Hog Hunt 2011

Back in the spring or early summer we decided it was time for another hog hunt. We being myself and my friends Bill and Tim. We had hoped that Bills' grandson would go with us but that didn't happen. Contacting Red Dirt Bore Ranch where we hunted in 2009, the only slot available was in mid October. We decided we could live with that and marked the calendars.

We arrived at Red Dirt Bore Ranch on Monday the 17th probably about 3:30. The "Lodge" that they had started in 2009 had long since been completed and turned out great. Clean dry and comfortable which is more than you can say for a lot of motels. Our guide (Shane) arrived shortly after and we made our plans for the evening hunt.

Again this trip we would sit in our choice of treestands strategically placed within the property. We all chose a different stand than we had used in 2009. Shane told us if we would be patient, the larger hogs would come into the feed late.

I settled into my stand and dug out a tri-pod and camera. I also was toting along a set of glasses with a built in camcorder. Intending to take plenty of pictures and hopeful that I might actually get a shot on film.

For fire power I had brought a Ruger 357 and left my Ruger Compact in 6.8 back at the lodge. I still have never killed anything but paper with a handgun but had been practicing and felt I could get the job done now.

It wasn't long before I had company. Feeder sized pigs and some up to 100 lbs probably. Not just a couple of hogs but groups of 3 to 5 would wander in. At one point I had 15 or more in front of me but nothing as large as I was hoping for. So I just took pictures and videos and enjoyed the experience.

As predicted the hogs got larger as the light faded. I had at least 2 or 3 in front of me that would be in the 150 lb range. I was using binoculars to hunt for tusks but wasn't seeing much save an occasional hair lip. I did not know if sows grew tusks or not so I was watching for other indicators to point me in the direction of a bore.

With God as my witness, hogzilla showed up. She would not come in close because the wind was wrong and she knew I was there. No time for pictures, I searched for the "indicators" and when I didn't see them I switched into the "do I want this one or not mode". Hogzilla really didn't wait for me to decide and vanished back into the brush as quickly as she had appeared.

Obviously I am no "hog expert" but judging her size compared to the others I had been watching I was guessing her to be in excess of 200 lbs if not closer to 250. She was huge with a tall and long body and thick through the neck and shoulders. Honestly in retrospect had the Ruger Compact been in my lap instead of the 357, I probably would have shot her. Somehow someway I have to get my confidence up with "hunting handguns". I will spend more time working on that in the next couple of weeks as deer season approaches.

Tim with his revolver, put down a 140 lb bore. He shot another bore about the same size the second evening, also with a revolver. Me and the other Bill decided that it was because Tim is single and his standards were lower than ours. Of course you throw in a couple of bar jokes etc and you can see where this was going.

As I sat and watched from the stand over the course of the trip I realized how educational it really was. I do not hear well anyway so I never heard much as far as leaves rustling and such so I rely heavily on my eyesight. Trying to see through obstructions like leaves and branches was challenging but interesting. I found the harder I worked at focusing on the small openings in the leaves the better I got at spotting a hog leg or a some other piece of the query. Another aspect of the hunt that I really worked on was identifying or recognizing animal size. Piglets are pretty obvious but once they got beyond probably 60 pounds it became a little trickier to tell actual size especially if they were standing alone or were otherwise the only hog in view at that moment.

I tried looking at things like:

And while all of these indicators worked when there was more than one hog in view, it all went out the window when there was only one hog to look at.

Hog size was important to me on this trip. I did not enjoy the meat from the last hogs all that well but I figured if I could be more selective I could come up with a big narly bore to hang on the wall.

In retrospect, a 150 class hog with a couple of tusks would have probably fit the bill. So I came away empty handed but with sharpened skills just in time for Missouri deer season and my favorite part of the year to hunt coyotes. Well that and memories of a hunting trip taken with good friends. It's like the old saying "the worst day fishing is better than the best day at work". That is not to say I don't love my job but it sure is nice to get away and get a fresh pespective on things.

Overall I was a little disappointed with the operation this time around. On the last trip they had large feeders on timers out in front of the stands. They drove us to the stands in a UTV dropped us off and drove away. We watched for hogs and waited for the timers

This time they had small feeders hanging on a post with timers that may or may not work. Then they shoveled feed into the UTV. When they dropped you at your stand they threw out scoops of feed and then drove away. The smaller hogs would actually be standing in view a short distance away and scurry in as soon as the UTV drove away. It reminded me of driving along a feed trough with livestock following you. I got the impression the hogs would start salivating when they heard the UTV drive through the gate. At least with the big feeders and timers the hogs had to rely more on their own internal clock.

The first thing the hogs did when they came to the feed was look at the treestand to see if there was anyone in it. Which is exactly what Hogzilla did to me the first evening. She walked out of the woods, looked at the stand, put her nose in the ear to confirm her not so good eye sight and then left. That's why she's big, she isn't dumb. The dumb/younger ones would stand eating facing me and look up once in a while to see if they were looking down a gun barrel. Once while there was a crowd in front of me I deliberately tapped my gun barrel on the steel treestand. Cleared the feeding area in 1.2 seconds. 5 seconds later they were all back. While that aspect wasn't much different than the trip 2 years ago, the scoop shovel throwing feed and departing was, and like "domestic livestock" I'm sure given a few days, they would respond well to a truck horn.

So yes I want to go expecting to see hogs, and I want to actually see hogs. But I would like to see it just a little more challenging and a little less predictable. Maybe it's like this at other hog hunting facilities, I don't know.

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Last Modified: October 29, 2011