By David Parrish
If you’ve ever sat around a campfire telling hunting stories, the subject of Texas hogs has probably come up. You’ve no doubt heard tell of both the fantastic and the failures involved in seeking and destroying these fast-moving, land-ravaging beasts.
Being quick and elusive, it’s usually only when the setting is just right that these porkers are easily put down. I’ve shot many a pig on Texas ranches, including in my own backyard, and I’ve used a variety of caliber to do it. Even the occasional bow. But being up for a challenge, I set out to try something new; hunt; piggies with a handgun.
My weapon of choice: Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Magnum single action revolver loaded with Barnes .44 Magnum 225 grain HP factory ammo. My Ruger’s topped with a Picatinny rail and a Burris FastFire III red dot sight. The sight takes some getting used to so I was happy to shoot several boxes of Barnes while working out my issues.
The .44 Magnum can be a tad intimidating, but it’s the minimum caliber I’d use for pigs. It really doesn’t take much to get used to and pinging steel at 100 yards with that red dot isn’t difficult from a bench or shooting sticks.
After a few weeks of diligent practice shooting from seated, standing and kneeling positions, I figured I was ready. Practicing shots from odd angles and stances prepares you for the unknown. Pigs never seem to cooperate and that perfect bench shot is rarely an option. It’s always a sudden swing left or right just off-center that seems to be the case, at least for me.
Thinking I was well prepared, I scheduled a pig hunt at my favorite swine smashing ranch, the Kaian Vista Ranch in Lometa, Texas. I put on a full camo ghille suit and face mask for the event, much like a turkey hunt. The shot I was planning would be close up and personal. Close enough to smell them…or get gored by a real bruiser of a boar.
I sat and watched just about every species that walked off Noah’s Arc come stroll by, but not one single pig. It was just one of those days. Later that afternoon we saw pics of pigs all over the other side of the ranch. So that’s where we headed for the evening hunt. Watching the sun set and the light dim I didn’t spot a single hog.
Next morning I setup again, nestled in some trees and brush near a well-known pig party location. Again, not a single sighting. Feeling frustrated, the ranch owner decided to make this a real hunt and go out after the pigs at night.
My pistol at the ready, we zig-zagged through the ranch’s open and treed areas in a Polaris Ranger in search of sausage fixins. After about 45 minutes, the lights cutting through the darkness and exposing every type of wild life…PIGS!
Slumbering under a cedar tree, about 10 porkers lurched up and started quartering away from the lights of the oncoming Polaris. We gave chase. At full speed, we approached the pigs and matched their pace and trajectory. I picked out a likely target, took shaky aim in the bouncing Polaris and BOOM!
The first shot missed and kicked up dirt near a sow. The small herd suddenly shifted direction and we did as well. The sights were difficult to find with all the movement so I went full cowboy, relying on instinct shooting.
A nice young boar was now positioned on the edge of the herd. My new target was in a serious hurry to get away from the Ranger but we stayed with him. Nearly 20 yards away from the front passenger tire, I held on to the bouncing vehicle with one hand leaned out, cocked the single action Ruger and squeezed one off. The .44 Mag Barnes slammed into the pig’s hindquarter sending him sideways then skidding to a stop. I really have to work on this shot, but the result was a downed pig.
High fives and fist bumps ensued as we celebrated. Back at the campsite I cleaned and prepared him for the processor and eventually the breakfast table. While skinning the boar I noticed the slug was still embedded in the chest fat just under the skin. I recovered the round and cleaned it up for examination.
The slug weighed 224.9 grains after traveling through the left leg of the pig, including a leg bone, into and all the way through the body cavity shredding everything in its path. It finally stopped after dumping its final bit of energy through the breastplate and resting in the fat just beneath the skin. That’s 99.95% weight retention with nearly perfect petals.
That single well-engineered Barnes round turned a less-than-perfect shot at a fast-moving target into pounds of sausage and bacon. Not a bad trade.