A mid-summer's hog hunt
By Luke Clayton
Jul 23, 2018
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It’s been mighty hot the past couple of weeks, you don’t need to look to my outdoor column to learn this fact, I’m sure. But, for those of us that love the challenge of hunting wild hogs and are experiencing a bit of summer “cabin fever” because of the heat, we can devise a way to get out and attempt to collect some fresh pork, regardless the weather! 

Granted, no hog (or hog hunter) would be up and moving during the sweltering mid-day or late afternoon heat, but it’s possible to hunt the last hour or so of daylight and into the early hours of night when temperatures are at least “tolerable.”

My friend Jeff Rice and his wife Demi own their “Buck and Bass Ranch,” situated on a ridge on the upper end of Lake Fork. The adjacent bottomland is home to a heavy population of wild porkers and some bruiser whitetail bucks as well. I became friends with the Rice’s while at a signing for my book, Kill to Grill at the Ben Wheeler Wild Hog Festival. Jeff and I share a passion for the outdoors and we’ve enjoyed many outings together the past couple of years, several of which you’ve read about right here.

Through the years and just for fun, I keep a “running list” of five friends that I consider to be outstanding hunters. I would never divulge their ranking on this list but after spending a lot of time hunting with Jeff, I will say that his skill ranking is high. Jeff has taken a wild boar with a spear from a tree stand, which he filmed. He also self-filmed himself sneaking within five feet of a bedded coyote, one of the wariest animals in the woods.

To guys like Jeff and I, a hunt -- any hunt -- is more than an opportunity to kill game meat for the freezer; it’s a celebration of the hunting lifestyle. This includes a meal, almost always of some sort of game meat. On this hunt, we had some smoked links made from wild pork, skillet baked beans seasoned with bacon, garlic and jalapeno and “store bought” potato salad. The meal was prepared before the hunt so that all we needed to do was warm up the links and beans and begin our feast. Breakfast was some homemade chorizo sausage and eggs, rolled into corn tortillas. It’s tough to have the time to devote to cooking on a short hunt; much better to have the food prepped and ready ahead of time.

Jeff’s goal was to use his new Cold Steel throwing spear and hunt from the ground. I had my 45 caliber Airforce Airguns “Texan” loaded with big 350 grain lead bullets by Hunter’s Supply. I have the rifle topped with a Photon XT digital night scope. I have taken a lot of hogs with this rig and like the fact that the Photon can be used day or night.

Luke's friend Jeff Rice is a rabid hog hunter who loves a good challenge; he's taken a wild boar with a spear while setting in a tree stand. On a recent hunt with Luke, he tries luck hunting from the ground. photo by Luke Clayton

Jeff’s plan was to use the elevation of the land to his advantage. He positioned himself in a depression in close proximity to a corn feeder, hoping to use the rise in terrain to conceal his stalk when porkers appeared at the feeder. What’s that saying about “the best laid plans of mice and men?”

As luck would have it, Jeff had a dominate boar show up at the feeder and like all mature wild animals, this one somehow sensed Jeff’s presence. He never totally spooked, but Jeff said he watched him circle the area “huffing” all the while, never coming within spear range. While Jeff was attempting to harvest his pork in the most challenging way, I was seated in a comfortable chair in a blind situated close to another corn feeder that the trail camera evidenced had been frequented heavily by hogs.

We had agreed to meet back at camp just after dark and hunt a feeder situated about 160 yards from the cabin. Earlier that afternoon, we set a Game Alert Module under the barrel of the feeder. I’ve used the Game Alert by Hogman Outdoors successfully on many hunts. The unit is a sophisticated motion detector with a red light that comes on when game is around the feeder. The sole purpose of the unit is to alert the hunter that it’s time to get ready to make the shot. This really makes night hunting more relaxing. The hunter just keeps an eye on the feeder and when the light comes on, gets ready to make his shot. 

As Jeff approached the cabin, spear in hand, he noticed the red light was on. He needed light to be effective with his spear but his 300 Blackout rife topped with a Photon scope was on the cabin porch. No need to pass up some fresh pork when the opportunity arises! As I entered the camp area from the opposite direction I too noticed the red light indicating hogs were present. About the same time, I heard the report of Jeff’s rifle. Isn’t that the way it goes?

As Jeff often states, “You can sit at the picnic table in front of the cabin and watch that feeder 65 yards back in the trees and kill hogs every night.” Later that evening, we enjoyed our meal and talked about past hunts and those to come.

Listen to “Outdoors with Luke Clayton and Friends” on radio stations from Nebraska to Texas or anytime online at www.catfishradio.org.