Part 4: Hog Hunting in Gonzales, TX


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The Trip

We arrived in the Gonzales, TX area a day early and stayed at an RV camp reasonably close to the hunt site.  Before going to the site, we toured the small town of Gonzales, ate some local BBQ and did shopping chores.  From Gonzales, we went to the hunt site to wait at the main gate to be let into the ranch for the actual hunt.  The ranch handles many of these hunts and there is a formal schedule of events that consisted of orientation (and gun safety), a "walk and stalk", dinner, night hunting, breakfast and more walking.

WARNING:  THE PHOTOS BELOW ARE GRAPHIC IN NATURE, viewer discretion is suggested.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

This sign at the RV park might have been funnier without the spelling error.

Speaking of trailer trash, as we left the RV park, we passed a stationary trailer that was clearly being used as a permanent residence.  The person living here just threw their beer cans out the front door of the trailer where they sat when we came by.  I never saw the resident and frankly don't want to.  I am guessing that they will be forced to act when the cans impede their ability to get into and out of their "home".  Just remember, "beauty is in the eye of the beer holder".

On our way into Gonzales, TX, the road sides were covered in brightly colored spring flowers.  This patch happened to be orange, but there were blues, purples, yellows, reds and white flowers everywhere.  We stopped in Gonzales for supplies, diesel and lunch at the local BBQ cafe.  From there, we headed to the hunt site.

The gate at the hunt site had a large steel hog on top of some holding pens.  The owner of the site traps hogs on surrounding ranches (for a fee) and then brings them to his ranch and allows them to be hunted (for another fee).  Then, if you actually shoot a hog, you pay a fee to have it butchered and frozen.  An interesting business model.

Above, some of the other hunters attempt to figure out what the mog is.  The mog gets respect anywhere it goes.

The hunt site was verdant green and on the way to the bunk house, we passed this dozing buffalo.  This was totally unexpected and we passed them again and again on the ranch.

As I was trying to recover from seeing the buffalo, we spotted these elks in one of the stock ponds.  It turns out that there are a number of exotic species on the ranch site, some from Africa and Asia.

The elk were not afraid of us or the noise of the mog.  Mostly they were curious.  Note that the one on the right only has one antler.

When I saw the zebra hanging out with the horses, I went into overload.  This was the only zebra on the property that we saw.  After we checked in and got settled, we did an afternoon "walk and stalk", which was really a "walk a lot".  We covered the entire perimeter of the 300 acres and saw nothing.  Not a shot was fired.  We returned to the mess hall for dinner and upon completion, we returned to the field for a "blind hunt" where we stayed in a blind scouting for hogs.

We did not have to wait long.  I saw a medium sized hog just down the road from our position as we parked the camper for the night.  I fired 2 rounds from our (borrowed) .30/30, but missed both times.  He was running at a fast clip and night was approaching so it was a tough shot.  After we got settled into the blind, a small hog came into view.  It was almost fully dark and I was just able to make out the front sight against the darkness and managed to connect.  As you can see, I hit the spine in mid-back.  Frankly, given how dark it was, I was surprised to have hit him at all.  Once you score a kill, you must call the ranch house on your cell phone and they send out a recovery vehicle to take the hog to the slaughter house for processing.  As the truck was approaching, 3 good sized hogs came into view, but sadly the truck was behind them, so I did not have a clear shot.  We returned to the blind and Kathleen and I sat there for 4 hours and saw nothing.  This was somewhat surprising since the area had been baited with "deer corn"  Indeed, the hog in the photo above was preparing to chow down on the corn when I shot him.

The blind hunt is structured such that you can stay in the blind all night if you choose.  Knowing this, we parked the mog/camper close to the blind so we could return to the blind just before sunrise and take another stab at things.  We were in the blind a full hour before sunrise, but saw nothing hunt-able.  While we were waiting, this elk came by to eat some of the corn on the ground.

After sunrise, we broke camp and drove back to ranch house for breakfast.  After breakfast, we did a morning "walk and stalk" and camp upon this Cape Buffalo in the dense trees.  We gave it wide berth and walked well around its "space".

Several of our hunting partners who had been using shotguns with rifled slugs the day before switched to high-powered center fire rifles for the day's hunt.  The hog above was shot with a .22/250 and one shot literally blew the hog's head "clean off".  A one-shot clean kill.

I hunted with my borrowed .30/30 the first day, but the brush was so dense, that I decided to use my Ed Brown 1911 .45 for the second day.  We did not pass much game, but when this small "squealer" came my way, I bagged him.  Small and tasty.  This was my second kill and I was allotted 2 so I was "tagged out", but we continued to hunt since Kathleen had not taken any hogs.

Big portions of the ranch open areas were covered in flowers.

Given the dense brush, it is easy to get turned around so the ranch labeled the trails.

One of our group got this small size hog.

We went back to the ranch house for lunch and Kathleen was getting bummed because she had not gotten a hog yet.  That afternoon, on another "walk and stalk", we did a team hunt where we had drivers and shooters.  Kathleen was part of the shooter group and I was a driver.  We managed to scare up a pretty large herd of pigs and had them running toward the shooters.  We lost the herd in the brush and as we attempted to re-acquire them we encountered another smaller herd that had bigger hogs.  Kathleen crested a small hill and had a clear shot with her Savage 99 lever action in .300 Savage.  Several rounds later, she took this boar.  Note the "cutters" (fangs) on this fellow. He was down bleeding under a small mesquite bush.  But, when we got close to him, he attempted to charge, but she capped him with her .45.  This one weighed in at 170 lbs.

As Kathleen shot her hog, another big one started toward us.  She was focused on her hog and I took my .45 and tagged this fellow.  He is pretty big, but not as big as hers.

Mike took this nice sow with his Benelli .30-06 auto loader.  The sow was part of the smaller herd that we encountered.

His shot was true; the entrance wound is just below the ear.

The .30-06 left a massive exit wound on the other side of the hog's neck.

The ranch hands drug the 3 kills to the pick-up point for transport to the slaughter site.  Kathleen's is one the left in the foreground; mine is on the right.  The sow is in the rear.

Mike inspects some of the afternoon's kill at the butcher's shop.  Mine is in the foreground, Kathleen's is immediately behind.  Note the butcher working in the background

The butchers were working hard.  I think that there were 22 hogs taken that day.  The ranch does about 2300 hogs per year, on average.

After several big hogs, it was Miller time and show and tell.  Above, this gal shows Kathleen her nice Ruger in 6 mm Remington.  The gal stated that she has taken deer, elk, caribou, bear and hogs with that gun.

I inspect a .223 bolt action wrapped in camo tape.

He also showed us his Ruger Blackhawk in 41 magnum.

Above, Kathleen checks out a custom M4 carbine in .50 Beowolf.  This gun was all tricked out with a nice scope and a custom trigger.

The ranch house has both bunk houses and small cabins.  Above, the lamp shows basic ranch chic.

On our exit from the ranch, we passed this animal which I think is an Axis deer.

A final view of the Cape Buffalo or Water Buffalo.  Whatever it is, it is big.

The hunt was fun, albeit quite a bit of work.  The final day was best as we both got large hogs at the end of an exciting chase across several miles of the ranch.  Actually, most of the folks in our hunt group scored within just a few minutes of one another, so we all got lucky.  The hogs were challenging and shooting with a handgun added another level of complexity.  But, in retrospect, with the dense brush, the handgun was the weapon of choice for me.  We took our meat with us and had some of it for dinner the day we left.  Since the meat was from one of the boars, it was rather tough and gamy.  The small pigs found their way into carnitas.

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