Saturday, December 3, 2011

Texas hog hunt

Every few years we pack the car and take a drive down to Texas to see our kids and my two brothers. One of my brothers lives in El Paso, about 2,400 miles from Cape Cod, so this is no light undertaking.

My other brother, Alan, lives with his wife, Mary, on a ranch east of San Antonio. Because my wife, Mary, makes for two Mary Hunts, we call her Mary Lyn to keep them straight.

I wrote a piece about Alan called O Brother, Where Aren't Thou, which explains a lot about his obsessions and is a pretty funny read. With more than 300 notches on his headboard for (not what you think) feral hog kills, it's always fun and interesting to accompany him on a late night hunt to control the population of these extremely destructive animals. The first two nights of our stay were too windy even for the most stalwart hunters, which left two more opportunities to show off our hunting skills before Mary Lyn and I had to start the trip back to the Cape.

The third day turned out to be picture perfect: Cool and clear with little wind. The temperature would be dipping into the thirties, so I dressed appropriately. Starting with long johns, I wore two pair of socks, jeans, a t-shirt, two long-sleeved shirts, field jacket, boots, and camo gloves and cap. I walked out of the house ala John Wayne for lack of movement in all of those clothes.

Gear for the hunt included binoculars, night vision goggles, a .308 rifle with a night scope, and a .44 magnum revolver. Alan traded his Kawasaki four wheel drive "Mule" for an electric all-terrain Club Car, which eliminated the problem of a loud engine announcing your arrival to the feral hogs from three miles away.

We hauled the Club Car in Alan's pickup to a neighbor's ranch who had just sustained major damage to a field from a sounder of hogs a night or two before. Alan clicked the night vision goggles into his head gear and we drove out across the pastures with no light other than a quarter moon that was rising from the horizon.

We settled on a location under the shade (something that could be clearly distinguished with the night vision goggles) of a tree in the field that had been heavily rooted by the onion grass eating pigs.

The night was crisp and quiet. Once in awhile a cow's moo could be heard from a distant field. Packs of coyotes started howling which triggered a response from their ranch dog kin. Then we heard a squeal. That was why we were there. We were completely silent, listening for more evidence of hogs nearby. Unfortunately, they never came.

Unlike what you are led to believe by watching hunting shows, there are many more nights like this one than those that produce a kill, or even an opportunity to shoot. After a couple of hours, we called it a night and headed back to the ranch house.

On our last night there, temperatures were even chillier and we made the decision to let the hogs have a night off while we tuned into A&E Television to watch Lady Hoggers

1 comment:

  1. A "Sounder of Hogs". Awesome Randy.!!! That is entirely new for me.

    I'll check with my hog huntin' neighbors to hear if that is acceptable hog huntin' nomenclature here in SW FL. We have much hog damage here, even into the neighborhood.

    Peter the Crank

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