Alco Bullets would like to thank Catfish radio host and author, Luke Clayton, for the nice article and interview with owner, Bill Shepek. Luke has a weekly radio broadcast in which he talks about hunting and fishing. Luke is also an Editor for Hammer Time Hobbyist Magazine and wrote an article about his hog hunt using Alco’s 350 grain .510 Caliber Big Bore air gun pellets. We appreciate the opportunity to speak with Luke and his kind words.
Hammer Time Hobbyist Magazine
Luke Clayton January 2023 MONSTER BOAR DON’T COME EASY When it comes to killing big game with an airgun, my requirements are pretty simple, I want a big caliber, at least 45 cal but 50 cal is better and I want the gun to supply enough pressure to push a heavy bullet fast enough to penetrate into the vitals and dispatch the animal cleanly. None of this small or medium caliber hunting for big game for me! Granted, I’m not hunting Bison or Cape buffalo but I do hunt wild hogs and I hunt them a lot. I live close to the Trinity River drainage southeast of Dallas in an area with an abundance of abandoned gravel pits and sloughs, ground zero for wild hogs.
From my home, I can be in a ‘hog stand’ over a corn feeder in about 12 minutes, yes, I’ve timed myself! For the past 10 years or so, I have had the opportunity to hunt with some fine big bores and I’ve written, filmed and talked on my radio shows about them a great deal. I’ve written about many of my hunts here in Airgun Hobbyist and many other publications. A couple weeks ago, I was first introduced to a big bore that fits all my criteria for a deer and wild hog rifle. The rifle goes a step farther than what I expect; it’s also a repeater with a two pellet magazine. Fire it once, then quickly work the bolt and the magazine pushes another bullet forward, ready to fire. It’s a 50 caliber and pressures up to 4,500 psi. and has proven to be deadly accurate out to the 75 yards zero I use for the big bores I hunt with. Have you guessed what I’ve been shooting lately?
Granted, I am a bit tardy in learning about the Umarex 50 caliber Hammer. I had read all the reviews of this relatively new powerhouse cleanly taking big game such as bison with big bullets (pellets) but until a couple weeks ago, I had never pulled the trigger on one and experienced for myself the results of pushing a big bullet with 4,500 psi of pressure. Devastating is the word that comes to mind; simply devastating!
I love shooting but the ultimate goal of my ‘bench time’ is to insure my rifle will punch tight little groups in paper out to the 75 yards, the self imposed limitation I put on big bores I hunt with. I know that many of the rifles are quite capable of taking game at much greater distances but I feel completely confident at cleanly killing game at 75 yards with my big bores. I guess part of the reason that I like somewhat closer shots is the fact that I have bow hunted so long where 30 yards is considered a long shot.
After so much time spent hunting ‘really close’, 75 yards seems somewhat long range! Besides, after sixty years of hunting, I have come to detest the feeling of losing a blood trail which often equates to unrecovered, wounded game. Shooting a wild hog or any other animal ‘in the ear hole’ as is often touted by airgun writers with a light or medium PCP air rifle does not impress me in the least.
While I like small calibers for hog hunting when shooting my centerfires, the bigger the better when it comes to killing game with the power of air.
After a couple of trips to the range of my neighbor down the road, I felt completely confident in hunting with my new Hammer. Since the majority of my hog hunting is at night when the porkers are most active, I topped it with an AMG Global Vision Rattler thermal scope. I use the AGM Adder on my .223 centerfire but thought the Rattler would be better suited for the closer ranges I plan to shoot with my Hammer. The price tag of around one thousand dollars for the entry level Rattler coupled with the fact that the thermal scope does a great job of identifying animals out to about 100 yards, I felt I had the perfect combination, a big bore with devastating power (for an air rifle) and a quality, economical thermal scope to precisely place the bullets where I wanted them.
My plans were to take my new rifle out on an evening hunt and shoot an eater hog around one of the corn feeders I have near the house, get some good photos for this article and have the deal done by deadline. Well, what’s that they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? I’m about to tell you exactly how this hunt unfolded and I’ll forewarn you not to expect a photo of me behind a barbeque hog hanging from a tree, ready to quarter up for the freezer. That didn’t happen but I am still ‘pumped’ from the adrenaline of last night’s hunt and a very close encounter with the largest boar of my 50 year plus hog hunting career.
I settled into my ‘stand’ beneath a gnarly old bois de arc tree situated along a fence line about 40 yards from a corn feeder that was set to throw corn at precisely 6:15, about 30 minutes before dark. I set on a padded stool and have a couple of small cedar trees in front for cover just in case the hogs should arrive during daylight hours. I arrived just after the timer triggered the feeder motor and noticed a fresh supply of golden kernels on the ground under the feeder. All set! Things were looking good; I crossed tracks of several hogs in the soft mud from the previous evening while walking in to my ‘stand’. If everything went as I predicted, I would have pork on the ground within the first hour of darkness. Then the wind shifted to the south (feeder was directly to my north).
This was not good, wild porkers use their nose as first line of defense and they always approach this set up from a major trail to the north that leads to some heavy bedding cover. But I didn’t get bored waiting for hogs that by then I didn’t expect to show. No, a couple of kangaroo rats hopped around eating corn under the feeder, the little critters were easily identified with the white hot mode set in my Rattler thermal. Then what looked like a weaning pig appeared slowly approaching the feeder and caused me to get the Hammer up on the shooting sticks in preparation for a shot. I won’t usually turn down a tasty roaster pig! But no, a Boone and Crockett size raccoon waddled up to eat! It was obvious why he was so big, he stuffed himself with corn for a good thirty minutes before easing back into the brush. Then some leaves rustling off to my right caught my attention; now a skunk that must have heard me moving about and was quickly closing the distance. Ten feet was close enough and I tossed a stick his way and he indigently raised his tail as if giving a warning and walked back into the night. All this I witnessed clearly through the thermal scope and actually filmed the comings and goings of the critters. I was having a good relaxing time but after a couple hours my confidence level had dropped to zero for shooting a hog here, the wind had played havoc with my plans.
Home was 12 minutes away and if I left now I would be in bed sound asleep by normal time. Then fate came into play and triggered my ‘hunter’s blood’. Back at the gate, I used my AGM Global Tipan thermal spotter for a quick look at the field on the other side of the road, my farmer neighbor had given me hunting right there too and I’d see several areas in a big open field where hogs had rooted craters that the farmers detest when cutting hay during the summer months.
Right in the middle of the big open field, I spotted what appeared to be two hogs, busy rooting in the soft mud. I parked the truck, grabbed my rifle and shooting sticks and headed toward the hogs, stopping occasionally to make sure my approach was directly downwind with a stiff 25 mph wind in my face. I soon realized I was not looking at two pigs but one gigantic porker. He was throwing mud three feet over his back with his snout as he rooted for grubs, worms or whatever he was feeding upon. This boar was bigger than any I had killed in the many years I have been a hog hunting addict. How big?
Well I will guess a conservative 275 pounds. He might have actually weighed 300 pounds or 225. He was BIG, I’ll just leave it at that. With the wind howling and blowing from him directly to me, I felt confident I could get as close as I wanted. But how close did I really want to get? There were no trees to climb and a big toothy boar has the potential to cause much bodily harm. But the adrenaline and ‘hunting blood’ was pumping. With no moon, the night was as black as pitch. I could see his every move with my thermal but he had no inkling of my approach. I stopped at what I guessed to be sixty yards and then closed the distance another ten yards. With shooting sticks on the ground and rifle well supported, I waited until the big boar was slightly quartering away, filming the entire even through the scope’s onboard video camera. I placed the crosshairs just behind the protective sheath over his broad shoulders and touched
the Hammer’s trigger. At the shot I could tell the boar was hit hard but he took off dragging that off shoulder.
The 350 grain hollowpoint swaged ALCO pellet by www.alcobullets.com that had been shooting so well for me on paper found it’s mark, entering on the boar’s left side and obviously broke the front leg on the off side. From the looks of the blood trail, it appeared to be a lung shot. There were many directions the boar could have made his dying run but he went the one direction I had dreaded, directly toward a fence line behind which was posted land that was off limits. I continued filming and though the boar was going down on my neighbor’s property where I was hunting but hogs are tough and a big boar might just be the toughest animal in North America. He stopped just my side of the fence but then made a final run into the thick cover across the fence. To say I was upset would be a gross understatement. The biggest hog of my career and I could not recover him!
Normally, I would have given the hog thirty minutes to expire and then follow the very good blood trail to where he fell. I won’t say I wasn’t tempted to cross the fence without my gun and look for the boar but I had been instructed not to cross that property line fence and begrudgingly I didn’t. This is all very fresh in my mind, it occurred just last night. Big boar are tough critters and I’ve had to trail many mortally wounded hogs a couple hundred yards that were shot with heavy centerfire rifles.
Did my new Hammer and swaged Alco bullets do their job? Absolutely! In hindsight I would have placed those crosshairs on the big hog’s neck, especially at such close range and he would have been anchored in his tracks. But you know what they say about hindsight!
You can watch a video of this hunt on the show, “A Sportsman’s Life” One Big Hog, now on Carbon TV and Gen7 Outdoors.