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by S. Galan a.k.a. SGalan Last updated: 2017-11-22 15:55:41
This year, my son Samuel and I were invited to a friend’s ranch to help reduce the local hog population. It didn’t take long for us to agree. Samuel has been hunting with me since he was three. He is nine now and is shooting consistently enough for his own trigger time in the blind. We arrived at the ranch before sun up with great optimism. Nine year old hunters are full of a lot of things and optimism is right at the top of the list. Suffice it to say, he was a little bit excited. However, the morning hunt was uneventful and little man’s hopes were beginning to head south. Just when we thought it was a bust, we heard a rifle shot. “Maybe it was Mr. Rick!” Samuel exclaimed. “Maybe so”, I said. Sure enough we got a simple message moments later…Hog down. Sam was excited to go see it, so Mr. Rick came and got us and we all went over to see it.
After processing the pig, Mr. Rick decided to drive us around a bit in the 4x4 to look for more pork chops. We drove up onto a field and immediately sighted a little heard of 20 or so smallish sows and piglets. Samuel and I bailed out. The wind was good for a stalk. We slipped closer and closer until we came to a good rifle rest and a decent 50-60 yard shot. The pigs were milling around as they often do feeding. Moving left and right and twisting body angles is tough in anyone, especially a boy bearing down on his first pig. Samuel wisely waited for a clean shot, but was pretty frustrated too. They eventually caught our wind and exploded off in dust cloud. Samuel was dejected to say the least. I tried to console him the best I could and shared with him that perhaps God had allowed the first hunt to be foiled because there was something even better in store. After all, we now had an afternoon hunt to look forward to. We packed a disappointed boy into the truck and headed off to lunch. He put on a happy face as we enjoyed the burgers and planned the afternoon chores and hunts.
After some chores on the ranch, Samuel and I took out after the pigs again while Mr. Rick caught up on an afternoon nap. We set up on a spot and waited for a while. Samuel fell asleep as Dad kept the vigil. No bacon was to be seen. After a couple hours, I roused Samuel and we moved on to another likely spot. It was a thicket near the drainage of a large stock pond. There was plenty of sign in the mud, but no hogs. As we snuck out of the thicket area I looked over my shoulder to an adjacent field. Bingo…hogs. There were plenty of them and they were significantly bigger than the first batch too. This time there was a spotted sow that was at least twice the size of the first herd’s sows. We found a good rest at the edge of the field. Samuel had practiced to 50 yards with his carbine and this was about an 80 yard shot. He patiently waited and eased the hammer back. She stood broadside and Samuel took his time with the shot. Bam! Whack…squeal! She was down. I was a proud Poppa! Now, this is a good opportunity to share the load for you homegrown cartridge stuffers. Samuel shoots a dandy little Marlin 357 magnum carbine with about an 18 inch barrel. It’s the handiest long gun I own and fits young shooters perfectly. The load is a 180 grain Hornady XTP over Lil’ Gun at about 1700 fps. I have great faith in this bullet/speed combo. Its sectional density and hollow point combine to produce deep and wide wound channels. 357 Maximum handgun shooters should love this bullet. The damage it causes to rib cages has to been seen to be believed. It dropped the 125 lb. sow on the spot with a perfect lung shot and has done the same for deer and turkey too. It’s a great load in the little carbine. The sow was a great blessing and was certainly bigger than the ones he had wanted so badly that morning. “Good things come to those who wait” and all that.
Now it was dad’s turn and I was definitely ready to test a new load in my hand cannon. I was carrying a 358 JDJ 14” Contender. The load was Hornady’s 200 grain FTX bullet over a good charge of RE-7 (2200 fps). This load shoots MOA 5 shot groups without a hiccup. After getting Sam’s hog loaded and back to camp, Rick told us to head out and see if I could get one. He even offered to clean Sam’s hog for us! A generous Texas gentleman indeed! We got back into the stand that we had hunted that morning and I had a good feeling as the afternoon progressed. Samuel had never seen me shoot the hand cannon and was excited to witness it. I had always shot the 180 grain Hornady SSP bullet out of the 358 JDJ and it is absolute murder on Texas deer. It fragments violently (at JDJ velocity) and the exit wounds are incredible. However, the 200 FTX grain bullet is both heavier and more stoutly constructed. It mushroomed beautifully when fired into jugs of water and wetpack. I figured it was going to be just the ticket for bigger hogs. I wasn’t long before some pigs showed up. There was at least 25 of them. All smallish sows and young ones again. I wasn’t picky however, and the first one to show me a good angle was going to get it. I was lining up a likely candidate when I happened to see the brush move to our right. I looked out over the gun and large boar had emerged too! As he came closer, the younger hogs seem to surround him like little secret service agents. He was too tall for them to cover his vitals completely though. That, combined with our elevated position gave me my only shot - a high lung shot would have to suffice. He was facing to the left, broadside at just under 100 yards. I motioned for Sam to plug his ears, settled the crosshairs just above the little pigs on his left rib cage and gently squeezed. Kaboom! Flop. Not even a twitch. I was amazed. He was a decent sized boar and I did not hit the spine either. The bullet had angled from high-lung entry to a lower-lung exit. I usually expect a hog to run with that hit. In my experience, if one word could be said of the 358 JDJ, it has always been “decisive.”
Hind sight is 20/20 as they say. If Samuel had gotten a hog in the first batch we may have left after lunch and missed all the other action. Samuel learned that day that missed opportunities can still turn into unexpected blessings if we keep our head up and attitudes grateful. It was a memorable day and I want to thank Rick for an awesome father/son opportunity. I hope you all get to do something similar soon with your loved ones.
Go get ‘em,
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