February 15, 2013
Ian, one of the proud and few Hog Blog readers sent me a few photos from some game cams he’s been following in Sonoma County. I thought they’d be good incentive for some of us to get out of the house and into the woods this weekend. If this were my game cams, I know exactly where I’d be!
February 5, 2013
This is the kind of thing I go for, and one of the reasons I hate that I missed it this year… new ammunition, targeted for hog hunters and for the lead-free market.
I had to hear about it on YouTube…
What the hell am I talking about? The Remington Hog Hammer ammo was announced at SHOT 2013. It features the Barnes triple-shock (TSX) bullet, and will be available in seven calibers, from .223 Rem to .450 Bushmaster.
The new round appears to follow on the concepts introduced the year before last with Winchester’s Razorback XT, including a special propellant to reduce muzzle flash (for night time or low-light shooting) and nickle-plated cases to ensure clean feeding through the popular semi-automatic rifles (black rifles, modern sporting rifles, ARs, or whatever you want to call them).
Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to establish a relationship with Remington in order to get samples of their ammo. As a result, it’s not likely that I’ll be testing any of these personally to let you guys know what I think of them. If any of you readers gets a chance to put these things through their paces, though, I’d love to hear what you thought.
In the meantime, I do have a pretty good relationship at Winchester, so I will be trying out their latest Razorback XT offerings in my .44mag. I’ll let ya’ll know more about that one fairly soon!
February 4, 2013
Well, the Stupor Bowl is over. Traditionally, at least to me, that means we’re heading into the winter doldrums.
Waterfowl seasons wrapped up (or are wrapping up now) with the last of the youth hunts. Upland birds and small game are pretty much done (except here in TX, I guess, where there’s no closed season for squirrels or rabbits). Elk seasons are long gone, as are the seasons for whitetail, blacktail, and mule deer. Alas! What’s a hunter to do?
This is the time of year that always used to really get me down. The guns are put away. It’s too cold to fish (nothing personal to my readers who do this, but ice fishing is for crazy people). And, unlike a bear, I can’t even hibernate until these next tedious months have passed.
But then, for me, one thing changed all of that.
With year-round seasons, generally liberal limits, and huntable populations across several states (including Hawaii), there’s a reason these are my favorite animals to hunt. They can be a great challenge to hunt, especially in places like CA where you have to get out into the backcountry to chase them, and they’re awesome on the table.
They became my preferred game, and are also the raison d’etre of this blog. So…
If you haven’t tried it yet, and cabin fever is already setting in, then there’s no better time than now. And if you’d like to learn a little more about it, shoot me a line right here in the comments. I may not have every answer, but I’m pretty handy at finding the resources to help you get what you need. On top of that, there are a bunch of pretty experienced hog hunters reading this blog, and I expect they will have some thoughts and suggestions as well.
So pull the guns out of the safe, or the bows off the rack, and let’s get ready to do some hog hunting!
January 13, 2013
This is a little different for me, as usually I’m the one making recommendations and doing reviews. However, I’ve received a couple of emails lately asking for guided hunt recommendations, and I realize that I’ve been pretty much out of the loop… especially when it comes to CA hog guides. Of course I still have my standard recommendations, Bryson-Hesperia Resort (Deedy and Karin Loftus) offering semi-guided hog hunts down near King City, and fully guided huntign with Mark and Colby Williams (also in the King City area). There’s Tejon Ranch in southern CA, of course, with both their Wild Pig Management Hunts and guided/semi-guided hog hunts. And my old friends at Native Hunt are still in operation as well.
But at least two people have been asking about hunts in Sonoma County, and while I know there are outfits there, I know nothing about them. And other than that, I don’t know who’s still in business, who has changed contact information, or who’s joined the party with a new outfitting and guide business. So here’s the question to you, good readers:
Can you recommend hog hunting guides in your neck of the woods… whether it’s California, Texas, or anywhere else in the country?
September 27, 2012
A little while back, my friend Dan Goad wrote to tell me he’d be trying out a new, lead-free shotgun slug. The DDupleks slugs are made of solid steel, and come out of Latvia. I had actually spoken with one of the representatives from the company at SHOT, but wasn’t able to arrange to get any of the ammo for testing. I had some pertinent questions regarding the expansion of a steel sabot (there’s basically none), and its effectiveness in putting down thinner-skinned game, like deer. The representative reassured me that European hunters have been using these slugs for years with great success on wild boar, moose, and reindeer. But I believe what I see, and before I decide to either promote or dismiss a product, I need to see it at work… or at least get first hand reports from a reliable source.
Dan is pretty reliable, and he tested the DDupleks ammo the old-fashioned way… he purchased his own ammo and went hunting. Here’s his report:
Well, I’ve just finished my deer season at Vandenburg Air Force Base and I successfully filled both deer tags and one pig tag using the DDuplek Mono32’s.
As you recall, these were the Latvian solid steel slugs I found to be so accurate in my Remington 11-87. In fact, my two partners, Chuck and Jim raved about how accurate these were in their shotguns. Chuck managed several keyhole groups at 100 yds.
I promised you a review on they performed on game and so here it is.
As with most slugs, it has a parabolic arc like a mortar. The difference between 50 and 100 yds is 8-12 inches. We believe we overshot quite a few deer at close range. The first few deer we shot at, we weren’t sure if they were hard hit or not. They jumped or moved like they might be hit but took off rapidly enough that we felt it might have been a grazing shot. Very little blood (if any) on the ground. Could have been a function of that parabolic arc.
The pig I shot was at close range, about 25 yds and the slug went in just below the spine and it rolled it over. The hog promptly got back to its feet and took off. I followed it into the heavy brush and eventually cornered it at about 5 feet where it made its stand. Let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve confronted a wounded hog at that distance. It’s cleansing for the soul! Then I remembered I had a gun and put another into the shoulder, and then another into the skull.
Post mortem indicates pass thru on the spine shot, and the slugs remained inside on both the shoulder and skull shot. Amazingly little meat damage and absolutely no deformation of the slug.
The first buck I shot in the chest, slightly off center, at around 40 yards. That animal ran about 60 yards and I lost sight of him in the brush. Fortunately I was able to locate him without the benefit of a blood trail, because there wasn’t one. The bullet had transited the body and exited just before the hind quarter. All the blood remained in the body cavity.
The second buck was a very similar scenario. Chest shot at about 50 yards. The slug entered the right shoulder and transited the body, lodging in the left hindquarter. The deer ran about the same distance, 60 yards, but I was able to see him fall. When I walked up to him, there wasn’t a blood trail or any blood coming from the entrance wound. Once again, there was very little meat damage.
Now Chuck was pretty upset on the performance and went back to the Federal Barnes Tipped TSX (now discontinued) and shot a doe that went down like it was pole axed. Jim swore he wouldn’t use the Dupleks again after he lost the blood trail on a buck he shot and he eventually went home empty handed.
In short, the accuracy is great, it does kill deer but don’t expect DRT performance or a blood trail. Expect to watch the animal run and eventually die from internal blood loss. If you can live with that, it’s good ammo. If not, you’ve got ammo that’ll punch through trees, bushes, engine blocks and the next wave of zombies.
I’ll leave it at that. Thanks, Dan, for an excellent and detailed report. If any of you other readers has experience with other lead-free ammo, especially new offerings on the market, sing out! Would love to hear how it worked for you.
September 13, 2012
CA hunters looking for a good, inexpensive hog hunt should keep their eyes on the CA DFG website for opportunities like this one. For ten bucks and a post card, you can be hunting hogs on private land. It’s a heck of a deal!
The Department of Fish and Game will hold permit-only wild pig hunts in Yolo County from Nov. 5 to Dec. 3, 2012.
Offered through the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Program, a total of 64 hunters will be selected to hunt wild pigs through a random drawing for an access permit.
Hunts will be held at the Bobcat Ranch, located in Yolo County’s Vaca Mountain foothills, west of Winters. Hunting under the SHARE Program helps achieve the ranch’s long-term conservation management objectives, including providing public hunting opportunities and controlling the wild pig population.
Each of the eight hunts will be general method, two-day hunts. Four permits will be issued per period. Successful applicants will be allowed to bring a hunting partner or a non-hunting partner (each permit is good for two hunters).
Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply through the Automated License Data System. A $10 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt choice. Applicants may apply for multiple hunt periods but will only be drawn for one period per property. To apply for these hunts please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/ols/.
Keep an eye on the site for more announcements, both for the SHARE program and for other public hunting opportunities, like the Grizzly Island hog hunts.
August 27, 2012
Back in January, the Tejon Ranch in California temporarily closed its gates to all hunting activity. There were a couple of reasons for the closure, but chief among them was the need to reevaluate the hunting program after allegations of illegal hunting activity (mountain lions) by key members of the ranch staff. Somehow, that translated into suggestions that all of the members and other hunters at Tejon Ranch might be conducting illegal activities as well, and the CA DFG determined that they needed to investigate.
Anyway, I was holding out hope that Tejon would reinstate the hunting program before I moved away. Unfortunately, my timing sucks. Two weeks after I made my final move, they allowed some private groups to get back on the ranch to hunt. One of my friends from prior hunts was on the short list for the limited opening, and along with his wife and eight other friends, they had an epic experience. Here’s a note I recently got from Dave, along with a couple of photos from their trip.
We had a phenomenal hunt on the Tejon Ranch recently. They are in a “soft re-opening” phase and I was one of the lucky, long time customers that they called to get in on an early hunt.
My group consisted of 10, all archery hunters. We were set up on the north end out of the Vaquero cabin. The cabin is newly remodeled and is very nice. The guys did an outstanding job on it while the ranch was closed. We were fortunate to have Steven Ryan and his brother Jake there to help out with our group. We ended up with 8 pigs taken for our 10 hunters. The 2 that were unsuccessful had their opportunities, but just couldn’t make it happen.
I don’t care where you are hunting, going 8 for 10 on a 2 day archery hunt is fantastic! We saw more hogs than I’ve ever seen throughout the ranch, as one would expect after having the ranch closed for about 8 months. The amounts of piglets and wieners were amazing also. Like always, my wife and I already can’t wait to get back up there!
So there it is! 8 for 10 on an archery hunt! Great work to all who participated. As I’d expected, after the ranch was closed for the better part of the year, the hogs have run rampant… a hog hunter’s dream!
Dave did say that several things have changed. For one, all of the semi-guided hunts, like his, will be conducted on the North side of the ranch. No surprise there, since the South side is the location of a hotly contested development plan, including trophy homes and golf courses. It looks like they’ll use this area for more of the “exclusive” type hunts in the future. The ranch will still be doing the membership plans, although that will be impacted by the area available to hunt (the North side is still huge and very productive).
I’ve sent several emails and a couple of phone messages to the Ranch, but I just don’t seem to have the access there that I once did and I haven’t received any replies. If you’d like to learn more about the new programs, you can find the information on the Tejon website. For information on booking a private, semi-guided hunt, it looks like you’ll need to contact the ranch directly.
So there it is. I was pretty unhappy with the Tejon management when they shut the gates this winter, but the fact is that this ranch is still one of my favorite hunting sites. If you’ve never experienced it, you should. And if you have, then you already know what I’m talking about.
May 7, 2012
Here’s another one from my friend, Bruce, over in Hawaii. I’m sure glad to hear that someone is hunting these days.
The Big Island of Hawaii is full of surprises. Most people picture Hawaii as being white sandy beaches, palm trees, blue water, jungle—you know the picture. But the Big Island also has territory that looks just like the rainforest of Washington or SE Alaska, towering conifers that block out the sun and patches of fern here and there on the pine-needled ground. I left my home at 4:00 AM and was driving down a rutted 4WD road an hour and a half later. By 6:30, half an hour after sunrise, I was parked in the grassy rolling hills just outside Laupahoehoe Forest Reserve. This is public hunting but I never, ever see another hunter and it’s beautiful country, starting with the pine forest along the fence line and transitioning into jungle as you hike downhill. It’s about 6000 feet where I park and about 4800 feet where I eventually end up. This hunt was shorter, however, much, much shorter.
I loaded my Winchester 100 with handloaded, small base .308’s [I use the special small base dies, otherwise this autoloader is notorious for jamming. It doesn’t jam at all with the small base cartridges.] I hiked down into the dark and gloomy pine forest and hadn’t covered more than 200 yards when a small boar trotted along about 50 yards in front of me. I took a quick offhand shot and the pig dropped. Nothing big, maybe 125 pounds, but a good start to a day of hunting and succulent meat for smoking. I boned out the best cuts and hiked back to the truck. Once the meat was in the cooler, I hiked back into the pine forest and still-hunted for the next 3 hours. I ran into two sows with little ones and then a pair of siblings in the 50-pound class, nothing I wanted to interfere with.
It was time for a nap, so I laid my poncho on a grassy knoll overlooking a valley. An hour later, my nap was cut short by the sound of breaking branches. I sat up and a grizzled boar—gray along his back and gray in the muzzle—ran down the knoll within 20 feet of me and then disappeared into the berry vines along the valley floor. I didn’t even have time to touch my rifle. It began to drizzle so I started the hike back up to the truck and ran into a third sow and her little ones. All these piglets were a good sign. There are no predators, other than human hunters, in the Hawaiian jungle and these little pigs would grow up quickly.
I made it back to the truck and changed into dry clothes. All the way back home I was thinking about Kalua pork, wrapped in green ti leaves and smoked ever so slowly over a glowing bed of charcoal.
Just another day of hunting on the Big Island.
Aloha for now.
April 11, 2012
Ya’ll heard about my friend, Bruce, a couple of weeks back when I wrote about hunting the Vancouver bulls in Hawaii. Well, Bruce drops me a line from time to time, usually including some photos or video of his excursions there in paradise. It gives me a chance to live a little vicariously, albeit with a strong dose of jealousy. Hawaii is one of those places I really want to hunt, but the logistics involved have just been a little too daunting so far. Check out his most recent story, and I think you’ll see why I’m so eager to get over to the Big Island, and join him on some of these adventures.
Got up at 3:45 AM yesterday and drove along the west side of Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea, like its sister mountain Mauna Loa, is gigantic around the base and rises up to almost 14,000 feet. Parked up on a ridge at 8000 feet and hiked down to the Parker Ranch fence line. The terrain is grassy with small trees that might remind a Californian of large manzanita or pinon. Classic mule deer country. The hiking is really tough. Every 300 yards or so is a deep ravine that must be traversed and that means grabbing rocks and branches and clawing your way up the far side, and that’s the easy part. Going down is really hairy. And consider that I left my house at close to sea level and 2 hours later I’m hiking at elevations between 7000 and 8000 feet with a backpack and carrying a rifle and that in 14 months I’ll be 65. WHEW!!!
I hiked for about an hour and only saw 3 pigs but none was over 60 pounds, so I passed. Another hour and nada. This is very dry country, not the kind of real estate you’d associate with Hawaii but more the dry foothill terrain of Tehachapi in California or elsewhere along the East slope of the Sierras. I hiked over to a large ravine where on a previous hunt I found a small spring that trickles down the lava and forms a pool the size of a bathroom sink. I set up an ambush site on the hillside above and waited. 5 minutes later 3 small pigs in the 50 pound range came by and drank. They left and 10 minutes later a sow with 3 very small piglets came by and started to drink. They turned and looked down the canyon and took off uphill at a sprint. I knew they hadn’t seen or winded me so the only thing I could figure was they saw a boar heading their way. I lay prone and rested the 7mm mag rifle across my backpack and waited.
It had been drizzling—more a windy fog rolling through—and I hadn’t checked my scope for awhile. Within 30 seconds, a boar came ambling up, took a few gulps, and began feeding on the grass. I got ready to shoot but my scope was fogged. I wiped the lenses off with my shirt and could see well enough to shoot. At the shot, he slowly turned around, started trotting off, and dropped after 25 feet.
It wasn’t a large boar, maybe 140 pounds or so, but it was big enough. I boned out the good cuts, dragged the carcass over behind a rock and out of the way of the spring, and headed uphill to the 4WD gravel road that belts Mauna Kea and would lead me back to my truck. It took 45 minutes of lung-busting walking to get up to the road. Pig tracks were everywhere and there was no sign at all that any human or vehicle had been in this area for some time. Within 1 minute, a sow and 3 piglets ran across the road and disappeared into the fog downhill. 5 minutes later, a huge boar crossed the road and disappeared into the fog. I trudged along for another 5 minutes and saw a small herd of good-sized pigs on the road but the wind was at my back and they took off. I arrived at my truck 2 hours after packing up the meat and heading uphill. I was pooped, to say the least.
As I loaded up the truck and unloaded my rifle, I looked uphill and saw hundreds of fresh sheep tracks in the dirt. Mauna Kea is home to Mouflon sheep and apparently a herd had come this way while I was out busting my butt looking for porkers. I was thinking how good a sheep ham would taste, slow roasted on the barbecue, crusted in peppercorns, Hawaiian salt, and garlic butter.
I began the long drive out and stopped at the base of a cinder cone to sight in my 300 Win Mag, newly loaded with Barnes TSX 165 grain bullets [your suggestion, Phillip]. Right before I shot, I noticed another herd of pigs, 6 of them, trotting up the hillside to my left, maybe 100 yards away. They were probably siblings and were in the 70 pound range. I watched them until they disappeared into the brush. I returned to the task at hand and two shots later the rifle was dead on and will be my go-to rifle for future bull hunts.
Go home at 6:45 PM. Long day, lots of meat, lots of memories.
My wife and I left SoCal 6 ½ years ago and have made our home on the Big Island. The hunting here is superb, but it’s rough country. I’ve long ago lost count, but this is probably pig number 40 for me here. Add to that 12 Mouflon sheep and 6 or 7 Vancouver bulls and some Spanish goats [no more of them for me because the meat is only so-so at best] and you’ve got world class hunting, all on public property. On the pig hunt I just described, I never saw another human or another vehicle.
I’ll go after Mouflon on Friday and maybe try for another bull the week after that. Age is beginning to creep up on me and I want to get in as much of this wilderness hunting as I can while I’m still able to do it.
Aloha for now.
Great story, and if that doesn’t wet someone’s chops to pack the guns and bows and head to the islands, I don’t know what will! Sea-level to 8000 feet and back in a day, with fresh pork, mouflon sheep, vancouver bulls, and all sorts of other wild meat there for the taking. I understand the bird hunting can be awesome there as well, with francolin, pheasant, wild turkeys, and other species.
April 6, 2012
This post is from my friend, David Bonini. Thanks for sharing it, Dave!
While Phillip is travelling to and fro, I thought I would offer up some content to keep his loyal followers entertained. That is when it hit me. Who the heck am I and why would anyone want to read my stories? For it is Phillip that we faithfully tune into everyday. He is the one we really want. We all like to read his stories, engage in thoughtful debate or just live vicariously through his adventures. I started getting nervous. What could I possibly add that will keep you entertained? I am not a writer and the closest I have come to being considered one was the “Car of the Month” article I wrote for the high school newspaper in the 1980′s. How can I fill his shoes?
While I might not be able to fill Phillip’s shoes, I am going to give it my best shot. You see, I have been fishing and/or hunting most of my life and I have been accused by many of having the oratory skills to spin a yarn, to tell tales (some of them true) around a campfire, watercooler, driveway, backyard barbque, bar room or any other place where people will lend me their ear. I thought I might put some of these tales on paper and share them with you via the Hog Blog. I hope you find them entertaining but most of all, I hope they give you a reason to engage because that is what a blog is all about right? After you read, please get engaged. Please comment and share your point of view.
As I headed out to the field this weekend, I knew I would be confronted with some of the same ethical questions and circumstances that were depicted in Phillip’s blogs recently. I was to be accompanied with my youngest daughter, Serra (13), with this being only her second hunt since getting her license this year. In order to be a good mentor, I thought a lot about what would come of this weekend and the lessons that would be imparted to her.
I hired a guide for this hunt, Ernie Sanders and his son Mike Sanders from Middletown, CA. Ernie owns and operates D and E Guide Service. He hunts several thousand acres of private ranch land that spans across a good chunk of Lake County. The properties are loaded with wildlife. Our targets this weekend were wild hogs and turkeys. This was my third hunt with Ernie and it was my daughter’s first guided hunt in her short career. With one black tailed doe and one mountain quail on her resume, she was eager to get out there and bag her tom turkey. Heck this hunt was guided. We would just roll up to a blind, the turkeys would show up and we would shoot them. Well not really.
Upon our arrival at the ranch we found ourselves going over gun safety and the use of the 12 gauge shotgun that Ernie lent her. His gun would give her a little more range than her 20 gauge and his had electronic sights on it. The sights force you to keep your head in the proper position and there is a red or green dot that helps you aim.
On Saturday morning, Ernie and Serra headed out in the stormy weather while I went with his son Mike.The night before Mike had put me on a large group of hogs that had five large boars in the group. I am disabled and Mike had to help me through a barbed wire fence and over two small ridges on our quarter mile stalk. He put me within 200 yards of the hogs. He wanted me to get closer and the wind was in our favor so we definitely could have done it but that put me in a tough spot. From our location, I could take a seated position with my back to an oak tree and my rifle on my bipod. This is where I was faced with a tough decision. Could I make this shot and make an ethical kill? I know that I can do it from 100 yards but what about 200? I have killed an elk at almost 300 yards and I have the confidence to do it but I can’t tell you why I feel so confident. I mean, all of my range time has been on a flat range at 100 yards or less. I had to weigh the option of going out into the open and taking a standing shot at 100 yards or staying put and taking the shot from a seated position. Mike offered to bring a chair out with us but I told him not to. Foolish pride I guess. I was comfortable sitting against a tree and using my bipod so I made the decision against the guide’s wishes to get closer. So there I was with a broadside hog shooting at a downhill angle. I have never personally shot at this angle and boy did I flub it. I put the 200 yard dot on its vitals and squeezed off the round. I put that bullet right over the top of the hog. Needless to say all the hogs escaped. Mike kept his cool and used this as a learning opportunity. He probably wanted to say, “I told you so” but instead he spoke to me about what went right and what went wrong. He talked to me about not repeating the same mistakes and that if given another opportunity, we are bringing the chair, getting closer and taking more time to make sure we can make the shot. In other words, he gave me my chance, now it is time for me to listen to the professional. Read more