Hunting At Hillside Manor? Is It Really Ever Gonna Happen?

August 30, 2012

I’d really like to lead this off with a great hunting adventure.  Maybe some axis deer finally showed up… or the hogs came up from the river…

But of course, none of that happened.

However, things are on the upswing.  Dove season opens here on Saturday, and there are plenty of birds around the pasture.  I don’t know that I can scrape a whole limit, but there should be a couple of meals worth.  That is, of course, dependent on whether or not I can hit them.  There are plenty of eurasian collared doves, so worst case, I can shoot those out of the trees with the Marauder.  But I’m looking forward to my first time shooting white wings.

Archery season for whitetails opens at the end of September, and it’s been interesting to see the sudden uptick in activity around here.  Seems like at least a couple of trucks a day ramble up the road with a pallet of corn, or disassembled tower stands.  I’m curious to see what happens to “my” deer once all the other folks start running their feeders again.  Lately, I’ve been pretty much the only game in town, and of course I’ve been swarmed with a bunch of regular visitors.  The big boy in the photo has been on my feeder every day at almost the same time for well over a month, along with his little gang.  Of course, as soon as the velvet comes off, the bachelor groups will start to split up anyway.   Based on the shredded saplings out back, that should be happening soon.

There are a bunch of does as well.  I expect the freezer to be full, although I am planning to go strictly archery around here.  We’ll see, as the season winds on, if I can stick to that plan.  Hopefully, as I get to know people, I’ll have a chance to take the rifle out for hogs or axis so it doesn’t get lonely.

So still slow going so far.  Looks like my friends in CA are starting to put the A zone deer on ice, and several of the other zones are opening up now too.  I’m jonesing for another Colorado elk hunt, but I’ll have to live vicariously through other hunters for this season.  We’ll see what 2013 brings.

Let me know what’s going on with your seasons, folks.  September is in the wings, and the magic days of fall are about to be upon us!



8 Responses to “Hunting At Hillside Manor? Is It Really Ever Gonna Happen?”

  1. Hunting At Hillside Manor? Is It Really Ever Gonna Happen? : Hog … | Hunting Tips on August 31st, 2012 04:04

    […] along the way… waterfowl and doves, quail, blacktail deer, elk. … Read more here: Hunting At Hillside Manor? Is It Really Ever Gonna Happen? : Hog … ← Crossbow Hunting | California Outdoors Q and […]

  2. Bruce Cherry on August 31st, 2012 11:45

    Man, I sure miss deer hunting. That’s a nice buck in the trailcam photo, Phillip. Only 19 days until I can start hunting again. Drove to Walmart this morning, wearing the collar, with no problems at all. Can move head easily, almost full range of motion. Hiked 3 miles without collar 3 days ago, 5 miles 2 days ago, and 6 miles yesterday. Will go for 8 today. No problems at all so I only wear the collar in the car, even as a passenger. A whiplash injury would be catastrophic without the collar.

    With all this time on my hands, I read a lot of the other hunting forums and blogs. Hog Blog is by far the most civilized and draws posts and responses from the most respectful people. I finally gave up on Jesse’s Forum a couple years ago because if you state something that other readers don’t like, you get blasted in very unfriendly terms. And I’ve never seen so much hogwash [pun intended] on my computer monitor as some of the stuff posted on Jesse’s. I once made the statement that, in my opinion, hogs have better eyesight than some people think [this after I had harvested 45 hogs—maybe more—and had repeatedly been busted by pigs who spotted me from a couple hundred yards away, wind in my face] and I took a ration of crap from all sorts of “hunters,” most of whom had never even hunted hogs. Most of the pro guides who chimed in agreed with me. Which begs the question, Phillip, what’s your take on pig eyesight? I knew quite a few hunters in CA who were sure that pigs couldn’t see anything at all beyond 50 yards or so.

    Many people believe the same thing about bears. I used to fly floatplanes in AK and Yukon Territory in my younger days and met many, many browns/grizzlies, out on Kodiak and the Interior. They’re like pigs, usually with their heads down, feeding or moving around, and don’t look up often. But I’ve had many bears, easily a few hundred yards away [again, no wind or wind in my face], and when they looked up, they immediately locked in on me. In a few cases they approached me on a run and had to be turned around with a rifle shot in the ground in front of their nose. But I think that pigs, like bears, simply are not hard-wired to be wary like deer are. Watch a deer feed for a few minutes. They stop every 5 or 10 seconds and look all around and then feed for another 5 or 10 seconds. Pigs feed, heads down, and keep their heads down as they move around while feeding. They’re much, much easier to stalk than a deer. Same with bears.

    Bird season here opens up in mid-November. It’s only on weekends and there are lots of hunters, compared to the number of hunters who hunt big game. When I check in at the Hunter Check Station on Mauna Kea when bird season is not open, I might see 3 or 4 other hunters checked in, and that’s for an area of a zillion acres. On opening day of bird season, there are close to 300 hunters checked in. I drive way back in and lose them all after I go about 12 miles. This year, pig hunting will remain open during bird season [It was closed up until last year because of obvious safety concerns—don’t know why they reopened it.]. That means because I’m all alone so far back in that I’m very likely going to flush as many pigs as pheasants, turkeys, or francolin. I’m limited on recoil for the next several months, so I’ll use my favorite shotgun, an old Lefever double in 16 gauge, manufactured in about 1920. I load 2 9/16″ shells, reduced pressure, and it works like a charm. It weighs exactly 6 pounds, fits me perfectly, and handles like a 28 gauge. I just ordered some 16 gauge rifled slugs and will load up light loads, sight it in at 25 yards, and carry a few of those in my pocket while I hunt. Should be very interesting but I’ll probably be limited to 15 or 20 yard shots. By the way, I also have a Remington 1900 damascus [manufactured in 1900] in 12 gauge. I load blackpowder brass shotshells in that and it handles beautifully. May load some rifled slugs for it, too. If I jump a lot of pigs and they’re out of range, I have a Savage 24 in 12 gauge and 30/30. That would extend my range out to 100 yards or so. I use that to hunt in the jungle kipukas [a stand of rainforest, often 50 acres or more, surrounded by fields of lava] where Kalij pheasants, mouflon sheep, and lots of pigs can be encountered at very close range. Think I’ll toss that in the truck whenever I hunt birds in case the shots at pigs are longer than what I think they’ll be.

    Enough for now. I’m really eager to see how the dove hunting goes. Are those collared doves as good eating as the regular doves? If they are, I wouldn’t hesitate 2 seconds to pot them with my air rifle.

    Aloha for today.

  3. Phillip on August 31st, 2012 12:55

    Hey, Bruce. I won’t be able to offer world-class opportunities or anything, but if you get stateside and make it down this way, bow season starts 9/29 and rifle season picks up in November. The rut is later here than most of the country, with the bonus that there’s often a “second” rut in January. Probably due to the population density, a lot of does didn’t get bred in the first round and come back into estrous… or at least that’s a combination of my understanding and deduction. Oh, and crossbows are legal during archery here.

    Thanks for the kind words about the blog. I try to do my part, and I do feel like I’ve got some of the best commenters. There’s the occasional troll, but even the rude folks are often willing to take a breath and actually discuss things. I’m hoping traffic gets back up where it was before I split from the old site, but that’s mostly because I enjoy the mix of perspectives and such. The problem with forums is exactly what you described. A handful of regulars suddenly become the omniscient experts, and nobody weeds out the know-nothings and show-offs. There’s some interesting social dynamics involved too that would actually make a pretty neat sociology/ethnology research project for someone so inclined.

    But as far as hogs’ vision, I’ve said all along that they’re sorely underestimated by the average hunter. Even some “experts” don’t give them due credit, I’ve found. Like you, I’ve been busted moving across a hillside at well over 300 yards at times when I know the wind is not a factor. The thing is that they’re not, generally, visually cued like, say, deer or cattle. They won’t usually spend a lot of time trying to figure out an unusual shape, unless that shape moves… then it’s a different thing altogether. Nevertheless, I don’t think they’re as frightened by simply seeing something out of place.

    But I think their defenses are generally directed to their sense of smell first, and vision second. They have good hearing, but I think they often tend to tune out noises because they’re so noisy themselves. This is why you can walk right up on a feeding hog as long as you don’t move while his head is up. No need to tiptoe silently in like you would on a deer or elk. On the other hand, try to sneak in on an alerted, pressured hog when it’s hiding in a shadow. They can be slick… and their intelligence makes them even trickier. The last one I killed was lazing among a pile of downed tree trunks. I had the wind in my favor, and I’m not sure when he first saw me. But he laid lengthwise along a log until I had walked past, and then he slipped quietly out on my backtrail and snuck into a little patch of trees. He’d have made it too, but he made the mistake of breaking into a trot while I could still hear him, and I looped around and headed him off on the backside of the woodlot. He was dead confident when he came back into the open 100 yards from where I’d first jumped him. Even with the wind at my back, I think he was so cocky it really took him by surprise to see me raise the rifle.

    I know HI has some tricky firearm regulations. Are able to carry or hunt with a handgun (or do you even have one)? That would be my first choice when bird hunting, rather than trying to rapidly switch from bird shot to slugs. It is easier with a double (and that LeFever sounds SWEET!), though. I used to try all sorts of tricks with my old Mossberg 500… everything from loading a slug as the third round, to trying to speed load/unload. Nevertheless, just to be back out there hunting, I know, will be a blessing.

    As far as the collared doves, I can’t tell any difference from the mourning doves in flavor. They’re generally bigger, especially the males. Two good euros will make a decent meal for one person (if you’ve got plenty of starch on the side). I’ve shot several out of the trees out front. I see it like picking a couple of tomatoes off the vine, or selecting a couple of chickens from the coop. Not real sporting, but this is about putting meat on the grill. The white wings and mourning doves will test my wingshooting skills enough.

    If it all goes well, I’ll be posting up. I’ve even been contemplating how to cook them.

  4. Bruce Cherry on August 31st, 2012 14:20

    Would love to deer hunt next year. What town is the closest to you? In-laws live in Bulverde, just north of San Antonio.

    I never even thought about a handgun. Yes, they’re legal and I have a couple that would work well. One is a 1970’s Colt Python with a 6 inch barrel. I would feel confident out to 25 yards or so. The other is a Ruger Redhawk stainless with that long, long barrel [think it’s 7.5 inches] and a 2X scope on top. I need to carry it in my shoulder holster or in my pack because it’s just too bulky and heavy for a belt holster. I have to check to see if carrying in my pack is legal [concealed]. With a rest, it’s dead on at 100 yards or so. I can easily shoot 4″ groups at 100 with a good rest. Offhand, I’d give it about 25 yards, max. The crosshairs dance all over the place when I try to shoot offhand. I’ve also got my 45 ACP Colt 1911 Officer’s Pistol, the one my dad carried in WWll as a pilot with the 8th Air Force. He even had to use it in combat after he was shot down behind the lines on D-Day and had to basically fight his way back to The Friendlies over a two week period. When he was an exchange officer with the Marine Corps in Korea and for a couple years later, he shot competitively on the USMC Pistol Team. He had the pistol completely reworked and accurized at the Colt factory. I think it’s a bit underpowered for hogs, but maybe with the right load and right bullet… I’ll have to look into that.

    I’d go after those collared doves anytime I could shoot them. Just put a folding chair beneath their favorite tree, a cooler of Longnecks next to your chair, maybe lean a shooting stick within reach. You’d be doing the Great State of Texas a favor and doves are delicious, properly prepared. And no hormones, no antibiotics, no cost other than the cost of a pellet. Go for it, man.


  5. Phillip on August 31st, 2012 17:36

    Closest airport is San Antonio. Right at 2 hrs.

    That Colt Python would probably be a good one, just because if you get in on the hogs while bird hunting, you’ll probably get close-range opportunities. That’s a .357, right?

    The Redhawk is an awesome gun, especially if you can shoot it that well. I had a heck of a time with a scoped Redhawk, but I feel OK with my iron-sights Blackhawk out to about archery range (40-50 yards). But carrying the Redhawk with sights will probably push your luck for wingshooting unless you have a very comfortable shoulder holster.

    I’ve heard way too many negative stories about the .45ACP. It’s simply not designed for hunting 4-legged critters, especially hogs. Sounds like a treasure of a gun to own though, for its history alone.

    As far as those euros, I shoot them whenever I have the energy to pluck and clean them. No compunction there. And I can shoot from the comfort of my porch… set the bipod on the porch rail and have at it.

  6. Phillip on August 31st, 2012 17:37

    By the way, don’t you guys have blacktail deer over there? Or maybe they’re on one of the other islands… but I remember reading something about a season when I was doing research and contemplating a move over there.

  7. Bruce Cherry on August 31st, 2012 18:17

    Blacktails on Kauai, but very, very few and tough to get at. Loads of axis on Maui, but all on private property and expensive to hunt. Loads of axis on Molokai, but again, private property and expensive, $1000 and well upwards from there for a basic hunt. Lots on Lanai, quite a few on public land with really good odds, but there is no airport on Lanai so you need to fly to Maui and then take a ferry boat from Maui to Lanai and then somehow rent a 4wd from a local for about $100 a day and camp somewhere or stay in a $200 per night hotel. Add the plane fare from Kona to Maui, the ferry boat, the 4WD, the lodging, and a 3-day DIY hunt can easily cost between 500 and 1000 bucks [pun again intended]. That ain’t cheap.

    By the way, a helicopter pilot and the owner of Arrow One Ranch in Maui [Google that—they’re the biggest deer guide service on Maui] were recently arrested for flying axis deer to the Big Island. These deer are highly invasive, easily out-competing cattle, and their current numbers on the Big Island are estimated at approx 100. If they run wild for another 4 years, which I think they will, we’ll have a huntable population of over 1000 here and I bet I can find some of them on public property. The DLNR [controls hunting] has hired pro hunters to eradicate them, but in 2 months of hunting they have killed only two that I’m aware of. There is so much remote wilderness here, really thick brushy country where a thousand deer could hide out and never be spotted. Will be interesting to follow the story.

    I just ran the ballistics on the .45 ACP and they are dismal. At 25 yards, you’re looking at less than 300 foot pounds of energy. The .357 is about 580, which is better. The .44 Mag is 900, which is great. I think I’ll take the scope off. The Redhawk has integral scope bases so reattaching the scope should bring it back close to zero if I want to hunt goats with it during the special handgun season. It would be pretty easy to carry around in a belt holster, which I have done for many, many hours on Kodiak without much discomfort. With a rest, I’m confident out to about 50 yards. Without a rest, maybe out to 40 yards if the pig isn’t running. Think I’ll do that. No concealed weapons rules to worry about and it won’t interfere with handling the shotgun. Thanks for the idea.


  8. Phillip on August 31st, 2012 20:03

    I did hear about the Arrow One ranch fiasco. As much as I get the desire to have axis to hunt (best venison you will ever eat), transplanting into a non-native ecosystem is simply irresponsible. They are prolific as hell. Here in the Hill Country, they are everywhere (except my place, dammit). They prefer flatter, prairie-like habitat, so they don’t occur so much in the canyons and ridges, but down in the valleys you’ll often see as many axis as you will whitetail… and the whitetail are THICK.

    I’m not sure what kind of impact they’ll have on the Big Island. Their environmental footprint is more like a deer than a cow, so I don’t know that it’s really disastrous (considering the pigs haven’t utterly disrupted the ecosystem there in several hundred years), but of course I understand the desire to maintain the relatively unique habitat without these unwanted incursions. But for the local hunter, it will be a boon. Like I said, once you eat axis, you’ll never care about eating another whitetail or mule deer again.

    They do tend to herd up, and prefer to congregate around open flats with good, thick cover on the edges. I’m actually surprised the pros are having a hard time killing them. They should be easy pickings from a helicopter.

    I definitely think the .44 is the best bet if you pull the scope. The Python would be handier for close stuff, especially if you think run-ins with the hogs will be rare. But if you think you’ll see them more regularly (and it sounds like you will), then a .44mag is absolutely the best handgun hog medicine the normal man can have. The .454, .460, .480 and .500 are impressive… but that’s just a lot of BOOM for a handheld gun. Personally, I don’t care much for shooting any of them… and a manageable gun is going to weigh between three and five pounds. If you need that kind of power, sling that 7-30 M94 over your back and forget about the pistol.

    By the way, for the Redhawk on a belt holster, if you haven’t already, strap it on a wide (3″) web belt. It’ll distribute the weight better for a lot of walking than a regular leather belt. The tactical holsters are also awesome, but I don’t know if they make one for the big-framed revolver with that long barrel.