Hogs at Tejon Ranch!

7 01 2013

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.

Skull from 240 pound boar taken at Tejon Ranch, ember 2012.

Skull from 240 pound boar taken at Tejon Ranch, ember 2012.

New Blog Roll Entry: “The Envirocapitalist”

20 03 2009

I’m adding The Envirocapitalist to my blog roll.  You should check out his work.   He’s a good story teller, and gets some great pictures of the beautiful Tenesse mountains.  Oh, and he loves to hunt, which is a prerequisite, right?

Doug Giles lays it down

10 08 2008

Doug Giles lays it down without apology in a column entitled “Top Ten Reason Why I Love Hunting” on Townhall.com.  The first part is here, and the second half here

Hunters don’t do enough PR.  For the most part that means we’re a reasonably humble bunch of guys and gals, but sometimes you need to toot your own horn.  Otherwise, the PETA bunch will panit us out to be anything they want to paint.

At last, rabbits!

3 07 2008

Throughout the spring, because I don’t want to spend the money to hunt pig on private ranches, I suffer from  hunting withdrawal.  So by the time July 1 rolls around, I’m ready to hunt anything.  Just give me a field, a shotgun, and something to chase!  The answer is rabbit.  On July 1 the brush cottontail season opened, and this coming weekend I’ll be in my favorite canyon, flushing brushies and jacks.

These little creatures are surprisingly fun to hunt.  They run fast, break without warning, and turn out great in a stewpot.  We typically hunt with number 6 shot, but I tried number 4 last time out and found it very satisfactory, with better knockdown for the sturdy jackrabbits and a sure, clean kill on the cottons.  You are likely to find the jacks in grassy areas, where they will run fast and erratically, relying on their speed to reach cover before you can take them down.  Flush the cottons from brush, like sparse chaparral, on the slopes.  They will break fast and run for cover.  The window of opportunity for a shot is small, and you’ll have to swing the shotgun quickly.

The jacks, which are considerably larger than cottontails, produce a dark, beefy looking meat that you’ll want to debone and dice for stews or pot pies.   Don’t forget the backstrap when butchering them.  Cottontails are smaller, produce an almost white meat, and the only real worthwhile meat is found on the hind legs. Cook the legs whole on the bone.  My favorite is chicken fried.  For another very tasty idea, go to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook for this very nice Greek Rabbit Stew. 

So enjoy some fast paced, fun, early hunting in the rabbit season, and put some different game on your table this summer.


For the British take on rabbit hunting, go to Suburban Bushwacker’s post on rabbit hunting.  He also has a tasty-looking recipe for rabbit here.

CA Lead Ban Starts July 1

23 06 2008

Like it or not, the California lead ban starts July 1.  The Department of Fish and Game has created a very helpful page on their website ( click here ) that contains the information most hunters will need to comply.

Whether we agree with the decision or not, it’s the law now.  Let’s prove that hunters are the law abiding, conservation-minded people that we’ve always been.  The best PR for hunting and hunters is our performance in the field.

Hog Hunting Makes the NY Times

22 06 2008

Hog hunting, or more precisely the rising need for more avid hog hunters, has finally made the pages of New York Times.  As the feral hog population explodes, more states are pulling out the stops to cull hog populations.

They had been hunting since 4:30 a.m. without success. Thirteen hours in the East Texas sun had made a discouraged mess of the seven dogs and their masters, Dusty Kennedy and Clint Watson.

“All that rain washed their scent away,” Mr. Watson said earlier. “They’re out here though, somewhere.”

The hogs, he meant. You could tell by the wallows in the fairway, mud patches 6 feet long by 12 feet wide with deep ruts like the tracks of a semi truck.

Click here to read the whole story.

Busted by the Weather

11 12 2007

Sunday’s hunt didn’t happen.  The weather was just not cooperating.  The front that hit SoCal brought snow to the high mountains, followed by thunderstorms in the lower San Diego County mountains, followed by high winds.  The forecast for our favorite canyon was for 39 degrees, thunderstorms, and wind.  Our second favorite, in Riverside county, was for a marginally warmer forecast, with more wind.  So my son and I comforted ourselves with plates of fried eggs, bacon, and homemade toast and jelly.  Lots of coffee for dad.  We went to church, and we heard a great sermon.    The girls were gone to an Irish dance contest in Palm Desert, so we got to act like unsupervised guys for a little while.   So no loss for anyone.  We’ll try again next weekend.