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Texas is infested with feral hogs. Current estimates put the statewide population at over 2 million. We have early Spanish explorers from 300 years ago to thank for the invasion. As colonization increased, more domestic hogs were allowed to roam free. Today’s wild pigs are the descendants from those early settlers stock. With each passing generation, the pigs lose their domestic traits and become more adapt at surviving in the wild.
In Texas, it’s legal to hunt hogs year-round with no bag limit. Fall and winter are my favorite times to hunt them. Food is limited, so they are vulnerable around crops or corn feeders. Spot and stalk is effective and fun, but these days I shoot most of my pigs around bait, mostly because where I hunt the pigs are only visible the last few minutes of the day, if at all. Not enough time for a stalk, so sitting over bait works better. Texas has too many hogs and I make no apologies for thinning the numbers any way legal.
Average size of a mature wild pig is 100-200 pounds. But a few old boars with good feed available will tip the scales to 300 pounds or more. Old boars are sneaky, nocturnal vampires. Seeing one in good shooting light is rare. The average life expectancy, under good conditions, in a wild hog population is about 4 to 5 years; however, they may live up to 8 years. An old, sneaky boar with sharp cutters is a trophy to be proud of right up there with a buck for the wall.
The first time I was aware of the hulk-sized hog was on October 22, 2011. I was checking my trail camera in a remote Panhandle river bottom. Five photos of the big boar were plainly visible around a corn feeder. He was traveling with a herd of smaller hogs. Surprisingly, the big boar was caught on the Cuddeback in daylight. In my neck of the woods, it’s rare to see old boars in good shooting light. For most of the year, boars are loners. They typically join a herd only because a sow is in heat. That same afternoon, I hunted that tripod stand. Well aware that the abundant hogs were ruining one of my best deer spots. It was time for some pig control.
Late in the day, six hogs mobbed the corn feeder. I waited and waited, but the big boar never showed. At 19 yards, my 61 pound Hoyt Carbon Matrix Plus punched a carbon arrow through the lead sow’s chest. The other pigs milled around in confusion. My second arrow took a smaller hog through both shoulders. The survivors kicked up dust on their way to the next county! Texas has too many pigs, and I was doing my part to slow the invasion.
The date was November 8. Before climbing aboard the same tripod stand, I checked the trail camera. There were lots of turkey photos, a handful of deer images and some pictures of small pigs. The pig pictures were mostly after dark. The big boar had not been on the camera in more than two weeks.
A flock of 18 turkeys milled around my stand early in the afternoon. The wind blew a gale, gusting over 30 mph. The north wind was bitter cold, sending frozen tears down the sides of my numb face. I was hoping the raging cold front would persuade big bucks, and maybe the big boar, to move early.
Coming single file, I counted five small hogs headed down the ravine. It was still early in the evening. At 20 yards, I punched a broadhead through the closest target. The others turned and trotted into thick cedars to the north, growling and grunting as they retreated. Then, all was silent again, except the howling wind.
It was sunset when two small whitetail bucks fed within range. They’d been there for 20 minutes when they cranked their heads to look towards the creek. Daylight was dying. Through my binoculars, I spied the massive boar, all by himself, walking slowly towards my stand.
His long, curly tail was swishing back and forth like a moo cow as he plodded closer. He popped his teeth, foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog, salivating for some free corn. The whitetails were nervous, wanting no part of the hairy monster. The two bucks gave the big tusker some room, trotting 40 yards away to stand and stare. The big boar took over the corn pile.
The boar fed facing me for an eternity. I was waiting for the right angle. You just don’t take iffy shot angles on big boars. Their concrete-like skeleton and thick hide, sometimes 2-3 inches thick around the chest and front shoulders, demands nothing less than a perfectly-placed arrow through the ribs. There was also the gusting wind to consider.
With every passing second, the shooting light was fading. Finally, he turned and gave me the silhouette I wanted; perfect broadside. I eased the 61 pound Hoyt to full draw.
At 19 yards, my 390 grain carbon missile and 3-bladed CS Montec broadhead sunk in up to the bright chartreuse fletching in the crease behind his left shoulder. He instantly took off like a freight train, running through the bottom of the cedar tree that contained my stand. I was glad I was hunting off the ground!
I watched him charge across a sagging barbed wire fence behind me, and then lost sight of him behind the trees in the darkness.
By the time I gathered my gear and climbed down, it was slap dark. I followed the path the hard-hit hog had taken for 100 yards, but found no blood. Trailing a massive, wounded boar with nothing more than a flashlight sounded like a dumb way to die, so I made the long hike to the truck. I’d return with the rising sun.
The following day, I took up the trail. I found my broken arrow about 50 yards from the impact site. I followed a few scuff marks across parched soil, but found no blood. Through perseverance and blind luck, I found the tank-sized boar 250 yards away under a cedar. He was dead as a stone. And he was huge!
My arrow had indeed entered halfway up from the bottom of his chest, tight behind his left shoulder. Due to the steep downward angle from the tripod, the exit hole was low and slightly back on the opposite side. I caught center of one lung, barely nicked the rear of the offside lung and clipped the liver. Due to the boar’s hairy hide and speedy escape, next to zero blood hit the ground, although I suspect he was dead within seconds.
That’s a common concern when shooting big boars with archery tackle. Due to their thick hide and bear-like, shaggy hair, good blood trails are rare. So make the shot count, preferably through both lungs. Broadside or slightly quartering away is best. Shot placement is everything on a hog!
When I rolled the hairy monster over for photos, I noticed something sharp in his back. It was a broken carbon shaft! It was high in his back on the right side, mid body. I tugged and tugged, but it would not come out. Using my Buck knife, I cut the 3-inch thick back hide and extracted the errant shaft. On the end of six inches of splintered carbon shaft was a 3-bladed broadhead. It was in good condition with one of the blades still fairly sharp.
I have no idea when or where the broken arrow hit the boar. For at least one mile in every direction, there are no other bow hunters in that area. Hogs can travel long distances in search of food, often at night, so he could have been shot two, three or five miles away from there. It’s a mystery where the injury occurred. But he showed no ill-effects from the broken arrow. Further proof that shot placement is everything!
I never put him on a scale, but the girth measurement behind his front shoulders was 47 inches. From the tip of his nose to the base of his tail was 59 inches. I think a fair estimate on his live weight was 275-300 pounds. That’s a big boar!
On closer inspection of my trail camera photos from October 22, I could plainly see the broken shaft high in his back. He’d been toting it around for a minimum of 17 days, probably much longer.
Big boars are tough targets with archery tackle. Wait for the right angle, take your time lining up the shot, and put a scary-sharp fixed blade broadhead through both lungs. Stop the invasion and send another one to hog heaven!