LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015
Deer season is quickly approaching, and I’m anxiously putting the wraps on summertime chores in preparation for opening day. While I struggle to find much love for the smoking hot months of summer, I do love the anticipation and preparation that comes during these months before deer season. Over the course of summer, my practice routine quickly becomes a daily ritual, and I find myself longing for live targets. In recent years I’ve found some temporary relief as I wait on opening day by hunting hogs. While some people scoff at the idea of hunting anything with temperatures hanging out in the 90’s, I love the opportunity to put new gear to the test, sharpen hunting skills, and shed a little blood as I wait on opening day of deer season. And I honestly can’t think of a better critter to pursue than hogs when it comes to off-season bowhunting action.
Hogs in the meat wagon always result in big smiles.
Texas Testing Grounds
While we do have hogs here in my home state of Tennessee, the go-to place for me to shoot hogs continues to be Texas. Texas Parks & Wildlife biologists estimate there are 1.5 million feral hogs in Texas. Feral hogs are not protected in Texas. There are no bag limits or hunting season for them. With hogs being capable of breeding at less than 10 months of age, their numbers can quickly get out of control, causing very destructive pasture, farm, and crop damage. Texas hogs are truly the ideal solution for the bowhunter looking for live targets.
I recently joined a few other outdoor writers and the crew from Feradyne Outdoors to chase hogs at MMK Outfitters in Cameron Texas. My goal for this trip was to try out my new Mathews Creed XS bow and a quiver full of Carbon Express Maxima Red arrows tipped with the new Rage KORE broadheads and Nockturnal lighted nocks. It would be field testing at its finest! At least that’s what we had hoped for. But with extreme heat warnings and incredibly high winds, the hogs played hardball. A couple of the guys, and one gal, did manage to score on hogs before the weather took a turn for the worse. Their well-placed shots led to short bloodtrails, dead hogs, and plenty of big smiles. I personally had a few really young hogs show up at my blind right before dark on the first evening, but ultimately shot opportunities proved slim.
A ThermaCELL is a must as you fight mosquitoes on hot weather hunts.
Beating the Heat
It seems like everything in Texas will bite you, prick you, or stick you, but the two biggest battles when hunting Texas just might be the heat and fighting off mosquitoes. Scorching temperatures combined with mosquitoes buzzing in your face while sitting on stand is a recipe for disaster. Be sure to pack plenty of water or other fluids to keep you hydrated on these hunts. A small cooler full of drinks and snacks are a game changer, no doubt. Prior to arriving at the ranch on my recent Texas hunt, we made a stop at a local sporting goods store to stock up on ThermaCELL and plenty of refills for these units. The ThermaCELL unit is a lifesaver when you’re hunting or hanging out in mosquito country. It is one piece of gear that I’ve learned not to leave home without.
Hog hunting in the off-season is a great way to test new bowhunting gear.
I’ll never forget the look on one outfitter’s face when he saw the blood trail that came from a devastating wound I’d inflicted on a hog with a mechanical broadhead several years back. He admits that up until that hunt he had frowned upon mechanical broadheads for hogs. After seeing the wound and the bloodtrail, he quickly became a believer. Hogs typically hang out in some of the thickest, nastiest cover you’ll ever find in Texas. For this reason I like a broadhead capable of cutting huge holes. On my recent Texas hunt I had the opportunity to tag along with Ben Gustafson of North American Hunting Club after he shot his first hog with his Mission bow. The hog ran just 30 yards after taking a Rage KORE broadhead to the vitals. As the name implies, the KORE head cuts a huge “KORE” out of whatever gets in its way. It’s a 3 blade head with a 1.5” cutting diameter that proved to be a great head for hogs. Another great mechanical head for bowhunting hogs is the NAP Killzone MAXX. This 2 blade rear deploying head brings a devastating 2 3/8” cutting diameter. A hog simply cannot handle a wound of this magnitude in its ribcage. For quick and short bloodtrails on hogs, I’ll go with mechanicals every time.
Are you looking for a better way to build your bowhunting practice routine? Nothing compares to live targets. Beat the heat! Put your gear to the test. Don’t overlook hogs for the ultimate off-season bowhunting opportunity.