at 35 yards, a slow stroll seemingly only mildly
concerned with our presence. I have wanted a chance for a bobcat with an airgun, and have been actively
pursuing this goal for a couple years. I had my Big Bore 909 with varmint light sitting in my lap, loaded and
ready to go. This was going to be my night, I just had to jump out of the truck and take my shot.
Unfortunately, Iâ€™d been leaning out of the window and had unknowingly locked the door. And I
frantically tried to figure out how to unlock it while squeaking like a trapped mouse to hold him up, as I
watched my bobcat continue to walk by. Just as I got it worked out and tumbled out the door, I saw the
cat look my way as he stepped behind a cactus not to appear again. Oh well, what can you say, it will
have to wait until next time.
On we drove, through a stand of trees with a canopy that grew over the road creating a living tunnel.
Coming around a bend, a pod of three coons went running by and up a tree. I was going for variety more
than numbers and let these guys go on their way. The rancher would have preferred that I took them, but it
was my hunt and I wanted something else â€¦.. primarily the bobcat Iâ€™d just missed. I decided I was
going to hold off until I had a shot at something different.
And I got that chance in about a half hour, lighting up a tree I saw eyes looking down at me. It turned out
to be a ringtailed cat, one of the animals Iâ€™d wanted to bag since seeing a mount in a hunting lodge a
few years ago. Jumping out of the truck, I sat in the road and braced the gun on my knee to line up the 50
yard shot. The ringtail was sitting in the fork of the tree presenting me with a frontal shot, and squeezing the
trigger on the 909 sent the 120 grain bullet right on target. The cat flipped out of the tree and was DOA
when I reached his landing spot.
We called it quits and headed on back to the lodge, it was about three in the morning and I was dead
tired. The next morning I loaded my gear and made my way to the airport (ironically almost running over a
pair of javalina on the way out) for the rescheduled flight home. In the end I didnâ€™t get my javalina, Iâ
€™d seen them when I had an airgun, which was not a legal hunting arm for a game animal. I had planned
to go back the next morning with my .308 centerfireâ€¦. but then business called. What can you say, Iâ
€™d passed on some hogs as well, figuring I could always take one later if I wanted to. At one point Iâ
€™d been sitting in a blind surrounded by 19 deer; two does the rest bucks including one massive 10
pointer. I didnâ€™t get my javalina, but I did get some cool small stuff with my airguns and saw a lot of
wildlife. If Iâ€™d been able to spend the Sunday and Monday hunting as planned I have no doubt that Iâ
€™d have bagged my javalina â€¦. And maybe my bobcat!
I had to get back toy the office on short notice, and my
four day hunt was cut down to a day and a half. It was
cold and it rained, and I didn't get my Javalina. But I did
get in a good night time airgun hunt the evening before I
had to leave!
The base camp consists of 8 well appointed cabins,
each with 4 beds and a large bathroom.
The airguns taken on this trip: Big Bore 909 in .45,
Webley Patriot in .25, and the .22 Evanix AR6.
Filled using Airhog mini bottle
The ringneck cat was a real airgunning trophy for me,
granted the big bore .45 was more gun than I needed.
The ring nech laid out with his big cousin, the
raccoon was shoot with the AR6.
The AR6 with the scope mounted light was a great
kit for night hunting.. This gun is dead accurate
and was perfect for medium sized game. Note:
spotlighting is legal in Texas
We drove the dirt trails spotlighting the trees and
densely cactus covered landscape for about an
hour seeing nothing but a bobcat speeding across
the rutted dirt road, when Joe (the guide) said â
€œover there, I see eyesâ€�. The spotlight was
plugged into the trucks lighter jack, which tied
Joe and the light source to the vehicle. I on the
other hand, had a scope mounted varmint light
sitting atop my scope with a battery pack
hooked on my belt. So jumping out of the truck I
hiked through the vegetation till I arrived at a
break from which I could see a big coon
hightailing it even higher towards a bridge in the
canopy that would allow him to cross the
riverbed (now dry) forty feet over my head and
35 yards away. The gun I was using was the
Evanix AR6 in .22 caliber matched with Beeman
Kodiak heavy or the Piledriver boattail pellets.
Quickly thumbing back the hammer while
following the coon through the scope, I fired a
shot hitting the running coon right in the head and
dumping her into the dry river bed. Joe and I
started down after her, when a branch snagged
the wire of my light unplugging me, followed by
an expletive from me, and the sound of my
unfortunate companion rolling down the side of
the hill in pitch blackness. But after a brief
moment of fumbling around I got plugged in and
found that Joe had somehow come to rest next
to the dead raccoon. We carried the animal up to
the truck so it could be brought back to camp for
Not more than fifteen minutes later we spotted
another set of eyes very high up in a big oak tree.
The raccoon was hidden in a clump of vegetation
and all I could see was the eyes and his
forehead. Joe asked â€œ can you take him?â€�
to which I replied my view was obstructed but I
could see his forehead. Just as I was a bout to
shoot, he shifted and we could see he was in fact
a very big, very irritated porcupine. These guys
are all landowners and/or dog handlers, and none
seemed to like porcupines much though I
personally bear them no ill will. Joe said â€œwe
shoot them when we see them, take itâ€�. As I
squeezed the trigger and watched this big pin
cushion of a critter tumble down from perhaps
60 feet up. We circled around the carcass each
trying to talk the other into grabbing his foot and
hauling him to the truck. Finally I pointed out that
I was his guest, and as a good host it was his
duty, no privilege to retrieve our trophy. We
tossed the porcupine into the back of the truck
and continued on our way.
Several months ago I was having a discussion with Nick at Defence Industries
about the XP pellets Iâ€™d been testing, when he shared that a new design
was in the making. Iâ€™d been having very good results with the companies
XP pellet, so of course I was interested when he asked if Iâ€™d like to give
them a try.
In the months since Iâ€™ve tried several iterations along their pre-production
testing; some working well some not as they tweaked the design and materials.
But in the end they got it right, and brought the product to market under the
name of Piledrivers. These boattailed projectiles are available in 30 grain
weight and work especially well when fired through a high power PCP rifle.
My Evanix AR6 especially likes them and has no problems digesting them
through its rotary magazine. The accuracy is very good and the power
achieved is outstanding, especially in the context of retained energy and
accuracy at longer ranges!
I used the Piledriver in the AR6 for small game on this hunt, and was really
impressed. One of the big South Texas jackrabbits I shot at close to 80 was
knocked right of his feet. Iâ€™ve used these air bullets to shoot squirrels,
rabbits, guinea fowl, woodchucks, and monkeys at some pretty impressive
distances, always with excellent results. I think these pellets are worth a try if
youâ€™re an airgun hunter, youâ€™ll most likely be pleasantly surprised.
A New Hunting Pellet: The Piledriver
30 Grain Boatail Projectile
Termed an "Air Bullet" By Manufacturer
Accurate out of Many High Power PCPs
Outstanding Long Range Performance
Superb Terminal Performance
Great on Larger Airgun Quarry