I want to give the forum a rundown on the destination hunt my group of buddies and I just got back from. I hope you enjoy the rundown.
First off I know that 360 isnt much of a distance and believe me I tried to put myself in a position for a longer shot. However it does'nt always work out that way. Some friends of mine and I go on a destination hunting trip every year searching for pigs of all shapes sizes and colors. HOGS are our deal! We have hunted: TN, MO, NC, AL, FL, GA, and now CA. Different landscapes call for different gear which gives we gear-heads a chance to blow lots of hard earned money on overkill as we get called and like to call it. Yet again, we dont care because we are 100% successful (credit to great guides as well) because we are students of the game and never hunt lazy. We make things happen for us when hunting is slow conditions, bad luck, and when situations just don't agree. We have taken hogs with bows in the swamps of Florida, with tactical shotguns in the Ozarks of MO, with EBR's in the Cumberland Mts of TN, and now sniper rifles chambered in 300wm and 338 NormaMag in the Mts of California.
This year my build for the trip was an AICS 300wm headspaced and designed around the fastest 200+ gr projectile I could muster. After speaking with Chad from Dallas Reloads, Bryan Litz from Applied Ballistics/Berger, and the guys at Accurate Ordinance who did the final machining on my gun a pretty nasty AICS was born. I am shooting 1/2 and 1/4 inch groups depending on ammo at 100yrds and have been hammering my 12x12 steel targets out to 1100 in fair conditions with this rifle. I have posted some stuff in the past about it when it was completed but this is the rifle I used in CA this year. I can push a 180gr SST at 3150 and a custom load with a 215 VLD at 2890 and expect great accuracy and consistency with my groups. I do have some 230gr OTM's that Bryan made me but I have not used them on an animal yet. They move slow but accurate just have'nt busted em out yet. The gun is a Hart Helical fluted X Heavy Varmint barrel, Stiller Tac 300 Action, AICS Platform, Vortex Viper Optics, Jon Aadland rings, Surgeon Bolt Knob, Timney 2.25lb trigger, Little Jimmy brake, with Graphite Black baked cerakote on all barreled action.
My buddy brought his Desert Tactical 338Norma Mag that was a combo build by Mark at Short Action Customs who built the Ammo around Bryan Litz built 300gr Berger OTM's. The two consulted together for the build and the thing is lights out.
In addition we were running: Leupold Spotting Scope, Swarvski Range Finder, Bog Tri Pods, AICS 300wm, DTS 338NM, Knights Armament AR's for Bobcats, Eberlestock Packs, ESSE Knives, First Lite Archteryx and Sitka
clothing, Keen and Solomon boots, Hornady and Applied Ballistics Ammo, and Vortex Binos across the board.
So we went to California in the Mts of Hollister to hunt with Matthew McGrew (https://www.facebook.com/HuntMGS
) after we saw him on Brian Quaca's show Pigman and he gave MM a roaring review. We have info that Brian is coming back to Cali for a round two of Shankin! The digs were exceptional; The land is not subject to having its beauty captured by photograph or video camera. The property is something like 150000 acres which was something like 30x70 miles big. I know we did 101 miles the first day on "safari" style vehicles and never left the place. If you can grade a trip and hunt on any variable MM and his team hand you 9's and 10's across the board. I should'nt be writing this because I want to be able to go back, but I already have my dates booked so I'm good.
The rolling hills of natural Oats with beautiful peaks and valleys enchant you around every turn or crest of every mtn. Fog rolls in at around 3000 ft above sea level and can engulf you then be gone in under an hour with temperatures in February ranging from dawn at 25 and afternoon at 65. Now, hunting the pigs long range can be tough and I tell you why. They dont stop moving. These hogs are lean, strong, and can MOVE. Their bodies are used to high levels of elevation changes, maneuvering steep terrain, running for cover when pressured, and understanding where they are going at all times. Unlike my experience with other pigs there seem to be "Eastern European" body style hogs but with more colors, spots, and banding. These are not like your "pure russian' style pigs you see at lots of east coast or southern type hunts. MM tells me these hogs have 34 chromosomes which is the feral variety. However like all trophy boars you get long snouts, big cutters, razorback mains, furry coats, and a lot of bad personality. MM can surely put you in some positions to where you could never leave the Jeep and shoot a 250lb sow but I don't shoot girls and girls don't hang on this Alabama boys wall. I told MM that I don't travel across the country to shoot fat chicks and he got me and my buddies on some big mean boars out there for sure.
A long range shooter that cannot make quick adjustments on a pig with a steady trot without the sure chance of a pause in travel, cannot make distance and shooting angle adjustments in a timely manner, and is not fit for long stalks on tough moutain terrain will have a hard time maximizing and testing their skills as a LRHntr. I brought my 208s, 215's and 230's however my choice in Ammo was the 180gr SST by Hornady. I usually like to shoot a bigger round but I have had so much luck with this projectile that it could not be denied. Accuracy is amazing, speed is lights out, and the fact that I proved back home that pigs and even thin skinned animals like white tail were taking this round and absorbing the shock with no exit hole. I have had barnes ttx and amax exit bodies at close and medium ranges and I did not want to chase a boar in the mnts when time was limited for 3 hunters to get pigs down. I will forever be a proponent of the SST. The field dressing proved that the SST was devastating 250-350lb boar on the inside because they were taking all the hydrostatic and the shock was pushing the blood out of the heart causing mass blood clots in large artery sections of the internals. We hit two pigs with this round out of a 300wm one by me and one by my buddy with my gun and the pigs combined at 360 and 180 yrds moved a total of 8 feet after impact. DONE. Penetration of the pigs armor and destruction of vitals with quarter away elevated shots of 8 degrees and 17 degrees proved devastating.
All in all we will be going back. The bobcats, pigs, black tail, ground squirrels, and coyotes are abundant. The flight was painless from the SE and the operation is very solid. Matthew knows his stuff and is a super cool guy and guy I will hope to build a hunting bond with for years to come. If you would like to know more about the trip just ask. I know this is long but the point of our forum is to learn and I learned a lot about my skill even though I wanted a much longer shot. Sometimes you have to take what the animal and terrain give you and if you press a stalk it can be irresponsible to you and the animal.