I woke up at 4:45AM on Saturday, full of hope for a nice buck on opening day of rifle season. We have several monsters on camera and the area of the ranch (1,900 acres, low fence, in Round Mountain, TX) that I was headed to is lightly hunted. There was enough light that I did most of my 1/2 mile walk to the blind without needing a flashlight, and the weather was cool and a bit moist, with very little wind. I was hopeful and excited for the opportunity! I snuck up into the blind, laid my pack and rifle down and went to slide open the window that faces the feeder, about 100 yards away and down a hill side. That's when my heart sank. I could hear the rooting and grunting of many hogs down by the feeder, and our deer are pretty skittish when hogs are around. I started trying to figure out ways to get them moving off. I pulled out a very powerful flashlight, turned it on and illuminated the hogs. A big sounder, 20+ pigs, most of them around the 80-100 lb. range with a few piglets thrown into the mix. The light did not bother them at all. I whistled. Nothing. Banged my hand against the side of the blind. Nothing. "Dang, this is going to ruin my AM hunt". Played a predator app on my phone (held out the window) with some hog sounds. Nada...
Then, one of the pigs starts moving up the hill a bit (towards the blind). This was still before legal shooting light for deer, but since I had the flashlight, I thought "if I shoot him up on the hill, the sounder might take off and it's still early enough for things to settle down and deer to move in, and there won't be any dead hogs by the feeder". So I waited till he was about 50 yards from the feeder and plugged him, right between the eyes (he was headed straight at me). The sounder takes off squealing, the target hog drops dead without a twitch, and it's still dark enough! I love it when a plan comes together!
Alas, it was not to be. As I was texting the rest of the hunters to ensure that I hadn't taken an over-enthusiastic (and illegal) too-early shot at a deer, I glance back up and see the entire sounder returning to feed. Ugh! Ok, now I'm upset, these greedy bastards are going to ruin my hunt for sure. Someone must pay! By now, it's starting to get lighter, close to legal shooting time. I wait a bit, then select the biggest hog and shoot him right behind the ear. He drops down, about 20 yards from the feeder. The rest of the sounder disappears. Again, I text the rest of the crew to keep them updated. It's at this time that I realize, I only had four bullets for Bad Medicine (my trusty .270), and I've now used two of them. I'm already uncomfortable with the thought of a big buck coming in and me having only two shots (some will say "you only need one" but stuff happens and I hate the idea of a wounded animal and no means to dispatch it). As I'm contemplating this dilemma, I see movement near the dead hog by the feeder and realize another hog came back and is sniffing the dead one. "Ok", I think, "this wasn't meant to be". There will be no deer for me on opening AM, but I am going to do my duty as a Texas hunter. Once more, I take careful aim with the rifle, bullet #3 in the chamber, and shoot the third hog. Another clean kill, and three hogs to clean back at the cabin while two of the other hunters cape two great bucks!
I also hunted Saturday evening, saw plenty of deer but none of the target bucks came in and the ones that did were a little young (but promising). The season's just started, I remain hopeful and excited for the possibilities, and Bad Medicine is dialed in and hungry.