WESTERN OUTDOOR NEWS ON-THE-SPOT
WILD PIG HERDS have moved down out of the hills and into grain fields and grass meadows where there is abundant water and food, congregating where hunters have a better chance of finding them. WON PHOTO BY BILL KARR
GEYSERVILLE — It was an invitation to a pig hunt that I should not be writing about, but I'm going to. And the next day, it was a pig hunt that I should write about. And I'm going to. Whether you're hunting private property or public property, now is the time to go pig hunting!!!
Good friend Ernie Sanders of D & E Guide Service out of Middletown near Clear Lake has hunting rights to the Guenoc Ranch of Guenoc wine notoriety, and also the ranch next door, equating to tens of thousands of prime pig hunting territory where the oinkers just NEED to be controlled. And they finally showed up, big time!
"The hills are drying out, the fields are being irrigated and the grasses and grains have grown up and headed out, and the pigs have moved down from the hills and onto the ranches, so now is the time to get the wild pig you want," said Sanders last week. But sure, it's easy to say that: where's the proof?
He sent me a photo with dozens of wild pigs grazing out in the open, in wide open fields. "My son, Mike and I have been out every morning and evening, and we can definitely put you on plenty of pigs, especially in the evening," Sanders said. So it was that friend and longtime client of Sanders, Rick Raeta of Wilton and I headed out for a hunt.
But first, there was a bit of a sidetrack; Another long-time friend, Jon Watson, invited Bill Gaines of COHA and I to hunt a private ranch of a friend of his over by Lake Sonoma. Gaines was in the State Capitol, fighting against passage of SB 1221, the bill to ban hunting with dogs, and he couldn't go, so Raeta was with me on that hunt too, Thursday, May 17. They don't offer paid pig hunts there, so I'm not going into details on who they are or where they are exactly, but suffice it to say they have 1300 acres near Lake Sonoma.
As we turned into the driveway to the ranch at 3:30 p.m. we had to stop to let a small herd of pigs cross the drive. Good start! We settled into the guest quarters on the ranch, a magnificent spread of canyons, hills, pines and oak-studded meadows that offered perfect habitat, and shortly thereafter we were in a 4x4 side-by-side with the owner as "guide", and Watson taking up the rear in a quad. We left the 300-acre "sanctuary" around the home, and entered the 1,000-acre hunting area. Seeing another family of pigs almost immediately, but nothing shootable. The ranch only allows boars, or dry sows.
We saw about a dozen groups of pigs, and ended up shooting two big dry sows about 175 pounds and 150 pounds, so they are out and about relatively early in the afternoon right now.
The next morning, it was an easy trek over to Middletown where I met up with Ernie Sanders of D & E and his son, Mike. It was midday, so to pass the time I headed over to one of the many lakes on Guenoc Ranch and caught some of the most beautiful largemouth bass I've ever see — they're in perfect shape, fat and healthy. All of them actually jumped a number of times.
Raeta was expected to show up about 6 p.m., but I was anxious, so Mike and I headed out about 5 p.m., intending to check out some fields where the two guides had spotted multiple pigs the day before. We topped a big hill overlooking a field of some hundreds of acres, and there, below us, were two big groups of pigs feeding! The nearer 20 or so pigs looked big but beyond them were two black pigs that dwarfed them!
We parked and headed down the hill in the oaks with the wind in our favor. As we neared and began scoping we determined the two big wild pigs were sows, and the 20 or so others were half grown pigs, but still respectable. We headed closer, and as we dropped into a ditch alongside the field, another herd of pigs came out of the oaks and headed into the field about 200 yards away.
We stopped again and glassed the, determining the lead pig to be a big sow with half grown pigs trailing, but then, trailing behind, came a big boar! We crept another 70 or 80 yards closer, and I prepped for the shot. I was shooting my 30.06 Tikka, and the most recent innovation in the non-lead bullet technology by Federal, their 30-06 Springfield, 165-grain Premium Trophy copper cartridge with a polymer tip and boat tail design.
I settled into my shooting sticks, and as the boar turned and quartered facing towards me, I squeezed the trigger. All I saw through the scope were four legs flaying the air! The boar dropped in its tracks, dead on the spot. Later we found the bullet had entered where the neck/body connected, traveled through the lungs and exited the other side, leaving a 2½-inch exit hole, breaking the spine. Perfect performance for any kind of bullet, lead or non-lead!
It was only 6:45 or so, and we headed back to the ranch as Mike called Ernie. Raeta had shown up, and they had found another herd of pigs right off one of the roads in a field with grass so high it was difficult to see them. But it was also difficult for the pigs to see them, so Raeta had time to unlimber his bow and put an arrow through a 70-pound meat hog at 30 yards. We were both done in less than 2 hours of hunting, having taken our pick of multiple animals.
There's no question, now's the time to go wild pig hunting. Of course, you're not going to find the food sources this time of year that the pigs want to be on while hunting public property, but if the pigs are overnighting there, you might catch them coming or going early or late. The best hunting, as always, is on private property where good pig hunting guides like Sanders, of D & E Guide Service, have the leases.
D & E Guide Service is now booking hunts for wild pigs, fall turkey, the early honker season, a limited number of trophy blacktail deer hunts and fall dove, turkey, duck, quail and goose season. Plus, he offers some of the best largemouth bass fishing you'll ever see. He also is offering some special pricing on combination deer and trophy wild boar hunts. Call Ernie Sanders at (707) 696-8579 for more information.
A 175-POUND boar dropped in its tracks when hit with a new generation non-lead bullet by Federal, a 165-grain Federal Premium Trophy copper bullet with a polymer tip. WON's NorCal editor Bill Karr pulled the trigger. WON PHOTO
PRIME PIG COUNTRY in the coastal range encompasses a variety of oak hills, open grasslands, deep ravines with water, brush and some heavier timber. This private ranch held hundreds of wild pigs, many out and about as early as 3:30 p.m. Rick Raeta of Wilton, Jon Watson and the ranch owner, Dean, discuss the next move. WON PHOTO BY BILL KARR
WON EDITOR Bill Karr with a nice dry sow shot during a 2-day hunt last week in which he and friend Rick Raeta, center, were hunting with friend Jon Watson of Santa Rosa. WON PHOTO
RICK RAETA DRAWS his compound bow on a herd of wild pigs buried in the tall grasss and not visible. He was finally given a shot, and dropped the 70-pound meat pig while hunting with guide Ernie Sanders of D & E Guide Service out of Middletown. PHOTO BY ERNIE SANDERS
A 165-POUND class dry sow was taken by Rick Raeta of Wilton, left, under the guidance of private ranch owner Dean hunting his 1300-acre ranch near Lake Sonoma. WON PHOTO BY BILL KARR