Our hunting journey began in a special place known as the Texas Hill Country. Located 2 hours north of Austin, TX our base camp was in the quintessential small town of Lampasas. This area of Texas is legendary for its rolling landscape, rocky terrain, crystal clear rivers, and of course wildflowers. The wildlife is rich with native animals such as jackrabbits, white-tailed deer, coyotes, and birds of prey. The soil is shallow and rocky due to historic mismanagement of grazing cattle and goats. As a result of the recent spike in wild boar population, beautiful heritage breed oak trees are being replaced with invasive cedar and low land pastures of native grasses turning into barren surfaces. Uprooted soil, crop devastation, and large gullies caused by wild boar scar the landscape in this region.
Our hunting tribe is a collection of Robby Sansom (EPIC’s CFO/COO), Katie Forrest (EPIC Co-Founder and President), Kirk Blanchard (EPIC Director of Operations) and myself. Katie and Kirk will be bow hunting in trees and portable blinds whereas Robby and myself will be using rifles inside old school hand built blinds. Robby and his dad have been hunting here for over 15 years and they know the topography like the back of their hand. The ranch is historically managed to feed and attract white-tailed deer but over the last few years has experienced a massive influx of wild boar. Robby has experienced the ecosystem disruption first hand and asides from damage to soil, native plants, and the ranch's infrastructure, the wild pigs have pushed out the massive herds of deer that once populated the property.
Over recent years, Robby has harvested more wild boar on his land than he could ever imagine. This experience has transformed him into an exceptional wild pig hunter who taps into deep rooted instinct to form unbelievably accurate assumptions on this unpredictable animals behavior. As most experienced hunters will tell you, hunting wild boar is far from easy. These animals lay relatively dormant during the day and feed during the night. They are notoriously unpredictable in their movements and surprisingly stealth. As if there wasn’t already enough resilience built into these animals, wild pigs have an exceptional sense of smell that can detect human predators from over half a mile away. These animals are careful to avoid humans at all cost and are driven by survival instincts to avoid any situation that does “Feel right". If you are lucky enough to even see a wild boar in the brush, you still have to be able to pull of a perfect shot and hit the animal in either the heart or the head. Due to massive plates of bony body armor, both arrows and rifle bullets deflect off these miniature tanks.
After dividing our tribe into smaller groups, we set out into the bush a few hours before sunset. The strategy is to get settled into our blinds a few hours before the animals emerge for their nighttime feeding. We had scouted the property earlier in the day and picked ideal hunting locations based on recent signs of wild pigs (recent rooting and fresh tracks). By dividing into smaller groups we were increasing our likelihood of finding these elusive animals.
We all sat quietly, resting, and focusing on any signs of wild pigs. When you sit quietly for hours on end amazing things begin happening to your sensory systems. I found myself tapping into a meditative state and connecting deeply with the surrounding land. My heightened sense of sound, vision, and smell provided me with optimized wildlife viewing that included a family of playful mockingbirds, a herd of white-tailed deer, a handful of rabbits, and a legendary Hill Country sunset. By the time darkness had taken over, we had been sitting for over 5 hours without the slightest sign of a wild boar! Due to incredible self preservation instincts, these resilient animals would survive another day.
Back at the cabin we gathered around a campfire to exchanged stories of our individual adventures. Conversation comes rather easy after being silent for over 5 hours and we focused on being outsmarted by the wild pigs. Although we would not be eating fresh boar tonight, we made out ok with consuming our backup supply of grass fed NY strips.
Here at EPIC we are champions in everything we do and although we did not harvest a wild pig on day one, we would be back at it tomorrow with the patience and persistence of a hawk. To be continued…