Hog Hunting, Predestination
By By Otha Barham / outdoors editor
March 19, 2004
I killed the wild hog about a quarter mile from Fred's motor home where he lives with his wife, Louise, until they can build a home on their small ranch. The place is in the Hill Country of Texas Edwards Plateau. Fred and I loaded the hog into the front end loader bucket of his John Deere tractor and hauled it over to his skinning pole near the motor home.
We skinned the hog, saving the fat beneath the skin; unlike the skinning of a deer whereby all fat is trimmed away. Having helped Fred and Louise eat from half a hog he smoked for us, Lurey and I knew the fat helped baste the succulent meat as it cooked.
We were visiting the Meyers last week at their new property in Medina County, Texas, having been invited there for a hog hunt. Last fall I wrote on this page about Fred's excited phone call relating his eventful first encounter with wild hogs on their place. He asked me to come help control the hog population and of course I went. We were to learn that Louise's gourmet cooking was the finest that could be created in a motor home kitchen and probably anywhere.
I hunted from a tripod stand with no luck. I waited near automatic corn feeders and still no hogs came. Their tracks were in the area, and when we put corn out, they ate it at night.
So on our last day there, I dispatched the small hog Fred had been feeding in a trap. He has trapped many of the wild pigs and had saved me one in case my bad luck followed me west. If the above account involving using a tractor to retrieve the hog misled the reader by suggesting a giant kill, the deception was intentional.
Actually the little pig was hard to find among the tools, guns and other gear we had in the tractor bucket. But, as all hunters looking for an excuse for failure know, the little ones are the tender ones and this little piggy is cooking in my smoker as I write.
My Texas hog hunt does not end here. We traveled on to East Texas from the Hill Country and spent a few days with our good friends, Frances and Ronny Lee. Ronny feeds hogs and deer on a small lease he has near their town of Jacksonville.
He took me out to one of his elevated stands within some 60 yards of a timed corn feeder. I arrived before the sun had lighted the cloudy sky, but I could make out a strange shape near the feeder barrel that we had charged with corn the evening before. The barrel sat atop a tripod made of two-inch steel pipe.
My binoculars revealed a raccoon hanging onto one of the pipes, having climbed to its top where he could reach the tiny opening above the feeder's motor. He was casually reaching onto the plate with an extended paw, helping himself to one kernel of corn at a time, as one might pluck stuffed olives from an hors d'oeuvres platter at a dinner party.
The raccoon climbed down and up each of the three legs of the feeder without a single slip on the slick pipes, which were made even slicker by intermittent rain showers. He collected corn he had picked out of the tiny drum opening from each side of the distributor plate. I measured eleven seconds that it took for him to climb a pipe leg.
The coon left ten minutes before the timer activated the feeder. Ten minutes later, a fine wild hog came to the feeder and I took careful aim with a .308 rifle. With plenty of time, I braced my shoulder and arm for a precise placement of the bullet behind the front shoulder.
At the shot the hog ran away. The cartridge hull showed extreme low pressure signs, the primer having no sign of even touching the rear of the rifle's chamber and thus no flattening at all. I knew the gun had excessive headspace, but I had shot it several times while sighting it in without a single misfire. The one misfire came with my only chance at a Texas hog.
Luck plays a part in pursuits afield. But this was a case of predestination. It was not in the cards for me to bag a boar during my Texas hunt. After scaring off the hog at the feeder with a misfire, I remembered that Fred had called on my cell phone as we were leaving the Hill Country. He said that because the rain we needed came the night we left, hog tracks were everywhere and he feared being trampled by herds near their motor home.
Predestination pure and simple. But we will return when the moon is in a different phase and the planets have changed alignment.
(Note: If you go: Night hunting feral hogs with a light is legal on private land in Texas. A $45 license is required and it is suggested that the local game warden be notified of your hunt. The license entitles you to hunt exotic game in daytime as well.)