Inside the camp under the watchful gaze of the taxidermy mounts from great hunts of the past, the den of noise vibrated all around with the sounds of the Sebastien Family Christmas. The smells of fantastic cooking, and five or so conversations going on at the same time. Everyone’s wearing their winter best, lugging around a half empty drink and sporting big ruddy faced smiles. With children of all ages, genders and sizes darting between our legs, I shouted over the holiday hubbub to my brother-in-law, “We should try to make a hunt this week.” He nodded in agreement, and said “Man, it would be nice. I feel like I never have the time anymore.” He said this as he poured juice into a sippy cup, screwed on the lid, and handed it to a child without ever removing his eyes from me. Being dad had become muscle memory.
He has four adorable children under the age of six. He is also a dentist who owns his own practice, so free time is at a premium for him lately. Now, up to this point I thought that “dentist” was an Old English word for “hunts and fishes all the time” because every dentist I know spends more time in the woods than most trees. But Ryan is experiencing that time that all fathers of young kids have experienced when there’s no time for anything but work, and whatever the kids are doing. Mothers, I know you experience it too. As usual, my sister-in-law gave him the green light before he even finished mentioning that we were planning a hog hunt for the following evening. My kids are getting a little older now, so Mrs. Greatoutdoordinary just wants me out of the house so I can’t make any more of a mess than usual. At this point, my evil plan was working. Muhuhuahahaha!
After work, we threw our gear in the back seat of my truck, and headed for a stand with a good wind. I brought my 6.8 SPC II, loaded with my usual Barnes 95 gr TTSX handloads. Doc, as I’ve grown accustomed to calling him, was bringing his .300 blackout AR-15 pistol. This would be the maiden voyage of this pistol which is quite special to me.
When Doc’s wife decided to get him something special for their anniversary, she let me assemble this ominous little warthog. You read it right, this dude’s wife bought him an AR-15. Remember that the next time your wife buys you a tie that sings Yankee Doodle Dandy. Drop her a few not-so-subtle hints, then send her a link to this article.
I’ve been dying to see how it would preform on a big bruiser hog ever since it was completed. This mean little machine was sporting a 10.5 inch Noveske barrel, and was loaded with Barnes Vor-TX 110 gr TAC-TX projectiles.
Doc has had the good fortune of successfully harvesting many more species of critter than I, but up to this point he has yet to take a wild hog. This was something that we intended to remedy during our hunt.
I dropped him off at the stand which is situated in the crown of a tree with shooting lanes cut to the North and East. It’s the same stand that my daughter shot her first game animal out of. The wind was acting a fool, so I played musical stands in my head until I decided on a spot that should work in a South or Southeast wind. As I walked away, I could hear hogs squealing in the thicket behind Doc’s position, so I was hoping it would be a short hunt.
As I walked to my stand through a thick stand of palmettos, I noticed a particularly large set of hog tracks that were smoking fresh. I walked a little farther down the trail, and noticed a black shape in the mud under some palmetto. It wasn’t moving, but I could see that it was covered in thick course black hair. I picked up my rifle, and started trying to distinguish tail from snout through the scope. As I carefully stepped side to side trying to get a better angle, the beast stood up. It hadn’t smelled or seen me, but must have heard the squish of mud under my boots.
As soon as it moved, I was able to pick out its head from the brushy shadows, and I saw my reticle carefully drift toward its sizable head. He grunted, and popped his jaws. The trigger broke when the crosshair moved just over his left eye. His legs buckled and he crashed through the brush that had been acting as his sanctuary. I gave him a moment, never removing the black shape from my scope.
I walked the 10 yards or so to where he lay, and could immediately smell him. He smelled like a sour old dog wrapped in Limburger cheese, and had some type of mange or skin infection. I didn’t want to touch his rank skin, much less feed this thing to my family. I snapped a picture, and climbed in the stand to continue my hunt with the plan to dump this thing somewhere away from my stand.
I hadn’t been in the stand long, when I heard the pop from a .300 blackout about a third of a mile away.
My phone buzzed, and it was a text from Doc. “Just shot at a big SOB! Had to shoot fast. Not real sure about it.”
I was excited, but it didn’t sound like a guy who’s remarks exuded confidence about the shot. Any time a buddy says “I shot at” something, it usually ain’t good. I got my tracking light out of my pack, and texted my wife that I’d be late.
By the time I got to his stand it was after dark, and Doc was searching by flashlight for any sign of blood or tracks. The problem with hunting in a spot that is full of hogs is that after you shoot one, the area is also full of hog sign. He said “He came crashing out of the brush, and by the time I got a shot at him, he was half way back into the brush on the other side of the shooting lane.” I’ve had a few close calls chasing wounded hogs, so we decided that we would take it slowly from there.
It wasn’t long before Doc said those words I was hoping to hear, “I’ve got blood.”
By the third large patch of blood, I knew we were in the money. We trailed him for about 60 yards or so sometimes on hands and knees through the palmettos. Eventually, we located him after he did a swan dive into the thickest bramble patch I’ve seen in that particular stretch of woods. Just before his final moment, this beast gave us one big thumb in the eye by diving into natures barbed wire. A few curse words later, I’d pulled him out of Briar Rabbit’s living room, and it was high fives, and “hell yeahs” all around. Doc drug the creature back through the jungle, and out into the opening.
Doc made a perfect heart shot, and managed to clip both lungs to boot. The round was placed exactly where it should have been, but the Barnes Vor-TX 110 gr TAC-TX preformed flawlessly. It managed to pass through the hog leaving a surprisingly large entry wound. It passed through the broadside hog, with the round stopping in the hide on the other side. As usual, the Barnes bullet expanded to roughly twice its size, and having its petals open up beautifully. The TAC-TX bullet is specifically designed to expand at lower velocities, so it was a perfect choice for this AR-15 pistol using a relatively short barrel.
Being the resourceful fellas that we are, we cleaned the creature on Doc’s kids’ swing set in his back yard. I found it an ironic, and fitting ending to this hunt. Between the two of us, we have 7 children. Being a father is the most satisfying job in the world, and sometimes enjoying the outdoors means spending time getting those children involved in hunting and fishing in whatever ways we can.
Sometimes the outdoors can be a refuge from the grind of every day life, and it can assuredly recharge your batteries. It’s something just for you. For a short time, there are no ringing phones, no kids, no job, just silence, and an abundance of wildlife. Sometimes doctor’s orders are to scratch that itch. On this hunt, it was just what the doctor ordered.
To see a close up of the Barnes TAC-TX that went through this hog, check out Barnes TAC-TX – The Death Flower