Gary's Gun Notes #61

Our Handgun Hunters Challenge 2 is now history and a great time was had by all. I have been on many a hunt like this and in most cases the accommodations were ok, nothing special, just ok. But at the Wilderness Hunting Lodge the digs were exceptional. We stayed in a brand new 3 story log lodge and were fed very well. From all the feed back I am getting a good time was had by all.

We had 24 hunters slated to go but at the last minute we had 4 drop out. That left us with 20 counting me. Normally I drive to as many of these hunts as I can but this one was a bit far away for driving, it being just outside Monterey Tennessee, which is about 85 miles east of Nashville.

Kase and I along with Richard Bosch and Jay Bunnell all flew into Nashville and met Sean Harper there. I rented a van and we piled all our gear into it and headed out, arriving into the camp at about 8 pm or so. We were the last of the hunters to arrive. And some hogs had already gone to the great hog trough in the sky earlier that day.

Bill Firman drove up from Orlando and got there early enough to get some hunting in on Thursday afternoon. And to say he was lucky would be an understatement. He got into a batch of hogs not 20 minutes out of camp and put 3 of the down on the ground in a handful of minutes. 

These hogs were a mish mash of species, from various breeds. Most were the pure black Russian type with a few spotted and striped ferals thrown in for good measure. The area has a good selection of exotic deer, several special of wild sheep, blackbuck, buffalo, Spanish goats, elk, and much more. If you didn't want to hunt hogs, there were plenty of other critters to hunt. 

The weather couldn't have been better with cool mornings and mild afternoons. Long sleeve weather with maybe a light jacket required in the mornings. Clouds hovered over us all day Friday threatening to rain on us but it never happened. It had rained earlier in the week so the leaves were still damp and walking thru the woods on a stalk was a lot easier than it would normally have been. 

We all sat around the great room up on the second floor of the lodge until late that first night getting to know one another and putting a face to the names and nicknames we had heard on the forum.John Ramsey Miller spent quite a few minutes autographing his books for the guys and we all dragged out our guns for everyone to look at and play with.

We were up and out early the next morning, heading for the cook shack for an early breakfast. There was another group of about 10 hunters staying in the other lodge and we swapped lies with a few of them before heading out. 

The hunting at this ranch is pretty well whatever you like. We could sit on a stand, stalk or run them with dogs. Most of us preferred to quietly stalk thru the woods. The animals were quite abundant and we saw them almost constantly. They also saw us and headed for the next county. We saw lots of fallow deer and sika deer and plenty of hogs although many were at a distance. 

The hills took some getting used to for some of the guys, especially those that were "flatlanders", but by noon of the first day we had all acclimated ourselves and learned to pace ourselves when going up one of the steep hillsides to the top.

After topping out one of the rises we eased down into a small open spot near an old abandoned feeder and walked right up on a batch of hogs and unlike most of the ones we had seen earlier in the day, these were big, just what we were looking for. 

Sean Harper was carrying one of my new Mega Beasts chambered in our new 586 GNR. This was the prototype rifle in this cartridge and hadn't been used on game yet, but Sean was about to change that. Several big hogs in the 400 to 450 pound range veered off to the left of the main group and headed up the side of a hill. It just happened to be right below where Kase, Sean, Jay and I were. 

As the big hogs trotted below us at about 35 yards, Sean picked out a big one and touched the 586 off. At the blast the big hog just collapsed. The big 550 grain flat nose slug just plowed right on thru the hogs shoulder painting the leaves a vivid red on the other side. At the shot the other hogs scattered to the four winds and Kase trotted off after them. It was obvious that Sean's hog wasn't getting back up so as I was the designated video man on Friday I went with Kase to video his hog. 

Three or 4 big hogs had trotted off in the opposite direction and attempted to hide in some knee high grass, and it would take grass much higher than that to hide these big boys. Kase was using a Dan Wesson 445 super mag that actually belongs to a good friend of ours who has it on consignment with us. My friend has Parkinson's and we knew he wouldn't mind Kase using the gun. I had seen my friend take a bull bison with that same gun so it wasn't a new in the box revolver.

I had loaded some 300 grain Sierras in the 445 ammo for this gun and it shot it very well. Kase leaned against a tree on the steep hillside and waited until the hogs separated. When they did he put one of those 300 grainers into the hogs shoulder from about 45 yards. At the shot the hog did a little half circle run and collapsed into a pile. To make sure he wasn't going to get back up, Kase punched another one thru him and put him down for good. In less than 8 seconds from the first shot the big hog was down for good. 

Larry Fry took his big hog out of this same group with his 510 GNR Mini Beast encore and this gave us close to 1200 pounds of bacon on the ground. While we waited for the truck to come and load them up we talked about the shot placement and whether we did it all right or not. There were no frowns among this group. Three big hogs down with 5 shots is not bad no matter how you slice it. 

Before that afternoon was over another 9 hogs were taken in about as many shots. Even Dara Stringer AKA Crazy Cora took her hog with one shot standing offhand with her 7 GNR contender. A lot of pork chops were harvested that first day. 

Jay Bunnell had spotted a really nice chocolate brown Fallow deer and managed to get up on it and put 2 rounds behind it's shoulder from about 40 yards and took his first animal ever on his first hunt. He had spent many minutes looking thru his binocs at a Corsican ram earlier in the day and opted to go for the fallow instead. But this was to change on the second day.

We were up early again the next morning, most of us a bit stiff from the many hikes up those long hills. Jay Bunnell spotted a really nice Corsican ram and his trigger finger had a mind of it's own. He added the Corsican to his list of critters and made it his second big game animal ever.

I had looked over several big hogs and hadn't found one quite as big as I wanted so I had taken no shots. As we got into the afternoon of the last day, I knew I needed to get serious here. We found out that some hogs had gotten into a huge corn field that was planted as silage for the deer and hogs and other animals on the place. They had apparently been in this corn field for some time. In fact the afternoon before one of the hunters had taken a 700 pound hog out of here. He had done nothing but eat and sleep for a year or two and was a monster. 

From one side of a high fence we could see the corn stalks move and hear the hogs grunting so we made our way around this huge area and went in thru a gate on the other side of the big field. The corn stalks were higher than our heads and like most silage fields the corn was planted extremely dense and thick, nothing like the evenly spaced rows and hills of corn that would be harvested for human use. Plus the weeds were also over our heads and between these and the cork stalks you couldn't see 3 feet in front of you. 

I still hadn't taken anything yet and neither had Richard Bosch, one of our hunters from up here in Flagstaff so we decided to give the corn field a try. We could hear the hogs grunting and fighting all around us. Kase climbed up a tree so he could try to point us in the right direction. As we waded deeper into the corn the noises from the hogs got louder and were now spaced completely around us. 

I had my new 429 GNR revolver with me and wanted to use it on one of these big hogs. I crept thru this tangle one slow step at a time listening for the hogs and trying to tell whether the closest were in front or behind us. All of a sudden one burst out of the weeds in front of me, no more than 5 feet in front of me. I cocked the gun and put the red fiber optic front sight bead on what I thought was his head. As I pulled the trigger, all I got was a soft click. Looking at the gun I noticed some dry weeds had gotten down inside the hammer notch and it was wedged under the hammer. Yanking it out I looked up and the hog was still there. I again put the red bead on his head and pulled the trigger. This time I hit home but with a squeal he turned and ran. Now the hard part came, trying to find this wounded hog in all this underbrush. Thanks goodness he was hurt enough that he didn't go far. He was maybe 10 feet away from me broadside but the brush was so thick I couldn't really see whether he was facing left or right.

I eased to the side and tried to push the corn stalks to one side enough to tell which side I was shooting at. I still couldn't see so I decided to place the big 44 caliber slug in his midsection and at least keep him from running off. At the shot he turned and ran maybe five feet away from me but this time I could see red all over his side and head so I knew for sure this was my hog. I put the red bead front sight on his short ribs as he staggered away and let him have one more. This time he dropped like a rock. The 240 grain Nosler soft point had plowed thru the short ribs angling toward the off shoulder exiting just in front of the shoulder. 

Sean Harper was right behind me and we both stood still as possible as the squeal of my hog at the first shot had seemed to draw in several other pigs. They were now completely around us and many of them were within 10 feet of us grunting and snapping their jaws like the do when they are excited or mad. One even came up to within 5 feet of us and popped his jaws a few times before easing back into the corn stalks. The hogs finally eased back and let us get over to my hog. 

All 3 of my shots had hit him, in fact the first had hit him in the head but a bit low for a brain shot. The other two were through and through shots and the hog was dead on his feet after the second shot. The hog was not as big as Kase's or Sean's but rangier with the grey bristles all over his face and chest. He had some decent cutters on him and I was more than satisfied. 

We marked the spot where he lay and I went over to where Jay Bunnell was trying to fight his way thru the extremely dense thicket. While doing so another bristly faced Russian hog decided to come up to us. We stood still but the hogs wasn't going to back off, so Jay shot him in the top of the head from a distance of maybe 5 feet.

As this hog hit the ground I heard Richard calling another hog some rather uncomplimentary names. Something about his mother if I remember correctly. I started pushing my way thru the heavy brush but Sean was already there helping out. Within a few minutes I heard another shot and Richard had another of these ugly Russian beasts down. For some strange reason almost every hog in the corn field was the rough bristly long nosed Russian type hog. But that's ok as that is what I like to hunt anyway. 

As we got back to the camp, the rest of the guys had all scored and none went away without something. The skinning shed and meat processing room would be busy well into the evening and beginning early the next morning too. My thanks go out to Bill Firman, Scott Boggs, Randy Barnett,John Ramsey Miller, Sean Harper, Jay Bunnell, Larry Fry, Greg Geiger, Richard Bosch, Doug J., Dave Manson, Dara Stringer, Todd Stringer, Rick Peltier, Scott Remzek, Mark Sherman, Clyde Moore, Joel (and I didn't catch his last name), and Kase. for helping make this hunt one of our best yet.

This was our first hunt at the Wilderness Hunting Lodge but it won't be our last.



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