Outdoors writers Luke Clayton (Lt) and Bob Hood with a couple of wild hogs they harve

Discussion in 'LUKE CLAYTON' started by Catfish_Commando, Feb 6, 2007.

  1. Catfish_Commando

    Catfish_Commando TF Staff Member

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    A DAY AT CAMP
    Luke Clayton


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    I’ve been asked many times what we outdoors writers do in our “off time”. Well, I’m sure most of us spend our fair share of time at the kid’s basketball and soccer games and we might even be forced into an occasional outing to an amusement park but, but for the outdoor scribes I run with and I, we prefer to BE outdoors. My good friend Bob Hood is geared up pretty much like me: if there’s something to hunt or catch, we’re in! We just returned from a hog hunt down in the pineywoods of east Texas with our mutual friend Mark Balette who runs B&C Outfitters. Every bow hunt is special but this one was especially so because Bob was toting his crossbow in hopes of harvesting his first wild hog with his new hunting tool. I, of course, was packing my Mathews Switchback.


    Our mutual friend Dubb Wallace was along to enjoy the outing. Dubb is 72 years young and a big addition to any hunting camp. Having grown up down on the Mexican border, spending his winters working a trapline with his dad and living in a trappers camp, Dubb has more than his share of tales about the “good old days”. Dubb also makes a very tasty Mexican style breakfast that will keep one well fueled for a winter’s hunting trip. We had previously made some “home made” chorizo sausage and Dubb can do wonderful things with a little of the sausage, a dozen eggs, some onion, jalapeno, garlic, refried beans and flour tortillias.


    I arrived at the ranch an hour or so ahead of the others and headed, post haste, to check out the places we would be hunting that afternoon. Mark had done a good job briefing me on which areas the hogs were frequenting best and which stands were “hot”. I jumped in the Polaris Ranger and headed back into the woods. My first stop was a ground blind situated near an opening in a cross fence on the place. I looked at a deeply rutted game trail traversing the edge of a 20 acre lake. The path the hogs had been following led within 20 yards of the ground blind Dub would be hunting. Mark said he watches the hogs through binoculars come through this opening every evening. The additional corn I scattered out from Dub’s stand would hopefully keep them around long enough for Dub to get a good broadside shot.


    My next stop was a ladder stand leaning against a pine, 20 yards from a corn feeder setting near a small pond tucked into some very heavy cover: a perfect place for Bob Hood to arrow a hog with his crossbow. I hiked farther back into the place and easily found the ladder stand in the old red oak where I would be hunting later that afternoon. The area around the feeder looked like a hog pen. Trails were leading into and out of the heavy yaupon brush. If I were a betting man, I would have wagered the homestead that we would all see hogs that afternoon.


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    By the time I got back to the camp house, Bob and Dubb had arrived. You know that “pre hunt” excitement around camp. Everyone was marking time until mid afternoon and time to head to the stands. We set up a target and took a few shots to make sure our bow sights were still on- they were! Next, we fired up the wood burning heater and turned the electric oven on “low” and placed a big cast iron skillet filled with some venison/wild pork BBQ I had smoked the previous day; we also threw in some sweet potatoes to slowly bake and set out the big pot of pinto beans that Dubb’s wife had prepared. A meal fit for a king would await us when we got back from hunting later that evening.


    I could see the excitement in Dubb’s eyes when we dropped him off at his ground blind. “Just look at this trail, looks like every hog win Trinity County has been coming by here.” Said Dubb as we headed off toward Bob’s tree stand. Bob was soon situated over the feeder which was programmed to throw corn an hour later.


    There are few things I enjoy more than stalking wild hogs. I intentionally took the long route to the stand I would be hunting that afternoon, hoping to spot a hog ahead and maybe get lucky and put a stalk on him. As I began walking the trail that led through some mighty heavy yaupon brush, I could hear hogs squealing and walking around on either side of me. I tested the wind and discovered it was blowing from the north, behind me, which carried my sent to any hogs ahead. Hogs might not have the best of eyesight but they can smell and ice cube in a sealed Mason jar! I knew I might risk spooking hogs if I skirted around the area and approached my hunting area from downwind but, I might just get within bow range of a hog!


    It took a bit to get myself positioned downwind and then began working my way back to where I had heard the hogs before. Up ahead about 90 yards, I spotted a young boar rooting along the edge of the trail. He would be visible for a few minutes, then disappear into the yaupon. I took advantage of his maneuvers and inched forward when he walked into the brush. When he reappeared, I would freeze, trying to time you forward movement so that I would have some sort of cover each time I stopped.

    I played this cat and mouse game with the boar for a good 10 minutes and closed the distance to about 50 yards, way too far for me to risk a bow shot. Then, Old Nimrod smiled on me. The boar began slowly walking my direction. Forty yards, then thirty, then I stepped back into the brush a bit more and brought my Switchback to full draw. I shoot 125 grain Mini Max Steels mechanicals by Mar Den and have found them to be absolutely lethal on everything from turkeys to elk. The hog took another step and was 28 yards out, well within my self imposed 30 yard shooting limit. My top pin (green, so that it’s highly visible in low light) is set at thirty yards. I use it for 99% of my shots on game. The Switchback shoots very flat and the trajectory difference from 20 to 30 yards is only about 3 inches. In essence, a center of shoulder hold on game from point blank out to 30 yards will place a killing shot. The boar wheeled the instance my Carbon Express arrow impacted and ran, naturally, into the heaviest yaupon thicket on the ranch. I heard him expire what sounded like 50 yards into the brush. I skirted the heavy cover and luckily found the boar lying stone dead in one of the pig trails back I the brush. HOG one for the skinning rack!


    I had my hog on the ground and field dressed 30 minutes into my hunt, nothing to do but look the country over, making sure not to disturb by two buddies who were hunting different areas of the ranch. About thirty minutes before dark, I eased back within hearing distance of Bob’s stand. I wanted to hear the cross bow if Bob had a late afternoon shot opportunity. Sure enough, I heard the distinctive “crack” of the bow and soon watched a beaming outdoors writer walking up through the brush. “He went 45 yards after the shot, a nice young boar.” said Hood. Bob has taken lots and lots of big game through the years, but this was his first hunt with the cross bow. The two boars we harvested could have been twins. They each weighed about 130 pounds. They were both just right for two outdoor writers: big enough to look good in pictures but small and young enough to be good eating.

    When we went to meet our buddy Dubb, we found him in his usual good mood. “ I was literally overrun with hogs. There were somewhere between 30 and 40 hogs of all size that came down the trail. I shot under a good eating little sow”, he added, knowing he was in for some good natured ribbing from us.

    That evening back at camp, we found the BBQ, beans and sweet potatoes to be cooked to perfection.

    To book a hunt for wild hogs or exotics with B&C Outfitters, call Mark Balette at 936-642-1892

    Listen to Luke Clayton’s Outdoors Radio show online at

    www.catfishradio.com