Clayton: Final score? Hogs 0, Mosquitos 1,000

Luke Clayton
Special to the E-T

My hunting experience with a handgun is very limited. I’ve hunted with everything from a flintlock to an air rifle through the years but to date, my experience hunting with a handgun tally up to two hunts, on took place about 30 years ago up in Jack County, Texas. My long time friend Larry Weishuhn was the reason for my interest in handgun hunting back then. I watched Larry hunt with his single-shot TC Contender and decided I wanted to give this type of hunting a try.

Larry Weishuhn “Mr. Whitetail” sighting in the .357 Taurus Raging Hunter that Luke will be doing some hunting with this fall.

Soon the UPS man, or whoever delivered packages back in those days, knocked on my door and delivered a Contender in 7-30 Waters caliber. I killed a little boar that fell into an alligator infested stock tank (fodder for another column) with my new handgun. I shot the Contender enough to become proficient with it but this was my single hunt with a "pistol" until last week.

Larry and I met at our friend Jeff Rice’s ranch in East Texas mid-afternoon and squared our gear away for a late afternoon handgun hog hunt. Larry brought his 44 mag Taurus Raging Hunter revolver topped with a red dot sight and a .357 Raging Hunter for me to hunt with this fall. The veteran handgun hunter had been shooting his 44 mag for several months and it was dead on at 100 yards. The plan was for me to attempt to kill a hog with the larger caliber handgun on the afternoon hunt and then, the next morning we would sight in my .357.

Luke Clayton

All hunters, even "mature" hunters like Larry and I often get a bit fired up when preparing for a hunt.  While making ready for this  hunt, were thinking hogs when we should have been thinking, mosquitoes first and then hogs! There were no less than four operational Thermocells in the cabin but did we think to pack a couple for this hunt? Oh no, we were thinking HOGS!

After settling in behind a makeshift burlap camo ground blind I had set up earlier in the day about 45 yards from a corn feeder, expectations were very high. A nearby trail camera had evidenced a big sounder of wild hogs hitting the feeder an hour or so before dark on a daily basis. The mosquitoes began buzzing immediately after we settled in but what the heck, we could endure the pesky critters for an hour or so until the hogs showed.

Well, as luck would have it, the hogs decided to continue their mid day siesta a bit longer than normal. One hour ticked by and then two, no hogs but every mosquito in the eastern half of Texas had joined the resident population but we two old hunters set tight. In retrospect, one of us should have made a run for the cabin and grab a couple of the Thermocells. This could have been accomplished in a matter of minutes. But no… Not us! I’m sure we had the same mindset; get up and we would likely spook hogs hanging back in the woods, ready to come in for a late afternoon corn snack!

After a couple hours of being chewed on by mosquitoes, we both noticed movement back behind the feeder. A good-sized, jet-black hog appeared and hung up on the edge of the cover. I had a head on shot but Larry was filming for our weekly outdoor show “A Sportsman’s Life’ and I just knew the hog would make a full body appearance and Larry could get it all on film.

Before our hunt, we had sprayed down with Scent Guardian by TRHP Outdoors. We both have used this product on many past hunts to remove all human scent and have full confidence in it. But the burlap makeshift blind had a strong burlap smell that even Larry and I could easily detect. I had failed to spray it with Scent Guardian before the hunt. A couple of the hogs behind the feeder threw their noses in the air and soon headed in the direction of another feeder a few hundred yards away.

I placed the handgun on the tripod rest as a test so that I would be ready if the hogs returned. It was beginning to get dark but there was still shooting light. I looked for the red dot in the sight and looked and looked. It had disappeared! I handed the Taurus to Larry and he also looked for the dot and discovered after many hours of use, the battery was finally drained. About this time we spotted another hog behind the feeder but there was no shot opportunity.

But the evening was not lost, we made the short walk back to Jeff’s cabin and with the AC blowing full blast, we felt as though it was fall. Between the two of us, we polished off almost a full rack of BBQ pork ribs with sweet potatoes. Through the years, I have learned to do as much of the camp cooking as possible at home before the hunt. We stayed up a bit later than we’re accustomed to, talking about hunts and upcoming fishing trips this fall. We also reflected on good times we have enjoyed together through the years. One good thing about having about 125 years of combined outdoors experiences, there is never a loss of stories around our camps.

We parted ways later that morning, me heading back home and Larry to Lubbock for a speaking engagement the local chapter of Dallas Safari Club. My .357 Taurus was shooting tight groups and we made plans for round two with the hogs in a couple weeks! You can bet we will have a couple of fully charged Thermocells running full blast!

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