Last month I enjoyed the wonderful opportunity to participate in a guided hunt for wild hogs at Tejon Ranch in the Angeles Mountains. (That’s the range between the Great Central Valley of California and the Los Angeles Basin. It divides the Valley from Southern California.)
The ranch is an enormous holding that resulted from the combination over the years of three Spanish land grants. Today they run the premier hunting club in all of California, offering elk, mule deer, hogs, varmints, and upland birds.
Our hunt was scheduled for parts of three days, arriving on a Tuesday afternoon and leaving on Thursday afternoon. We stayed in a very comfortable lodge — a house with three large bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen, and a very comfortable den with a massive stone fireplace. All our meals were provided and cooked for us. I carried a Remington 700 in .270 caliber. BY California law, we were required to use non-lead ammunition, so I loaded Federal Premium Vital-Shok TSX in 130 grain (Barnes).
Our guide, Stephen, has been on the ranch all his life. His father and grandfather both work there as well. Stephen knew the ranch like the back of his hand. Given that the ranch is 280,000 acres, that’s quite a statement! He was incredibly knowledgeable about the habits and locations of the pigs.
On the first evening, we saw only one boar that was in shooting range. I hurried the shot and missed. I went back to the cabin disappointed, and dtermined not to make the same mistake again. The next morning we set out before daylight, and just a minute or so from the cabin ran accross a herd of pigs crossing a grassy hillside. Unfortunately, it was too dark to take a shot. After about an hour and a half of searching for another herd, we finally spotted some on a hillside about a mile away, accross a small valley. We drove the truck around the edges of the valley on the sides of hills, until we finally came close enough that we thought we should dismount and stalk.
The herd moved accross the top of the hill, which was grassy on our side, and into a wooded area on the other side. With Stephen in the lead, we stalked the herd, searching for a boar worth taking, and trying to get in range. We spotted the lead boar, who was following closely behind a large sow. He was too busy to know we were there, and we maneuvered into position for about a 75 yard shot. He stopped, quartering away, and I took the shot. It was practically perfect, entering the rib cage on the right, punching through the heart and out the other side, shattering his left front leg. He fell dead 20 feet from where I hit him. The hillside was very steep, so I made the choice to roll him down hill about 400 yards to the road instead of trying to drg him up to where we came from. Stephen field dressed the hog like a pro in just a few minutes — we figured he weighed about 240 pounds – and we were off to find more pigs!
About an hour later, just as we reached the top of another hill, we spotted a small herd of pigs grazing about 50 yards away. I jumped out of the truck and immeditely set up the shooting sticks. A small sow, about 100 pounds I guessed, was facing directly toward us, looking in our direction, standing perfectly still. I shot her right through the snout a couple of inches below the eyes, and the bullet went straight through to her heart. She dropped right where she was.
We spent the rest of the day looking for pigs for my hunt partner, Dave. He took a shot around midday at a very large boar, but it didn’t go down. We found some blood — not much — but never found the pig, unfortunately, even though we searched for a long time. There was no blood trail to follow. Later that day, just before sundown, he killed a very large sow with a clean shot of about 125 yards. She was beautiful, fat meat pig and I know he wasn’t disappointed.
I had the skull cleaned by Whitebone Creations, and it looks great. It’s on the credenza behind my desk at the office.