South Hills Ranch Hog Hunt
April 29 - May 2 '03
South Hills Ranch
HCR 2 Box 1200
Utopia, TX 78884
Click on images for larger picture
Two of my boar hogs. I'm getting the one on the left mounted. I took the one on the left the 1st afternoon and the one on the right the next morning. They weigh 140 and 150 lbs from left to right.
My biggest boar. He weighed 160 lbs but had broken off his teeth so he had the smallest teeth of all my boars. I took him on the 4th evening.
Another picture of my large boar to give an impression of the size. His nose is about an inch off the ground.
I took this sow hog on the 3rd morning. I wanted a nice eating hog and was looking for just this size. I have about 45 minutes of video I took that morning of hogs under my stand!
Tim's 1st boar this trip. He's about 70-80 lbs. Tim took this boar on the 2nd day of the trip. He shot a bigger hog the 1st evening but we didn't find it.
Tim's 2nd boar. He took this the last evening. I videoed the hunt. It was a blast. Tim shot him almost straight down out of a quad. stand. I hope the video makes the next hog video.
This is Stinker in the front and Magnum in the back. They're the dogs South Hills Ranch uses for tracking blood. These dogs are from a blood line from Africa where Jack Russell Terriers have been used to track blood for years. These dogs are little land sharks to hogs and worth there weight in gold to hunters with a hog down.
One of many pictures I took of hogs at a feeder. This is after I shot the sow above. I took over 30 minutes of video of these hogs in this feeder this morning.
This year's hunt was fantastic! I killed 4 nice hogs with 3 of them being large boar hogs. South Hills Ranch is a high fenced 1200 acre ranch. There are no pens on the ranch other than where they breed white tail deer. This is a fair chase hunt. The ranch only allows bow hunting and only during the day. They have the best hog hunting available. I've shot a hog every day I've hunted the ranch except for the 5th day of this last hunt and that's only because I didn't know what to do with 5 hogs! I could have shot another large hog the 5th morning and passed on it just because I couldn't possibly eat 5 hogs. I have killed 1 hog every day I've hunted them on this ranch. There is no better fair chase hunting available anywhere!
Mathews Ultra-2 bow
Carbon Express CX300 arrows.
Muzzy 100gr. 3 blade broad head
Day1 - hog 1
The 1st evening of the hunt I was in a stand on the back part of the ranch. I was in a tripod stand watching a corn feeder. I was starting to think I wouldn't see anything that evening as the feeder didn't go off when it should. I thought I'd still wait it out and see what happened. At about 7:30 I started to hear what sounded like a hog behind me in the brush. Hogs move differently than anything else. They're typically loud and move abruptly. This boar moved around in the brush checking things out for about 30 minutes before I got my first look at him.
On the way out there this year I'd told Tim I wanted a nice boar that had the Russian Boar look to his face with the grey grizzled hair, and if I got one like that I'd definitely have him mounted. I couldn't believe it when he finally showed himself and was just the boar I wanted! He was very cautious and moved in slowly. I was worried about the swirling wind and was somewhat surprised the wind hadn't given me away already so I wanted to take my first good shot.
After a little while he turned broadside at about 25 yards. When I drew my bow I couldn't believe how loud I thought everything was, the arrow sliding across the rest, the strings feeling the weight of the bow, and my hear beating out of my chest. He didn't hear me but didn't stay broadside either. He was looking around checking everything out. Hogs can't move their heads much so they move their hind end around to point in a different direction instead of turning their head. That makes them move a lot and seem very twitchy. I help my draw forever, or about 30 seconds in real time, and he came back broadside again. I laid the 20 yard pin behind his elbow and let an arrow go - WHACK!
It's amazing how you never realize how long it takes your arrow to travel 25 yards until you're shooting at an animal. That brief moment in time from when you release to when the animal runs out of site is like a car crash when time slows and you see every detail of what happens. I saw the arrow hit a little high of where I wanted but perfectly behind the shoulder. He carried my arrow off into the brush with about 6 inches of it showing. I knew it was a good shot- my heart started to beat again.
I waited for about 30 minutes before I couldn't stand it anymore. I got down and found blood right away. I tracked him for a little bit into the thick brush and was finding the red foamy blood you want to see. The brush in South Texas is VERY thick. I knew I could find him but I'd have to craw through the brush to stay on the blood. I decided to go back to the stand and wait for Will and Stinker the little Jack Russell Terrier that's worth her weight in gold when it comes to tracking wounded hogs. I knew she'd track him out and we'd be able to walk around and avoid the worst of the brush. All we'd have to do is follow the "Stinker Bell" to the hog.
I climbed up in another tripod by the feeder and heard hogs coming right away. It was getting close to dark and the hogs were starting to move. I could see a few small, around 20 lb., hogs coming up the road. Then I heard the sow grunt and call the pigs back. She'd winded me and knew I was there. She took the group of pigs around me through the brush just out of my sight, but there's no mistaking a group of hogs walking through the brush about 30 yards away. I never saw them again.
Will, Bill and Stinker showed up right after dark. Will, Stinker with her bell, and I started to look for the hog. It took Stinker only a couple minutes to track my hog through the dark to where he lay. He was about 100 yards from where I shot him - dead. We drug him back to the truck and went off to pick up Tim.
Tim didn't have as good a luck as I. He'd shot a nice boar hog and we never found it. Hogs are hard to kill with a bow. The problem is hogs have a small kill zone low and forward in their chest. Even if you shoot perfectly there's a very good chance they'll move or jump the string. and make you miss the kill zone. Tim ended up loosing the first hog that night even with Stinker's help.
Day 2 - hog 2
It was the morning of the 2nd day of the hunt. I was very happy at taking such a nice hog the first evening. I was feeling pretty good about the hunt so far and was not expecting much out of the morning hunt. I was in my stand for only about 5 minutes before the hogs started to move into the feeder about 25 yards away from me. It was a pretty impressive sight. About 6 boars from 120 to 150 lbs, 6 sows around 80 - 100 lbs, and one boss hog I guess was over 200 lbs all came in in the early morning twilight.
It was about 15 - 20 minutes before I could see to shoot so I could only sit there and watch the shadowy shapes of the hogs fight for kernels of corn. Just as it was getting light enough to light my pins and I could make out features on the hogs the boss hog and 3 large boars left. There was no way for me to get a shot at the big boar, he was just to smart. There were still plenty of hogs in front of me. I picked the largest boar out and watched him close. I learned a lot from gutting my 1st hog the night before. If you've never gutted a hog you don't realize how low and forward the vitals are in their chest. I wanted a quartering away shot.
I drew my bow and had to let it down 4 times. I just knew I was going to get busted moving because of all the hogs in front of me. The last time I drew on the hog he was perfectly broadside and I waited until he quartered forward away from me - WHACK! He finally gave me the shot I was waiting for. I saw the arrow fly all the way and hit him exactly where I wanted. I couldn't have walked over and put the arrow in him any better, it was a perfect shot. After thinking back I think the reason I got such a good shot on him was that he didn't jump the string. There were still 8 or 9 hogs there eating and I think with all that racket he didn't hear the bow. I shoot a Mathew's Ultra-2 that's very quiet but these hogs know what the sound of a bow shot is. My hog ran out of sight carrying my arrow with him. I knew he wasn't far way.
A couple of the hogs that were with him circled my stand out of sight sniffing the air. They sounded like dogs searching for a scent. Once one of them worked down wind of me and caught my scent it grunted the warning alarm and they all ran off, I never saw or heard anything else that morning.
I waited my 30 minutes and climbed down from my stand. I found blood immediately. I had no problem tracking the boar. He ran about 100 yards into the brush and collapsed. My arrow was an equal distance out each side. I was very happy I'd made 2 good shots on such nice boar hogs. My first 2 hogs are pictured together with me in the first picture above. Will interviewed me with a video camera with these hogs and is going to put it in their next hog hunting video. They're talking about using the first hog in the opening scenes. That was a great time for me. I've had a lot of luck this year!
That afternoon I sat a stand that had a big sow come in first. She hung around for about 5 minutes then worked her way around me, winded me and took off. Then a group of about 15 hogs came in and stayed for about 30 minutes. They came and left a few times. The last time they came in a nice boar hog like the 1st I'd taken came in with them and caught me with my hands on my video camera instead of my bow. By the time I picked up my bow he'd walked 5 yards from my stand but in the brush so I couldn't get a shot. He slowly wandered off. I wasn't to upset, I'd already taken a couple nice hogs. I got about 45 minutes of video of hogs, white tail deer, and black bucks that evening. It's some very good footage of what the ranch offers.
Day 3 - hog 3
After taking 2 nice boar hogs I thought I'd try to take a smaller hog that would be a little better to eat. Will told me that 60 to 80 lb hogs were the best to eat so I thought I'd try to get one of them. I was dropped off at a stand about 30 minutes before sun up, and before I could even finish climbing into my stand I had hogs coming in. I couldn't believe it. I hadn't even sat down yet, the truck wasn't even out of site, it was also about 20 minutes before shooting light.
Once I could see clearly there were still about 10 hogs still in front of me. I picked the largest, about 70-80 pounds and weighted for my shot. I drew my bow 3 or 4 times before it held still for me long enough to get a shot. I took a good quartering away shot and hit her good.
When I hit her all the hogs took off. It only took about 15 minutes before they started to show back up again. Pretty soon I had about 6 60-80 pound hogs and 10 little piglets in front of me. I videoed the show for about 45 minutes until they all left. The little piggies were adorable. They'd walk up to a little rock and scratch an itch, it was real funny.
Anyway, after everything left I got down and tracked my hog. She only went about 75 yards with a good double lung shot.
Day 4 - hog 4
I setup in a stand a little farther back on the ranch. At about 30 minutes before dark a nice boar hog walked in with 2 smaller hogs. He was very jumpy and very cautious. The wind was changing directions all afternoon so I knew I wanted to take the first good shot I had.
Once he walked into the open I drew my bow and waited for my shot. It didn't take but a couple seconds before he gave me a perfect broadside shot - WHACK! By now you know I'm not afraid to sling an arrow. I hit him right at the elbow, perfect! The sound the arrow made when it hit him sounded like I shot a 2x4. It was a loud crack. The arrow was sticking out 12 inches on the fletch side. I didn't think I'd gotten through be I found out later I did punch the broad head out the other side, but it must have not been by much.
He ran about 10 feet, stopped, and was looking for who or what had just bit him. He was pissed! He growled a couple times and was looking for anything moving. The hogs that had come in with him left when I shot. After a little while he walked under my stand and trotted away into the brush. I had a wave a doubt, how could he stand there like that with a lung shot and growl? I stayed in the stand for 30 minutes until dark. A group of 3 other hogs came in and was running around in front of me when I climbed down, they were smaller hogs around 60 pounds and ran as soon as they say me on the ground.
I looked around for blood and found good red, foamy, blood and felt a little better, but how did he stand there like that? Damn these are tough critters. I tracked him for about 100 yards in the brush and decided to wait for Will and Stinker to make my life easier. The blood trail was good and easy to track but the brush was thick and brutal. Knowing Will was coming with Stinker takes the worry out of finding your hog. I know I could have found that hog and the others she led me to but it's so much easier to let her do her job and lead you to it.
It didn't take Stinker long to lead us to the hog. I'd told Will it was a nice boar, I was guessing a little over 100 pounds. When we walked up on him Will guessed him at 180 to 200 pounds. Let me tell you dragging him through that thick brush I believed it too. Everyone that saw him that night guessed close to 200 pounds but the scale only showed a little over 160 pounds. You can see how big he was in the picture of me skinning him above. It's hard to judge a hog even at 25 yards. I had no idea I'd just shot my biggest hog until he laid there in front of me.
Day 5 - a break
I went out hunting but I was not really looking for another hog. 4 hogs were plenty for me and I don't take what I don't plan on eating. I did have a nice, I'm guessing 130-150 pound, boar at 18 yards broadside at first light too. I just let him walk. I knew I had plenty of pork. I did get him, a couple other hogs, black bucks, white tail deer, and a huge axis buck on video that morning. I had a great time just watching.
That afternoon I videoed Tim shoot his second hog. It was getting dark fast and when I gave Tim the thumbs up to shoot the hog walked 2 steps behind a branch of the tree we were sitting in and I didn't get the hit on video. I did get the hogs coming in and them scattering after the shot but that's it. Oh well, that's what you get with an amateur behind the camera. I still think it may get used in the next South Hills Ranch Video. Tim made a great shot. The hog was almost under our stand when he shot. The hog still went about 100 yards.
In the 2 years and 9 days I've hunted South Hills Ranch for Hogs I've seen hogs every time I went out - EVERY TIME! I also shot and killed a hog 8 out of 9 days and that's because I didn't want another hog the 5th day of this last hunt. This is a fair chase hunt on a ranch that's around 1,200 acres. They run lots of feeders and keep man made water flowing all over the ranch from storage tanks. The ranch is bow hunting only and only during daylight. The maximum number of hunters allowed at a time and per week is 6 hunters. The ranch is not the largest you'll find by far but they sure have found the recipe for bow hunting hogs and keeping a healthy population of hogs.
Will and Bill know what they're doing and will make your hunting trip a great time. Joleen is truly one of the nicest gals I've ever met. If you're thinking about a bow hunt for hogs I can't say enough about this ranch. In fact they already have my deposit on next years hunt.
If you're thinking about this feel free to E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be glad to answer any questions, send more pictures, or some video. You can't miss on this hunt!
Troy Lass 5/5/03