Hunting The Back Woods

NAH Staff Writer Luke Clayton had to “downscale” his gear for this pack in hunt. Here is what he actually backed into the woods for the hunt.

As an very active outdoors writer for the past 28 years, I’ve had the opportunity to hunt hogs in a great many places with a great many fine folks but I also have a spot about 1 mile from my house that usually holds a good number of wild porkers and my corn feeders keeps “traveling” sounders around when they pass through.  When I feel the need for a close to home hunt and some fresh pork chops, I begin by scouting on a day to day basis, checking trail cameras and watching the wet spots in the roads for tracks to see just how many hogs are in the area.  Hogs in my area are almost entirely nocturnal so night hunting is the name of the game.

In the very back of the place, I have one of my Snap Lock Hunting Blinds set up at a measured 52 yards from a corn feeder. There is an ATV trail leading back to the place and I usually access it via my electric “hunting buggy” which my Buddy Ken Blackstock at Plano Golf Carts sold me about 6 years ago. He begins with An EZ GO golf cart body and adds a heavy controller, heavy duty motor, big tires, beefed up suspension, bed, rack, etc. etc. The finished product is one heck of a hunting machine. We use these ramped up golf carts in our outfitting business for archery elk and bear hunts in Colorado each fall. Anything mechanical occasionally has problems and just before this hunt, a tiny micro switch on the accelerator gave out and I just didn’t have time to take my buggy in for the quick fix. So.. I decided to do this hunt “old school”. I made plans to walk the quarter mile or so from the nearest road where I parked my truck, hopefully kill a particular young boar I had patterned on my trail cameras, quarter him up and pack him out.

Preparation began a couple days before this planned hunt. What would be the bare essentials for packing back into this remote spot and then getting the meat out? There was a route by water but I would have to cut a trail through some dense willows in a couple of spots to get my little boat back to where I planned to hunt. So, I would walk in and pack the meat out. I’m in my mid sixties and welcomed the challenge. I’m in fairly good shape for an old guy and I wanted to prove to myself I could still do it (you younger guys will understand this some day!)

The day before the hunt, I unloaded the usual day pack I use and pared things down to the bare essentials. ONE sharp knife (instead of the 3 I usually carry), 2 inexpensive but very functional LED lights with hooks so that I could hang them on a low limb during the hog quartering process, followed by a flannel rag for hand and knife cleaning while quartering the hog, a small flashlight,  my Pulsar Digiforce monocular, a must for scanning the night woods, a bottle of drinking water and a couple of homemade carrying straps I fashioned from two 3 foot pieces of nylon webbing I cut from a worn out ratchet tie down strap and parachute cord. I tied knots in the ends of the webbing, punched holes through the webbing above the knots and ran two foot pieces or cord.  My plan was to run the cord through the hams and shoulders and “thread” the backstraps on. I would put the rag on my shoulder to serve as a pad and walk the meat out IF I was successful. 

Just before dark, I readied my little Mossberg bolt action Patrol .223 loaded with Hornady 50 grain FULL BOAR ammo. The rifle is topped with a Photon XT digital scope which I fine perfect for my night hunting. I hunt isolated spots usually around feeders and have the time and ability to precisely choose and place my shots at ranges from 50-70 yards.  I made the mile drive from my house to the woods and parked the truck a quarter mile from where this night hunt was to take place.

I entered and closed the door on my Snap Lock Hunting Blind about ten minutes before darkness enveloped the isolated spot I was hunting. Soon, owls began talking to each other and my hair stood on end as a beaver in the pond about 20 feet behind my blind broke the silence with a resounding slap of his tail. A pack of coyotes began their evening hunt with a serenade from the depth of the woods straight in front of my hunting area.  The sights and sounds of a night hunt are, to me, almost as exciting as when the hog actually steps out of the blackness into my field of vision provided by the digital scope and monocular.

The standard parade of raccoons soon began. I could hear the quarrelsome critters chirruping around the feeder as they crunched the corn. Jupiter was high in the western sky and the first planet I observed on this “dark” moonless night. Some folks enjoy spending time on a manicured golf course but give me some time in the backwoods. Hunts like this have always rejuvenated me and washed away the day to day cares that go hand in hand with living in a modern day fast paced civilization.

After two hours of watching the heavens, listening to owls and coyotes and.. raccoons.  I again pulled my Pulsar Digiforce monocular up to my eye and scanned the area around my feeder and the woodline behind the feeder. Then, there he was! A good sized boar had walked up to the backside of the feeder. I instantly put my monocular down and grabbed the .223 topped with the Photon XT. With the Infra Red setting at its lowest power, I had no problem instantly identifying my target. I waited until the hog turned perfectly broadside and settled the crosshairs on the center of his neck, a few inches behind his ears. There was no need to rush the show. There was a steady breeze blowing from the feeder to me. When everything seemed perfect, I nudged the trigger and the night silence was broken by the sharp crack of the little rifle. When I recovered from the shot and settled the Photon XT back on the spot where the hog was standing, I could make out his outline, lying right where he was standing. This was the fifth hog I’ve taken from this area with the same rifle topped with the Photon. This was my first time to have the convenience of using a quality monocular and I don’t plan to do any more night hunting without it. 

I took one of the inexpensive little “Walmart” LED lights, hooked it under a low hanging mesquite limb, and laboriously pulled the boar under the light. Here I removed the 4 quarters and backstraps, placing them on my homemade meat straps. My plan worked like a charm. I placed my rags on top of my shoulders, then loaded the meat and took my time walking out. There is something very rewarding to me about a successful hog hunt and all the quality meat it supplies.

Back at the house, I turned my little freezer on, placed a couple of plastic feed sacks in the bottom and went to work with a water hose cleaning the quarters. I removed the quarters, hide on and the meat was easy to clean. The next day, I ground all the meat and, using some summer sausage seasoning and 3 pound casings I get from Butcher Packer Supply I had my very fresh sausage ready for several of low temperature and smoke in my  Smokin Tex Electric Smoker.  The boar I shot was roaming the woods one evening and in my smoker the next. I LOVE IT when a plan comes together!