Well of course….I have a flexible schedule and it was a good deal on a ranch where my other buddy Kerry was losing the lease. Kerry had been running a top notch guided deal out of the ranch and doing a great job of it. The 4,700 acre ranch in Mendocino county was being sold….it was to close on June 1st [$4,500,000 in case you were curious] This is a true free range hunt.
I know Wily Coyote has hunted it and been Roberts good friend for many years.
I’m sure there are some other Circle F veteran bowhunters here.
We couldn’t get in there until Saturday the 28th as Kerry had a few rifle guys in there he was guiding. In fact, he had been hitting the ranch pretty hard for the last 6 weeks or so with hunters…and we would soon find out that with that kind of rifle pressure the bowhunting was going to be very tough. We planned to hunt through Monday.
Pic is the spring they call Savo
We got there late on Saturday but in time to hunt the evening. Temps in the high 90’s. I sat a small spring at the very top of the range. The property consists of a huge valley with the ranges on both sides probably going from appx 1600’ from the valley floor to the top of the range but its steep! This spring was maybe 100yds off the top. Having a spring that high in a hot dry mtn range just amazes me.
The bad news was the wind was iffy for that little bench, swirling just enough. I got down and tried a spot up on the back slope but it was no use. I did have 2 bucks come in from the one side….but the uphill side I expected the hogs to come from was like a funnel…..right before dark I heard one grunt- much like a motorist flipping another the bird……..and that was all that first evening.
I spotted some hogs a longways off but there was no getting to them in time. If you know hogs…they are usually always moving. To count on them being in the same spot 45 minutes from now is a longshot. To add to the degree of difficulty on this heavily hunted ranch, the grass and wild oats were 4 ½ feet tall in many spots. You could spot a hog and then lose it completely.
There were only 6 cattle on the whole ranch with a couple bulls so the feed is actually so high it works against you. I did spot another good hog I figured was a boar, a big calico thing that was about 500yds off. I bombed off the hill and got down to where he was in about 15 minutes but he just disappeared in especially tall grass.
At close to 8 am with the temps rising quickly it was no surprise that he would be moving to bed. The problem we had is they can be 25 feet from you and you can’t see them…..frustrating…..and a little unnerving too.
I’ve hunted hogs most of my life and they really don’t intimidate me….but one does start to think twice when sneaking through that tall oat grass with only an arrow to defend yourself.
They have had a few wounded hog charges, those come with the job description. One hunter Alan, a veteran police officer was rifle hunting with a 300 Winchester mag and was charged without provocation- he got too close without seeing the hog.
He had his wits about him and kept a vise grip on his rifle as the hog knocked him down and was goring/chewing on him. He had the good sense to swing the rifle around with one hand and strafe the hog with a bullet…which got the boar to step away far enough that he could get a good solid shot in him. I think Robert said it was a 240# boar.
I'm thinking it might be a good idea to start packing my Glock 23 with hardcast loads especially after this hunt....
Yeah, both Kerry and Robert are the kind of guys that will literally give you the shirt off their back.
The bad news on these hunts is the down time. Its not one of those ranches you can still hunt all day at least this time of year; 1) its 100 degrees, 2) it’s the noisiest place walking wise on the planet, I swear those madrone leaves are the crispiest thing on the planet. We did some closing up of camp and chores…..but “We” was mostly Robert.
A dip in the creek was the highlight of mid day.
I’m going to fast forward to Monday night….as nobody had much action the first 2 days.
Robert was driving me to the top of the range so I could hunt down. He spots some hogs part way up the hill about ½ mile away on the opposite hillside. It was a heck of a spot job born of knowing that ranch well. I had to put my binos on them to confirm. It looks like a boar and a sow with 20# piglets. Normally sows are discouraged here….but that changes with the circumstances. Plus, I want a meat pig…so a sow is better than a boar for me…..especially one in that plump 160# range which she appeared to be.
I bailed off with Robert watching from the opposite slope to direct me. Dang it was hot….I was drenched by the time I slid my way down the steep slope and humped it up the other side. The thermals were good and Robt gave me the sign I was about 20 yds above them...
.....now to move cross slope to the angled face the pigs are on. Dang, I couldn’t see them though I knew I was close. I was getting signals from Robert that THEY WERE RIGHT THERE….Ok, got it……but the angle of the slope plus the tall grass made them impossible to see.
And I know its iffy shooting through more than a few feet of that grass as we were hunting with Robts buddy Rick on one hunt and he did just that….tried to shoot a hog through the thick grass and his recurve arrow barely made it to the hog.....which is a bit of an exaggeration but those tall oats are arrow stoppers for sure...so I waited.
A few minutes go by and I pick up the other hog straight downhill a little to my right. Its pushing through the grass straight to me and stops when it makes out my silhouette.
Its maybe 15 yds- close....... I can hear the other one rustling around maybe 20yds across the slope from me. I have a weird thought; Robt is getting a show! The hog hasn’t made me but it’s a staring a hole through me lifting its head trying to get my scent.….I don’t stare back.
I can’t move a muscle now or the jig is up. It must be able to see the sweat running down my face. It so close I can see wild oat slime at the edge of its mouth and the slight upper lip turn of little tusk…..
Of course the whole hillside blew up with hogs going everywhere. I just stood there and let things settle down. I was sure the other hogs didn’t know what happened. I could hear grunting/gathering across the slope from me…..then nothing. Did the other hogs leave?
Maybe 10 minutes later here comes the other big hog straight across the slope moving slowly right at me, oblivious. At about 18 yds I draw and it stops and looks. I aimed right under its chin and let the arrow fly….only to get the loudest WHAACK I’ve heard in long time. The problem was….the “Whack” came too early. I see a dry twig swinging below me as the hog makes a mad dash uphill into the thick manzanita. What the heck happened? I’m sure I hit the hog as I was right on it.
Now I turn to Robt and he radios me, “What the heck was that loud thwhaack on the second hog?” Crazy, he heard it 500yds away. I told him I didn’t know…thought it was that twig. It felt terrible on the shot. He saw the first hog take off and knows it has a badly bleeding wound out the drivers side back ham. He says he is on his way and brings the quad in about 100yds downhill of us.
I head down and find the first hogs blood trail…which isn’t as good as I would have liked. Robt thinks gut shot by the way the pig acted. We proceed to follow the hog hundreds of yards down into a thick nasty canyon. It’s an arduous blood trail as there isn’t much blood….but then there aren’t many trails on the steep side slope. It drops off hard into a dark dry creek bottom and I keep thinking we will see her piled up in the bottom. No luck.
I didn't think to take photos of the blood trail....but it wasn't much....just enough to track.
Well obviously not! The only “Good” was now she was bleeding more and once on the trail there was nowhere else for it to go. We pick our way up and in another 200 yds then jump the hog on the thick manzanita side slope. Robert loops in front…I stay on the trail pawing my way through manzanita having to go to hands and knees in places.
we played cat and mouse for a few more minutes and there was no being stealthy on that oak and manzanita hillside- it was loud and the hog knew exactly where we were.
We finally have the hog part way between us in a little thicket of sapling size fir trees. I can just make out the pigs outline turning….first to the sounds of Robt in the leaves….then back towards me. Its too thick to shoot and neither one of us has a firearm.
I move a little closer trying to peer in and get a shot….and now she moves toward me just inside the firs knashing her teeth. She is going to charge I can just feel her frustration building. I took one step sideways and got a little better view of the hog as it moved forward toward me just inside the saplings now.
I drew and released a very quick shot and drilled her right in the forehead at 15 feet. “That sounded good”, Robt shouted though he was only maybe 10yds away…… I couldn’t see him.
She was still just inside those saplings stunned, gurgling. I probably wouldn’t call this a hog charge….I was concentrating so hard on the shot I'm not exactly sure what she did....but once she moved closer I wasn’t going to wait to find out.
On the shot, The hog instantly dropped to its knees, gurgled a little and then rolled down the steep slope. It happened a heck of a lot faster than I can tell it! Robt came over and asked about the shot to make sure she was dead “That gurgling sounded good” he said.
You can see where the arrow hit…right between the eyes and buried to the fletch. I wish I could say all of my shots were pinpointed that well…alas, that is not always the case. 476gr Axis 340 with a 150 gr VPA 2 blade….that is one penetrating monster of a head, Kudos to VPA! The forst shot was the 150gr 3 blade.
You can also see (next frame) I was drenched and beat from the heat, steep slope and dragging that hog uphill out of the thick crap! I look 20 years older and I felt it too! The first shot was a 150 gr VPA 3 blade that made one heck of a big hole going in behind the rib cage (a nice way of saying GUT SHOT- don't you think- grin) as and out through the back ham. Robert had nailed it from 500 yds away....amazing how often he is right.
Can you pick that VPA 150 3 blade out of a crowd of wimpy heads- grin
Oh, and the VPA 150gr 2 blade is that nasty black thing on the bottom row
Robert took off to get some hunting in as I boned out the hog. Dang those mosquitos were bad! It took me awhile to meet up with Robt right at dark. Him, being the humanitarian he is- grin- let a bunch of decent hogs go while trying to get a shot at one monster boar.
I didn’t get a chance to look for the other hog as it got dark on me. Next morning we are going to leave early so I make a quick run over to where I shot the second hog. I had marked the shot location with TP….and it took me all of one minute to find my clean arrow about 3 yards short on an 18 yd layup shot.
Hmmm….another broken Nocturnal.
Its no wonder I lost the arrow on the follow though…and my bow sounded like it blew up.
Well I thought when the one Nokturnal I broke while practicing with them was a fluke….now I can say I’m glad it happened on a hog hunt and not an elk…..buyer beware….these noks are weak.(pic next post)
I feel bad for Kerry as I know how badly he will miss this ranch…..…and special thanks to my good friend Robert. You are truly blessed if you can call him your friend.
Cool Story and great penetration! I am all for heavy arrows, heavy broadheads and high FOC!
Oh yeah, Nice Piggy as well!
Its 13.25% if you don't figure the length of the BH...but that seems silly to me not to include the BH....as its part of the total arrow length.
I know if I bumped the FOC to 30% some would say I would have killed the oak tree behind that pig too- grin
No euro mount.....just one more thing for my dog to drag around the yard.
Rayzor if you want that pic in a larger format PM...you are welcome to it.