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When My Texas Turkey Trip Turned Into a Hog Hunt, It Taught Me a Great Lesson

Anything can happen when you're hunting in Texas. Between introduced species, limited public land access, and plenty of hunting tags, things can get a little wild down south. However, this isn't a bad thing, because truthfully, hunting in Texas is an absolute blast.

I was invited along on a Texas turkey hunting trip last turkey season, and even though I knew we were hunting in a good spot, I didn't expect to fill a turkey tag by any means. I try not to get my hopes up when traveling to hunt. That way, the trip meets my expectations even if I don't pull the trigger. In this case, that was the right mindset to have. My turkey hunt turned into a hog hunt in a matter of seconds, and even though I didn't take a Rio Grande turkey home, I did get over 50 pounds of hog meat. If you want to be ready to shoot a hog in your turkey setup next turkey season, here's what you need to do.

Get Ready Early in the Morning

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If you've ever turkey hunted before, you know that being set up well before sunrise is essential for any morning turkey hunt. To me, being "set up" means your decoys are in place, you've picked out a good place to sit with a shooting lane or two, your gun is ready to go, and you're ready to start calling once the turkeys are flying down from their roosts. Being prepared in this sense allows you to be undistracted and aware of your surroundings before shooting light, which means you're clued into the natural things happening around you.

The morning of my turkey-turned-hog hunt, two coyotes entered a giant brush pile in a clump of trees. They were only 40 or so yards away and my hunting buddy and I were geeking out. They hung out for a little bit, sniffing and exploring the brush pile, and eventually they both left holding two small, black objects in their mouths.

"That's so cool! They must have a den in there and are moving their pups," my buddy, James Jubran, a co-owner of Smile Outside, said to me. We agreed that that's probably what was happening and hoped they'd come back for the rest of their pups. Had we still been setting up our turkey gear, we probably would've spooked those coyotes or completely missed them because we'd been so distracted. That instance led to the bigger idea of preparedness no matter what species might wind up in your shooting lane.

Always Watch for Other In-Season Animals

turkey hunt hog hunt

Gabriela Zalumbide

Since hogs don't have a season or tag system in Texas, you can hunt them while targeting any game species in the state, all year long. In fact, they're highly invasive, destructive creatures, and most landowners want them gone. They destroy habitat that native wildlife depend on, decreasing habitat quality and food availability for critters like whitetail deer. This was the case for the property that I was turkey hunting on, and the landowner had given us permission to shoot any hogs we saw.

James, being a Texan, was very aware of this fact and came prepared for our turkey hunt. While we waited for turkeys to come in, he taught me about the best shot placement on hogs, what they sound like, and what hog sign looks like. With his help, I felt more prepared to shoot an incoming hog. Most importantly I knew that, legally, I was allowed to shoot as many as I'd like. 

Bring Turkey Loads and Shotgun Slugs

turkey hunt hog hunt

Gabriela Zalumbide

After getting the low down on hog hunting from James, he let me in on a little secret.

"I brought one shotgun slug in my pocket," he said. "If I think a hog is about to come in, I'm unloading my turkey shot, inserting the shotgun slug, handing you my 12 gauge, and you're going to shoot that hog."

"Sounds like a plan," I replied, truly believing that it would never happen. However, I appreciated having a plan in place just in case. Little did I know that this was an essential pro-tip that would come in handy later. 

Use Turkey Calls for Everything

turkey hunt hog hunt

Gabriela Zalumbide

After getting both our turkey and hog game plans in place, a hen and a gobbler started responding to our turkey calls. They came within 75 yards before eventually spotting us and turning around, heading right back to where they came from. Feeling a bit bummed, we continued to call at them, hoping something would turn in our favor. Not long after the turkeys left, James snapped his head to the right and locked eyes with me.

"I hear hogs," he said. My heart dropped in my chest as I watched him unload his turkey shells and slide the slug into the chamber. "Here you go!" he said as he handed me his shotgun. "Get ready!"

A minute went by and then suddenly, I could hear it, too. A quiet snorting, shuffling sound was coming from our right. I am certainly one to fall prey to buck fever, and as these hogs made themselves known, I realized this hunt was no different. I started shaking from the excitement of not knowing what was going to happen next. Mere seconds had gone by when I saw the tops of their backs bobbing above the plants. Three hogs were coming in on a string, walking down a game trail straight into the giant brush pile the coyotes were in earlier. 

"I don't have a good shooting lane," I told James.

"That's okay," he said, "Just wait." Sure enough, they came a little closer, and I could see an open shooting lane coming up. Just as the lead hog, who happened to be twice the size of the other two, stepped into the gap in the grass, James blew on his turkey call. The sow instantly stopped to look around and I knew this was my chance. She stomped her foot once, opened up her left shoulder, and stood perfectly still for me. I lined up my bead just behind that huge shoulder blade and pulled the trigger. She dropped where she stood.

We could hear her breathing for a few more minutes, so we sat still and quietly waited for her to pass before we disturbed her. After things had been quiet for about 15 minutes, we got up and walked the 25 yards to where she lay. When we walked up to her huge body, we noticed tiny black critters were running around all over the place. Piglets! The coyotes hadn't been moving their den, they had been picking off her piglets one by one while the hogs were out feeding. They scurried off in a jiffy while I checked out the downed hog.

Honestly, I had never seen a nastier animal. Her wiry hair was caked with mud and her musky smell quickly attracted flies. James and I each took a hind hoof and drug her out to the closest road, about 150 yards away. We got her on the back of the tailgate and took her back to turkey camp where we hung her on a scale. She weighed a whopping 180 pounds. Comparatively, I weigh about 120 pounds, and seeing this huge hog dangling from a treebranch was mind-blowing. I was so excited to take her home and make chicken-fried hog steaks, hog carnitas, hog enchiladas, and a few more recipes I'd been looking forward to trying.

My turkey trip was a great reminder to always be ready for anything to happen when you're hunting in Texas. You never know when something is going to walk in front of your hunting spot. Regulations should always dictate how much you prepare for, and you should be mindful of the rules, especially when ammunition types and methods of take vary across species. But truthfully, you never know when a wild hog is going to come around the corner!

READ MORE: Profiling the Rare White Wild Turkey