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Pigs Everywhere

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? I was bow hunting wild pigs with my good friend Steve Kensett and was sitting on what we call The Log when he came up with the perfect plan. The spot we were hunting was a good two mile hike from the truck and in a spot where we always like to sit and glass. It is perfectly located at the top of a hill that overlooks a large area full of places for pigs to hide. The area has plenty of cover, broken terrain and is mountain goat steep. It is also the best pig habitat I have ever seen. The area is so tilled up from the pigs it looks like someone went through there with a rototiller. This year was especially evident because of the outstanding acorn crop, the pigs where tearing up the place trying to get every last one.

Pigs Everywhere
In territory like this there is plenty of room for pigs to hide. Photos courtesy of the author

Steve had hunted the area the previous couple of days before my arrival and had been seeing pigs but hadn’t been able to arrow one. We had been sitting on the log for a short time and weren’t seeing anything. Normally we like to stick it out for a while there because the spot usually seems to produce. This time Steve felt like we needed to move and make something happen. He said he had that gut feeling, a feeling you develop as a hunter over time and you don’t question. I have found that I am more successful when I follow my gut feeling just like when you are walking that game trail and you come to a fork in it, sometimes you just get that good feeling about the one to take.

Pigs Everywhere, Pig Wallow, Francisco Garcia,
Pigs like to wallow in mudholes. Look for them after a good rain.

Steve knows the place like the back of his hand and knew where we might find us some pigs. He proposed we hike a bit further and each take a separate drainage and follow it up the steep mountainside. The plan was to still hunt the area, slowly and methodically, then meet at the top by a huge oak tree for lunch and possibly a much needed power nap. The miles of hiking the steep terrain and the four a.m. wake up were taking its toll on us. I took the left drainage and began doing my usual routine of taking two or three steps and stopping to listen and glass the area around me for any sign of a pig. While bow hunting getting the drop on your quarry can be the difference from coming home empty handed or home with a trophy. Your chances increase greatly if you are able to see the animal first which gives you the luxury of coming up with a game plan. If the animal sees or senses you first, chances are you will only catch a fleeting glimpse of it as it hightails it out of there. Also you are able to shoot at animals that are relaxed and allows for good shot angles. I had been painfully inching my way up the mountain and was not seeing much fresh sign, it was hard to maintain my focus and keep from walking too fast. Walking too fast and not paying the required attention can be one of the biggest obstacles in successful bow hunting. The sport of bow hunting is a great teacher of patience.

Steve Kensett, Pigs Everywhere, Francisco Garcia,
Be prepared to cope with steep terrain and lots of underbrush when hunting wild pigs. Steve made a great shot on this sow.

I had been fighting the urge to move faster and was nearing the top of the hill when suddenly I heard that oh so sweet sound; rustling leaves caused by the many feet of running pigs. I instinctively nocked an arrow and got ready to shoot. The sounds had stopped just as fast as they had started but I knew to hang tight and let the pigs make the next move. I still had not located them; I just knew they were nearby somewhere up ahead of me. After what seemed like a long time but was probably only half a minute or so the sounds started up again and began coming my way. I had been walking along a fence line that had hotwire at the bottom and figured the hogs would hit the fence and follow it right to me. I was below a little rise and could not see the pigs when they got to the fence. I waited again for a few seconds but saw no pigs coming my way. I then got a bad feeling and quickly ran up to where I could see them. There they were disappearing through a large hole in the bottom of the fence and off to the neighbor’s property they went. If I would have known about the hole I could have positioned myself closer to it and easily shot one instead of waiting for them to come to me. Needless to say I was greatly disappointed and kicking myself. Regardless of this I still knew better to quit now and let my guard down. I quickly regained my composure and continued sneaking along hoping that there were still some pigs around; second chances do happen you know. I had only walked another thirty yards when I heard the unmistakable sound of a bow being fired and was quickly followed by a loud THWACK. A sound more beautiful to the bow hunter does not exist. Once I heard that I knew Steve had just arrowed a pig. I then prepared myself for a possible shot and listened intently for pigs running in my direction. As luck would have it they were indeed running my way and most likely were intent on escaping through the hole the other pigs had just used.

Pigs Everywhere, Francisco Garcia,
It takes some skill to dress, carve up and pack out a pig of this size. It may take more than one trip. The hunter should be in good condition and well prepared.

Lucky for me, I was standing right in their path, they’d have to pass right by me to get to it. When I saw them they were nervously following the fence line towards me. There again was a small rise between the pigs and I so I drew my bow and kneeled down so they wouldn’t see me until they came over the rise and were at point blank range. When they came over the rise at thirty yards I could see that the larger of the two was wobbling badly and then when it turned I could see that it was the one my friend had just shot. I then instantly focused my attention on the other pig knowing that this was an opportunity I could not afford to let slip away; it could be my last one. The pig kept coming my way as it picked its way through the brush, when it was about fifteen yards from me it finally spotted me. It had been walking straight at me the whole time so I wasn’t able to shoot earlier. When it finally saw me it freaked out and turned to its right and ran right smack into the fence. The pig bounced off it and then wheeled around to try and escape the other way but as it did it offered me a quick broadside shot. Forced to take a quick shot my arrow flew high and took it in the spine, dropping it in its tracks. I ended up having to give it a finishing shot. After meeting up with my friend we gave each other the customary high fives and congratulations then began the arduous task of breaking two pigs down for the hike out. Both pigs were sows and had more fat on them than any other wild pig I’ve ever seen. They resembled the pigs my father raised for slaughter when I was a kid; straight butter balls. Steve’s pig was exceptionally large, we could barely move it around while field dressing it. Steve made a great shot on it too. It was below him at a steep angle, he gave it a perfect behind the shoulder pocket rocket. It took us two days to pack out both animals; luckily we both brought our pack frames and plenty of rope for hanging the other in a tree until the next day.

Steve’s plan worked perfectly the pigs just weren’t moving much, they were bedding down in the thick cover before first light, probably due to the full moon conditions we were experiencing. By covering ground we were able to find the pigs and seal the deal. The pigs had been bedded at the top of the hill where we had planned to meet. Wild pigs love to lie under manzanita bushes and that is what was in abundance at the top. Steve had unknowingly kicked up the group that ran past me then kicked up the ones we shot a few minutes later. We even jumped another pig that was enjoying a mud bath in a large wallow along the trail as we packed the first pig out. This was a pig hunting day to remember, pigs everywhere, plus two down, it never happens like this. It is exiting enough just to find the pigs and then make an attempt at taking one. We got a double this time; in bow hunting you rarely see that. Hopefully there will be many more days like this in my hunting future. Good Hunting!

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