Clayton: A weekend well spent
Some folks only hunt during the cold weather months and I totally understand the reasons. It’s obviously cooler during the fall and winter, a more comfortable time to be in the woods and once the meat is harvested, much easier to keep it chilled.
But for many years, I have enjoyed summer hog hunting and have devised some ways to not only be successful but comfortable as well. If you are hunting where there is a walk-in cooler to keep harvested game chilled, meat care is much easier but most of us don’t always have this luxury.
I hunted with my good friend Jeff Rice on his place near Lake Fork this past weekend. The two of us spend a lot of time hunting hogs year round and we have devised a plan that is perfectly suited to summer hog hunting.
There are several factors that one must deal with when hunting during the warm weather months, heat and insects are at the top of the list. Let me walk you through my preparation for this past hunt. After learning how easy and comfortable summer hunting can be, you might just make your own plans for a summer hunt.
Preparation began at home. Other than the basic gear needed for hunting such as rifle, day pack, skinning knife, etc., I loaded my big 120-quart cooler and also a smaller cooler for food items and drinks.
I packed my Thermacell and made sure it was filled with a fresh bottle of fuel and a new patch. A Thermacell unit is an absolute must for hunting when mosquitoes are a problem and they are usually a problem from Spring through early fall in much of Texas.
If you’ve never used a Thermacell, you should look into getting one. It works by heating a little element over which a patch saturated with insect repellant is placed. The heated patch emits odorless fumes, which totally rids the immediate area of mosquitoes.
On the way to hunt, I stop at Buccee's and purchase a couple of 20-pound bags of ice for the big cooler, which is reserved for meat should I be successful. The ice costs only a couple of dollars but it’s an absolute must if I’m successful at harvesting game.
Clothing is also very important. There are very lightweight, breathable camo shirts and pants on the market today. I usually wear long sleeves while hunting and this light material keeps me comfortable. For chiggers and ticks, I spray my clothing and boots with Sawyer Insect repellant before heading out to the woods. I was introduced to this product by my buddy Larry Weishuhn a couple years ago and found it to work very well.
Before and during the hunt, it’s important to keep your body hydrated. Drink plenty of water or sugarless sports drinks. You will really be able to tell the difference in the way you feel and your energy level if you remain hydrated.
On this past weekend’s hunt, I was using a Seneca Dragon Claw 50-caliber air rifle and "brushed" in a natural blind from cedar limbs about 60 yards from the feeder I was hunting. This particular rifle has killed game as big as cape buffalo in Africa when shooting air bolts tipped with broadheads but as a "bullet shooter" I had previously had no experience with its capabilities at taking wild hog size game. A couple hours before dark, I used the rifle and a 220 grain “pellet” to harvest a fat 140-pound sow, some of the best eating pork imaginable.
After an animal is harvested comes a totally different element involved in hunting in the summertime: making sure not to overexert in the heat. With late afternoon temperature last Saturday approaching 100 degrees and the humidity high, I knew I would have to pace myself to get my pork out of the woods. I quartered the hog on the ground, taking plenty of breathing time to accomplishing the process. I then drove the electric cart as close as I could and loaded the meat, making it a point to move slowly and not exert.
Luckily, Jeff has running water and a nice place for butchering game at camp. I worked slowly but steadily and soon had the meat deboned and in a plastic bag on ice in my big cooler.
Jeff was hunting with his spear and didn’t manage to connect with a porker but we had some fine very fresh pork in the cooler. Just at dark, we built a charcoal fire with long-burning B&B Charcoal, added some of their pecan wood and had some fresh pork on the grill in no time. Our dinner consisted of grilled and well-seasoned pork, potato salad and canned beans, a meal fit for kings, or, a couple of old nimrods in this instance!
I have a couple of sisters that live side by side in cabins on a nearby lake and one of them, Jeannie, loves to cook and eat just about any game meat I supply her. She promptly took one of the little top round roasts I gave her, seasoned it well, placed it in a crockpot with veggies and turned out a scrumptious meal (her photo accompanies this column).
Yes, it was another awesome time in the outdoors. I proved to myself an air rifle known for shooting arrows is also an effective hog hunt with lead pellets, reduced the hogs numbers by one fat sow and provided some tasty meat in the process. May this lifestyle go on forever!
Email outdoors writer Luke Clayton via his website www.catfishradio.org. Check out the weekly outdoor video on YouTube by searching ‘A Sportman's Life’.