Floating for Hogs
Airgun Hobbyist July 2017
There is something very special about floating silently down a backwoods stream or along the edge of a remote lake in a small boat, canoe or kayak. Add the excitement of the possibility of rounding a bend in the stream and encountering a sounder of undisturbed wild hogs and the tranquility instantly turns into mega dose of adrenaline!
I’ve hunted hogs from small boats for many years, using everything from a compound bow to my Airforce Texans in .45 and .308 calibers. The primary requisite for a successful “float” is, obviously, hogs and water which are two commodities that are in no short supply in the Lone Star State where I do the majority of my hunting.
I remember my first float for hogs with my friend Bob Mcfarland, who owns The Big Woods, a 7,500 acre piece of bottomland paradise that stretches for several miles along the Trinity River a couple hours south of Dallas. Cat sh Creek traverses the Big Woods for several miles and Bob invited our mutual friend the late Bob Hood (then outdoors editor for the Ft. Worth Star Telegram for 43 years) and myself for a slow oat for hogs through some of the most remote woodlands to be found in east Texas. This stretch of Cat sh Creek sees very few human visitors but is home to deer, hogs, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, fox and a smorgasbord of woods dwelling raptors such as hawks and owls. It’s not uncommon to cross path with an occasional gator lounging along a sunny bank on the bend of the creek.
For reasons I do not fully understand, wildlife along a remote waterway is much less “skittish” than animals in closer proximity to man. During this oat, we drifted slowly down the straight stretches and “made ready” for the shot just before we encountered the sharper bends. It’s not uncommon to drift within a few yards of hogs bedded or lounging along the waterways. They must perceive the boat to be just another log floating down the creek. About the only thing that spooks them is sound or movement by the hunters in the boat. On this particular oat, we rounded a pretty steep bend in Cat sh Creek, hugging the inside bank as we made the bend. Just as our line of sight opened up as we entered the straight stretch of creek, we spotted a big boar in his “wallow” near the bank on the opposite bank. The distance was relatively close, about 40 yards as I remember and as Hood raised his ri e the boar was up and hightailing it back into the heavy cover. There are easier things to do than hit a running boar, especially in the heavy cover along a brushy creek. The last we saw of the boar was switch cane breaking. The big hog sounded like a mini bulldozer as he disappeared into the tangle of brush. Near the end of the oat, we eased up on a sounder of smaller sows and piglets and Hood made a good shot on an “eater” hog weighing about 125 pounds. This particular “float” took place about 10 years ago but I remember the outing as though it occurred yesterday.
Creeks and streams aren’t the only place one can “float for hogs”. Through the years, I have killed several hogs along the shoreline of about 30 acres of old gravel pits on the land here by my home. The really nice thing about using a boat to hunt hogs is that once the animal is killed, getting the meat out is easy, you simply “float” it out in the boat, back to the truck or the spot you launched.
Baiting with corn along the shoreline of a pond or lake can be a productive way of concentrating hogs. I have paddled back into the more remote areas of the gravel pits near my home and poured corn close to the shore, usually choosing a spot where I can “sneak” up within easy range of one of my Texan big bores. Hogs in the area will usually nd the corn within a couple of days (and nights). Because the majority of hogs are nocturnal in my area or move the last 30 minutes or so of daylight, I use my little boat as a blind of sorts, paddling it up against some shoreline vegetation and waiting until the porkers come out of cover. This method works some of the time but I have also spent some very peaceful and unproductive hours in the backwaters waiting for a shot! When it all comes together, though and I load a good eating wild porker into the bow of my little boat and paddle my fresh pork pack to the truck, the feeling of success is awesome!
Just before deadline for this article, I traveled down to southeast Texas to hunt with my friend Mark Balette who owns B & C Outfitters near Groveton (www.easttexasexotics. com) and Bryan Shrum from Tennessee who produces one of the weekly radio shows that I do. Hog hunting is addictive and this is the fourth year that Bryan has made the long drive to Mark’s place to hunt with us. We have a ball hunting, bass fishing and cooking the fruits of our outings. We spent some time at the range shooting my new .308 Texan and discovered to my pleasant surprise that, shooting the Hunters Supply 154 grain Flat nose bullets, I was getting over 15 powerful shots that were what I consider "killing" shots. Granted, when hunting I always power up to 3,000 psi. before heading out and seldom need more than 2 shots during actual hunting situations, but... it was good to know that my new .308 I was shooting was capable of this many “Killing” shots. I was also pleased to learn that the lighter bullets (154 grain) did a great job of dispatching a couple of smallish boars that were shot along the shoreline of Mark’s lake. This was the first time that I put the .308 and lighter bullets to work on hogs, previously I used my .45 caliber Texas and the BIG 350 grain bullets by Hunters Supply. I still have great confidence in the big bullets and the power of my .45 caliber Texas but I did prove to myself that with the right big bore air rifle, the .308 is a game getter in its own right.
BIG BORE HOG NIGHT HUNT IN THE PLANS
I have a new Photon XT digital night (or daytime) scope mounted on my trusty .45 caliber Texas and plan to do a night hunt soon with this rig. The Photon XT does a marvelous job of lighting up the night and I’ve put it to work on a couple of good size boars shooting my .223 Mossberg bolt action, both on nights with little or no moon. The IR that’s built into the Photon XT, when set on its highest power, does a great job even farther out than I shoot at night. I like to do my night hunting “close”, less than 100 yards and very often half this range over a corn feeder when hunting hogs.
It will be fun hunting hogs at night with my Texan. After harvesting a good number of porkers with the power of air the past few years, I am ready for this nighttime challenge. The trick will be to keep the shots close so that I can precisely place the bullet so that there is little or no tracking. I have found that hogs shot with big bore air rifles often leave a sparse blood trail. I will be putting to use a Pulsar Digiforce Digital NV monocular on this hunt also. This lightweight monocular allows the hunter to scan the woods and elds on the darkest of night and identify hogs before getting the rifle up and making the shot. More on my night hunting endeavors in the next issue!