Yep... that is an H not a D!
Last weekend, I decided to put my shooting skills to some practical use. I took the RV down to South FL, and went on a guided wild boar hunt! It was a great experience, and I plan to pursue the interest. Keep reading for the outcome....
There is quite the Animal Uncontrol problem in the wild hog (boar) universe. Wild hogs are descended from domestic hogs. There are approximately six million wild hogs in the continental United States today, with many of them concentrated in the southeast. It is my understanding that Florida has the highest population of wild hogs.
Consider that hogs are not not part of the natural environment in this part of the world. The proliferation of hogs has caused quite a few problems, that include but are not limited to:
- Destruction of wild plants. They will literally destroy acres of forest undergrowth... I've seen it multiple times hiking the area. This disrupts the entire food chain.
- Attack wild animals. They are very aggressive and extremely intelligent. They are crowding out other wildlife at an accelerating rate.
- Attack humans and domestic pets. So far, this has been unusual but as the hog population increases, so do the attacks.
- Destroy farm crops and other domesticated plants. They will literally destroy an entire field of corn or other crop.
In response to this, the State has declared open season on wild hogs. You do not need a hunting license, there is no bag limit, you may utilize any legal weapon, and you can hunt them year round on private property. Hog hunting on *public* land (i.e. National Forests and the like) is limited to hunting season (typically late fall and early winter).
Stock photo of a wild hog:
In any case, I signed up for a guided hunt (it was just the guide and myself). I had no hunting experience, so I figured it would be a good idea to "apprentice" a few times before going off on my own.
For a weapons selection, I brought this rifle. I went in with the assumption that, given that the .308 has colossal stopping power, and any hit to the thorax would drop Mr. Piggy like a bag of dirt. Any shot within 200 yards was going to be a no-brainer with the Remington, I figured.
Well, you know what they say about assumptions? It turns out that my assumption is correct for just about every living thing except a hog! Before heading out, I was discussing shot placement with the guide. I said that I was just going to shoot it through the chest and I figured it would just drop. According to the guide.... NOPE! Hogs are extremely resilient, and you can shoot a hog through BOTH lungs and it can live up to 24 hours! If you shoot it straight through the heart, it can run over 100 yards, with fountains of blood shooting out both sides! He said the only way to guarantee a one-shot drop was a head shot: Blow its brains out. Even that is very difficult, as a hog's brain-pan is rather small, and the skull is very thick - the bullet may ricochet off the skull if even at a slight angle.
So, there I was, up in a tree stand with the monster rifle. The 700 SPS has a 26 inch "bull" barrel and is quite heavy. The tree stand did not have a rest for the rifle, so I had to shoot straight off the shoulder.
After 2 hours, a "brood" of about 7 hogs appeared at the tree line, about 50-60 yards away, rooting around in the dirt. Holy Crap! I selected my target, lined up a head shot and BOOM! I did not drop him.... he darted forward about a foot or so JUST as I squeezed the trigger. It appears the bullet went right through the chest cavity, and he was knocked over, but the SOB got up and took off into the underbrush with his buddies.
The guide and I went over to the target area. There was blood spatter all over the palmettos behind where he was standing. We tracked it through the underbrush for a while and found some more blood trail, but not a lot. Apparently, I did not hit anything vital.
Oh, well. Better luck next time.
Mistakes made and lessons learned:
- Poor weapon selection. The power of the .308 does not grant much of an advantage over a hog. You are more or less limited to head shots. A lighter rifle in a smaller caliber would have been a better choice for the tree stand. You really do not want to be charging through the brush with a rifle of that size and weight if you do not absolutely need to.
- Lack of rifle practice. I had not been to the range much, recently, and I should have been practicing with hog targets or a reasonable proxy. Hogs do not come with bulls-eye's painted on them.
- Poor knowledge of game in question. Again, I made a big assumption about the characteristics of a hog, and I should have done more research beforehand.
With all of that said, it was a very enjoyable and productive day. I learned a lot, and should do a lot better next time.
Coming up... Moar gun p0rn!