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By Kathleen Kalina
Wild boar run all over the southern US destroying crops and digging holes that cripple cattle. They are dangerous to pets, small stock animals and humans. Ranchers routinely hold hunts when there are too many boar. They advertise and people sign up to go on a certain day. They can pay to stay overnight in the bunkhouse and eat. A cattle butcher is there to cut up the meat of the boar shot.
I had always wanted to shoot a boar and when I was in Texas, I was intent to find a hunt. It was good that I did it in January of 2016 because in March I had a stroke which makes it hard now to walk on uneven ground (But I survived despite how bad it looked in the beginning).
I arrived at a ranch where other hunters were also waiting at a gate. I brought my shotgun and slugs. Boar have thick fat and the only thin area is around the neck that is the kill spot. That may seem simple but when a boar is running flat out through the woods with heavy foliage and branches, it’s harder to hit that spot than deer hunting. The branches often deflect the bullet just when you think he should have been hit. Unlike deer hunting, you are making yourself in a defensive position in case you get charged.
It’s best to stand behind a tree because they come running and can turn in any direction and run you down and those tusks and really cut you up. Only males have tusks and not all males have them.
Some people like to call them “wild pigs or wild hogs” but they are not from the same family as the domesticated pigs that are raised on farms. Their genetics prove they are mostly from Eastern Europe mainly Russia. Their teeth, hair is different and the head is longer than domestic hogs. Their behavior is very aggressive to other boar and to humans.
When it was ready for the hunt, the rancher didn’t want people driving all over and shooting themselves and his cattle (Texas Longhorns and Brahmans), so he drove us to specific spots and told not to move and we would be picked up later.
These spots were where the rancher had trouble with the boar and also were good for not shooting anyone by accident. We called a number when we shot a boar and a ranch hand with a bloodied pickup came to get the animal. I was glad I didn’t have to put it in my truck with all the blood pouring out of the neck wound. This was not a deer hunt.
Sitting behind a tree, I could hear the grunting and gnashing in a distance from groups of boar. There were also noises that I never heard before in Wisconsin or Minnesota (We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto).
Just like any hunting, you sat and waited not knowing which direction the boar would come from. If someone started shooting from the other side of the ranch, they spooked many groups to run to my side. The boar came crashing through the woods with about 10 in a single file. They didn’t run straight and would change direction on a dime. The first group that came running crashed through thick foliage, I got only one chance to even see the neck area and shoot. A branch limb deflected the slug. I thought that this wasn’t deer hunting and resigned to the fact that a lot of slugs might be expended. In a few minutes another group came running up behind me. I quickly moved around the tree and got another shot. First Boar down. The group was running with all sized boar and many piglets which could run as fast as the adults. Most of the boar were around 100lbs and they were solid muscle not like a pig. They have long noses whereas the domestic pig has a short nose. With DNA that leads back to Eastern Europe and Russia. Russian boar can get to 600lbs, but that is rare. The big ones were known to be broken off from the running groups and hiding in areas where you would have to be walking to find. With all the shooting, you definitely wanted to stay put.
When the ranch hands came, I showed them where the boar lay and they threw him in the truck. The neck shot made a mess all over the back of the truck.
Perfect shot placement on a boar, the only thin fat area is the neck.
I saw several more groups all morning too far or impossible to shoot. A group that ran past me in the thicket and then suddenly turned around and came back toward me gave me a good shot. Down went the second boar. Now the ranch boss called on the phone for lunch and we were picked up.
The tusk on a boar is a menacing weapon.
The food was great. I know the ranch hands eat there too when they are there managing the cattle, so they ate well. Pork chops and more meat. I was curious to see my butchered boar so I went back to the area where the butchers were cutting up the boar. I asked the butcher to show me the size of the meat I was going to put in the cooler. We walked into the cooler and when I looked into my box, I saw big slabs of cut up meat all stuck together, not like deer processing which has white paper with a label around each piece. The butcher explained that that is how they cut up the cattle for shipment and the boar too. My next curiosity was how much bacon and pork chops I had. Evidently, the domestic pig that doesn’t run around gets nice size bacon and pork chops at around 200lbs, but these boar were muscular and around 100lbs. She showed me the pork chops were around 2 inches and bacon not grown yet.
Disappointed at the entire processing and lack of pork chops and bacon I went back into the food area and saw some people sitting and talking. I announced about the state of the meat. They too had my impression of taking home bacon and pork chops. They jumped up and left to see their meat.
I didn’t want to take more than 3 because I only had 3 coolers and room in a freezer at the RV Park. I had an agreement with the RV park owner that we could smoke it for one of the parties for the entire RV Park. It took 3 men 16hours to smoke 1 boar with mesquite. It tasted great. Most of the people who winter at RV parks on the coast of Texas are from the far north, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan and had not ever had boar.
I thought that I would go out in the afternoon for my next hunt to get the last boar that I could get.
Moving around the tree was a constant action because the boar came in any direction. They have hit people and cut them up really bad, the ranch boss showed us a few photos to make the point to be careful.
I found myself doing a lot of shooting with many slugs hitting branches or the fat part of the boar. The fat is like a bullet proof vest, they barely wince when hit. I couldn’t believe the amount of misses since I am used to deer hunting with 1 shot down. I finally, shot the third one and sadly had to end my hunt. While waiting for the pickup, I had to keep on the lookout for boar that might run me over.
Sleeping in the bunkhouse was not what I expected. I imagined a rudimentary barn, but they were log cabins and an outhouse. I was leery about going to the outhouse at night with snakes around. During morning breakfast, I was really sore from the 12 gauge recoil of many slugs. I remembered the days when I used to trap shot all afternoon and felt no soreness. Looks like a 20 gauge is in the future. I had my maximum 3 boar so there was no reason to go out. The ranch boss wanted a lot more killed and tried to convince me, but even though it was fun, I just could not take more than 3 home.
Prior to the first hunt, I noticed a guy with a silencer and high caliber weapon. I asked him what the silencer sounded like. He was proud to tell me all about it. He said it sounded like a pellet with a whistling sound.
Later, while in my hunting spot, I heard a “spifft” flying through the trees that missed me by 5-6 ft. and hit the ground right next to me. The bullet went deep into the ground and I tried to dig it out but couldn’t get it. Back at the ranch house I mentioned this to the Ranch boss and he said that that could only happen if the guy was moving around.
The ranch had longhorn cattle and Brahmas that were quite impressive if they got close. I wondered how they managed to survive all the shooting, but evidently they did. I heard they were worth a couple thousand dollars and hunters have shot them and had to pay for them.
I was happy to have the opportunity to hunt boar, something I always wanted to do. A couple months later I had a ischemic stroke, so it may take a while to hunt again. It’s a good thing to take advantage of any opportunity because you never know when you will be out of commission for a while. I am back in Wisconsin now and doing really well. I have to walk with a cane and that makes it hard to hunt, but I am a regular at the shooting range.
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