From the Heartland

This is my soap box, on these pages I publish my opinions on firearms and any other subject I feel like writing about.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Chain Ranch Canton, Oklahoma

Authors note: I finally got the pictures of the hunt developed so I can post them with a story. Unfortunately I was unable to get my digital camera to work so I couldn't get any pictures of the first part of the hog hunt. After locating a suitable replacement (a disposable) I was able to get pictures of my subsequant harvest.

There was only three of us
What started out as a hunting group of 5 arrived at the Chain Ranch in Canton, Oklahoma as a party of 3. My oldest son and my buddy from Kansas had last minute emploment issues and had to cancel out. That left myself, my brother Jim and my buddy Hodgdon.

We arrived at the bunkhouse about four PM on Monday the twentyfirst and met with one of the Chain Ranch owners and guide Newly Hutchison. We hadn't even unloaded our gear yet and Newly was offering us the opportunity to hunt that evening. We hadn't planned on that and elected to get our gear stowed and in order before we went afield.

Newly and I

Tuesday Morning
The next morning we fell out ready to hunt. The Chain ranch is a large property and we piled into Jim's Ford 4X4 and followed Newly out a secluded section of the ranch for a morning of spot and stalk hunting. He left us off there with some dircertion and a bit of advice for success. The weather wasn't very co-operative and we didn't see a single hog all morning. Being cold and windy the pigs were holed up in the thickest parts of that section of property and try as we might we just couldn't get any of them to move. The alternative was to get down on our hands and knees or even belly and crawl through the brush in order to roust them out of hiding, something the three of us were reluctant to do. There are other ways to prove ones manhood than crawling into the thick underbrush after animals with tusks.

A Compass is a Good thing
Hunting that section of the Chain Ranch I am glad that I had the forethought to have brought a compass with me and the knowledge of how to use it. Even standing on some parts of the section, visability was only a matter of feet in places and it is extremely easy to get turned around. I'm not sure that we would have gotten lost, but that electro-magnetic global positioning device kept us from wasting hunting time wandering around getting our bearings again should we have gotten disoriented.

Authors note: If you spend time in the outdoors a GPS unit is a fabulous thing, but as with all things that require batteries Murphey's Law dictates they will be dead the moment you need them most. Orienteering with a compass is a good skill to have.

After making our way back to the bunkhouse for lunch Newly loaded us up and took us to another section of the ranch for the evening hunt. We spent Tuesday evening sitting in ground blinds that had been erected along known travel routes.

Tuesday Evening
After having been in the blind for a couple of hours I began to hear the grunts of a small herd pigs headed my way. Presently about 6 or 7 strutted into view and I began to size them up for a possible shot. After about 5 to 10 minutes I selected the biggest in the bunch and settled the sights of my 629 on his left shoulder. Squeezing off the shot I noted the pigs re-action and knew I had made a good hit with the 240 grain 44 caliber soft point. At that point they all ran in several directions including the one I had shot. I mentally marked the last point I saw him and settled into wait at least a half hour.

By now it was dark and flashlight in hand I went to the place he was standing when I fired. To say the least I was dissapointed when I didn't see any blood that would have indicated a hit. I did note however that as he ran off marks in the dirt showed that he was dragging his front left leg, indicating that I did have a solid hit. tracking him to the brush at the last place I had seen him I elected to wait for Newly to pick me up before proceeding farther.

When Newly arrived he had already picked up Jim and Hodgdon. For the next twenty minutes we scoured the brush looking for further sign and or traces of blood using flashlights. We decided that since there was no rain in the forecast that we would be better suited to return in the morning and use the daylight to find the pig.

The Morning After
That was not one of the better nights of sleep I had I can tell you that. Even though I was sure we would find him in the morning it was a gut wrenching night knowing that I had not recovered an animal that I had attempted to harvest. Morning could not come soon enough and after putting Jim and Hodg on stands Newly and I spent the next couple of hours on hands and knees tracking the pig I had shot the night before. We eventually found some frothy blood that most hunters know is indicative of a lung shot. That pig travelled over three hundred yards with a broken shoulder and perforated lungs. As I mentioned at the begining pictures at that point were not an option.

Wednesday Evening
That Wednesday evening found us again in ground blinds. I had been on stand for nearly two hours before the first pigs started to show up and in that time I was treated to the songs of birds the cackle of a flock of Turkeys and the antics of a herd of goats. The goats were all full curl rams of several species, including Texas rams and any number of exotic species.

When the pigs began to show themselves I watched several of the smaller ones play around as the adults went about their business rooting up the countryside. In a previous post I mentioned that I had been torn between two firearms for this hunt and settled the quandry by electing to take two pigs. One with each gun.

Yes there were some bigger pigs in this bunch than the one I did take with my Grandpa's old rifle, but the colors of this on intrigued me, it was getting near dark and it presented me the best opportunity for a clean shot.

When I fired this pig was slightly quartering away and aiming for the opposite shoulder I sent a 170 grain 32 caliber projectile on its way. Knowing I had again made a good shot I watched as the hog hunched twice and ran from view. Moments later I heard her go down and thrash in the brush. Feeling confident that she was done for and hadn't gone far I left the blind and went to where she had been standing when I fired. Blood sign at that point indicated a good hit and I started in the direction that she had travelled.

Being carefull not to walk on the trail she had taken I looked for further sign of a good hit. There was very little in the way of blood sign and I again found myself on my hands and knees tracking a pig through the thick under growth. Other than the intitial point of bullet impact there was very little sign and with the aide of a flashlight I finally found my harvest 80 yards away.

I had known that wild hogs, either Russian boar or the Feral Pigs that we were hunting are a hardy lot, but I couldn't realize just how tough they really are until hunting them. I am not exagerating one bit when I say that even though I shot that last one (100lbs) through both lungs and a shoulder with a centerfire deer rifle I had less blood to track than most of us guys loose from a small shaving nick.

My second pig

Now the real work begins
The rest of the evening was spent rendering freshly harvested pork down for human consumption while recounting for anyone that would listen the events that led to the harvest.

Authors note: Yes some of the meat I harvested was part of our Easter Sunday dinner.

The next morning was Thursday and niether Hodgdon nor my brother had harvested a pig. Not that they hadn't seen any, quite the opposite that had probably each seen more than I had. They just felt they hadn't seen one they deemed worthy of shooting. They did admit to a good time and expressed a real desire for a return hunt.

I reccomend the Chain Ranch
If you have been considering a hog hunt of some type you could not go wrong with the Chain Ranch. Compared to some other places the rates are more than reasonable. To stay at the ranch buckhouse will cost 50 dollars a day per person and the ammenities include sattelight television showers, laundry facilities and a full kitchen and outside grill.

As for the hogs, Newly has a no-harvest no-pay policy. If you don't find one to your liking there is no charge (except for the bunkhouse stay). If you do harvest a hog Newly chagres a flat 100 dollar trophy fee. It doesn't matter if the pig wieghs 500 pounds or 50 pounds the fee for taking a hog is only 100 dollars.

We'll be Back
We had a great time and and are already making plans for a return trip that will include more hogs and deer.

If anyone is interested in hunting at the Chain Ranch Newly Hutchison can be contacted at 580-886-2910. If there is a fair amount of hunting going on at the ranch things can get a bit hectic and you may have to leave a message, but Newly will call you back. Just let him know what your interested in and a call back number.


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