I hung up the phone with Merle Smith of the Texas S Ranch and he and I decided that July 5 would be a good day to start our hog hunt. I knew it was going to be hotter than heck but I also considered Merle’s place was infested with hogs and once I got in the hunting mode the heat would not bother me.
On July 4 my good hunting buddy of the last 24 years Robert Hoague and I made the three-hour push to East Texas. Upon our arrival we unpacked and got ready for the next day’s hunt.
The following morning found us chit chatting with Merle and his wife Vanessa before we headed out to hunt. Merle confirmed there were quite a few hogs and also a few big boars cruising the property. That’s all I needed to hear. I was ready to go!!!
We were hoofing across the north side of the property when we bumped into a group of young porkers. Ten minutes into the hunt and we were into critters. YES!!! That was enough to get me pumped up. I looked at Robert and said, “It’s really not that hot”. Looking back I think I was just excited about getting into pigs so fast. It was hotter than blue blazes to be honest.
Robert noticed some movement off to the right. We knelt down and spotted a large group of hogs around a big blow down in a pine grove of trees. We slowly started stalking in the hog’s direction; they got wind of something they did not like. In a millisecond they were gone.
We decided to use a tactic that has worked in the past. I was going to circle around and set up an ambush spot while Robert tried to drive the hogs in my direction. I told him to give me about 10 minutes before he started the drive so I could get into position. Making my way to my destination, I got into a little home made makeshift blind and sat silently. As I got situated there was one last branch that I needed to break that was in my shooting lane.
Sitting in anticipation I noticed some movement off to my right. Zeroing in I saw the snout of hog, then another and another. Getting in a shooting position the hogs were coming quite fast. I estimated an opening at forty yards they would be passing through. When the group hit the opening they were moving at a slow walk.
Already at full draw I picked out a large black boar and sent the Carbon Express arrow on its way. The Grim Reaper expandable punched right through the hog’s chest. I immediately got on the walkie-talkie and radioed Merle and Robert and relayed I had a good shot on a nice boar. With in five minutes Merle and Robert arrived. It did not take long for us to find the expired boar laying in a little wash out.
Rick Philippi and Texas-S owner Merle Smith with Rick's first wild hog.
The Grim Reaper had done its job. Merle and I loaded the hog on his four-wheeler. Robert and I decided to hunt our way back to camp and then get some lunch. Robert was going to be the hunter while I manned the camera. We bumped into a few hogs on our way back, but to no avail. We decided to head into town for some lunch.
After lunch we did some stalking around some big brush piles in anticipation of catching some hogs bedded. Its unbelievable how sound hogs sleep. I have tried this technique many times and it works.
The key is to move slow and have a good quality pair of binoculars to study the brush piles. As Robert and I moved ever so slowly, I noticed a flicker of an ear. I grabbed Robert by the arm and motioned for him to stop. Pointing straight ahead no more than 30 yards in front of us was a pig tucked away in a cluster of brush. Cautiously we advanced in the direction of the hog. Getting into position, Robert got to full draw with his Bow-Tech Tribute (this is a smoking bow) and put the Grim Reaper into the hog’s boiler basket. We high fived and in a matter of minutes we were loading the second hog onto Merle’s four-wheeler.
That evening I sat around and visited with Merle while Robert updated bowhunting.net. Merle had some very interesting stories about hunts in the past.
One in particular stuck out where a hunter was cut up by a big boar that had been wounded. The main thing that all hunters must be aware of is these critters can be dangerous. Most of the time everything goes fine but when tracking a wounded hog you need to be heads up and show the animal a lot of respect.
Merle told a story where a wounded boar cut him up and he had to be rushed to the hospital to receive 75 stitches in his leg. The kicker is the cut was an eighth of an inch from his femoral artery. Had the artery been ruptured, death would have been inevitable. I am not trying to scare hunters by telling these stories. I am just saying be safe and use common sense when trailing a wounded hog. Heck, don’t be a hero; get some help to go with you. SHOW THE ANIMAL RESPECT!!!
The next morning found Robert and me back in the thick woods. We split up so we could cover more ground. After a couple of blown stalks I worked my way into bow range of a group of hogs. I picked out an average size boar. I sent the Grim Reaper into his vitals where he expired quickly.
Rick Philippin with his second wild hog.
I decided to hunt with Robert for the rest of the day and run the digital camera. At the time we did not realize it but this hunt was going to be the most exciting. It was mid morning and getting hotter than heck. We moved ever so slowly scanning the brush piles and creek beds for any movement. Walking by a brush pile that we had just checked thourghly three hogs busted out on us. We could not believe that we did not see them. It is amazing how they can bury and hide. We kept trekking and glassing everywhere for hogs but to no avail. We decided to take a break and get some lunch.
Looking at my watch it was closing in on 2:00 pm and the temperature was hovering around 100 degrees. BRUTAL!! We were easing along the east side of a big pine grove when we noticed a big group of hogs heading our way. Something had spooked them and they were heading right to our position. We knelt down; the hogs kept coming towards us.
The hogs passed by at 30 yards. They were moving fast which inhibited Robert a good shot. Right as I thought it was over, here came another group. I noticed a big boar. Robert was still at full draw and his screaming hot Bow-Tech Tribute and sent the Gream Reaper like a scud missile on its way. The broad head made that dull liquid sound as Robert put a solid hit on the hefty boar.
At the moment the Grim Reaper punched the boar, hogs scattered all over the place. It was a sight. I told Robert that it looked like hogs gone wild. Without delay we called Merle to tell him what happened. He was on the way on the four-wheeler. Waiting for Merle to arrive, Robert and I went over the shot in our heads and decided the shot was lethal. We heard the engine of the four-wheeler as Merle approached.
Merle drove up and I could tell by the concerned look on his face he was definitely shook up. He informed us the boar was out in the middle of an open field. He also told us that the bulky boar made an attack at the four-wheeler (with Merle on it) and about dumped he and the four-wheeler over. We both jumped on the four-wheeler with Merle.
When we arrived at the boar’s destination Robert and I got off the four-wheeler. Merle informed us that this was an extremely dangerous situation and be heads up.
To be honest I did not like the setting we were in but the boar had to be put down for good. I lagged 20 yards behind Robert with the camera. My heart was pounding out my chest and all my senses were keyed in to what was about to unfold. Closing the distance, Robert put a knock down shot on the big boar and dropped him in his tracks. It was over!!!!!! I was glad. Robert was glad. What was a very dangerous and intense situation turned out good.
Merle Smith and Robert Hoague with the hog that charged Merle's 4-wheeler.
Hog hunting is a blast. What I like is the fact you can hog hunt year round. The best advice I could give a new hog hunter is pay attention to the wind and your scent. In my opinion a swine’s nose is his number one defense. A hog’s eyesight is definitely questionable but again to reiterate, their nose is second to none.
Another key factor with hog hunting is shot placement. All large hogs have a protective shield of armor behind their front shoulder. When possible, wait for that quartering away opportunity where you can put the arrow right behind the armor. This is a deadly shot.
Under no circumstances should you think that bagging a hog is a piece of cake. I have had times where I had a hog in my sights and he got the wind of something he did not like and was gone in a flash. Once a hog gets spooked, he may go nocturnal for weeks. They can be very secretive animals and elusive animals.
If you ever in Texas contact Merle Smith, his hog hunts are the real deal.