The Wild Boars of South Texas: Tuskers by the light of the moon
The full moon in February shines bright over a 20,000 acre Laredo area ranch and it draws us in with a nearly mystical power. Few, if any of our friends, understand our yearly obsession with this place. Admittedly, there is very little of this cactus filled, non-improved wasteland that would attract most sane folks.
Perhaps you have to be a bit crazy to be here, hunting hogs by moonlight miles from camp and cellphone service that is unreliable at best. You don’t want to be caught out here with engine trouble or a flat on your 4-wheeler….or some kind of accident.
“We do take a risk every time we head out,” David Reid says of the 5-night hog hunt. “We each corn the scenderos on our separate routes before dark. At night fall, we head out and travel without head lights. We are all in search of those lone, big boars.”
Surprisingly, you can spot animals on the scenderos hundreds of yards away. It takes practice, but you learn to differentiate between deer, javelina and wild pigs. When you are pretty sure you have a wild boar in front of you, the stalk begins. And that usually means walking a closed-in scendero for a hundred yards or two, trying to get close enough for a kill shot.
“We’ve learned over the years that a head-shot behind the ear is essential,” Craig Stephenson says of his 20-plus years of hunting south Texas pigs by the light of the moon. “We were lucky if a body shot put a big boar on the ground. And when it didn’t, it’s almost impossible to find them in these thick cactus flats. Hit them behind the ear and in the neck and they go down where they stood.”
Head shots can be tricky. First, it’s dark and so is the pig. And it rarely stays still for very long. A good scope with a lighted center dot is a big help. Even then, there have been numerous pigs over the years which have been body shot and make it out of the narrow scenderos and into the jungle of the brush country. Sometimes they are found the next day, usually with the help of Mexican Eagles (Caracara) that tend to gather in the mesquite trees just hours after the kill.
Usually, the night hunt lasts till 3 or 4 in the morning. We try, but often fail, to get up a few hours later to call up coyotes and bobcats. And that can be as much fun as the boar hunt. Later, we sometimes bass fish in one of the dozen stock tanks on the ranch. Massive, but rut-ravaged whitetails are spotted around most every corner. We all wonder how this parched land can sustain so much life.
This year, 6 trophy boars were brought back to camp worthy of photos. Body size and tusker length determines if their images make it into our album.
In addition to the photos of boars, the albums become filled with spectacular sunsets and yucca plants with full moons in the background, ready to light our way around this paradise we call south Texas.