Hogs and Dogs

Over a year ago, Red Bank Outfitters donated a hunt to the Mule Deer Foundation and we were lucky enough to auction it at our Livermore banquet. Knowing that my grammar and high school buddy, Monty Morton, was looking to hunt pigs, I purchased the hunt and let him know that it was waiting for his arrival.

A few months ago, we set up a hunt for March 18th and I purchased an additional hunt so we could both join in the fun.

Red Bank Outfitters, which occupy the ranch once called Red Bank Quail and Ale, have thousands of acres available for pig hunting. In addition they have a lodge, trap range, quail, chukar, pheasant, turkey and deer hunting. They also have ponds full of bass for those who are inclined to fish.

Monty and I were focused on only pigs and, as is often the case when entering new territory, we were eager to learn the ground rules for the hunt. We used the do as the Romans do approach.

We were not surprised when I was told that I couldn’t use my archery equipment, as it might endanger the dogs. That dogs would be used wasn’t a complete surprise, but the absolute nature of dog use was.

With the poison oak fully leafed out in the deep ravines and oak covered hills, it would be next to impossible to spot a pig and even more difficult to get a shot at one in the thick cover – that is, unless we used dogs to root them out.

Having been to a few of these rodeos, I  knew that our hosts would be eager for us to pull the trigger and seal the deal. I hadn’t realized it before the hunt, but these hunts are guaranteed, not something one would do without complete confidence in their ability to roust pigs and bay them up within shooting range.

We arrived on Tuesday afternoon and by 5:30 PM we were hunting. Our guides, Jammie and Bo, were quite accommodating and professional. Bo drove the four seater ATV while Jammie provided the dogs and dog handling. We covered ground over the short but steep hills west of Red Bluff. As Jammie watched his dogs for a sign they had pig scent, Bo drove the ATV so close to the steep side-hills that I nearly bent the frame of the Ranger with my grip while holding on.

Not long after Jammie took the dogs for a hike through some likely territory, we came upon a boar of about 200 pounds, but couldn’t get a shot off as he passed through the poison oak below us.

This Ranger was able to go just about anywhere - an impressive piece of equipment.

This Ranger was able to go just about anywhere – an impressive piece of equipment.

As we waited for the boar to reappear, the dogs began to  bark from an adjacent canyon. Off we went to find out what they had caught. In the bottom of that draw, the dogs had a pig circled in a poison oak patch. Since this was Monty’s show, he and Bo dropped into the canyon ready to shoot.

The sound of the ongoing dog and pig fight was hellacious. A few minutes passed before Monty had an open shot, but when he got his chance, he didn’t miss. However the pig was not done after one shot. With dogs circling and charging the pig, adrenaline was pumping in all of us as Monty finally finished off the 260 pound sow with some help from Bo along the way.

With all the fighting and shooting and after dragging it out of the steep draw, the sow was quite a sight.

A bit worse for wear, here she is on the back of the trailer at the skinning shed.

Monty finally got his pig. Even though it was a sow, it had pretty good sized tusks. At 260 pounds, the pig had a lot of good meat for Monty to take back to Idaho.

Monty got his pig.  This sow had pretty good sized tusks. At 260 pounds, the pig had a lot of good meat for Monty to take back to Idaho.

With the sow hanging in the cooler by 9:30 PM or so, we headed back to our home (for the night) to barbecue some rib-eye steaks provided for us by the Red Bank. The accommodations were quite comfortable, but we didn’t get much sleep before the alarm went off at 5:15 AM and we began preparations for my chance to hunt.

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