Thanksgiving Day, I awoke early (at 3 a.m.) and made the drive to Red River WMA for a day of bow hunting before the woods became filled with the weekend gun crowd.
I set up with my recurve on a spot with a few close trails.
It was my second-ever traditional hunt and, after practicing hours a day for months, I was confident of making a kill within 20 yards. I figured I could still make a lethal shot within 30 yards if the opportunity arose with my self-taught "three finger under, half gap/half instinctive" shooting method.
My ability beyond 20 was about to be tested.
Sure enough, after a few hours I heard hogs moving through the thicket I was hunting. They were fighting with one another in a water hole that I couldn't see. Pigs were squealing and my heart was pounding as I saw the first of many hogs heading my way.
The hogs approached straight on, veering slightly from the side. A few pigs walked too far away, but one big oinkster walked through a small gap 23 yards away. I drew and let the arrow fly, and I watched it sail perfectly through a few branches and into the hog.
Seconds later, I heard the big pig rolling in the leaves out of view. Amped beyond belief, I couldn't wait to find my pig.
After seeing little blood and no arrow, I decided to wait 4 hours before the track. I switched weapons and took my 12-gauge loaded lethal T shot Wingmaster HD shells.
I thought the pig was struck well, but this was one mean hog after hearing all the smaller pigs being bullied out of the water hole earlier in the day. Not wanting it to be me squealing from wrath this angry swine, I kept my gun ready and steady on the track.
I turned on my head cam, which I used to film the morning hunt, and seconds later I saw my big hog lying dead.
However, before I could even celebrate I was in the midst of yet another chase: The instant I heard hogs nearby, I did what I always do.
Instantly, I kicked it in high gear, moving upwards of my 25 mph top-end speed. I was able to close the distance from 75 yards to 25 yards in about 10 seconds, finding one small shooting hole through the thick tangle of woods.
I knocked down the third of the three hogs in his tracks with one shot.
This is the second big hog I knocked down on the run with one shot using these 3 ½-inch high-powered shells that toss out 51 pellets of tungsten.
It was a rush like none other, and the odds of stumbling upon hogs at the very moment I found my bow kill was astronomical.
At first I was upset I wasn't able to knock down more of the three hogs, but after realizing I had 350 pounds of pork to drag 1.6 miles out of the woods I was glad I only shot the smaller of the three.
I attempted to drag both hogs at once, but found out I'd still be in the woods at midnight — along with a broken back, at that, as it took me nearly an hour just to make it 200 yards.
I dragged the smaller, 125-pound bore first, and then went back to cart out the bigger 225-pound sow.
It was a Thanksgiving to remember, as my brother and wife drove up to the camp while I was skinning the hogs that night.
Since I haven't been able to capture worthy footage using my Contour HD head cam, I'm switching to a Bowpix. It is a lightweight device that screws into my compound and recurve bow's stabilizer hole, allowing me to connect a lightweight camera. It films at the exact spot the bow is pointed, as well as having the ability to zoom and angle with ease.
I hope I can capture some better footage soon.
For the WMA gun hunts, I stuck to mostly bow hunting and didn't see any deer in range. Three of my friends killed does and let a few small bucks along with a momma doe with yearling walk. My best friend was able to see three bucks, one being a really nice 8 pointer fighting in a thicket. Unfortunately, he was given no shot with his 20-gauge loaded with buckshot.
I found out on doe day it doesn't always pay to walk too far. It may seem odd, but walking farther than one mile may be counterproductive, as you'll be coming across hunters entering from other trails. Apparently there are back trails everywhere on these management areas.
I find the smartest and safest approach is talking to other hunters parked nearby to find out how everyone can hunt the same section without messing each other up. Just about every hunter I chat with has no problems, figuring out a mutually beneficial solution and times of starting and ending their hunts.
This past weekend on the Bayou Cocodrie WMA lottery gun hunts, the full moon was high all night with hot conditions. Not ideal by any means, but I stuck it out in the stand and hunted practically all day for the three days.
Laura and I saw a bunch of animals but weren't able to capitalize with any kills. The deer and hogs kept coming out just minutes before shooting hours ended, but stayed in cover. Lining up anything through the palmettos or button brush in dim light made it nearly impossible to get off any shots.
Of course, minutes later they walked in the open as though they somehow knew when shooting hours ended. Slick animals, indeed.
My midday hours were unproductive in the heat, but there isn't anything I rather be doing than being in the woods waiting for a trophy.
Though I didn't kill, I gave a buddy who had never hunted the area before some advice. He was able to kill a doe and 3-point, while his friend killed a doe.
Glad someone was knocking them down.
I'll be back to bow hunting there the coming weekends, hoping the pre-rut and some on coming cold fronts can produce a buck.