MOST OFTEN ASKED QUESTIONS
After three decades of writing this weekly outdoors column, I’ve been asked just about every conceivable question. Granted, I am very well connected to the outdoors, but certainly do not consider myself an expert in everything outdoor related. Hunting wild hogs, well… maybe, but there are just way too many outdoor endeavors for anyone person to be expert in everything. I thought it would be fun this week to list a few of the most often asked topics and explore them individually. So, here we go!
I UNDERSTAND THAT WILD HOGS ARE HUNTED AT NIGHT. WHAT TYPE NIGHT HUNTING SCOPE DO YOU USE? There are a couple of schools of night hunters; those that use AR style rifles with thermal scopes that shoot running hogs and those, like myself whose goal is to get as close as possible to the hogs and wait for a perfect shot. Thermal is, hands down, the most advanced form of night hunting equipment and in many ways, the best. The thermal scope displays the heat signature of any animal that is warmer than its surroundings. Everything from a rat to an elephant will be visible in a digital scope. The digital scope will also identify animals in brush to some degree. The cost of digital scopes go from a couple thousand dollars to just about as much as one wished to invest. I have a good friend that has close to 60 grand invested in several scopes. For shooting running sounders of hogs at a distance of several hundred yards, they can’t be beat.
I choose to use a digital scope, more particularly, a Photon XT by Sightmark that cost about 500 bucks. This scope can be used for either day or night hunting, just as a thermal scope. I’ve had my Photon mounted on a little .223 bolt action for the past couple years and to date, I’ve used this rig to dispatch a total of 34 hogs. Thirty-two dropped in their tracks from the fast moving little bullet at slam dunk ranges of 45 to 75 yards. The rig I have is really good, out to about 150 yards in my opinion, but I like to keep my shots close; I don’t want to be out in the woods at night doing a lot of tracking if it can be avoided. The downside to using a digital scope is the necessity of using an IR (Infrared illuminator). On bright nights, I usually can get by on shots under 75 yards without turning the IR on, but on a dark night, it’s necessary to choose one of the levels of IR intensity. A digital scope is best used in relatively open country, especially if the IR is turned on. The IR tends to ‘light up’ the view in the scope when used in brush of heavy cover. Since I do the majority of my night hunting for hogs from stands with a clear line of sight to a corn feeder, the IR works just fine. I also use a digital monocular that is perfect for scanning the area for hogs. When using a monocular, it isn’t necessary to continually have the rifle/digital scope in position. Once a hog is spotted in the digital monocular, simply raise the rifle into shooting position, turn the digital scope on and make the shot. Rest assured, a thermal scope or monocular will do everything better than a digital unit, but along with the advanced technology comes a more hefty price tag.
For those wishing to video their night hunts, the folks at Sightmark have upgraded the Photon XT that I use to the Photon RT that has an onboard video. The price tag is still very affordable, not much over $500.
WHERE CAN I FIND A HUNTING LEASE? A couple of decades ago, a hunting lease of from 50 to 500 acres could be obtained for a relatively small cash outlay. Today, leases have become increasingly more difficult to obtain and the price has grown to match the accelerated economy. Finding a hunting lease is simply not as easy as it once was. But one the bright side, right now is the very best time to acquire a new lease. Lease contracts are being renewed and some new leases will become available in the next few months. As I mention often in this column, feel free to contact me anytime through my website www.catfishradio.org with anything that I can help you with. If I know exactly what you might be looking for in a hunting lease, I can possibly direct you to a landowner that has just the place for you. In three decades of writing about the outdoors, I do have lots of friends with keys to some awesome hunting property. Regardless, I promise to answer your emails promptly. My email, listed under contact information on the site, is email@example.com.
CAN YOU RECOMMEND A GOOD FISHING GUIDE? Well, YES, I can. I have many good friends that guide for everything from white bass to catfish. Choosing a fishing guide is like choosing any other professional, one needs to do a bit of research and find a guide that best suits your needs for a day on the water. Some guides are better suited for hard core bass fishermen that are happy fishing all day for that one big bass, while others specialize in action type fishing that might be better suited to youngsters or anyone that likes to feel his or her line stretched frequently! You might wish to hire a guide that will put you on a limit of good eating catfish or white bass if your ultimate goal is a big fish fry. Or, you might wish to fish on private waters that are well-stocked with bass, catfish, or crappie.
As your outdoors columnist for this awesome publication, I’m here to help. Feel free to contact me anytime.