Wanting to escape city life for a day or two, I took my then 10-y/o and 8-y/o daughters to Lonesome Boar Adventures in Mountain Home, Texas. This wasn’t a hunting trip so much as getting my girls onto a ranch, out into nature, under dark skies, and having some adventures. But I ended up having an incredibly fun hunting adventure of my own while we were there.
First, a bit of family stuff. My 10-y/o drove the side-by-side all over the property. We saw bison, oryx, axis deer, red deer, whitetail deer, wild hogs, mangalitsa pigs, rabbits, and more.
We hiked a lot. We explored a riverbed looking for arrowheads and neat rocks. There are some amazing cliffs and other geological features on the Lonesome Boar Adventures property.
There’s also a spring-fed river that runs right by the house. The water is cool and crisp and crystal clear. We went swimming and looked for fossilized dinosaur tracks in the riverbed (they’re there).
We explored some caves in the cliff face near a big overhang where arrowheads, spear points, and other artifacts have been found.
The girls did pretty well stalking up on some red deer hinds, some whitetail does, and they even got close enough to a mangalitsa before leaping at it and nearly touching its rump. They were excited by their braveness and stealth, which was cool.
We sat in the bed of the side-by-side late at night and I used the Crimson Trace CMR-301 Rail Master Pro green laser on my AR to point out constellations to the girls.
We rode around in the safari Wrangler and my oldest sat on my lap and got some driving lessons in that bad boy. She did great!
Okay! Sorry, sorry. Y’all are here for the hunting stories, right? Let’s get into it, then . . .
The girls were having so much fun that we stayed an extra day and night out at the ranch. That night, though, they were pretty tired and opted to stay in with the barn cats and watch a movie while I went out after hogs.
You can’t really tell in this photo, but I’ve parked the side-by-side effectively inside of a big ol’ bush. The Lonesome Boar crew told me that a sounder of wild hogs was frequenting the clearing in front of those two tall trees, behind the big bush that you can see in-between and in front of them in the photo above.
As per the usual arrangement, the feral hogs tend to wake up around dusk. Anticipating them while I still had sufficient light, I posted up inside the SxS with my Black Collar Arms Pork Sword SBR. On this trip it was a 12-inch 6.5 Creedmoor with an AB Suppressor Raptor 8 out front and a SIG SAUER SIERRA6 BDX 2-12x scope on top.
Though I had loaded ballistic info into the scope, activating an illuminated fiber optic holdover dot for each of 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, and 600 yards, I had no plans to use any of that since the clearing was right at 100 yards away.
Sitting there still and silent for the better part of an hour leading up to sunset, I saw quite a few really nice whitetail. The weather was great and I was perfectly comfortable in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans.
As it began to get dark, and having yet to see or hear any sign of hogs, I debated readying my thermal optic-equipped rifle. Having failed to plan appropriately, of course, it was in the bed of the SxS in its zippered case. Given my luck, I figured that the second I stood up, made noise, and started to walk around the SxS to get the gun from the back, it would be at that very moment that the hogs would break into the clearing and they’d hear me and get spooked.
So…I waited. And I got worried. I was perhaps five minutes away from it being legitimately too dark to make a shot, despite the great glass in this optic, but at the same time the closer it got to dark, the more likely it became that the sounder of hogs would break into the clearing any second.
Then it happened. I kid you not, just as I was turning to exit the SxS I heard a snort. Then a few snorts. Then a dozen or more hogs broke into the clearing.
I had just enough light to see them as darker shadows on the not-as-dark background. I could tell by how they moved that they were wild pigs, not mangalitsa pigs, and could judge their relative sizes by their silhouettes.
As they exited the brush line on the left side of the clearing and moved left-to-right across it, I got enough of a look to judge that the lead hog appeared to be the largest right as it moved behind the big bush. Thankfully, it was only a few seconds before it came out the other side.
Literally as dark now as it could possibly be for me to be capable of seeing the target, I put the center aiming dot (the illumination level of which was turned down way low, obviously, but if it weren’t illuminated I would not have been able to take this shot) on the walking silhouette’s shoulder and pulled the trigger.
Pig down! I saw it drop and it was as still as could be. At least as far as I could tell through the scope from 100 yards away at night.
I flipped the side-by-side’s light bar on, grabbed my rifle, and jogged over to the hog to make sure. Yes, she was morbidly deceased and hadn’t moved an inch from where she had stood.
Time for the obligatory photos. You know, I gotta create TTAG content and such. So I walked back to the SxS and drove it over.
First, the gun in front of the animal photo. Check.
Then the hunter with the animal photo. Tricky…I didn’t get the lights quite right on that one.
Ahha! The old fashioned ghost photo look. Love it.
So I walked back the approximately 30 feet to the SxS and sat down behind the steering wheel. I look at the photos and thought…ehhh…good enough. Just as I was about to fire up the engine to drive over to collect my rifle and attempt to hoist the sow into the bed, I heard something.
No. Freaking. Way. The sounder of pigs was back! They were in the clearing just in front of the tree line some 40-ish yards past my downed hog.
I was in the side-by-side….and my rifle was 30 feet away sitting on the ground in front of the hog. With the headlights and roof lights on, everything including the dozen or more hogs was lit up and fully visible.
I got out as slowly and as quietly as I could, took a few steps, and the pigs hadn’t noticed. I know as soon as I pass the front of the SxS, though, my shadow will cast on them and the game will be over. There was no sneaking over to my rifle.
So I sprinted. I ran as fast as I could toward the rifle and crashed down on one knee in front of it, ripping it from the ground and up to my shoulder. I already had a round chambered since I had racked the next one in immediately after firing the original shot at the sow, so all I had to do was flip the safety off and get a sight picture.
The hogs were on the run. Blurs of black were streaking in disorganized fashion generally toward the right and the ones in front were already entering the cedar trees. A mass of roiling pig movement somehow coalesced into an identifiable individual and I popped off a shot.
One of the great things about shooting suppressed is that you know, near instantly, whether you’ve made a good hit. I heard the clear SMACK of bullet on pig while the rifle was still recoiling. That was immediately followed by the squealing of a mortally wounded feral hog as I was racking the next round into the chamber. But by then, all of the pigs were gone.
I jogged over to the injured piggy to find a fairly grisly sight. The hog was laying on its side and the darn thing’s guts had blown out of its body. There was smoke coming out of the hole in its belly. A photo is HERE if you want to see what I walked up on (minus visible smoke as I took the photo much later, after the adventure still to come).
Assuming I had gut-shot it, I put a round into the base of its skull, killing it instantly. I stood next to the pig, catching my bearings and preparing to flip it over to see where my first shot had impacted.
Then I heard it. Un-freaking-believable. Oinking and snorting in the cedar trees not 10 yards away. The pigs were still there!
Another benefit of shooting suppressed is that the animals often don’t know where the threat is coming from. Sometimes they’ll freeze up, sometimes they’ll run toward you. This explains why the sounder ran generally right, rather than straight away from me, and in a somewhat circular and disjointed fashion. And, I suppose, why they didn’t go very far.
So I pulled my flashlight out of my pocket, grabbed my rifle, and took off into the cedar brush.
And I jogged. And I stalked. And I stopped and listened. And I sprinted. I chased that dang sounder of pigs for the next 20 or 30 minutes. I kept hearing them for most of that time and knew I was hot on their trail. It was either crashing in the brush or it was oinking or it was both.
The cedar brush is dense and peppered with cacti and rocks. I bobbed and weaved under the branches that I didn’t plow through and somehow magically avoided any cactus-related incidents.
At one point I lost them. I went about five minutes without hearing anything and I figured they were long gone. As was I. I was now officially very hot and sweaty and tired of holding my rifle at low ready with my flashlight gripped against the handguard thinking that somehow there was any chance that I’d find the skills necessary to spot the pigs, raise the rifle, keep the light on the pigs, see them through the scope, and make a good shot.
And then my flashlight died. Right at that moment. Lord knows how far away from the side-by-side, having run wildly through cedar brush for 20-something minutes, now well past sunset and in full dark. I didn’t even have my phone, having left that in the SxS when I jumped out of it earlier. Thankfully there was an approximately three-quarter moon, and out in that part of Texas that means enough light to cast a shadow.
I took off my sweatshirt, my eyes adjusted, and I began the hike back toward the SxS. I startled a few deer — I think they were axis — who waited for me to get almost on top of them before they leapt away, which I’m pretty sure startled me a lot worse. That got my heart going again.
Thankfully I hit one of the ranch’s service “roads” very quickly, and I knew it would take me back pretty close to where the SxS was. I’d guess I covered approximately a quarter mile before I was back in the clearing. The weather was gorgeous, the air was clean, and the night was quiet. It’s hard to express how much I enjoyed that hike and replaying my mad sprint through the cedar brush in my mind.
I hopped in the SxS, which, lucky for me, still had enough juice in the battery to start up even though I had left all the lights on when I took off into the trees. I drove it over to the second hog I had downed.
Flipping it over I was happy to see that I had actually hit the guy in the shoulder. It wasn’t perfect or anything, but at least I hadn’t gut-shot it.
Turned out it was quartering toward me and the bullet went in just behind the pig’s left shoulder and exited just in front of its right hip. Given the snap shot on a mass of sprinting hogs, I’ll take it.
I kid you not, if the big sow I shot was two pounds heavier I would not have been able to get her into the bed of the SxS on my own. It took absolutely 100% of my strength and ability to lift her up onto her butt, squat down to bear hug her around the chest with my arms under hers, stand up, and attempt to body slam her into the pickup truck-like rear bed.
I got her a little more than half-way in and then went full hulk rage to get her bottom half up over the edge, knowing that if I didn’t get it done on the first attempt there wasn’t going to be a second attempt. Phew.
The photo above was taken later, just before we hung her up to butcher her. This is literally where the term “piggyback” comes from, by the way, as native hunters (African tribes, if I remember correctly?) would often carry their pig hunt prizes this way.
Anyway, I came back to the ranch house looking more or less like you’d expect and finding my girls still awake, halfway through a second movie with both of the barn cats quite happily on the couch with them. They came out at my request to see the hog and to watch some of the butchering process, which they didn’t love, but they did have some desire to understand.
Rather than fully butchering it, we quartered the hog and removed the backstraps. I’ve been told by a few folks that wild hogs over about 80 lbs aren’t worth attempting to eat, as they start to get gross in multiple ways. But I took the meat anyway.
You see, my butcher — Matt at Republic Butcher Company in Round Rock, Texas — has some real skills including a background in catering and chefing. He said he can make any wild hog delicious and I took him at his word.
My sow from this hunt turned into a bit over 40 pounds of sausage. Italian sausage (links), garlic smoked sausage (links), Jimmy Dean style breakfast sausage (ground), and maple habanero breakfast sausage (ground).
It’s good. Like, high-end store-bought, legitimately incredibly good. My kids love it. My girlfriend’s kids are picky about things and they love it (outside of the spicy one). It’s fantastic sausage and you’d never guess it came from a big ol’ gross wild boar.
The following morning, before leaving, we posted up behind a little berm to do some target practice.
I made a first-round hit on a small piece of steel 400 yards away, using the illuminated holdover in the reticle. Very nice.
It was that round plate with about three-quarters of it exposed over the leaning piece of plywood.
The kids did a little shooting, too, both with the 6.5 CM Pork Sword and with my .22 LR CZ 455. We shot suppressed, of course, which makes everything better.
It was nice to see a dirty, well-loved gun when I went to package it back up in the Savior Equipment Fiddle Master case.
Incidentally, the Pork Sword with folding Stock Option folded and up to a 20-inch barrel can fit in that case. Or a 16-inch barrel with quite a few popular suppressor options. So very cool.
And that’s it. Big thanks to Ryan and the team at Lonesome Boar Adventures for an absolutely amazing weekend. My girls loved their time on the ranch as much as I did, and it was really great to be out there with them. It was the first trip I’ve taken with my girls without their mom and without it being for the purpose of visiting family. Just the three of us, out on an adventure, and it was fantastic.
As the cherry on top, I also had my best, “funnest” hunting experience on this same trip. And put over 40 pounds of meat in the freezer to boot! Amazing.