View Full Version : Hogs and the Case for Caliber [Long]

Rich Lucibella
March 24, 2005, 12:00 AM
I've been pretty tough on some here for hunting hogs with things like .223 and the like. I re-emphasize now that not all hog hunting is alike. For instance, if you're hunting over a feeder, from a blind, from known distances you can pretty much pick your target and time. Do I turn my nose up at such hunting? Absolutely not. Go for it.

I prefer to stalk.....by truck, jeep or foot.
This past weekend, I flew up to our hunting lease...140,000 acres in the TX Panhandle. I was carrying my Was-a-Marlin .50 Alaskan....just because I'd not yet blooded it on hog. Two stalks turned up nothing.

Then dusk.

On the third stalk, my partner and I were overlooking about a million acres from a cliff. Sure enough, 200+ yards out waltzed a rather handsome boar....all alone.....king of his realm.

Sure enough, Mr. Boar headed our way. 150 yards. 120 yards (I lucked out on a perfect sitting spot, legs open, heels downhill, elbows on knees); 100 yards....still coming. At about 90 yards, the Boar sensed or sniffed something and turned around and trotted off....almost.

At 110 yards, tracking this boar at a 20 degree down angle heading directly away from me, I dropped the hammer. Hardly a world class shot, but I'm admittedly not a World Class shooter. Still, it was as good as I've ever done. I touched that piggy from above and behind, between the shoulder blades with a 450 Gr 50 cal moving out at 2050 FPS and he dropped like a rock. Congrats all around; "Hoo-Rah"; "Yeah".

While Ashley went back for the Jeep (with my rifle), I negotiated my way the 20 minutes down and around the cliff, over the draw and back up to The Prize......

What I found was a 220lb Boar with good teeth, laying on his right side, breathing evenly, snorting and hacking occasionally with very clear eyes staring back at me! No lie. This was hardly a dead hog. No appreciable blood out the nose (heart's obviously OK). No frothing blood (lungs are OK). Head's moving; Front legs are moving; back legs are thrashing (spine's OK). So, being charitable and cautious, I treated him to a 230 grain Black Hills 44 Mag in the shoulder at point blank range (I wanted the head undamaged). He jumped a bit but appeared to be settling down.

Five minutes later, it was pretty obvious that Mr. Piggy was hardly on life support. From about 4 feet, I offered him another 44 Mag under the chest and, at last, his heart started pumping red stuff somewhere other than thru his arteries. He then died quickly.

On autopsy:
That Truck Stopping 50 Alaskan created a fist sized entry at the rear of the shoulder blades.....almost. It was actually about two inches left of center. Amazing accuracy for me, with an iron sighted weapon on a waltzing hog; completely unimpressive to the hog.

The bullet fairly wasted the left shoulder blade and tore down and forward between rear shoulder and ribs in a line with the heart; despite breaking shoulder blade and ribs, it failed to send any missiles thru heart or lung. Because of the shot angle and a Hog's natural head down posture, it plowed thru the lower neck and came to rest (nearly intact except for the enormous expansion), at the angle of the left jaw and skull. Three rear teeth were wasted and the jaw was broken.

What put the Hog down?
Trauma to Central Nervous System as the bullet found it's resting place.

If not further attended, might this hog have gotten up and wandered off to die?
From what I saw, "Yes".

Would a .308 have done the job?
With that placement, "Not on your life".

Moral of the story:
Well now that you've read all this, there is none. I don't argue that everyone go for game with Cape Buff rifles. But there ARE a couple POINTS:

1) When you see a trophy, you'll shoot it even if all you have is an elastic band and a broken paper clip....don't deny it.

2) There is no such thing as "Too Much Gun"

3) There definitely is such thing as "Too Little Gun"

4) Regardless of what you're carrying, you WILL create "unnecessary" suffering from time to time. There is simply no way around this. Carry what YOU think is "enough" but redouble your efforts for a clean kill.

Best to all-
Rich Lucibella

March 24, 2005, 11:30 AM
Thanks for the story. It shows that, even when we think we have done everything right, it may not go like we thought it would.

March 24, 2005, 11:38 AM
That was one tuff hog !

March 24, 2005, 11:52 AM
That guy would have beat the stuffing out of the wolf !! It shows just how important bullet placement is and that big bore does have advantages.

March 24, 2005, 06:34 PM
Rich, your last point:4) Regardless of what you're carrying, you WILL create "unnecessary" suffering from time to time. There is simply no way around this. Carry what YOU think is "enough" but redouble your efforts for a clean kill.

.... is what I have said here several times. While I too have taken a "shot of opportunity" from time to time, I try to carry 'enough' gun for whatever I might encounter.
I agree also, that no matter what ya hit a piggy with, or how good that shot placement is, "it aint over till the fat lady sings", meaning those hogs are darn tenacious. Even when technically dead, they can keep on going, and do damage to you or your dogs.

Still, its a good story, and certainly a fine shot with your 'Was a Marlin'. :)

Rich Lucibella
March 24, 2005, 08:19 PM
The way we hunt, they're really all "targets of opportunity". We're po'folk. No feeders, no dogs. It's rare that we get a sneak on hogs rooting in the ground. Usually we just jump 'em out of the bush or see 'em at a distance and set up an ambush....they always seem to be moving.

To Wit:
The day after the aforementioned shoot, I'm in the seat, high on the bed of the Jeep. We turned a corner and about 8 hogs started bookin' it away from us. Pulled the .338 Winmag from the rack, and shot the biggest one in a most ignoble fashion. She dropped. Ran the bolt and broke the trigger on a second.

For the life of me, I cannot remember the exact position of the crosshairs, though I know that hog was quartering away in thick brush. I thought I missed. My partner thought I missed. We ASS-umed the squealing was from the first hog.

Rather than charging the sound, I un-assed the Jeep slowly, like a past middle aged guy. Walking up to the first hog it was clear she was down for the count and the squealing was coming from the area of the second.

With that, the second hog magically re-appeared behind a bush 30 yards away. One more shot (we later found the branch that deflected it.) We tracked a HEAVY and quickly diminishing blood trail for close to a mile and searched for that hog for 2+ hours. A ghost.

I've no honest idea where I hit her, though I suspect a spine shock was part of it.....she was down for a good 90 seconds. That's with a .338 Winmag, which penetrated the first one from butt to liver and lungs.

They are simply the most resilient game I've seen since Cape Buffalo. And I know, next time, I'd take the exact same shot.....as will 98% of us. I'm not proud of the wounding.....I know it happens. That's why I'm so adamant about "enough gun".

March 25, 2005, 12:45 AM
Don't feel to bad Rich. You took one for yourself and gave one to the wild game. Nothing was wasted. Took and gave all at the same time so to speak.

I feel bad if one gets away (happened two times) because it makes me feel like I'm a poor shot or made a bad judgement in taking the shot.

The first hog I ever shot got away. It was a clean 20 yard side shot with 20ga buckshot on a big sow. I will never use buckshot again. If was a head or neck shot it may have worked.

I gut shot a med size sow with a 45 colt trapper. You know that was a bad idea. That was the only hog that ever charged me.

I've let lots of pigs pass if I can't make a good solid neck shot. It makes me feel good about my abilities and judgements when hunting. I'm sure the coyotes and buzzards don't like it :D

I also like to hunt hogs on the ground. Go in the brush where they bed down for the day. Things can get fast and exciting.

Glad you had a good hunt! Sounds like you were at a nice place up there in north Texas

Long Path
March 25, 2005, 09:56 AM
I've shot a decent sized (200 lb) sow with a minor caliber (.22 Hornet). I had NO INTENTION of using that rifle for a hog that big-- my intention was to pop a couple of shoats while my buddy got the mama pig. We of course came across a pack (is that the term?) of grown pigs, and I proved Rich right-- I shot the first pig I saw. Now, I'll have to defend myself by saying that I didnt' realize she was that big and heavy. And I'll have to say that I felt like I had a pretty good bead on the spot that I ultimately hit-- about 2" behind the left ear from 7 or 8 o'clock.

But I'll admit this freely: It was a stunt, and I'll recommend it to no one.

March 25, 2005, 12:43 PM
Rich, what kept you from dropping the hammer at 150 or 100 yards while he was still in a good position? Common sense tells me that you were hoping for a much better and closer shot for a clean kill, but he winded something he didn't like and took an "about face". I don't think I would have had the patience for that. :D Knowing me I would have tried to drop him from farther out and probably missed, LOL. I don't get to hunt much anymore and probably would have gotten a little too ambitious.
I'm also not well informed on the .50 Alaskan. How does it perform at the longer distances?
Sorry for all the questions and thanks for sharing that with us. I always enjoy reading well written hunt stories... you know the ones that are written so well that you feel like you're right there in the story. Good Job.

Rich Lucibella
March 25, 2005, 01:02 PM
Thanks much.

I was hoping for a much cleaner shot. The wind was in our face and the sun at our back, so we had time to watch. He decided to head in our direction and I started tracking him with the sights at 120+ yards. Just seemed like every thing was going my way and no need to rush.

I can't give you exactitudes on the 50 AK trajectory. Like the 45-70, I consider it a 100 yard gun (150 as an outside limit). I had it built after hunting Cape Buffalo with my 45-70. Like the .308 vs 30-06, there's just nothing the 45-70 can do that the 50 AK can't do a little bit better.

For reference, Buffalo Bore offers these numbers for a comparable velocity 45-70, zeroed at 100 yards (their 405 grain bullet):
100 Yards: 0"
150 Yards: -4"
200 Yards: -11"
250 Yards: -23"

The key for me was getting a 400+ grain bullet moving past my "magic" number 0f 2,000 FPS. Buffalo Bore's 50 AK in 450 Grain runs at a nominal 2100. Compare that to the BB 45-70 405 grainer at 2,000. Considerable power difference. 4400 Ft-Lbs vs 3600 Ft-lbs.

March 25, 2005, 01:21 PM
Ok I see now. Thanks for the explanation. Sorry but I have another question, I think I've heard of the existance of a 45-120? If this does exist how does it differ from the 45-70? Are the 70 and 120 designations reflective of powder charge only or are they completly different altogether?

Next time just use an AR-50 and call it a day, LOL. :D

Rich Lucibella
March 25, 2005, 01:46 PM
The designations date back to the days of Black Powder and I believe there were such rounds as the .45-70, .45-90, .45-100, .45-110 and .45-120. To my understanding, the numbers after the "-" did represent the powder charge, but there are those here far better versed in this than me.

I'm attaching a freebie from SWAT October 2001: Clint Smith's GREAT Article on the History of the Big Fifties.

March 25, 2005, 04:27 PM
Hello and greetings from Anchorage. Which bullet type was used? I note two flavors posted at BBA, cast and jacketed for the 450gnHP.
I'm guessing the HP as expansion was mentioned (duh!).
A bud here used the high dollar (Sure-Acco...can't spell it) in the .300 Weatherby at 50yds and experienced complete bullet failure on impact with the moose. Too fast and too close in that case for the bullet construction, anyhoo anything can go wrong in the field!
Good story Rich.

Rich Lucibella
March 25, 2005, 05:09 PM
I use the jacketed bullets exclusively. For dangerous game, I'd consider backing it up with the hard casts (only if I could verify similar trajectory and point of aim), but have also experienced fracture of certain other hard cast bullets in past.

I don't know that fracture is always "too much speed" so much as "too much hardness". Randy Garrett has done a lot of research on this. Because his 45-70 cast bullets are so unbelievably hard, he tends to load to lower velocities. I can tell you from personal experience, I had 7/7 broadside shoot thrus on one Cape Buff with Randy's 45-70, 540GR Hammerheads travelling at less than 1600 FPS!

I suspect Tim Sundles' cast bullets are not quite as hard and that's why he's pushing them at those higher speeds. It's a trade off, really....nearly a religious argument. For my money, I do prefer the higher velocities, as I find that we can get some Hydrostatic Meltdown at speeds over 2,000 FPM.

As always, YMMV.

March 25, 2005, 09:14 PM
Originally these loads were given official designations including 3 numbers.

45/405/70 meant .45 caliber, 405gr bullet and 70 grains of black powder.

March 26, 2005, 10:21 AM
Good shot, Rich! And a great story and example of how tuff dem critters are....my question is, in hindsight, do you wish you would have shot him again from a distance before trekking down the hill?

Rich Lucibella
March 26, 2005, 11:14 AM
In hindsight, yes, I'd have preferred to hit him again. At the time, though, we both saw that rocket literally blow a smoke ring, center shoulders, off that hog and he dropped without a tremor. Ego and practical meat considerations kinda dictate the decision.....no one wants to shoot twice when they're confident it was a one-shot stop and no one wants to take the chance of ruining the meat, skull or teeth that we intend to harvest.

In retrospect, the hog was not edible and the skull is most likely unusable. It's currently buried in Ashley's back yard for decomposition.

But the STOOPID decision came in the next day's shoot; not rushing the sound of that squealing hog. It cost me and I'll remember it....it is honestly (to my recollection) only the second hog I've gotten provable lead on yet not ultimately found.

March 26, 2005, 11:17 PM
I believe I goofed that up. :o It should be bulletdiameter-blackpowdercharge-bulletweight.

April 1, 2005, 04:18 PM
thats amazing. if i got hit by a .50 Alaskan in the big toe id die let alone damage that substantial. its a good thing you had a backup gun because he could have gotten up awful fast.

Long Path
April 1, 2005, 08:29 PM
I guess you could call it a backup gun-- I'd just call it the necessary hunter's sidearm. (No, the real "backup gun" likely present isn't mentioned.)

Rich-- why were the meat and skull unusable?

Too long in the dying, and too much shock from the pass-through to the jaw?

April 4, 2005, 07:43 PM
excellent point, i didnt look at the .44 like a sidearm, probably because being a hunter in Canada i dont get the whole concept of sidearm. i have a rifle and a knife (or four). Ah, someday im gonna have to get a restricted permit and then i might get a sidearm.

April 6, 2005, 02:50 PM
Many hunters are unaware at how “different” a hog’s vital zone is compared to a deer or other North American game. Check out this link http://www.texasboars.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=4380

A pig’s heart and tiny lungs lie snug against the bottom of the chest cavity and hidden well behind the leg. A hog’s spine does run very low in the body also. This is what keeps pigs from being able to look up. Many hunters shoot too high to hit heart and lugs, but get lucky and hit the spine. I have tracked several pigs that should have been dead where shot.

April 16, 2005, 04:40 AM
I don't know how tough are boars in America (or even if they are same kind like our European) but this one took 3 rounds - 8x57 Nosler partition through the kidneys,30-06 through the lungs and still going,eventually 7x64in the head stopped it.After that I bought 9,3x62 and I am much happier.

Long Path
April 16, 2005, 08:21 AM
We don't see that kind of European boar around here, much at all. Our variety is a feral form of domestic pig, with occasional minor cross-breeding. There's a whole lot more European boar talked about around here than are ever seen.

But hogs here are tough, too. It was when I watched a big (>100 kg) sow hit just aft of the lungs by a hard .30-'06 hit (165g at around 2800 at that distance) never miss a step and keep on going that I decided to hit my hogs with a C.N.S. hit.