It was one of those humid east Texas nights. Even if the sun wasn’t blazing above and only the moon and stars provided any kind of light at all, the night air still seemed to hold on to the stickiness of the afternoon. T-shirt weather.
On a patch of farmland near Paris surrounded by thick woods, a farmer had complained that a sounder of feral hogs had been ripping up his property. Since hog hunting season in Texas is year-round, much like the hogs’ mating season, it was a problem that had to be taken care of quickly.
Mitchell Graf, writer for GunsAmerica Digest by day and thermal hunter by night, stood in a field alongside several other men from Black Sheep Outdoors. The men had been called to negotiate the removal of the intruders.
The hunters on their firing line. Photo courtesy: Mitchell Graf
The wild hog of Texas is a cunning, elusive animal. Long ago, they learned that the warmth of the sun also brought death in the form of the two-legs and their loud sticks. Now, most hogs favor the cool of the night. However, that means nothing to thermal hunters.
Graf’s POF Rogue AR-10 .308 was sporting a Pulsar Thermion 2 LRF XG50 digital thermal riflescope, and even in the near pitch-darkness its highly sensitive <40mK NETD thermal sensor was able to pick up the heat signatures of even the smallest creatures at 1900 yards.
They first saw the hogs standing in the middle of a clearing, just begging to be shot. Looking through the Thermion 2 LRF’s 1024x768 HD viewfinder, Graf counted 25 feral hogs milling around the open pasture. The creatures were of various sizes, with the large boars and sows leading the smaller juveniles to the patches of soft earth where they would turn up the soil in search of roots and grubs.
That wasn’t going to happen tonight.
The hogs were about 500 yards away from the hunters’ firing line. Well within the Thermion 2’s viewing range, but too far for a comfortable shot. As the men hurried to set up a wide firing line and mounted their rifles on Kopfjäger tripods, the hogs decided the pickings were too slim and vanished back into the wood line.
The hunting party wasn’t about to let this opportunity go to waste. Using a Convergent Bullet Caller loaded with hog noises, they attempted to lure the beasts back into the pasture. For a moment, nothing happened, and the hunters heard nothing but the sound of synthetic hog calls and crickets in the distance. Then Graf heard a faint rumbling of hooves in the distance getting closer by the second, accompanied by the rustling of leaves and the snapping of branches in the thicket to the left of the firing line. The men heard a great cacophony of frenzied grunting and squealing growing louder and louder, and it wasn’t coming from the Bullet caller.
Suddenly, the entire sounder burst out of the thicket at a full run, a mere seven yards from the hunting party. The hunters, just as surprised to see the hogs as the animals were to see them, swung their rifles to their left flank in a panic. The men on the leftmost side of the firing line scrambled to pick up their tripods, making a mad dash to get out of the line of fire. Gunshots drowned out the sound of screaming hogs as the hunters poured down a withering fusillade of large caliber semiautomatic fire on the confused beasts. By the time the dust had settled, and the last surviving animal had scampered back into the thicket, the men found two of the animals dead at their feet, while an untold number of wounded and dying retreated into the woods.
In that adrenaline-charged moment, under the cover of darkness and armed with their rifles and the power of innovative thermal vision technology, the hunters experienced a wild hog hunt unlike any other.
This encounter was a testament to the unpredictable nature of wild hog hunting, where preparation, skill, and quick reflexes determine the outcome. Pulsar’s Thermion 2 LRF XG50 not only bridged the gap between night and day but also allowed the hunters to confront the darkness and the great beasts who lived in it head on.
In the vast expanse of Texas, where the feral hog problem persists, stories like these serve as a testament to the ongoing battle between man and beast. This close encounter of the squealing kind underscores the primal nature of the hunt itself. It was a night forever etched in their memories, and one of the many experiences that fuels the same passion for adventure that lives in the hearts of all outdoorsmen.