By: Tom Claycomb
A couple of weeks ago, a good buddy of mine, Bill Olson, publisher for Texas Outdoors Journal, lined us up an airgun hunt with Adventures Missions and Retreats Properties on one of their ranches in Menard, Texas. I was going to use the new Umarex .50 cal. Hammer on axis deer and then switch to the Umarex Air Saber and hog hunt. The air saber is like an airgun that shoots arrows-at 450 fps. That’s fast.
Bill called on a Wednesday and told me to grab a plane ticket and fly into San Antonio the next Tuesday. D-day soon hit, and Air Olson (Bill’s truck) picked me up and we were off. The first night we stopped in Uvalde to meet Bob Zaiglin, who is a world-famous whitetail deer biologist. It was interesting meeting him.
I hadn’t been to Uvalde in decades. I used to go to school at Texas A&M and was on their rodeo team. We were at a college rodeo in Uvalde, and right after the bell rung, I got thrown under my horse, and he stomped me pretty bad. The hospital in Uvalde couldn’t handle my injuries, so I ended up in the hospital in San Antonio. That brought back a lot of old memories.
We ate dinner with Bob and then went by his house to look at his trophy room. We had an enjoyable evening. The next morning, we headed to Menard, hit the ranch, sighted in our guns and then jumped in a blind.
We were going to hit the axis deer and Aoudad sheep first and then hogs. We set up a Slow Glow to get the hogs coming in and were going to give it a few days to get hit. I lose track of the hunts, but after a couple of days we had run back to the lodge after the morning hunt. We ate lunch, and Robert asked me if I wanted to do a spot/stalk hunt for axis deer. Yeah! It was warming up, so by now so the axis would be bedded down under the brush.
We went out to a pasture where Robert had been seeing a lot of axis deer. We were creeping along, stopping ever so often to glass with our Riton Optics 10x42 binocs. No need for a spotting scope because half the time we couldn’t see 50 yds. We were walking slowly, stopping every 40 ft. and kneeling down glassing ahead under the mesquite thickets to see if we could spot one of the huge racks of an axis deer sticking up above the vegetation.
We must have been moving along pretty quiet because we got within 20 feet of a boar on his bed. He jumped up and shot out of the brush like a bullet. Robert excitedly hissed, “Hog!” When spotting/stalking, I keep my scope cranked down to 4x so I can take a fast shot. If something is way out there, you should have time to crank it up.
I threw up my .50 cal. Hammer and hit him in the rear end. The big 350 gr. slug flattened him. Impressive. But in a hot second, he jumped up and charged downhill straight at us. Robert yelled, “He’s charging!” I jacked in another pellet. The Hammer has a 2-shot magazine. He was coming down the slope at a full charge. The brush stopped about 10 feet from me. I didn’t want to shoot at him in the brush and take a chance of the bullet deflecting, so I was going to wait until he hit the edge of the brush.
At 17 feet he went down. I don’t know if he stumbled and fell or what, but I shot him again right fast and ran up and shot him behind the ear with my .44 mag, and he was down for the count. Wow, that was exciting. Don’t even have to go hog hunting in Texas, -- they come hunting you!
We drug him down to where we could get the truck to him and took him back to the lodge and hung him up. We took pics and then skinned him out right fast. I had a prototype of the new Professional Boning Knife that Knives of Alaska is just coming out with. I’ve been working with them on developing it and am excited to see it hit the market, probably by the time this article prints.
In 30 minutes, we had a pile of meat. Upon getting home I smoked the forequarter and wow, it was the best smoked ham I’d ever had. Katy and I made chopped BBQ sandwiches, and the forequarter didn’t last long. That’s the first big game animal I’ve ever killed with an airgun. I’m all into hunting big game with air rifles now. What a blast.
Texas is probably the perfect state for hunting big game with an air rifle. I say that because due to all the heavy brush in many of the locales, 50 yds. is a long shot. That’s a perfect range for air rifles.
Just like when hunting with your bow or blackpowder rifle, you’ll want to shoot them through the lungs/heart and wait 20-30 minutes after a shot to start tracking your animal. Don’t expect the knock down power you have with your trusty ole’ 30-06. But with that said, I didn’t have over a 35 yd. track all week.
Tom Claycomb III is a product tester for outdoor manufacturers, hunter, and outdoor writer, writing from Idaho.