Look for a ‘hog mattress’ if you’re searching for a hit pig
October was another great month of hog action for me. I had to put down the shotgun for the first week of bow season until small game opened, so I focused on getting some bow-harvested pigs.
Right after winning my 100-mile race, I went in the woods on R.K. Yancey Wildlife Management Area and decided to stalk hunt nine hours in the 90-degree heat just one day after finishing the longest race of my life. After all my ultra-marathons and marathons, I immediately go hunting and fishing because for me the finish line isn’t enough. Most racers relax and celebrate — I celebrate by enjoying more time in the outdoors doing what I love most.
I could hardly move, but forced my legs to hobble along. It would’ve been easy to just relax in a tree stand, but to toughen up for future ultra-marathons against some of the most elite competitors in the nation, sitting in a tree would not put me in contention.
I focused on a unique training tactic of ground hunting for big game animals, which no other runners do. I was covering well over 100 miles by foot, with around 50 coming from my hunts in the woods every Friday through Sunday. Because I need to lose a lot of weight to compete against these elite runners who average around 130 pounds, I took no food and minimal water on every hunt to lighten up my usual 200-plus-pound frame.
After my first morning of several close calls with hogs using my recurve bow, rain was forecasted, so I took my wife’s new crossbow for a test mission. I would not allow the physical pain and suffering I was in stop completing my mission of a getting a 100-mile big game animal. I had dreamed about this insane operation all summer long.
Sure enough, I finally got on several hogs creeping along a cutover. I shot a nice hog and it ran into the thickets. Not knowing if I’d find the pig, I kept grinding and did more ground searching for another. Then, right before dark I stalked another pack from 200 yards away. I dropped a boar in its tracks with the very fast 405 fps Excalibur Matrix crossbow, using Ramcat broadheads. The neck shot traveled deep into the back leg.
The next morning I took my dogs to track the first pig, which they found in no time. I got more than my desired 100-mile big game harvest – I actually got two.
After getting those two hogs, I focused on getting one with my new traditional bows. I stalked hard the rest of the week, and got within 5 yards of a pack of fighting pigs with my 55-pound PSE Mustang. A 70-pound boar nearly ran into me in waist high grass while I was watching larger pigs fight. I took the quartering forward shot, hitting it perfectly from 3 yards away, but the weak bow only put the 600-grain arrow 2 inches deep — and the arrow broke off into the upper-shoulder before reaching deep into the vitals.
I hooked around and tried to creep up on the pig that limped off out of sight. I noticed a big rotten tree and went to it to investigate. My plan worked: Just as I arrived, the pig came wobbling up and bedded down in the rotten tree just 20 yards away from me. I call this tactic the “hog mattress.” (I’ve found several wounded hogs that lay up in the soft layer of rotten wood, particularly under a large rotten tree.)
However, I didn’t want to get too close. So I used another arrow and shot it, hitting the front of the shoulder from 18 yards. The hog sprinted right past me on video with blood pouring out — it was another shot where the arrow broke off only 2 inches deep.
However, my large Tree Shark broadheads – featuring the widest cut on the market – did plenty of enough damage to allow the pig to bleed out quickly for an easy recovery.
The next day, I took my more powerful 70-pound Martin Takedown recurve bow with very heavy 750-grain arrow combos, tipped with 190-grain Tree Sharks and 100-grain brass inserts. After a full day of stalking, I finally got on some hogs — but they busted me just before I had a shot at 10 yards.
I didn’t give up and hooked far around them, and they made their way right back into the danger zone. I shot a 55-pounder through the shoulder at 15 yards and it passed through — leaving the arrow lodged in the tree behind it.
While letting that hog sit, I kept stalking and soon spotted another sow and small pig cutting across the woods. I followed them for over a quarter-mile until they stopped to feed under an acorn tree. I crept in the noisy leaves unnoticed until I was 28 yards away, when the smaller one spotted me.
With hogs, once the hunter is spotted, it’s usually now or never. I lined up the lengthy shot on the bigger pig and let an arrow sail from 28 yards. It connected at the perfect height and the hog started running off. I instantly started sprinting after it since it was open woods. My arrow fell out of the pig, so I tossed my bow, grabbed the arrow and kept running until the pig started to wobble then fell over for good.
Afterwards, with no bow, I saw the small one and gave chase with only my bloody arrow. It got away. I was still too sore from my race to sprint fast. Most runners take two to four weeks off of running after a 100-mile race, but I haven’t taken a day off of training in over 16 years — so I’m not about to start anytime soon.
That arrow penetrated 8 inches deep into the opposite shoulder of the 55-pound sow, and I finished that week with five archery harvests.
October 7was the small game opener, so I took my new primitive single shot 4.8-pound shotgun and my Tungsten Super Shot shells on Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge. That opening morning I shot four hogs, and my legs had finally recovered. One hog I jumped took off through the palmettos, but I chased it down sprinting alongside a trail and got a 10-yard shot.
Later, I shot a smaller 35-pound pig. I had put in a No. 6 steel round and walked closer, in case I needed to finish the hog. Suddenly, a larger sow ran 15 yards in front of me with no time to switch to tungsten shells. I knew the steel would only stun the hog, but figured I’d have a chance to chase it down. Well, after the shot with No. 6 steel, the stunned pig darts 5 yards in front of me. I quickly put in another shell within 1 second and shot the hog, which flew about 15 feet and did a barrel roll.
I practice these ultra-fast shell changes in practice shooting sessions. Using an elastic fanny pack or stock shell sleeve allows for quick access to another shell. It was the best footage I ever captured. Part of that video with clips from many of my other pigs can be found here in my Hog Smackdown, Part 1 article.
After packing out all that quality meat, I went back in for the evening. I started by guiding my friend’s 15-year-old son to get his first hog. Sure enough, I put him within 15 yards from a nice big sow, and he dropped her. The excitement of seeing that young man get his first-ever hog is part of what makes hunting so very special.
Then, I went back for more action and shot three more pigs that evening, for a seven-hog day with the primitive shotgun. One big pig I chased bounded into the 10-foot-high palmettos and dropped at 4 yards. I should’ve had more, but forgot to cock the hammer on one — and I passed on several 30- to 50-yard shots not wanting to waste expensive ammo.
On the third weekend of the month, I went to a WMA in the hills to try to finally get on some deer. I took my crossbow to scout and stalk, and sure enough right before dark some pigs came out. I took another nice boar from the ground with the Excalibur crossbow.
The next day, I took a nice sow stalking with my over/under on Yancey in the evening. The following morning, I went to scout the upcoming deer season on Bayou Cocodrie and heard hogs fighting. Three shots later, I had three downed pigs — along with a rabbit to top off the morning.
Four weeks into the season, I ran another ultra-marathon, The Danimal. After winning this brutal 32-mile race on a hot day, I drove all the way from Lake Charles to Bayou Cocodrie NWR with one hour of daylight left to hunt on a rainy evening. My body was beyond tired, but there is no rest or break for me until nighttime.
Before long I saw two pigs fighting with each other in a swamp. I crept silently and waited for them to line up. My Tungsten Super Shot shell dropped both 130-pound pigs in their tracks at 30 yards on video. I truly felt like the Danimal after that day.
It was time for me to buy a new freezer — and that’s not a joke. That week I bought our ninth freezer from Lowe’s.
I finished October with a season tally of 31 pigs, but still had not killed a large boar. Part 3 of my 2017 Hog Smackdown will focus on my quest for bigger pigs, and more archery kills. Also, I finally got in my climber, which meant the deer action heated up as well.