As a part-time snow bird, in addition to my daily fishing in the Intercoastal Waterway, I spend one day chasing wild hogs.
This year, I returned to West Shore Outfitters, 15 minutes from Daytona Beach, Florida. In addition to hogs, they offer deer, alligator, Osceola turkey hunts, fresh and saltwater bowfishing. They claim a 99 percent hog success rate, there are no trophy or cleaning fees and a hunting license is not required. The website is www.westshoreoutfitters.com.
Joining my hog hunting this year was my good friend Glenn Garver, who recently moved from New York State to Florida. Also joining us was Chris Stewart of Land Of Lakes, Florida, and Jim Bubb of Clifton Park, who was visiting me and sat with me in my treestand.
This year, I chose to downsize my gun to a Zastava Arms .223-caliber rifle with a Leupold 3-9×40 scope. I chose Hornady’s new 50-grain GMX full boar ammo. Prior to the hunt, this combination gave me sub-one inch, three-shot groups at 100 yards.
It was pleasant a sunny
70-degree afternoon when our guide, Bill Ransom, met us at the gate. Even though I’d been there before, I was fascinated with this huge Florida swamp in which we were to going to hunt. It was definitely “ideal” hog country.
The ride in, sitting in the bed of a truck, was also interesting as we went through mud holes with water high enough to trickle into the back of the truck.
Chris was first off at a ladder treestand overlooking the feeding area. Glenn was next with a very comfortable looking ground blind about 40 yards from a feeding area. Last were Jim and I, and we climbed into a 15-foot high, two-man ladder stand.
Unlike a whitetail treestand set up where you can see a good distance around, the swamp trees and brush cover was so dense seeing an incoming animal was very limited, but we could clearly see where the hogs were entering.
As readers who hunt know, the anticipation and adrenaline level sitting in a ground blind or treestand is high and both Jim and I continuously watched all the incoming trails for any movement. At 5 p.m., Jim whispered, “This is the magic time.” About a half-hour later he whispered, “There,” and pointed to a hole in the brush. Only its head was visible, but I had the hog in the crosshairs immediately.
The first hog out was a white and brown mix, followed by a larger black that became my target. Right the first black was an even bigger black which then became my target. I had a frontal shot and decided to wait, never letting him out of Leupold field.
When it turned and no other hogs came out, I centered the crosshairs on its right shoulder and gently squeezed the trigger. It dropped to the ground immediately. I admit I had my doubts about using a .223 on this hunt, but that Hornady Full Boar bullet and Leupold scope made me a believer.
Shortly after the shot, Jim and I climbed down and walked to my hog. We heard a single shot. We later found was Chris downing his hog. Glenn also had some action. He missed a head shot, and a short time later, missed when his bullet found a small sapling before reaching the big hog’s heart. See you next year Bill.
Reach Gazette outdoors columnist Ed Noonan at [email protected]
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