A couple of weeks ago, I went hog hunting with some friends from church. It was great fun and I’ve been a couple times. I have yet to see a hog with a rifle in my hand. Kind of tells you the success rate I’ve had, but I’ve always had a good time.
This time I took my AR-15. It’s a Bushmaster H-bar with a 20” barrel and open A2 style sites. I loaded it with Federal 55 gr. FMJ because that is what I had a zero for and the 55 gr. should give me enough penetration and damage to drop the animal with a good shot. And if I missed, I had another 27 rounds in the magazine to stop the animal. I was a little worried when we got there and our host told me we wanted head shots because we were hunting them for a BBQ the next day and wanted to get as much meat as possible. But then he went on to explain that we wanted the younger pigs because they are better eating and the bigger ones we were just doing to eradicate. I was worried about the .223 being able to penetrate the skull of a full-grown hog. If you don’t know, hogs in South Texas are a problem. They tear up everything and are something people want to get rid of, kind of like having a raccoon living in your attic.
We cleaned one hog that someone else had shot with a crossbow and headed out about an hour before sun down. My friend and host drove his pickup truck while I sat in the bed. Our other friend sat in the front seat with his .270. I felt right at home after all my time in Iraq being the trunk monkey. A head shot on the move would be tricky from the truck but I know I can make that hit because I’ve done it in training and in Iraq. Because of the thick brush, the shots would be under 50 yards. Anything closer I was just going to hit on the move, anything further I would have to wait until we were stopped. On a big hog, I could probably make a body shot on the move out to almost 100 yards. Anything beyond that and I don’t know if my rifle would have done the job cleanly or if I could make the shot.
We spent hours driving around until after the sun went down. Even though we didn’t see anything, I had a blast just being out with friends in the outdoors. After dark, we got dinner and then went out again. This time we used spotlights and drove the truck down gravel roads. Now my ability to make a shot was in question. At night, from a moving truck to a moving target, with open sights, and with someone else holding the light, how far could you make a head shot? I figured I could make a 20 yard shot and 50 yards if we stopped. Out past that and I would have been shooting in dark.
As we were moving through the darkness and I was leaning on the cab of the truck looking over the hood, the question came to me. Can I make the shot? And that is the question I’m asking you. Can you make the shot? When you are doing training and thinking through problems, put yourself in the worst possible situation. No- or low-light, an unreliable light source, moving targets, how far can you make a hit? Before you answer that question, go try it. The distance you can make hits will be a lot closer than you think. I was out in an open area where I knew if I missed there wouldn’t be any consequences. Now think of making that shot with people behind your target. I ask again, can you make the shot? How many times have you tried?