Sitting in the deep shade of a creek bottom on the upper end of Lake Fork at my friend Jeff Rice’s Buck and Bass Ranch, I could almost believe it was fall. The temperature had dropped into the chilly low nineties, and there was just enough breeze to keep the mosquitoes at bay.
Although the official date for the beginning of fall was still a few days away, Jeff and I were eager to get some hunting video for our weekly outdoor show — and some fresh pork in the freezer to put to use at hunting camps this fall.
At camp earlier the day of our hunt, Jeff asked if I had ever simply set up a portable camp chair near a corn feeder and hunted hogs ‘out in the open’.
“Luke, that back feeder across the creek has not been hunted in several weeks, and there is tons of wild hog sign all around the area. The hogs are lying up around the water’s edge during the day and hitting the feeder during the last hour or so of daylight.
"We could set up a couple of folding camp chairs about 25 yards downwind of the feeder, and you will hopefully make your first harvest with your new Gearhead compound bow. I will be able to film without brush or leaves obscuring my view,” says Jeff as we sit in air-conditioned comfort at the camp house.
The more I thought about sitting in a hot, confined hunting blind with no air moving, the better the idea of sitting out in the open sounded.
I had been shooting my new bow at targets for a couple of weeks, and with one sight pin set dead-on at 25 yards, I feel totally comfortable at making any shot in the relatively tight cover that was offered.
Through the years, I have taken many wild hogs while still hunting or stalking through the woods, but I had never set up in a folding camp chair with almost no cover to hunt around a corn feeder. This hunt would be challenging and require every bit of stealth the two of us could muster, especially if a sounder of hogs came in. One hog has two eyes, but a sounder of ten has TWENTY eyes — and every hunter knows how ‘wired’ wild hogs are when coming into a feeder!
Jeff and I crossed the creek on a rickety old footbridge and checked the direction of a gentle breeze that occasionally stirred the leaves. The prevailing wind direction was from the swamp that leads down to the lake, but the wind was not constant; it occasionally swirled around from behind us.
We had sprayed down with Scent Guardian by Texas Raised Hunting Products, and I felt confident that regardless of what the wind did, the porkers would not detect us. I’m sure we were the first humans to set foot in this remote area since Jeff had last put corn in the feeder, several weeks earlier.
A backwoods bottomland is a very tranquil place, and as we settled into our seats, the only sound that could be heard was a woodpecker back in the woods drumming on a dead tree.
We set as still as possible, keeping eyes and ears tuned to the vast bottomland that went on for miles past the feeder we were watching. I go into all hunts with a positive mindset and can sit for hours without seeing game. But with all the signs on the ground in this remote, undisturbed place, situated smack dab in the middle of some of the best wild hog hunting in the state, I was especially optimistic.
There was absolutely no guessing which direction the hogs might come; the only thing we knew for sure is that they would not approach from behind. The creek was 20 yards behind us, and there were 180 degrees of visibility in front to watch.
About 45 minutes before dark, Jeff whispered that he had heard hogs off to our right, and from that point forward, we went into stealth mode. I shifted around a bit to get into shooting position and waited.
There is something very exciting about waiting for a sounder of hogs to approach. It’s impossible for traveling hogs to remain quiet as they move through the woods, and from what I was hearing, this sounded like a large sounder.
Then without hesitation, about 15 wild porkers came trotting out of the brush. They stopped, as wild hogs often do, when they sighted the feeder and tested the wind to make sure all was clear. Then, they came running in and do what hogs do: They began gobbling up the corn.
There was a good size boar, probably weighing about 175 pounds and lots of smaller hogs of all sizes.
I am sure Jeff was honing the camera in on the big boar with expectations of me settling my sights on the biggest hog in the bunch, but I had other plans.
I wanted a couple of hams to cure and take with me on an upcoming muzzleloader hunt in New Mexico — besides, my sister had placed an order for some fresh back straps. She cuts the straps into thick pieces, fries them with garlic and onion and then makes smothered pork with rice and gravy. She needed some tender pork to accomplish this!
It took a couple of minutes, which seemed like thirty, for the porkers to settle down and become comfortable. I settled the bow’s sight pin on a fat ‘eater’ hog, and the arrow flew true. There was no tracking for this one. Jeff later told me that he was glad he had widened the view in the camera’s lens to encompass several of the hogs.
“I just had a feeling you were going to shoot that fat sow instead of the big boar. Luckily I widened the camera’s view and captured the shot,” he said.
He was right! Sugar-cured smoked ham and smothered pork loin dinners were to be on the menu soon.
Contact outdoors writer Luke Clayton via his website www.catfishradio.org.