Sunday, February 28, 2010

2nd pig of 2010, a big one!

Made a very quick run down to the land yesterday to try some hog eradication. If you want to skip the novel and go straight to the pictures they are down there a ways!

It was a beautiful day in West Texas, I was at the office working on some stuff I needed to get done, but it was 60 degrees, sunny and most importantly, the wind wasn't blowing. Looking out the window I couldn't take it anymore and decided I would run down to the land. Work could get done later. I Left the house at 2:00 and made it down to the land at 3:30, and was in the blind by 3:45.

About 4:45 a medium sized boar showed up and was checking out my protein feeder. It is fenced off to keep the pigs out, but he still seemed interested. I took a 175 yard shot with a rest and he took off running. Shot at him again on the run and when he got to the brush he slowed up and I thought he might have been limping. I had felt pretty good about the shot, but was 2nd guessing myself. I left the blind and worked downwind of him and looked around and didn't see a thing. Walked along where he had gone into the brush and didn't see any blood. Went back to the protein feeder about 200 yards away where I had shot and couldn't find any blood. Decided that I must have missed and went back to the blind about 5:30.

Usually the pigs start moving a little before sunset, but 6:00 rolled around and nothing, some coyotes started making quite a ruckus in the direction that the pig I had shot at went, so maybe I did hit him and the coyotes got him. 6:30 or so and the sun goes down, pretty cloudy so not much of a sunset. 7:00 and things are unusually quiet. I decided that it must be the full moon causing everything to sleep in later. I was about to call it a night when I saw a pig in my shooting lane food plot 300 yards away. It was right at the end of legal shooting light, and having just missed a 175 yard shot I decided to try to get closer. The pig was rooting my food plot and went behind a small cedar tree so it looked like I should have a good chance to get closer.

I was torn between getting there fast since it was getting pretty dark, and trying to be quiet. When I was in the blind I squealed a couple times as loud as I could while looking through the binoculars to see if the pig would get curious and head my way, but it never even looked my way. I could see dirt flying out behind him, so I figured he wasn't going to be paying much attention and leaned toward the get there fast option since it was really getting dark in a hurry.

I was walking down my shooting lane food plot trying to stick to the edge and trying to figure out where the pig was or if it was even still there. It was probably 10 minutes past shooting light but that doesn't really matter for pigs from a legal standpoint, but it does matter from whether you can see them to shoot them or not standpoint. I was about 100 yards away, maybe a little less and I heard the pig and he figured something was up. He moved into the center of the shooting lane and stopped. I had put my scope all the way down on 4x so it would be the most effective in the low light and the moon was up and that was helping too and I could just make the pig out in the scope. No time to really think about it, I just dropped to one knee, aimed and fired.

I heard the bullet hit and the pig went down. I'm not really hip on chasing pigs around in the dark, so I got ready to shoot again if he got up and started walking toward him. He was down hard and wasn't getting up. I recognized him as one of the larger boar hogs that I've been getting pictures of on my trail camera. It had been so dark that I thought it was a black pig, but he is actually a medium to light brown color.

Here's a picture of me with the pig.

I'm not a fan of the field photos where the guy stands way behind the animal so the animal looks bigger, but it almost seems like that is the way this one turned out. I took the picture on a timer with the camera sitting on my fanny pack and I think it must be the wide angle shot from the ground making it look that way. You can tell my arm holding the rifle is bent, and I was actually all the way up against the pig. My right had was actually holding his head up straight.

I was in my company trailblazer so I couldn't haul it up to my campsite and weigh it, but I would guess it right around 250lbs. I've shot 2 other large boars and both weighed in right around the 250lb mark. I always try to get a picture with a cooler in it to help give a better size perspective.

For comparison here's a 150lb pig from last week.
I didn't even notice the cutters until I started moving him around to start processing him. I think he may have the longest cutters of any pig I've shot. His right cutter was broken off though.
When I was cutting him up and getting him in the cooler I was shocked to find my bullet didn't pass through. I'm shooting a 7mm Rem Mag from 100 yards or less. The bullet was just a cheap soft point, but it actually held together really well. I hit him high and hit the spine, but I would have still expected a pass through.

Here's a link to the picture of the bullet. I'm not posting it as an image in the post because it is kind of graphic. If you want to look at it just click on the link.

The bullet is on the right side of the picture and was pretty much intact although it had mushroomed quite a bit. You can see the exit and you can see where the bullet put a dent in the skin trying to get out. Ignore the part where I wasn't wearing gloves, the entire trip was kind of an impromptu thing and I wasn't as prepared as I should have been.

Here's the explanation for why the bullet didn't pass through.

This pig had the thickest armor of any of the large boars that I've shot. It was easily 2" think and that wasn't even high up on the shoulder where it is the thickest. It went all the way down his spine nearly to his hindquarter. This isn't fat, it is almost as hard as bone, like really thick cartilage. The mature boars build up this plate of armor as a defense against the razor sharp cutters of other boars when they are fighting. Really amazing how these mature boars are put together.

Oh well, this ended up being quite the novel. If you read it all, I hope you enjoyed it. It was a pretty fun hunt. Left the house at 2:00 and was back home at 10:30.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Game camera pictures.

Okay, I thought I had looked through the game camera pictures and didn't see anything interesting, but when I went back through them I found a new buck that really looks promising. He's a 9 point this year and I would guess him to be a 3 1/2 year old. Not sure if he will stick around until next hunting season, and he isn't quite as nice as the 3 1/2 year old 11 point that I passed up during this season, but he should be a very respectable buck next year.

On first glance I would have to say that he must share some heritage with the buck that I had named Double Wide. If Double Wide wasn't his daddy, then he must have been his brother. Maybe I should call him DW jr.
The bucks are starting to use the protein feeder, but not like usual for this time of year. I guess the combination of the wetter than usual winter and the food plots that turned out really good this year is making them less dependent on the protein pellets. Last year I was going through 300lbs of pellets every 3 weeks, this year I only added 50lbs the last month. Here's a decent group at the feeder together.
The pigs are coming around pretty regularly. I got pictures of 2 different sounders that both had over a dozen pigs in them. I saw 2 pig beds where they had made a nest to have their babies when I was stomping around trying to spook up some quail this weekend. It really is amazing how nice and neat they make their beds, they tear up grass and layer it all around the perimeter. It ends up looking like a giant birds nest on the ground. I should have taken some pictures.

This is the biggest boar that I've got coming around on a regular basis. I would guess he is in the 200lb range.
The brown one in the middle of this picture is about the same size. He has a huge scar on his right side probably from fighting with another boar over a hot momma pig!
I think the guy in the middle in this picture was the one I shot this weekend. Looked about like this group when they came in, and he was the biggest of the group.
When I was cutting him up and putting him in the cooler it was already dark and I could hear the other pigs wanting to come back to the feeder. Some of them didn't sound really happy and the piglets would squeal occasionally. Actually made me a little nervous.

I really need to get some kind of night vision scope or something because they are very comfortable in the dark, they were probably within 100 yards of me and I had my car right there and was working with a light on, so they knew I was there. They probably hung around grunting and crashing through the brush for 10 or 15 minutes and decided I was taking too long so they must have went somewhere else. A thermal imaging scope would be AWESOME but the cheapest one I've found was $8,400 so I don't think I need one that bad.

Couple other pictures that I thought were neat. We've had more snow this year than any time I can remember living here over 20 years now. They said it was the 5th white Christmas in Lubbock's history. Here's a Christmas eve doe.

This guy is not a huge buck or anything, just a standard 2 1/2 year old 9 point, but I really thought the sky in the background made this picture turn out neat.

I really think these trail cameras are so neat. Amazing what you can see out there when you have someone looking for you 24/7/365.

That's it for now.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

First pig of 2010.

I got a chance to go down to the land this weekend and picked up my first pig of 2010. Nice, medium sized boar.

The cooler is just over 2' long for size perspective. This guy came in with 3 large sows and several smaller pigs of various sizes and I just picked out the largest one and pulled the trigger. My guess (based on weighing other similar sized pigs) would be just under 150lbs.

I actually didn't make a very good shot on him, although he dropped in his tracks. Hit about 6" forward from where I was aiming at 140 yards. After the shot one piglet actually hung around long enough for me to get another shot off and I missed it. Not sure if I pulled the shot or if my scope is off again. I guess I'm going to have to put some time in at the range and get it figured out.

Here's a picture from my hunting blind after I shot the pig. You can see the pig smack dab under the feeder! My blind is 140 yards from the feeder and about 60 feet higher. Occasionally I will end up putting a spot and stalk on some pigs if they are in one of the fields, but generally I wait for them to show up at the feeder. With only 160 acres to hunt it's pretty hard to go find the pigs, you have to get them to come to you. With deer, the mature bucks have the feeders figured out, so you have to figure out where else they might be.

I also ended up shooting a couple quail, as well as checking my trail cameras. Nothing too exciting, but I'll probably post of few of them. One of my cameras ended up getting wet so I'm hoping it is repairable. I remembered on my way home that I had turned off the camera at the feeder where I shot the pig and forgot to turn it back on after I had the pig cut up and in the cooler.

Oh well, that's it for now. I think I'm going to try to make some ham out of this one.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Side Yard Mule Deer

Okay, these guys weren't exactly in the yard, they actually weren't on "our" property, but it is only about a 600 yard walk over to where they were.

There are sure getting to be more and more deer around, that's for sure. In the first 5 or 6 years we lived out here we saw 3 deer total, all years combined. Now It's getting to where I can see some deer about anytime I want to take a little walk. Last time I counted 8 and this time I saw 10.

The largest buck and a couple does ran off before I got a chance to take any pictures. There were 3 others down in the bottom that I took pictures of also, but I thought this group of 4 turned out the best.

I think if it was just me they might stick around a little longer, but my dogs have been going with me and the deer aren't sticking around long. About time to go.And they're off.. They really didn't run off that fast, just a nice trot. I'm hoping I'm not spooking them too badly that they will quit bedding down there. They have been pretty consistent the last couple months. I thought this picture with the cliff looked pretty cool.
Oh well, not much of a post. Just went out for a walk, took some pictures and thought I would share.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Now I need to decide on a scope.

Okay, I think I'm going to go with the Rock River Arms Varmint A4 flat top model with a 20" stainless steel bull barrel.

Now I have to decide what I'm going to top it with....

The ACOG scopes are very interesting, but I'm just not sure how well they are going to be for long distances. I regularly see coyotes from 300 - 450 yards that I would like to be able to reach out and touch with some confidence and the ACOGs are only 4X or 5.5X magnification versus 10X - 16X on a traditional scope.

The ACOG sounds like it would be perfect for lighting up a sounder of hogs on the run though!

I'm mainly looking at the 4X 32mm version. Here's a picture of it.

In all reality most shots I would be taking would be within 200 yards and the ACOG should be fine for that range. I doubt it would be up for 400+ yard shots at prarie dogs though like I could probably play around with with a 4-16X 50mm Nikon Monarch.

Pretty much just looks like a standard rifle scope.

The ACOG would be better in low light from what I understand and no doubt it wins in the "coolness" department. ;-)

I better slow down on my research, at this rate I might actually end up buying something before next year!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Decisions, decisions...

Well, after sitting in my hunting blind and watching 2 bobcats walk by me at 125 yards but not wanting to punch big holes in them with my 7mm Mag I've been debating on getting something else to use specifically for varmints (coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, maybe even pigs).

I've been researching buying an AR-15 style gun and it is pretty daunting. There are literally MILLIONS of different choices out there. Dozens of manufacturers and all of the parts are pretty much interchangeable. Buying the parts and building your own is an option that many folks end up going with. I kind of like the camouflage stocks and stainless steel barrels though, and there aren't that many options in those. Most manufacturers are even putting them out in several different calibers instead of just .223 or .308 now as well.

I'm leaning toward Remington's R-15 in .223/5.56mm with a 24" stainless steel barrel. Here's a picture of one:

I know the last thing you should be use to decide on whether to buy a gun or not is based on looks, but I really like the way the camo guns look and there is a chance that the camo may help me when I'm out coyote hunting vs a big black gun.

Bushmaster makes a camo version as well but they don't have stainless barrels and I'm all about low maintenance. They do have a 2 stage trigger that sounds like a step up from the Remington though. Here's the Bushmaster:

If I wasn't stuck on the camo versions, Rock River Arms has about the best reputation for AR-15 style guns and they make a varmint gun with a 20" stainless steel bull barrel that runs about the same cost as the camo versions from Remington and Bushmaster. It also has a 2 stage trigger that should help with accuracy. Here's the Rock River Arms varmint gun.

Of course deciding on the gun is just the start, then I need to decide on a scope to go with it. If I stick to my usual timeline on making decisions maybe I'll decide one way or the other by this time next year!

If anyone has any input one way or the other I'm all ears.

Thanks, Nathan