It is hard to believe that spring is already already upon us. I must admit that my favorite time of year is the fall. Heck… most hunting begins then and ends while the cool air is still lingering.
But that does not mean that the fat lady is done singing and hunting season has ended. No sir! This is Texas! Here, in this state, we are given hunting opportunities year-round unlike many other states.
Right now, my sights are on exotics and pigs. To be honest, I prefer the hog hunts. Those who know me know that I usually go after these bad boys with a stick and string, but now and again I would use one of my favorite rifles. My .30-06 is a bad machine and does a number on those feral hogs, but there are other calibers that do just as good a job. A .223 or .243 caliber rifle will put down a hog with ease. Actually, any rifle that has a large enough caliber will take out the hog out nicely.
Most hog hunters will tell you that hunting over a feeder is the way to go. Although that method works and works well, I am not so sure it is the best method. I once hunted these critters in the dead of summer. It was one of those mid 90-degree days and the humidity was 2000. At least it seemed that way. In short…it was HOT. I set up over a watering hole and just sat there and waited for the pigs to get thirsty. It was not long before I had my choice of hogs to shoot. By the time I got the animal back to the vehicle, I was quite thirsty myself, and water was not the only cool drink I was after.
Stalking for a shot at a feral hog can be exciting in itself. If you are a newbie at this sort of hunt, then let me give you just a little bit of advice. Stay alert and always be aware of an escape route for you should you need it. These beasts have been known to lie in wait on a hillside or under some nearby brush. If it strikes their fancy, for no reason at all, they may run after you in attack mode. Once, I had to quickly grab a tree branch and lift my legs up as the hog just kept running by me. I am sure he had evil on his mind, and I was going to be the recipient. As a matter of fact, now that I think of it that might have been the day I decided to hunt these critters with a rifle for a while.
Texas is just one state that is being overrun by wild pigs. It has the largest amount of feral hogs estimated to be between two and three million. They multiply very quickly. As a matter of fact, the joke among hog hunters is that when a sow has a dozen piglets, 13 of them survive. They adapt very well to whatever their surroundings are. Loss of habitat does not seem to bother these creatures. They can, and do live in and around our towns. What turned out to be a huge problem for Texas, has turned into a colossal business opportunity for some. The ranchers can buy a few hogs, let them roam on their property and very soon they will have too many of them around. Hunters are happy because there is always some action and plenty of pigs and the ranchers are happy because plenty of hunters are always willing to pay a few bucks to hunt these potentially dangerous animals.
Now, for all the bow hunters out there, let me remind you that your season for whitetails is fast approaching. You should have already been flinging a few arrows to keep your shooting muscles in shape, but if you have not, then chop chop… get to it.
The old saying stands true here that the more you practice, the better you will become. By taking the time to shoot a few arrows every day, your muscles will develop a “memory.” They will automatically pull the bow string back to where it has to be. You will automatically go to your anchor point without giving it a thought. Your eye will focus on your target quickly, and you will find that grouping your arrows will result in a tighter group with every week of practice that goes by.
A common mistake that bow hunters make while they practice is shooting too many arrows per session. I know of some that shoot for hours and cannot understand why the arrows are not grouping. Simply put, you are tired. You still feel like you physically have no problem shooting a few more, and you can, you just cannot be as accurate as you once were when your muscles were relaxed and fresh. It is enough to shoot 20 or 30 arrows in a session. It is more important to have quality shooting rather than quantity shooting.
If you are just starting out in this sport, then make it fun to practice. Shoot at a few balloons. As you get a little better, make the balloons smaller and smaller still until you are shooting at a small piece of the balloon. The smaller the target, the more accurate you will become.
Remember, you are not shooting at the animal, but rather a spot on that animal. You are not shooting at the whole side of that deer, but rather a single hair that is behind the front shoulder of that whitetail. If you pick a spot, and concentrate on that spot, you will find that it will become more and more natural for you when that breathing animal is in front of you, and you will be more successful this hunting season.
Have fun and hunt safe.
– Lou Marullo