Part 5: Hog Hunt in Gonzales, TX


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This was our 3rd hog hunt and the 2nd from this vendor in Gonzales, TX.  Use whatever name you like: hog, pig, piggies, porkers, squealers, bacon-on-the-hoof.  But, no matter what name you use, these are vile, odious, repugnant creatures when they are in the wild.  We hunted for about 48 hours over 3 days.  At the end, the score was humans 5, hogs: 0.  Kathleen and I scored 5 one-shot kills, each over 50 yards.  We used 2 new rifles, both virgin.  Mine was a Sako 85 Finnlight stainless steel in .30-06.  Kathleen was shooting my Tikka T3 stainless in .270.

Of everyone in our group (8 seasoned hunters), I was lucky enough to bag the biggest hog at just short of 200 lbs.  Kathleen's largest hog was about 125 lbs and was the largest kill for the first day of all the hunt.

We ended up with much, much more meat than we could take.  During one of our hunts, we met a fellow that had organized his hunt for the Wounded Warrior Project in Louisiana.  There were 4 from that group at the ranch.  So, we donated most of our meat to them.  Additionally, Kathleen's first kill was donated to several nice  fellows from the Chicago area who had driven a long distance did not reach their limit.

Warning:  these photos are graphic; view discretion is advised.  These are not for viewers with weak stomachs.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

The ranch traps hogs on neighboring ranches and brings them to the site for the hunts.  In addition, some ranchers trap hogs and sell them to the ranch at nominal fees to get them off their property.  Wild and feral hogs are very destructive and the ranchers are happy to see them go, by whatever means.  Hogs breed 2-3 times per year and drop 12+ piglets per pregnancy.  As a consequence, absent other pressures, the population doubles every 120 days.  The pens in the photo above is used to store incoming hogs prior to being released onto the 300 acre fully-fenced ranch property for incoming hunters.

When we came over to inspect the pens, the hogs piled against the far wall of the pen in an attempt to get away from us.  Note the piglet in the lower right of the photo; he is dead likely from being trampled.

The owner had this steel hog created to adorn his pens.  The stench from the new hogs was overwhelming.

After we were settled, we prepared for the evenings "hide" hunt.  To hunt from a hide, you have to get in the blind before sundown and then wait for the foraging hogs to come into rifle range.  Once we were in the blind, the game starting coming toward us.  Above, a herd of odd goats and several cattle came to our position.  The cattle were either Texas Longhorns or African Ankole.  The circumference of the horns suggest that they are Ankole.  The ranch owner offers many kinds of hunts, including hunts for the exotic animals that he has on his property.

Our blind was near a water hole and the goats came for both the corn that was spread as bait and to get water.

We were in the blind until after dark.  Kathleen spotted something moving near the fence line and I painted it with my high-powered LED flashlight.  The light was sufficient for Kathleen to get a bead on this nice 125lb boar and about 85 yards.  Her shot was perfect, just behind the ear.

Kathleen was proud of her shot.  At that distance with very low light, it was quite an accomplishment.  We called the ranch hands to pick up the hog for processing and decided to retire for the night.  Since we were staying in Thor, we camped out near the blind at night so it would be easy to return to the blind at "oh-dark-thirty" the next morning.

On our walk back to the camper from the blind, Kathleen spotted this walking stick in the sand.  This is one very odd insect and was about 6" long.

Next morning, we got up at 0500 and were in the blind by 0545.  We waited patiently and saw nothing.  At 0900, we returned to the main camp area for breakfast.  After breakfast, we assembled for the "walk and stalk".  The ground was covered in brilliant spring flowers that were knee high.  The flowers and other lush vegetation would provide good cover for the hogs and make the hunt more challenging.  I was hunting with my Ed Brown .45 ACP and soon stumbled upon a small group of hogs hiding under some low brush.  I came within a few feet of their hide before they reacted and bolted to my left side. By the time I got the pistol up, aimed and ready to fire, they had run toward Kathleen who was on my left and I had to pass on the shot to insure that she was not hit.  Those were the only hogs that our group would see all morning.  We did, however, hear shots in the distance from the other group.

Our group consisted of 4 total hunters and "rolled a doughnut" for the morning's effort, save the small group I scared up.  It was sunny, hot and humid and by the time that we returned to camp for lunch, we were all soaked with sweat.  When we arrived, we discovered that the other group had better luck and shot these medium sized hogs. Note that there is another hog on the hook at the far right of the photo above. The butchers were busy cleaning them when we returned to the area.

We had a nice long lunch in the air conditioned mess hall and then set up for the afternoon stalk.  Our bad luck continued and the only hog we saw is shown in the photo above.  Kathleen spotted this hard-luck hog in the dense brush.  This boar was already wounded, and we initially assumed he was the "one that go away" from Ken (a hunter in the other group) in the morning stalk.  The hog was twitching, so Katleen assumed he was mortally wounded and applied a coup de grace on him with her .270.  He continued to flop around, so another member of our group, Ed, also applied a 12 GA rifled slug.  Still assuming the hog belonged to Ken, we called the ranch hands and arranged for a pickup.  The ranch hand is pointing at the entrance wound for the rifled slug.

When the hog was pulled from the brush and inspected, we discovered that he had a very hard life indeed.  Apparently, this hog got in a fight with another hog and lost big time.  Both of his ears had been chewed off and were maggot infested.  In addition, his testicles had suffered the same fate.

His upper arm had also been mauled and his shoulder was maggot infested as well.  The old fang marks are visible in the photo above.  This hog was garbage before we arrived and the ranch hands removed it to the disposal area.  The fang wounds vividly show what a human would suffer in an encounter with a wild hog.

We had dinner and went to a different blind for the evening hunt.  Like the previous night, dusk brought out the game.  The herd of goats had found us again and came into view.  Note the goat in the center has 4 horns; very odd.

In addition to many conventional deer, there were Axis deer on the property.  The deer were not afraid of the domestic horses.  We later saw the Axis buck and he was a beauty with horns that were as long has he was tall.  But, the light was fading and my little camera was not up to the task.

To our south along the fence line, the Ankole cattle were grazing.  Note the diameter of the horns on the cattle on the left of the photo above.  These are big cattle!

As night fell, a group of about 10 hogs came into range of our blind.  I shot first and scored a perfect hit just behind the ear;  a clean kill.

Hogs attempt to find a muddy wallow during the day and my hog was quite smelly.

Kathleen scored a few seconds later with another clean shot on this young sow.  Due to age, size and a healthy appearance, her hog would be our "meat hog".  Note my kill in the upper left of the photo above.  Both hogs were hit at about 95 yards.  We were both happy with the evening's results and despite the two kills, we stayed in the blind to see if I could meet my tag limit.  Kathleen already had 2 nice hogs, but I only one.  We saw nothing after our kills and returned to Thor for the night.  Our plan was to re-engage early the following morning.

A bow hunter was in the blind about 100 yards from us and saw nothing all night.  We were back in the blinds at about 0530 and at sunrise a group of big hogs came into range.  I shot this fellow at 105 yards with a single round.  I also shot a medium sized boar a bit further away; he was a little smaller and I did not take a photo.

Words cannot describe the overwhelming smell of this boar.  I had to force a smile and keep from gagging due to the wall of stench surrounding him.  After Kathleen shot this photo, I quickly moved upwind.

The ranch hands showed up with a UTV and transported the hog to the butchering area where he was weighed in.  The mixed breed hound on the right is one of the ranch's "hog dogs".  The dog was friendly to us, but I am sure that he is much less friendly to the hogs when hunting.  That is a massive dog.

My boar tipped the scales at nearly 200lbs, the largest hog shot during regular hunts while we were there.  A really nice kill.

Both Kathleen and I really enjoyed the hunt.  Our new rifles performed perfectly and repeatedly demonstrated their ability to drop the hogs in their tracks.  Since the last time we hunted with this outfit, they had built-out a new mess hall with nice leather seats and air conditioning.  And the food was great.

We closed out our tab and loaded the meat we planned to take. We gave the rest of our meat to the Wounded Warrior Project and other less-lucky hunters and headed east toward Port Arthur, TX.  Kathleen identified an RV park close to the water Port Arthur that had laundry facilities; we were sorely in need of some additional clean clothes.  When we arrived, the "jedette" park manager came out and told us that we could not stay there.  Since we both could see many open spaces, I inquired as to why we could not stay there.  She replied that "my boss has rules".  "What rule are we violating" I asked.  "Rules" she replied.  Again, I asked "Which specific rule is the issue: size, width, height; which one".  Her reply was "There are rules, sir, and that is that."  Undaunted, I pressed on, but she became flustered and terminated the conversation, questions unanswered.  I think the real issue was that she was intimidated by Thor and his brush scratches.  We went down the road a bit and found a place that was better and the staff friendly.  They were not intimidated by Thor, but rather reverential (as it should be).

Tomorrow, we will rendezvous with Bob and Kitty on the inter-coastal waterway south of Sulfur, LA.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2012, all rights reserved.
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