Scouting for Hogs with Thermal
A day away from the grind of daily life is always a blessing. Packing was easy since we were heading out on a short two-day scouting and hunting trip. One of the side benefits of hunting is strengthened friendships and we had friends coming in from Wyoming to help with our feral hog problem here in Oklahoma. and we wanted to be ready, know which fields the hogs were hitting…and yes, maybe put a few on the ground since we knew the focus would be on our friends hunting when they arrived.
To such an end, we set out on our two-day adventure, part scouting and part hunting, and soon found ourselves on one of our favorite properties nestled in southwest Oklahoma. After unloading our gear and running through quick checks of our 7mm WSM Browning BAR topped with a Pulsar Trail XP 38 thermal riflescope, we set out to find some hogs.
It didn’t take long to find a fair amount of hogs rooting in the alfalfa and along the field edges thick with Bermuda grass. Hog activity was also apparent along creeks littering the property—creek bottoms and mesquite thickets provide great cover for the hogs during the day and we often refer to them as piggie hotels. Examining sign and rooting on the property revealed alfalfa, Bermuda and winter wheat as favorite food sources in this particular area.
Several hours after our mid-day scouting, with a hair less than an hour of daylight left, we headed off on the hunt. With the sun’s natural light still flooding the landscape, we spent most of our time glassing from elevated vantage points throughout the property that allowed us to see the most ground possible. Cattle, deer and even a few coyotes made their appearances, but the hogs were a no-show during daylight hours.
Once sunlight faded and darkness secured its grasp on the landscape, we slipped down a relatively untraveled road on the ranch. A five-strand barbed wire fence divided a 40-acre wheat field from a large bermuda pasture that typically was home to several dozen head of cattle. As we crested a hill, we could see dozens of hogs, at least 50 or more, content with rooting up Bermuda grass along a fence line skirting the wheat.
A steady north wind and soft grass in the field made for perfect stalking conditions. We eased under the fence and slipped, undetected, into position. Power poles leading to an old well were spaced at 100-yard intervals and provided perfect distance referencing as we closed in on the large sounder still rooting on the fence line.
As we eased to within 100 yards, the group slowly began to feed our direction. Capitalizing on a perfect situation, we set up our shooting sticks. Chris lowered the Browning BAR’s fore-end into its cradle. While he acquired his target and began recording thermal video through the Trail XP38 riflescope, I began recording thermal footage with the Helion XP38 monocular. If you have never hunted with thermal optics, you need to. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget!
With both thermal devices recording the action, a small group of hogs fractured from the rest and fed to within 60 yards of our setup. That was all we needed. Chris’ first shot shattered the evening’s silence and hammering a feeding boar. He immediately plowed into the ground and provided a few somersaults for the camera. The rest scattered in every direction. Unfortunately for the sounder, their chaos reeled in quickly and they began to drift back in. Another boar actually walked directly back toward the downed pig. As the boar closed in, I whispered to Chris, “If he’s going to offer it up like that you might as well take him.”
Chris responded with another shot. The second boar fell where he stood, lying lifeless next to the first while the rest of the sounder ran around again in complete chaos but still well within shooting range. We definitely could have shot quite a few more but we wanted to save them for our Wyoming friends.
Honestly, the primary mission was scouting for our inbound buddies’ first hog hunt, but you have to love a scouting trip that also results in a little sustenance. After some pictures, we made quick work of processing the hogs and getting them in a cooler. There is always somebody willing to take free pork chops, sausage and tenderloin.
Brian is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, but has spent most of his life in the Oklahoma City area. He achieved a life-long goal of becoming a firefighter in 2003 and is now a part of the Oklahoma City Fire Department as a Lieutenant. His love for the outdoors, hunting and fishing began at a very young age thanks to a family who shared that same interest. He grew up with a fishing pole in hand and began hunting with his dad around the age of 6. At the age of 14, he received his first hunting bow for Christmas and his love for bowhunting was born. He has been bowhunting for over 25 years and has had the privilege of harvesting many animals. While he spends most of his time hunting and fishing, reloading also ranks high on his list of hobbies. He is married to a very understanding wife and enjoys every minute they spend together.