R ecently, I had the pleasure of meeting Ken Swenson and his family during a hunting trip in Orange, Texas. Chester Moore, editor for Texas Fish and Game magazine, had arranged for me to go on a varmint hunt with Ken, but this was not just any varmint hunt… oh no! I was about to learn all about night hunting for these critters.
Ken, who some would say, is an expert at coyote and hog hunting, thought it would be fun to take me hunting at night with some very cool equipment. Let me preface this by saying I have been fortunate enough to have taken coyotes before with my Bowtech bow, but that was in the light of day. Night hunting was new to this writer.
I loved it!
We arrived at the Swenson ranch late in the afternoon and were greeted by Ken, who immediately gave us a tour of his facility. He raises whitetails and sells the sperm of these genetically perfect deer to anyone who wants to improve the genetics of their own herd.
Some of the bucks we saw looked so majestic as they stood watching us from the safety of the high fenced pen that was their home. As I stared at some of the biggest bucks I have ever seen, I could feel my heart racing at the thought of seeing a whitetail like this in my shooting lane in some future hunting season. That could explain why I was so tired that evening.
After our brief tour, Ken showed me some sheds that they saved. There, on a wall in one of his buildings, were some of the most impressive racks that I have ever seen. I held up a huge rack and was told that it belonged to a two-year-old buck. WHAT?? Then he handed me a rack that was in velvet and told me that it was from a three-year-old. Hard to believe, but there was the proof right in front of me.
I asked Ken about those impressive bucks and how do they keep them from injuring each other during the rut each year. He explained to me that they need to cut the racks off before that happens.
My next question was “ Who gets elected for THAT job?” After we all stopped laughing, Ken showed us exactly how it was done, and I have to tell you that I was totally impressed with his operation. Our video guy, Elliot, filmed Ken explaining to us exactly how it was done, and you can view that in our digital version of this magazine.
After meeting his beautiful wife and family, we had a hearty dinner and finally left for the evening hunt. Unfortunately, Chester could not join us because of a previous commitment for his radio show, which is every Friday evening, so Ken and I proceeded to the fields to try our luck at a coyote. Chester was to meet us later that night.
On the way to our hunting spot I got to chat with Ken and tried to “pick his brain” just a little about these wily coyotes. I asked him what I should expect as far as their behavior. Do they always approach the open field from downwind? I was curious what call he would use and how far from the call will we set up?
He was such a great guy and made this novice varmint hunter feel comfortable. I had the strong feeling that this guy really knows how to get these critters, and I was right. Now, all we needed was a coyote to oblige.
The first thing Ken did was explain to me the firearm I was going to use. For any hunters that use equipment that is not yours, it is absolutely imperative that the owner of the firearm explain where everything is—the safety, the night vision for the sight, how to adjust focus, eye relief and other things that you would need to know before you go afield.
As we stood in the dark, we both heard something move in the nearby hedge. Ken turned on his night vision and there as plain as day, was a field mouse working his way down the hedge. I was amazed at how sensitive these night vision scopes were and was very excited to try them out.
After checking wind direction, we started to set up on the edge of a field but after looking the field over with his night vision, Ken decided on a different spot that could cover the entire field. Finally, we were set up, ready to hunt. The only thing missing were the coyotes!
Now, I have met some funny people in my travels but I have to say that Ken Swenson is in my top three funny guys I have ever met. We sat there in the dark, and he was making me laugh so hard that it was difficult to hold it in so I would not break the silence of the night air.
Chester Moore finally called to join us, but we decided to pack it in and re-locate the next evening. I spent another hour at the Swenson ranch talking strategy…I mean, funny stories.
Chester, his wife Lisa and I listened to Ken telling us things that actually happened to him that were hilarious. The topper of the evening was when I had the honor and privilege to play a guitar that once belonged to Ken’s father.
The next night found us in a different field. Ken had placed a Primos moving decoy that resembled a wounded animal and then set his Fox Pro call five feet from the decoy. He camouflaged the call with some grass and from a distance of about 100 yards, we waited for our prey.
The “wounded rabbit” sound could be heard for quite a distance, and it was not long before I saw eyes in my night vision scope. Behind me, Chester had an infra-red locater and confirmed that it was indeed a coyote I was looking at. Once it was confirmed, I shot twice… and missed twice.
Oh well… that is why they call it “hunting” and not “shopping.” Ken left me with an open invitation whenever I was in his “neck of the woods,” to stop by for another hunt anytime. I had so much fun that I will definitely take him up on that offer.
Email Lou Marullo at [email protected]