After the mandatory 60 day drying period of my huge August bow blacktail buck we called ‘The Lightning Four’, I made the trip to Redding, CA to have Steve Boero score several bucks for both Pope & Young and Boone & Crockett. Steve is part owner of the local JS Ranch so we arranged a pig hunt the night before. My guide Eric Gould ( also my excellent taxidermist ) took me out in search of a pig that evening.
I was hunting with my Custom Remington rifle, created out of my first hunting rifle, a bargain basement ADL, now with fully customized pacnor barrel, jewel trigger, glass bedded in a bell & carlson stock, and Roguard and NP3 coatings, to make it my CA go to rifle. Topped with a Leupold VX3 4.5-14 scope and their excellent Compensation Drop System (CDS) it is tuned to my hand load of 140gr Nosler Accubonds in .270 Winchester.
As the sun set, pigs started to make their appearance. We settled on a group that was mingling with some cattle and I set up for a long shot with Eric as spotter. We picked a boar that finally settled broadside, Eric gave me the range as 376 yards. Adjusted my turret, settled in, safety off, and touched off the shot. The sound of the bullet whistles as it traces the distance and we hear it hit. Eric confirms the boar is down.
The CDS system has proved to be so accurate across several of my rifles and gives you the confidence that you can make longer shots both effectively and ethically.
The long awaited Diamond C Outfitters promo video is finally done! Set to ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC, it is pretty fast paced encapsulation of what looks like ten years of hunting seasons. Several of my deer shots are recorded including my 2007 3×4 shot prone in the upper ranch. Also both my 2009 bucks, Twin Towers that drops like a rock and my late season 5×4 buck that kicks out at the shot. Both the pig hunting bow shots are mine, my first pig kill with a bow the same day I shot Twin Towers. Also a 60 yard ( lucky ) shot on a grey boar that was heading up the rear on the group of pigs when I shot the black sow. One thing you notice is just how many women hunters the Carr’s take each year. Lots of capable women hunting out there. So many great bucks and great memories!
Hunting up at the Diamond C this week. The plan was to try and take a buck with my bow, however, I’m always willing to pull out the rifle when there is a buck that we simply want to take ‘by any means necessary’ right now! On Dylan’s ranch that’s not an unusual circumstance and pretty much what happened.
Wednesday I had a couple close bow opportunities. First with a bedded 3×3 that by the time I decided to get serious wisely evacuated the area. Later that night we came on a band of pigs and got to 50 yards. There were two black sows with a bunch of little ones. I found a lane in between the low branches of the oak we were under and put my 50 pin on one of the sows. My arrow sailed just over her back and they milled for a few seconds and then scrambled off. The next morning I shot three arrows at 50 on Dylan’s range and they grouped six inches high! Adjusted the pin and was good to go.
Thursday morning it was foggy up top. We weren’t seeing many deer out below and headed up there just as it was breaking up. Dylan had been guiding a very accomplished bow hunter before I arrived that tried for a big buck up here they named ‘Hightower’. He was pretty smart and they could not get within 100 yards of him.
It turns out he was the same buck standing next to my 5×7 last year when I shot him. After the 5×7 dropped he just stood there for the longest time and without the 5×7 next to him Dylan and I realized what a great buck he was too. In fact I was just about to shoot him when he moved off. We agreed if we had a chance at him we’d just pull out the rifle.
Well Thursday morning when we were checking out the ranch up top we came on a buck and a doe in the middle of a big clearing with no cover at all. We got up to a big oak tree. When he picked his head up I could see he was the tallest buck I’d ever seen. Dylan confirmed it was Hightower. The wind was wrong and the doe next to him had already busted us so we didn’t have a lot of time. Dylan handed me my Sako 30.06 and I jacked a round. He was about 120 yards and fell dead at the shot.
Was using the new Hornady Superformance ammo with a 150gr SST. I recovered the bullet from just under the hide on the offside. These shoot great through the Sako and it’s great to see they perform so well in the field too. The expanded bullet is actually wider than the .410″ three shot group from my ‘zero check‘ preparing for the hunt.
Thursday night we headed back out to hunt the pigs. We found that same band not far from a pond in a grassy clearing. We were able to sneak through the woods and get to about 30 yards as they fed towards us. I was able to shoot two of the smaller ones pretty quickly. They didn’t really spook and one of the larger black sows came right back into the middle of the field by us at 40 yards and I made a good shot on her as well. Having Dylan next to me with his Leica range finding binoculars made it seem easy. I really like my Hoyt Carbon Element bow. I will try again for my second bow buck when I return in November.
Friday, March 18, I’m headed back up to Redding to trying for wild pig again at the JS McArthur Ranch. The forecast for the weekend was heavy rain and it poured all the way to my first stop, The Free Dive Shop in Sacramento where I was looking to get a new wetsuit for the upcoming abalone season. ‘Sean’ helped me try on a few and ultimately I settled on the Cressi Sub Tecnica.
Then up to Redding and met with my guide Dave Johnson. We drive up to the ranch and as we come to the gate there seems to be a break in the rain. We pack my gear into the Rino and are off to our first spot to glass for pigs. It’s windy and cold but I’m ready with warm gear and gloves. We’re glad it’s not raining as maybe the pigs will emerge and feed. None seem to be out yet so we move to another ridge. We sight some pigs at this point far in the distance. We make our way close and then walk over a hill and to a raging stream. The pigs are just across 200 yards but turn out to all be wet sows. We were barely able to ford this stream in the Rino last time I was here and I know there is no chance today. On our way back up the ridge we spot five bull elk bedded down in a little valley out of the wind. These are the same bulls we saw last time although now they shed their antlers.
We make a complete circle now and move on back to a high ridge to glass again. This time we see five pigs in an open field on our side of the stream. One is brown, dark in the front and light in the back. From this distance looks like a little buffalo. We think he’s a boar and we decide to try for him. The wind is perfect and Dave is pretty sure we’ll get close. We drive to a spot just below them and park the Rino. At this point we need to cross a creek just deep enough to be over our boots soaking our feet in the icy water. We head up the grassy hill and emerge just behind some bushes. We try to get a good look at them. The black pigs are on the right and are sows. The brown pig is right in front of me but facing away and I can’t tell. Finally he turns right and I see he’s a boar. I try to set my rifle on the pack but it’s too low so I just sit back and get on him from a sitting position. A sow is behind him so I wait. When she clears I hold on his shoulder and touch off the shot. He’s down but then right back up again and I’ve reloaded and am about to shoot again as he’s moving broadside to the left but then goes down for good. I’m shooting my Sauer 202 in .300 Weatherby with my hand loads, 180gr Nosler Accubonds going 3100 fps. The shot was about 90 yards. He’s a good size boar, Dave thinks 160 pounds. We take some pics and then head back just as the rain starts to come down. We skin him out in an open hangar. At one point the clouds clear and the supermoon is shining full over snow capped mount Lassen.
The next morning I’m headed to Willows. My friend Jeff Ashlock has invited me to a pheasant hunt at the Thunder Hill Pheasant Club. We meet at 8am and he introduces me to some of his friends. We are going to hunt with Jim and Justin. Jim has a great Springer Spaniel we’ll be using named ‘Shawnee’ Soon we are at our field and thanking our luck for the dry weather. The four of us spread out and start to walk the field behind the circling dog. I’m on the outside left with Jeff to my right. It’s not long before a bird flushes in front of Jeff and flies left in front of me. We both hit it and our first bird is in the bag. Everyone is shooting well and soon we’ve all shot a few birds. We’ve seen a few jackrabbits flushed and I hope to try for one if a shot presents itself. Towards the end of our hunt I’m on the outside right and Shawnee flushes a big rabbit that runs right. I’m on him and shoot and roll him at about thirty yards. Shawnee deposits him near me, he’s really big, much bigger than I expected. We finish the hunt getting one extra bird, a holdover from an adjacent field. I had a fantastic time. Always enjoy hunting with Jeff and it was great meeting some of the friends he’s told me about and hear their hunting stories from Africa. I forgot how much fun it is to shoot a shotgun and hunt upland game.