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New York To Ban Hunting And Trapping Eurasian Boar

April 29, 2014

No huntingIt looks like the State of New York is stepping up its battle against the growing population of wild hogs by taking some pretty drastic steps.

Back in October, NY Governor Mario Cuomo signed legislation banning the release of Eurasian boar into the wild (mea culpa… the Hog Blog missed this and failed to report when it happened). The same legislation will phase out all import, sale, breeding, and possession of Eurasian boar throughout New York by September of 2015, effectively shutting down high fence hunting throughout the Empire State.

As justification for the ban, the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) points to the number of wild boar which have escaped from high fence hunting facilities and established populations in the wild. Efforts to contain the spread of these invasive, non-native swine have proven expensive and challenging, as hogs are both prolific breeders and highly intelligent animals. They quickly learn to avoid traps, and if an entire sounder isn’t captured, the remaining animals can quickly rebuild their populations.

As part of the control effort, sport hunters have been able to shoot wild hogs on sight. Property owners have also been permitted to set traps to protect agriculture and landscaping. According to officials from the DEC, rather than helping, these efforts appear to be hindering organized eradication efforts by scattering and pressuring the hogs.

As a result, in order to allow the DEC and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to successfully carry out an eradication program, sport hunting and trapping of wild hogs will no longer be allowed in New York state. The new regulation, adopted on April 23 follows:

Part 180, Section 180.12 – Eurasian Boar – Express Terms Adopted April 23, 2014

Express Terms

6 NYCRR Part 180 (“Miscellaneous Regulations”) is amended to add a new Section 180.12 entitled “Eurasian boar” to read as follows:

Section 180.12 Eurasian boar

(a) Prohibitions.

(1) No person shall hunt, trap, take or engage in any activity, including the use of dogs, that is likely to result in the taking of any free-ranging Eurasian boar, as defined in Environmental Conservation Law section 11-0514. “Free-ranging” shall mean any Eurasian boar that is not lawfully possessed within a completely enclosed or fenced facility from which the animal cannot escape to the wild.

(2) No person shall disturb, move, destroy, tamper with, obstruct, damage, open or interfere with any lawfully set Eurasian boar trap, net or capture device. No person shall release, remove or transport any live Eurasian boar caught in any trap, net or capture device.

(3) Exceptions. This section shall not apply to any state or federal agency, to any member of a law enforcement agency acting in accordance with their official duties, or to any other person permitted to take Eurasian boar pursuant to Environmental Conservation Law section 11-0521 or section 11-0523. Any person who takes a free-ranging Eurasian boar pursuant to any of the above exceptions shall promptly notify the Department and follow all instructions given by the Department with respect to handling and disposition of the carcass.

Is this a good thing?  I don’t know.

I’ve always felt that sport hunters are not the right agents to carry out eradication efforts.  There are a lot of reasons for this, but not the least of them is that many sport hunters are so indoctrinated to certain ethical standards that they’re unwilling to take the extreme measures required to wipe out a population… such as shooting wet sows and babies.  Many sport hunters don’t want to kill more than they can eat (or carry), and will shoot one or two hogs out of a sounder and move on.

It’s also true that trying to eradicate a species like wild hogs by shooting individual animals is like trying to drain the ocean with a shot glass.  The only way to remove the animals is to get entire sounders in a single engagement, and this requires trapping on a pretty large scale.  The other alternative is poisoning, and while progress is being made on a targeted poison bait for wild hogs; the risks to other wildlife, livestock, and pets is high.

On the other hand, eradication may prove to be an over-ambitious undertaking.  In NY, as I understand, the hogs are still pretty geographically isolated, and that does give an advantage to the government trappers.  However, it only takes a couple of hogs to establish a population pretty quickly.  If the eradication isn’t absolute, the animals will spread and establish in new areas.  It’s not a little ironic that this possibility (spreading the animals out) was one of the justifications used by the DEC in deciding to ban sport hunting for wild hogs.

As far as shutting down the high fence operations, well, I can’t help thinking that’s really overkill.  If the animals in the wild are truly escapees from the captive facilities (and they could be, I can’t dispute that), then it points to a need for better management and regulation.  It also suggests that accountability is not sufficient, and the facility operators should be held responsible for the costs and efforts of containment.  This should not be an insurmountable problem, and shutting down an industry over a few bad operators just never makes sense to me.

But that’s just my opinion.

At any rate, Empire State hunters can still pursue Eurasian wild boar on the preserves until September, 2015.  After that, hopeful hog hunters will have to set their sights on another state.

A Hog Blog Listicle – Top Three Reasons I Hunt Hogs

April 25, 2014

Everybody, from newspapers to bloggers to television shows, is doing lists these days.  I’m not sure who’s to blame, but it generally fits right in with all the other short attention-span media that’s flooding the general (un)consciousness.  Really, they’re everywhere and they drive me nuts.  Here are some examples from today’s scan of the Interwebz.

  • 8 ways to know she’s cheating on you.
  • 4 ways to spark up your love life.
  • 7 foods to avoid if you want to lose weight.
  • 50 ways to leave your lover.
  • Etc.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that lists are a pretty easy way to get out of doing any real writing.  Think about it.  You don’t have to worry about complex themes, paragraph construction, transitions, or even complete sentences!  They’re perfect for the writer who:

  1. Lacks motivation
  2. Lacks inspiration
  3. Lacks time
  4. Lacks writing ability

So what the hell.  I’ll do it too.  Here’s a graphical list of the top three reasons I hunt hogs.

  1. It's hunting.  Outside.

    It’s hunting. Outside.

     

  2. They're made of pork!

    They’re made of pork!

     

  3. They're destructive to habitat and agriculture.

    They’re destructive to habitat and agriculture.

     

Something A Little Different – When Cacti Attack!

April 24, 2014

Deceptively pretty prickly pearIn the days of my youth, I was taught what it means to encounter cactus.  (All due apologies to the fellas from Led Zep.)

A friend just shared this link to an excellent article about first aid for cactus attacks, and it reminded me of a tale I don’t think I’ve told before.

I couldn’t have been more than seven or eight years old the first time I was assaulted by the fearsome prickly pear.  The thick, green pads were pretty common sights around the coastal North Carolina habitat where I lived and played, and for the most part, I knew to avoid them.  But sometimes, attention wanes.

I was at my grandmother’s house in Southport, and had set up a box trap for squirrels.  You may have attempted the same trick, using an old shoe box, a stick, and a long string… with various substances to lure the squirrel into the box.  You prop the box up on the stick, and then tie one end of the string to the stick.  You hide with the other end of the string until an unsuspecting squirrel or bunny hops into the box.  Then pull the string, snatching the stick out from under the box and trapping the hapless furbearer in the dark.

As you might suppose, there are a few minor flaws in this plan… not the least of which is the unlikely prospect of an eight year-old boy sitting still and quiet long enough for a moronic critter to wander into the trap.  But young minds don’t always think these things through, especially when the plan is strongly endorsed by adults in whom the young mind has absolute faith.  I am often amazed, in retrospect, by the alacrity with which my dad could come up with ideas to get a rambunctious youngster out of the house.

So there I was.  The trap was set, and I backed away, unwinding the string with each stealthy step.  About ten yards from the trap, an ancient longleaf pine tree offered cover behind its thick trunk, and I eased around, never taking my eyes off of the trap, and crouched down to wait.

Not all cactus encounters are negative.  The fruit of the prickly pear can be downright delicious!

Not all cactus encounters are negative. The fruit of the prickly pear can be downright delicious!

I waited, poised on the balls of my feet, ready to spring into action.  In my mind were images of a new pet bunny, or squirrel and dumplings as only my Granny D could make them.  Either outcome would be satisfactory, and given my preparations (based on the advice of the conniving adults in the house), I knew it could only be a matter of time before a small, furry animal was delivered into my possession.

Crouching like that really starts to put a strain on the calves, even in a healthy young outdoorsman like me.  After some minutes, my legs began to tremble and ache.  I held fast, though, gripping the string tightly.  I’d been taught the importance of being still (even if I wasn’t very good at it), so I fought the urge to sit back in the pine needle-covered sandy soil.  A squirrel had just come down out of the woods, and movement would probably send him scurrying back into the canopy.

My legs went numb.  It was a very, very long time ago, but I can still remember the burning sensation in my thighs and calves slowly giving way to nothingness.  But the squirrel was actually getting closer to the shoe box.  I knew he would soon be lured by the bait, and if I could only wait a few more moments…

I couldn’t wait, and as quietly as possible, I eased back and flopped into a sitting position.

Right on top of a patch of prickly pear cactus!

In my focus on setting the trap, I had failed to inspect my hiding place.  If I had only taken a quick glance, I’d have seen the thick, green pads only partially obscured by the pine needles.  But I hadn’t looked.  Poor preparation has doomed many an endeavor, and my screams certainly put the kibosh on my chances of capturing dinner (or a new pet).  I leapt to my feet and ran screaming and crying into the house.

I should add here that Granny D was a retired nurse.  She was also a very practical lady who wasted little time on the niceties of bedside manner (or so it seemed to this thoroughly perforated, eight year-old).  In clipped terms, she directed me to strip and get up on the bed.  I complied, despite the pain, as stripping off my shorts and underwear ripped many of the offending spines out of my tender flesh.

I lay, trembling with pain and trepidation, awaiting Granny D’s ministrations.  With the stealth and grace so common to the nursing profession, I felt the cold tips of the tweezers before I even realized she had crept up on me.  I’d dropped my entire weight on the cactus, so the hard spines were deeply embedded, and it took no small effort to pull them out.  Again displaying the traits that made her a successful nurse, she held my thrashing body down with a firm forearm, and utterly ignored my screams and crying as she plucked each one.

It was traumatic.

But she wasn’t done yet.  After pulling at least a million of the big spikes, she told me to hold still so she could get the little ones.  These were the little, hair-like spines that are barbed and wicked and obviously spawned by demons in the darkest, vilest depths of hell.  Too small to grab with tweezers, too deep to be scraped with a knife, these glochids are difficult to remove.  They are also the most disproportionately (for their size) painful part of any encounter with prickly pear.

Granny D knew just what to do.  Before long, my butt was covered in a layer of some kind of super-adhesive tape that I’m sure can only be found in medical supply and BDSM shops. Thankfully, at that stage of my life, I had not yet acquired this fine, protective covering of body hair, so when she ripped the tape off I wasn’t assaulted by the agony of ripping follicles.  No, it was only the ripping of tender skin and hundreds of thousands of tiny, hair-like, barbed cactus spines.  The pain was only mildly unbearable and the paroxysms passed reasonably quickly.  Too breathless to cry any more, I lay gasping, face down on the tear-soaked, feather pillow… which is why I didn’t see what was coming next.

These days, we have all sorts of antibiotic and antiseptic ointments and unguents, and most of them are relatively benign.  Many of the harsher ones are mixed with lidocaine or other numbing agents.  But when I was eight, the wound treatment of choice was mercurochrome.  Typically applied directly from the tip of an eye dropper, the stuff burned like the fires of Hades on contact with an open wound.  With no preamble and little ceremony, I believe Granny D dumped an entire quart bottle on my raw little behind.  The results were predictable.

It wasn’t my last run-in with the spiny succulents, but it was memorable.

 

Turkey Hunting Music Video

April 21, 2014

Easter weekend wasn’t about hunting or the outdoors, so in lieu of new post content today, I’m just gonna share this video that Robb posted in the comments last week.

One of the side effects of the popularity of outdoors television has been a surge in the number of hunting and fishing songs.  A few of them have come from bigger artists (Rhett Atkins, Blake Shelton, etc.), but there are a lot of new artists out there putting in their two cents’ worth.  This is Tony Young from a couple of years back…

Lessons In Impatience

April 17, 2014

Turkey season is still well underway around here, and while the activity appears to have climaxed early, there are still a handful of hardy toms, gobbling away as if to say, “wait, I’ve got more!”

Here at the Hillside Manor, turkey sightings have been on the wane since the early part of the season.  There’s one old, grandmotherly hen who occasionally comes pecking around the pasture.  I don’t really know turkey biology that well, but my assumption is that she’s past the age where mating season means much anymore.  Even though there are at least three toms in this part of the canyon, I haven’t seen any of them on her trail.  Either that, or maybe she’s just sworn off men.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The toms are staying off on the neighbors’ places for the most part, and I haven’t had the energy to try to coax them up the hill.  I hear them most mornings, shock gobbling in response to the peacocks’ screams.  I did find my gobble call the other day, and engaged in a little back and forth across the canyon with a scrappy bird.  He moved a little closer, but he either had a little harem to defend, or he was more chicken than turkey.  Either way, he wasn’t going to get any closer and I eventually got tired of the game.

But then, yesterday afternoon I caught movement across the road from the horse pasture.  The movement became two turkeys, intent on crossing over my fence.  I ran to the office and grabbed the binoculars for a better look.  Both birds were toms, sporting eight or nine-inch beards.  I watched for a couple of minutes as they searched for a way over or under the fence (turkeys can be pretty stupid sometimes), and then it clicked… this could be an opportunity (I’m not too bright sometimes either).

I grabbed the Benjamin Marauder from its dusty perch in the corner, donned a camo coat and hat, and took off at a trot.  I figured if they came up like they used to, the birds would work across the pasture, following the little draw that cuts from the hills to my dry pond.  The thicket of pinion pine and persimmon at the head of the draw would provide good cover for an ambush, as long as I could make it before they did.

Iggy the Wonder Dog, and bane of the successful sneak, saw the gun and went berserk.  I struggled to keep him at heel as I half-jogged, half-ran the two hundred yards to the thicket.  I was almost there when I saw the red head bobbing along, just at the top edge of the draw.  They’d beaten me to the spot, but it looked like some miracle had kept them from noticing me.  I crouched down in a little patch of scrub and popped out the bipod on the Benjamin.

The first bird popped out of the draw at about 4o yards, but was still partially obscured by brush.  That would be a tricky shot for the air rifle.  I needed them closer.  Then the second bird came up at about 30 yards and froze, looking dead at me.  I flipped the safety off and leveled the crosshairs at the place where the bird’s neck joined his body.  At 6x magnification, the target looked huge.  I took up the slack on the first stage of the trigger, and then squeezed through.

Instead of the sharp pop of the air rifle, the shot resulted in more of a “piffff”.  I could actually see the .25 caliber pellet fly through the air and bounce off of the bird’s keel bone, about an inch below where I’d been aiming.  I kept staring through the scope, not willing to believe what I’d just seen.

Of course the bird hopped up and flew a few yards before running into the brush.  The second bird putted in panic, but didn’t appear to understand what was going on.  I rammed another pellet into the chamber, all the while remembering that I’d failed to recharge the rifle’s air chamber after shooting jackrabbits a couple of weeks ago.  In my rush to get into the field, I had failed to check the air gauge.

I stayed still for a moment, hoping the birds would settle down.  Unfortunately, Iggy couldn’t contain himself at the shot.  He bolted for the birds, and even though I was able to call him back fairly quickly, the damage was done.  Both birds scurried up the hill and out of sight.  I started back to the barn, but had to keep yelling at the damned dog to leave the birds.  He’d walk with me a few steps and then turn and try to sprint back to the pasture.

By the time I got to the barn, I figured the two toms would be halfway down the canyon, but when I looked back I could see them milling around below a brush pile at the top of the pasture.  Would I get another chance?  I ran into the shop and grabbed the 12 gauge and a couple of #4 Bismuth.  At the sight of the shotgun, Iggy’s antics went into overdrive.  I could barely restrain him, and finally tied him to the hitching post with the horse’s lead rope.

I looped around the pasture, hoping to come up on the far side where I thought the birds might be headed.  There’s a trail along the fenceline that the birds usually followed after feeding in the pasture, and since it was pretty well covered, I figured it would offer the kind of secure escape these two toms would be looking for.  All I had to do was get there before they did, maybe call a little bit, then whack them as they tried to slip by.

I got into place and scratched out a gentle cluck on the slate call.  Almost immediately, one of the birds gobbled from just above me.  I tensed up, eased the double barrel into position, and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  My eyes scanned the open ground at the base of the cedars for the movement of turkey feet or tail feathers, but nothing.

I waited some more.  Across the canyon, a distant tom gobbled.  The bird up hill from me gobbled again, in response.  Was he still in the same spot?  I clucked and purred on the call.  Nothing happened.  I craned my neck, trying to see through the thick branches.  Impossible.

Last fall, I had cut a clearing in the cedar thicket about 50 yards uphill from where I was sitting.  Maybe the birds were hung up there?  I clucked again.  The immediate gobble was still right where it had been before.  There was a deer trail leading up from my spot, and I thought it might be big enough to slip myself up to the clearing.  Or should I wait them out?  This really wasn’t the kind of chase I’d been planning when I ran out the back door.

I clucked one more time on the call.  No response.  I eased up out of the brush, intent on sneaking up that deer trail.  As I cleared the cover, a blur of wings and excited putts exploded ten yards away.  All I could do was watch the bronze, feathered backs dart through the cedar branches and then take wing out of my pasture and across the road… to safety.

Patience kills turkeys.

Lead Ban Chronicles – CA DFW Requesting Hunter Input

April 16, 2014

Lead Ban ChroncilesJust because it’s the law, doesn’t necessarily mean everything is a done deal.  There’s still time for input, and the CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife is asking for your feedback now.  Still having trouble finding ammo that meets the law’s requirements?  Do you shoot something for which there is no lead alternative?

Then get your comments in, and attend the meetings when they occur.  I know it may seem hard to believe, with HSUS embedded in the Fish and Wildlife bureaucracy, but your voices are still critical in making sure this is a law you can live with.  Or, you’ll take what you get.  Your choice, CA sportsmen.

Here’s the release from CA-DFW:

Attention Hunters: Your input is needed!

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking your assistance regarding the development of the “phase-in” regulation for the use of non-lead ammunition for the take of wildlife as required under Fish and Game Code Section 3004.5(i). The law requires that this regulation be established by the Fish and Game Commission (Commission) no later than July 1, 2015, with full implementation to be effective no later than July 1, 2019. Governor Brown has directed CDFW and the Commission to work with all interested parties in order to produce a regulation that is least disruptive.

CDFW presented a draft regulatory proposal to the Commission’s Wildlife Resources Committee (WRC) in January 2014 (a copy of this presentation is available at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/Hunting/ under the “Alerts” section entitled “Non-lead Implementation”). Uncertainty about ammunition supply and availability forms the basis for the proposal, which preliminarily proposes the following implementation schedule:

  • 2015 – Require the use of non-lead ammunition for all hunting on wildlife areas and ecological reserves. Require the use of non-lead ammunition for bighorn sheep hunting;
  • 2016 – Require the use of non-lead ammunition for larger (waterfowl sized) birds, and for small mammals, non-game species, furbearers and for depredation purposes when using a shotgun;
  • 2019 – Full implementation; use of non-lead ammunition required for dove, quail and snipe; small game mammals (including rifle/handgun); non-game species, furbearers and depredation (including rifle/handgun); all big-game species including those hunted with muzzle-loading firearms.

In order to meet the statutory deadline for adoption, CDFW is seeking to propose a final draft regulation to the WRC at its September 2014 meeting. Because we are anticipating a large number of comments, CDFW is requesting that all comments be received by August 1, 2014.

Individuals and organizations may email comments to wildlifemgmt@wildlife.ca.gov (please use “Non-lead implementation” in the subject line) or hard copy correspondence to the following address:

CDFW, Wildlife Branch

Attn: Non-lead implementation

1812 9th Street Sacramento, CA 95811

 

Deer Stalking Video – Part 1 Of A Series

April 14, 2014

Big hat tip to my friend, Sten, at Suburban Bushwacker for turning me on to this video.  It’s the first part of a six part series, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the additional installments.

Note that there’s not a lot of hype.  There are no high fives or ridiculous, “now that’s what it’s all about,” after-the-shot posturing.  There’s no blatant product placement.  No politics.  Just a quiet, but beautiful setting with a guy for whom the hunt is not just an opportunity for self-promotion.

So enjoy, please.

Is It Hunting?

April 7, 2014

Last week, my brother and I spent two full days at Crystal Creek Bowhunting, a high fence ranch over near Del Rio, Texas.  Our plan was to target axis deer and hogs.  The package we paid for also allowed us to shoot a turkey.  We could swap the axis for any other exotic we encountered, which could have included sika deer, blackbuck antelope, or various sheep (ramboulet, mouflon, aoudad, or hybrids).

Each of us spent one arrow, shot at wild hogs during the last light of the first night’s hunt (neither of us connected).  Each of us also passed up a single shot opportunity at a “wild” sheep during the trip.  I got caught flat-footed by a big tom turkey that snuck in through the brush and suddenly appeared, five yards away.  Other than that, we had no shot opportunities and spent the majority of the time in the field enjoying the plethora of birds that flock through Texas during the spring migration.  I may have napped a little in the warm, spring morning sun.  Neither of us killed anything except time.

During the trip, the contentious debate about high fence hunting kept running through my mind.  In particular, I kept thinking about the insistence by some folks that high fence hunting isn’t hunting at all.  The argument centers on the fact that high fence hunting is easy, and that the animals don’t have a fair chance of escape.

So is it the difficulty of the hunt that makes it “hunting”?

I’ve got a spot at the Tejon Ranch, back in California, where I could guarantee a shot at a wild hog.  Even better, I could just about pinpoint when the animals would appear, and where they’d show up first.  Everyone I ever took to that spot had at least one shot opportunity.  I am certain that, had I wanted to do so, I could have laid around camp all day long, driven out to that spot in the last half hour before sunset, and killed a hog (if I shot straight)… every trip.

Tejon isn’t a high fence ranch.  There were no feeders, and no food plots.  Was that “hunting”?

When I was guiding for mule deer out at Coon Camp Springs, in California’s eastern Sierra, my clients had a 100% shot opportunity rate.  Once I learned the lay of the land, I had specific areas that almost always produced deer.  By the time the clients showed up, I could usually have them tagged out within two days… often sooner.

Coon Camp Springs is about 7000 acres of unfenced land, surrounded by millions more acres of public and private property.  With the exception of some habitat restoration work, there is nothing unusual there to specifically attract or hold deer.  But the hunts were typically easy.  Was that “hunting”?

A few years back, I joined my brother on his first elk hunting trip.  The first morning, the sun came up on us about four or five miles into the Uncompahgre Wilderness.  We were surrounded by elk.  Fifteen minutes later, my brother had a 320″ bull on the ground.  The next morning, I set up on the edge of some dark timber while the guide and wrangler took the horses down to pack out my brother’s bull.  By the time they got back up the mountain to where I was, I had almost finished skinning and boning out my own bull.  Sure, it was a fairly long hike in and out, but it wasn’t what I’d call a “hard” hunt.  In fact, it was far easier than some high fenced, hog hunts I’ve been on.  Was it “hunting”?

Enough with the redundancy, then.

Besides the relative ease of all of those hunts, high fence and low, they share one other thing in common.  I enjoyed them.  Even the ostensibly “fruitless” bow hunt on the high fence ranch was a great time.  I had fun, and really, isn’t that what hunting is about?

There are people who would tell me that my visit to that high fence ranch wasn’t “hunting”.  But I have to say, it sure felt like it to me.  As I sat there with my release clipped on, waiting with ragged breath and racing pulse for the spotted boar to take just two more steps… it felt like any other time or place, sitting in the same position with the same apprehensive tension.  Or leaning back in the stand, nearly dozing under the late morning sun… I could have been on any hillside in any place.  And later, around the skinning pole with the guys who were successful, it was the same jokes and banter that I’ve heard around skinning poles in every state and setting I’ve ever experienced.

No, I was there… and I’m pretty certain I was hunting.  I am also dead sure that I enjoyed the experience, and it makes me wonder; in what world ruled by reason and logic could anyone tell me that I didn’t?

Isn’t that a foolish thought… to tell someone else that they couldn’t have enjoyed an experience because you wouldn’t enjoy it yourself?

Is it hunting?  It is to me.  Maybe it doesn’t meet your definition, but that’s alright.

 

 

 

 

 

A Tradition Askew

April 3, 2014

That title is a fancy way of saying, “whoops!  I missed my annual April Fool’s Day post.”

It’s not that I had anything particularly solid to work with this year, due to varying factors (day job) and limited inspiration.  But it’s tradition, dammit.

My brother and I were off hunting Tuesday and Wednesday, and while the lodge advertised wifi, the mere wisp of a signal I found when I logged in Tuesday evening would hardly have carried a full post with images.  What’s worse, the signal was security-protected, and since it was approaching midnight and the guide had gone home to bed, I didn’t dare go knock on the door and ask for a password.  So I guess the April Fool’s joke was on me.

The hunt?

Well, that was fun.  It’s an archery-only hunting ranch about an hour from here, called Crystal Creek Bowhunting.  The plan was to hunt for axis and hogs, and while the package offered the option of shooting sheep (ramboulet, mouflon, aoudad, and some hybrids) and turkeys, I was pretty much narrow-mindedly fixed on axis.  Thus, I passed up a couple of opportunities in return for… well, I did see some axis yesterday afternoon.  From the truck.  On the way to the stand.  But I never even had one come past my stand, much less pose for a shot.

I did get a shot at a hog during the hog-a-palooza on Tuesday night.  The damned things came out of everywhere, and all six hunters had shot opportunities.  At the end of it all, six hogs were dead.  Unfortunately, most of the pigs were of the football-size.  One of the hunters managed to skewer three with one arrow.  A few bigger (50-60lbs) showed up as well, but the real heavies held up in the thick stuff until after dark.  One of the other hunters took two of these meat hogs, including a really cool looking blond boar.  My own shot went a shade high over a little boar at 22 yards.  I’d been holding out for an orange and black spotted boar, probably about 60 pounds or so, but it just wouldn’t come into my shooting lane long enough.  As it was almost too dark to really see my pins (time for a new sight), I switched over to the black boar and promptly jerked my shot.

My only redemption was that my brother, typically an absolute dead-eye with the bow, missed his pig too.

As dusk settled into night yesterday, I had one more close call.  A good-sized, 125 or 140lb pig was coming right to my stand.  Unfortunately, he stopped to snack in the thicket as full darkness fell.  I heard Mr. Scrofa rooting rocks out of the way, and then after a sudden grunt, he was tearing and chomping at something. I’m pretty sure he was eating the 5′ buzz worm I’d seen earlier, which had disappeared in that same general vicinity.

Whatever it was, it occupied him for the final moments of shooting light.  When I couldn’t take it any longer, I hit the Surefire and tried to light him up, but he was screened by a thicket of persimmon and mesquite.  I heard him grunt and bolt, but only a few yards.  Then he stood there and popped his teeth at the intrusion.

After a few minutes, I climbed down out of the stand and went out to wait for the guide to swing by and pick me up.  As I stood in the darkness, I heard the pig return to his feast, less than 40 yards from where I stood.

Bowhunting is hard.

 

 

 

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