by Laura Mooney
This was my very first try at Texas wild hog hunting at night, and now I can not wait to go back.
Texas – -(AmmoLand.com)- If you met me at the grocery store on my way home from work, you probably wouldn’t guess that I am an outdoorsy type of woman – let alone a woman who enjoys shooting guns.
I’m very comfortable dressed up in my high heels and tight jeans, but I also enjoy getting outdoors for fresh air and adventure in my hunting boots and camo. So when my husband asked if I’d be interested in joining him on a hog hunt in Texas, I was excited to go.
I’ve gone hunting with him a few times since I learned to shoot several years ago, and it’s been a fun activity to share. But I’d never been on a hog hunt before, and I have to admit that the thought of hunting wild hogs in the dark late at night made me a little uneasy.
I was glad to know that we were scheduled to hunt with Texas’ own Three Curl Outfitters, a guide service that is located within an hour’s drive from Dallas. Going out with an experienced guide would make a big difference in helping me feel safe and give us a better chance for success.
As I packed for my flight, I could feel my comfort zone tugging at me. Why would I want to leave my home to trudge around a Texas field at night? Before getting married and having children, I had been pretty fearless. Then, after years of being responsible for a family, creating a safe and comfortable home filled with daily routines and making sure everyone was fed and got to their activities on time, I could feel my comfort zone starting to shrink.
Then I remembered what someone had once taught me. Comfort zones are like rubber bands. If we don’t pull them, they don’t expand. I thought of old rubber bands I’d found over the years, usually wrapped around decks of cards that had been tucked away in a drawer for a very long time and often so dried up that they just crumbled. That’s not how I want my life to be!
Why hog hunting?
As much as I was looking forward to the adventure, I wondered how I would feel shooting a wild hog. Would it be easy to pull the trigger, or would I hesitate? Shooting animals is quite different from shooting targets. If I’m going to hunt an animal, I want to understand the reasons for taking its life.
So I did some research and I learned that wild hogs cause a lot of damage and destruction, especially in rural areas where they destroy crops and push out other animals. They have no natural predators, and their population in Texas is out of control, with some estimates ranging up to almost three million hogs. And it is increasing at a tremendous rate. Sows can breed when they are as young as six months, and they can give birth to two litters of four to eight piglets (even up to 12) every 12 to 15 months.
Hunting is a widely supported means for controlling their population. In fact, feral hogs are considered an invasive species in Texas and can be hunted all year round.
Knowing that hunting wild hogs provides food is important to me as well. Their meat is leaner and richer in flavor than commercially raised pork, and you don’t have to worry about antibiotics that might be used in farm-raised hogs.
Three Curl Outfitters Outfitters’ Lodge
As we drove from Dallas to the lodge, I was asked over and over again, “So do you think you’re ready for this?” I started to wonder if I should be afraid of what I was getting myself into.
We pulled up to Three Curl Outfitters at about 5:30 PM, just before sunset. Charles, one of the owners, and Steven, a guide who has been a friend of Charles’ family for years, greeted us at the door. The lodge wasn’t the Ritz Carlton, but it was very welcoming and clean. The main room was a comfortable place to relax after our day of travel, and the hog’s head and duck mounted on the wall added nice decorative touches.
With my husband working in the firearms business, most of the conversations were about AR-15 and AR-10 platforms and appropriate hog hunting ammunition. Three Curl Outfitters uses a variety of AR platform rifles, most of them AR-10’s chambered in 308.
This larger AR platform is a little heavier to carry compared to its AR-15 cousin, but the 308 round offers tremendous knockdown power on a feral hog. I was fortunate to carry a smaller AR-15 chambered in 6.5 Grendel. The Grendel round is also very effective on hogs, and the lighter platform is much more user-friendly to carry.
After a while, our conversation turned to the weather forecast and the threat of wind and rain, which was not very promising for hunting. But we had only one night to stay and no control over the weather, so we gathered our gear and hoped for the best.
When the sun went down, we headed outside for some pre-hunt safety training. Steven led us through important rifle-handling instructions for night hunting and worked with each of us individually as we practiced lifting our rifle, setting it on a tripod, and finding a target through the scope. He also explained how he would communicate silently with us during the hunt. His emphasis on the importance of safety and clear communication put me at ease.
On the Hunt
It was about 7:30 PM when we took off for our hunting adventure, a little earlier than normal since we were trying to get out ahead of the bad weather.
From time to time, we pulled over to the side of the road, and Steven used his Pulsar Thermal Imaging Monocular to scan the fields. All of the rifles were outfitted with the Pulsar Trail XP50 Thermal Riflescope. This is an impressive optic packed with amazing features like 13 digital reticles, the ability to detect human-sized heat at 2,000 yards, built-in video recording with recoil activation, water-proofing, and white-hot and black-hot modes. The thermal unit’s performance was outstanding in terms of picking up the target even during our wet weather. Thermal units notoriously struggle in humid conditions, but not this Pulsar.
As our guides had feared, there was not much animal activity. Steven had explained to us earlier that we were more likely to find a large hog standing alone in a field during bad weather than a sounder of hogs gathered together.
When he finally spotted a hog, we got out of the truck, shutting our doors as quietly as possible, and walked in a single file following Steven’s lead. It was dark, but there was enough light to make silhouettes visible. Our goal was to create the smallest image possible in case a hog spotted our movement.
I was surprised that I wasn’t afraid of being out in the dark. There were so many things to pay attention to that I wasn’t worried about what I couldn’t see. At one point I realized the zipper on my jacket was clanking against my rifle as I walked, so I concentrated on taking each step quietly.
We continued walking directly behind Steven across the muddy farmland, occasionally stopping and holding very still. We were all following closely together, so I didn’t feel alone or scared. I was just super focused on following directions and being prepared to set up my rifle whenever I was told we were close enough to our target.
Unfortunately, before we could take aim, the hog decided to move on. We relaxed and whispered a little to each other as we headed back to the truck. That’s when I realized how far we had walked out into the field. And how much mud was caked onto the bottom of my hiking boots! Fortunately, the rain had been light and the ground wasn’t too wet, but the mud that stuck to my boots made me feel like I was walking in very heavy platform shoes.
When we arrived back at the truck, Steven took our rifles and put them safely inside. After driving past a few more fields we found a sounder of hogs at a feeder. Again, we did our best to sneak up on them, but they left before we could get close enough for a shot.
It was getting late and we were all feeling tired, so we agreed to call it a night. Somehow, those Texas fields had found a way to hide three million wild hogs from us. There was no need for Steven to apologize for not getting any hogs, but he did. The wind, rain, lightning, and thunder made it a tall challenge to stalk and shoot a lot of hogs. That’s why they call it hunting, and not shooting.
After a good night’s sleep and a cup of coffee in the morning, we packed up and headed home. In the end, I didn’t get to find out if I was ready to pull the trigger on a wild hog, but I do know that it was a fun adventure and it felt good to push myself outside my comfort zone. Everyone in our group had a great time.
If you are interested in exploring hunting opportunities, I highly recommend using an outfitter.
Whether you are looking to hunt duck, dove, deer, or wild hogs in the Dallas area, I trust that Three Curl Outfitters will make sure you are comfortable and will take care of everything from beginning to end.
I would agree with the message on their website: “You won’t find a better bunch of guys or guides.”
About Laura Mooney
Suddenly I realized that I was missing a very important safety skill. How would I be able to protect myself or those around me if I didn’t know how to handle a firearm? That aha moment has motivated me to move beyond my comfort zone and embrace a lifestyle that includes gun ownership and shooting competence. Embracing Life, Love, and Adventure as a Girl with a Gun ~ Laura Mooney