By Brodie Swisher
Few things can prepare a bowhunter for the arrival of hunting season like shooting live targets in the off-season. And I honestly can’t think of a better place to partake of the seemingly endless bounty of live targets than Texas. Between small game, hogs, and a long list of other critters that call Texas home, the opportunity for off-season bowhunting action and product testing is wide open.
I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days in a south Texas hog camp with a few other writers and the crew from Rage Broadheads. I was looking forward to drawing first blood with my Mathews Creed XS and testing the new Rage KORE 3-blade broadheads. Our hunt took place with Mark and the crew from MMK Outfitters in Cameron, TX (mmkoutfitters.com). A quick look at the weather forecast upon arriving in camp and we knew we would be facing some really tough conditions for our time in hog camp. It would prove to be the hottest week of the summer with dangerously high temperatures and extremely gusting winds each day.
Beating the Heat
While I love the opportunity to test out new gear on live targets in the off-season (summer), it usually means having to do battle with some incredibly hot days. Despite the scorching temperatures in Texas, we jumped at the chance to climb into one of the many ground blinds scattered across the ranch as we waited on hogs. I was thankful for the shade the ground blind provided but with limited airflow through the blind, it felt like I was sitting in an oven. A cooler full of drinks, snacks, and a magazine to help pass the time were lifesavers as the afternoon slowly slipped away. A ThermaCELL is also a must to keep the mosquitoes at bay during long sits in the summer-time heat.
The brush around my blind seemed to come alive as the sun began to slip lower into the horizon. As quick as could I prepare my gear for what sounded like hogs making their approach, a bunch of young pigs ran onto the scene in front of my blind. Young hogs never seem to stand still as they quickly dash around the feed site in search of food. These guys were no different. I sat and watched as the lightweights fed and prayed for another batch of hogs that were big enough to shoot. The opportunity never came. With the weather getting ugly, I was hoping the other hunters had the chance to drop the string on hogs from their stand.
Hogs, Bows, and Bloodtrails
As we made the rounds in the meat wagon to pick up hunters at the end of the evening we were greeted by big smiles and high-fives on several hunters that had found success on hogs. Ben Gustafson of North American Hunting Club wasn’t sure how far his hog traveled after the shot, but the glowing Nockturnal lighted arrow nock confirmed that his shot was good, and the hog crashed just 30 yards away. Ben was packing his new Mission Blaze bow for this hunt with the Rage KORE broadheads in the quiver. This deadly combination put Ben’s hog down within seconds. The new Mission Blaze just may be the ultimate bow when it comes to value, performance, adjustability, and shootability…all at a price that won’t require you to dig too deep into your pockets.
Nicole McClain, of Deer & Deer Hunting, also made good on her time in the ground blind, shooting her first hog with her Mathews Chill SDX and Rage KORE broadhead. A well placed shot led to a super-short bloodtrail with Nicole’s hog at the end. The Chill SDX is a sweet shooter with a silky smooth draw cycle and solid performance throughout. Not just another “girl’s bow,” the SDX is designed for smaller framed shooters, yet packs the performance of any flagship bow on the market.
What is your off-season routine for preparing for the hunt? Don’t overlook hogs in the south for your next stop when things slow down between your other big game hunts. Testing new gear is always more enjoyable when live targets are part of the equation.