Outdoor Journal: M70 does job on boar hunt
Several years ago, I met members of the Century Arms executive staff at the Easton View Outfitters Lodge in Washington County. Like several other gun manufacturers, they had selected Easton View as a place to test some of their firearms and enjoy hunting there, as well.
I got to shoot several of their AR-type guns and interview them for a story I did later. Each year, I visit all of the firearms manufacturers in search of those that I think should be included in that year’s Best of Show in my column. This year, I selected the Century Arms’ new import rifle, the standard/magnum .270-caliber M70 rifle, which I later found out was also quite a “shooter.”
Shortly after returning from the show, based on the premise (excuse) that I had never owned a .270 caliber and the fact that the late Jack O’Connor, the dean of gun writers, claimed this caliber to be his favorite, I ordered one. The day it arrived, I had a 3-9x40 KonusPro 550 sight mounted, grabbed a box of Federal Premium 130-grain Trophy Bonded Tip ammo and headed for the range. Joining me, as usual, was my friend Dave Rooney of Saratoga Springs, who has a knack for sighting in guns. And he definitely did his magic on this one.
The first three-shot group at 25 yards from the bench rest had two touching and one about an eighth of an inch away from a one-inch circle — impressive. Several elevation and windage adjustments brought everything into the center, and we moved out to 100 yards. The results were the same, again with only a few adjustments we had three shoots well within a one-inch group. And before leaving, I tried three at 50 yards, and the result was two through the same hole and the third almost touching. This gun is definitely a “shooter.”
Now, another excuse that I used for getting the .270 was an email that I got from a Gazette reader, Mike Hostetter of Mechanicville, who was interested in a boar hunt. Having hunted boars at Easton View several times before, I explained the detail of their hunts, and being polite, offered to join him. It was the perfect place to test the .270 and at the same time put a little ham, bacon, etc. in the freezer. And last Wednesday, the boar hunt became a reality.
Both Mike and I were eager and arrived before our scheduled 10 a.m. time and were greeted by Jim Tucker of Greenwich and Ken Sicko of Clifton Park, two of the guides. Jim explained the hunting methods that we could use, and we both decided that we would stay together and do a little sneaking and peeking, and see what happened. He suggested that we should begin in one of the upper heavy hedge rows, where he had been seeing a big Russian boar bedded several days earlier.
When we reached the upper field, I showed Mike where to set up on watch, and then I made a wide circle up around the other side of the hedgerow, where I would begin my drive. Temperatures were already in the 70s and the humidity was rising, and the combination of the full camo clothing made it even hotter. I was almost to the end of the hedgerow when I heard a snort, and just five feet from me, staring out of the heavy cover, was the boar. I had wanted Mike to shoot the first boar, but I quickly clicked my safety off just in case Mr. Boar decided to run over me in his escape — but he didn’t.
He spun around and crashed through the brush and into the field where Mike was set up. I watched Mike shoulder his 30.06, but he did not shoot. He told me that he did not shoot for two reasons: He did not like running shots, and he could not get the safety off. Mike was quite excited with his first wild boar encounter, but I could not resist teasing him about his first case of “pig fever.” I also told him that on my first boar hunt, years ago, I took two shots in the open at a standing broadside boar at 25 yards and missed.
Thinking I could move the boar out of his new hiding place, I sent Mike to slowly walk the edge of the heavy cover while I beat the bushes. Beat is a good word, because what I beat was me. It was really thick, and if he was in there, I didn’t find him. There were, however, several deer in there and every time one jumped up near me, my heart also jumped.
After a brief rest, I sent Mike up the edge of the hardwoods to watch a wet area halfway up the mountain. I waited about 20 minutes for him to get set up, and then I began my climb. I saw just about everything, in terms of animals that Easton View had roaming the woods. The whitetails were just beginning to get their racks, as were the big fallow bucks. But what really impressed me was a pair of black bucks that I actually got on video that came within five yards of me. In fact, while sitting halfway up the mountain, I had a dozen fallow deer trot by me within 10 yards. They, too, were captured on video.
As I was zigzagging my way up to Mike, I did spook a single boar from beneath a brush pile about 40 yards from me. I had just walked within two feet of that brush pile just a few minutes earlier. The boar had to see and hear me, and it never moved. I read somewhere that the boar/pig is No. 4 in animal intelligence, placing it just behind the chimpanzee. In any case, he managed to keep trees between him and me, and I never got the shot.
It was now after noon, and I sent Mike down to set up between a swamp and the pond in the far corner of the preserve. I would slowly make my way down to him. But in the next 90 minutes, I saw plenty of animals, only one of which was a boar — again out of range.
There was a short storm during our lunch break, and by 3 p.m., we were back in the preserve with Darb Tucker doing the guiding. We had just gone through a hedgerow and reached one of the preserves blinds when Mike said, “There’s one!” The boar was right behind us, about 100 yards sneaking down the field. And as Mike moved toward him, he quickly disappearing in a low area of the field. With his gun shouldered, Mike waited and he made a great shot of about 90 yards. When the boar stepped into a small two-foot opening Mike dropped his first Russian boar.
Fortunately, Easton View has a utility 4x4 ATV, because it would have been a long up-and-down hill drag. We loaded it on the 4x4 and Darb said, “Let’s take a ride around to see if we can find another one.” It was about 4:15 p.m. when we headed back toward the elevated blind where I was going to be dropped off and spend the rest of the day overlooking two large green fields. But I never got the chance to climb into that stand.
As we came out of the woods, Darb and Mike saw a boar at the far end of the field. He was moving quickly, and we headed diagonally through the hedgerow and the other field. Jumping out of the 4X4, I started downhill to try to in get in position if he crossed over. He did, but I could barely see him in the high grass and ditch-like area he was moving in.
When he stopped, I was about 100-plus yards from him and could see only his head, but now behind him was a paved road, so no shot there. I continued to move down the field to get a clear shot when he stopped and looked right at me and then made a move like he was going to come right at me. If he continued, he would have to go into a little valley less than 10 yards from me, which would have given me a clear head-on shot and taken the road out of the line of fire. But he decided not to, and I watched him disappear into the heavy cover.
When I looked back, Darb was already headed down to pick me up, he said, “Jump in. If he continues through that wood lot, I know where he may come out.” He was right on the money, because we hadn’t been there more than five or 10 minutes when I saw two black ears in the tall green grass.
Slowly, I moved toward him, but seeing him clearly was difficult in the tall grass. I could see the grass moving and finally got a glimpse of his broadside and took the shot. I hit him, and he was down but still thrashing. Another round from the M70 ended the hunt. Once we got to the boar, he was behind a large log that I did not see when I was shooting, and apparently the first shot may have ricocheted off of it before hitting the boar.
Looking back on our seven-plus-hour day chasing Russian boars at Easton View Outfitters, it was a very enjoyable and challenging hunt. And there is a very good chance Mike and I will be doing it again next year. For information on Easton View hunts, click here.
You can also see the two boars at www.noonanpics.blogspot.com.