by Bill Adelman
Not all hog hunters are looking for that 350 pounder. In our case, the goal was to put a few white packages marked “pig” in our freezer adding to its quickly diminishing selection of wild game. Some hunters refer to smaller animals as meat hogs. Getting a 40 pounder on the ground and referring to it as a meat hog is akin to shooting a tiny forked horn and commenting on how well it will eat or what a great shot you made. NO, there’s nothing wrong with any of that. A friend with 20+ years of deer hunting behind him got his 1st buck just a week or so ago, a small mulie forkie. No mention of the fact that it wasn’t a 4X6 as we all were extremely pleased with his success. He certainly earned it. And speaking of earning it, Gerry & I have hunted hogs on a private property ranch for 20 years, spending at least a week, most times 2 weeks, hunting hogs. She has never gotten one while I’m sitting on a solid 3 kills.
In January, 2011, we worked the Fish Sniffer hunting booth at the Sac ISE show. Our neighbor was Hoss Hog Hunting Adventures. As we listened to Mike talk to prospective hunters, as well as others who had hunted with him and just had to recount their success, it began to sound more and more interesting as a hunting destination. During the last hour of the show we booked a trip with him. As it turned out, it was a wise decision, as our freezer is now smiling. Yes, we did get our meat hogs. No, we didn’t see that wall hanger, even from a distance. We did see a bunch of turkeys, and I’m not referring to the other 5 hunters or guide in our camp.
The plan was to arrive at the ranch, which is 17.7 miles west of Maxwell, at about 1 PM. When we arrived, Mike showed us our private room and we moved in. There is a free standing bathroom near the bunkhouse with a shower and hot water available. All electricity is generated by solar panels. The new playroom with a few mounts, a pool table, couches, tables and chairs is nearby. Behind this building is the cooking center with 3 BBQ’s and a 2 burner stove, all propane generated. This scene is overlooked from a shaded hammock. Out front is a fire pit with a grate off to one side. Mike was up at 5, making 3 pots of coffee and building a fire so that the grate would keep them warm. Is there a better way to awaken?
But, are we ever going to hunt? We had an orientation meeting and the other 4 hunters sighted in their rifles. As we hung around camp, I kept looking up the mountain at one of the steepest roads I’ve ever seen. Will I have to drive that? NO, thank heaven. Mike has a 4X4 2 seat Polaris Ranger with a roll bar. He took us up the hill first, about 2/3rds of the way. As we gathered our stuff he explained that we’d go through a gate and come to a split. There was a pole sign indicating the directions to pre set above ground blinds. We were to hunt the area around 5 & 6, and stay in that area until dark, then walk out and get picked up. No driving through the hunt area except to pick up game. The other hunters were also given the same directions for their areas. No problem locating our area, so we split up and set up. No pigs were spotted, however that evening around the campfire, one of the guys told us he was glassing a distant ridge, which happened to be right above our setup. You know he told us of a huge herd that was rooting about 150 yards above us. So why didn’t we see them? Our area was backed up by a solid growth of chemise & chaparral, interspersed with manzanita, firs, oaks & chokecherry. The hogs have more than enough ground to hide out and rest during the day. A day by the way, which was hot, way too hot for the end of October.
The next morning we split up, me returning to 5/6 while Gerry ventured over to 1 & 2. I did the ever popular poop-n-snoop through the oaks for about 1 1/2 hours. At the fence line I decided to climb the hill about 250 yards and hunt from whence I came towards the area where the pigs were the previous evening. The climb however, was as steep as the aforementioned road. Whew. My uphill destination was reached at 8.40 AM, and the next part of the plan was to hang on to a tree while I caught my breath. Didn’t dare sit, as upon arising, most likely would have slud 30 feet back down the hill. At 8.45 I heard a shot, and there was no doubt who it was. We touched bases with our radios and I advised I was on the way and for her to mark the spot with her new blaze cap. Back down the hill and off to 1/2. After calling again to get a location, she advised to approach with caution. My first pig was spotted, however a shot wasn’t in the cards. We joined up and I could hardly believe her story.
After she fired, a herd of pigs fed right to her spot and had her surrounded. Literally surrounded. She sat, and a piglet walked right up to her and sniffed her boot. Just a few feet away another larger hog was sniffing her brand new cap. Bad idea pal. They finally moved off, then 5 more walked right past. We searched the area for about 2+ hours with no sign of her hog being hit. Lunch. We returned to the same area about 3.00 PM, splitting up at a fork with Gerry headed towards blind 1 while I opted for 2. At the most, about 2 minutes had passed and I had just entered the manzanita grove when I spotted 5 hogs headed in my direction from the chemise. By the time I found a lane, I had but 1 option, so I took it. Further investigation indicated I fired about 2 feet from the spot where she had fired that morning. A quick radio message indicated we had one down and she said, “I’ll be right there”. As she worked through the oaks to my position, a herd of hogs worked through the zone between us. She whispered over the radio, “don’t move”. Shortly thereafter, I heard her shot. Back on the radio. “I got him”. Two down within 30 minutes.
Now here’s the kicker. Her flock didn’t move, rather continued to feed. As I walked within 20 yards of them, she approached from uphill. This time, we had them surrounded. After unpocketing my camera and getting some great pictures of feeding pigs, we finally walked over to her hog. Mike wasn’t supposed to come back until dark, so Gerry walked the road back to where she could get his attention in camp while I field dressed her pig. While doing so, another pig walked to within 10 yards of my chore and just stood there while deciding what I was. He then just walked around me and off into the brush. Back to camp, 2 pigs in hand, skinning and cleaning, bagging up and grabbing a cold beer. Could it get any better, and we had our meat hogs.
After sleeping in on Sunday morning clean up til 5.00AM, we enjoyed coffee with the guys before they ventured back into the hills, with but one moreanimal to be harvested. This morning, prior to burning up this keyboard, we checked out our first taste of sausage & eggs. Don’t even ask…my freezer is double locked. You can check out Mike’s program at HossHogHunting.com or give him a call at 916-606-4558. The hunt runs from Friday afternoon til about noon on Sunday. He sets you up, explaining the lay of the land, but doesn’t stay in the field as a guide. You bring your own food and do your own cooking. At this time, there is no refrigeration, so planning ahead with coolers and ice is in order. As I said…wild hogs galore.