“Ding, ding, ding.” The sound of the low tire pressure alert went off and began flashing on Tim’s dashboard as we were 15 minutes into our trip to Texas. A couple minutes later we were on the side of I-25 changing a newly destroyed tire. After limping it down the road on the spare for an hour plus to the closest shop with a replacement in stock, we were luck enough to wait another two hours in Pueblo to get the tire mounted and back on the pickup. If a good hunting trip starts with bad luck, we were about to kill it in Texas!
Back in January we decided, after sitting out for a couple of years, that it was time to revisit Texas for some hog hunting. But this time we were looking for something a little different. I had previously talked to the guys from Dos Plumas Ranch at the International Sportsman’s Expo and was very impressed with their operation and the massive book of glory photos they had with them. Not only did they offer reasonably priced hog hunts, they also had ram hunts available. So, when Greg, Tim, and I started kicking around ideas of where to hunt Dos Plumas was the idea I put on the table. After a little discussion and a couple phone calls we were all setup. Greg and I would have two hogs and a ram to tag and Tim would be going for three hogs. The only thing left to do was wait for time to drag by until late March so could get after it.
Fast forward to 12:30 a.m., March 27th. We pulled into Sweetwater, Texas, approximately 4 hours later than expected after the tire debacle and Siri taking us on some interesting “short” cuts. Initially we were going to arrive in Sweetwater around 8 p.m. on the 26th, get a good night’s sleep at a hotel, then check-in at Dos Plumas (20 minutes outside of town) and be ready for the 6 a.m. morning hunt. Instead we managed to get a few hours sleep, drive to Dos Plumas, check-in, and have about 5 minutes to get our gear ready and head out to the stand. Either way, our 2019 Texas hunt was on!
Brice (the man in charge) dropped me off at an elevated stand tucked away in some trees that overlooked a giant bluff with wind generators on top. As is customary with hunting trips I partake in, the wind was blasting sand in my face and the wind generators were cranking at full speed. I rode out the stand until around 11 a.m. when Brice circled back around to pick me up and I hadn’t seen much except a few deer. The tracks in the sand indicated plenty of hogs around, but they all seemed to have been tucked away in the thick cover out of the sand storm. We circled around the property and picked everyone else up and it seemed everyone had basically the same luck that morning. Despite what many people think, hog and ram hunting is not a “gimmie” nor are the animals tied to a tree waiting for you. They are very smart and very timid animals. I wasn’t at all let down by a slow morning and I was excited to see what the evening would bring.
At Dos Plumas hunters generally go out on morning hunts from 6 a.m. to about 11 a.m. and evening hunts from 5ish p.m. until after dark. In between hunts you can either relax at the lodge, shoot rifles or bows on the range by the lodge, or go out on the property for spot-and-stalk hunting. Unless you go to Dos Plumas with 6 or more hunters, there are also other hunters or groups of hunters at the ranch at the same time. After having our eyes packed with sand for 5 hours that first morning, we decided to relax between hunts and get acquainted with our fellow hunters at the lodge. Greg, Tim, and I immediately hit it off with a couple guys from AZ that were on their first hog hunt. An additional hunter that had been to Dos Plumas many times checked in midday. He was a retired high school coach from Colorado and was also a fun guy be around. He assured us that the evening hunts were usually pretty amazing at the Ranch which made everyone look forward to the evening. And to round out the group…the boys from Virginia. As is common with groups of people, there is always someone or a few someones to keep things interesting. These were them.
The boys from Virginia were a father-son duo. A dynamic duo indeed. During the midday downtime, Little Virginia went into town to get a new scope for his rifle and apparently decided to try out a no-name fast food chicken joint. When he arrived back at the ranch, he announced to Daddy Virginia, who was sitting among the rest of us under on the patio, that he had brought back chicken strip meals for each of them consisting of chicken strips and a side of mashed potatoes and gravy. The kicker was that Little Virginia couldn’t contain his excitement with these fine gourmet chicken strips on the drive back and decided to dig into his portion only to find that the chef had prepared the yard bird to a fine medium-rare finish. I politely and appropriately suggested that maybe potatoes and gravy as a main (and only) course would be the best way to avoid a wonderful case of faucet ass during the evening stand, however, Little Virginia indicated that the microwave in the lodge would be a perfect finishing to the chicken. After a long ride in the microwave and making the lodge smell like a rotten corpse, the Virginia boys were eating like kings. Its amazing the culinary tricks you can learn from others.
When I got to the stand the first night I was bound and determined to knock the bad luck off the trip. As I sat on an elevated stand at a different location on the property my phone began to blow up with texts from Greg and Tim from their stands. Both were seeing a lot of hog movement and Tim had a large group of rams pass by his blind. Not too long after I heard a few gunshots from areas where some of the other hunters had been dropped off. It seemed like things were warming up as the evening set it. As I sat on my stand looking across the 50 yard opening in the brush in front of me I notice two smaller hogs coming out. They slowly moved in and began sniffing around and eating corn about 30 yards in front of me. I debated for a bit on the size of the two hogs in front of me and drew my bow back several times while contemplating a shot. The wind had slowed down to somewhere in the 15 mph range at that point and they were hovering around 30 to 35 yards out but kept scurrying around sporadically. I received a text from Tim saying that he had just shot a decent sized hog (ended up being the biggest one taken that night) from his blind as the two hogs in front of me settled in and held at 28 yards. I drew back and settled my 30 yard pin in and let an Element Typhoon tipped with a Rage Hypodermic fly. The “thump” sound verified my arrow struck and I watched the hog run into the brush about 20 yards behind where he had been standing. I jumped down off my stand and went to where the shot hit and found a solid blood trail which would later lead me to my first down hog of the hunt. At that point I felt some relief knowing that I had knocked the bad luck off a trip that started out a little rough, but my main goal for the hunt was dropping a ram. Just about every hunter on the ranch had some luck that night. Brice circled around and picked everyone up after dark and we worked in the skinning shed until about midnight cleaning up a big pile of hogs and telling stories of that evenings hunt. Spirits were high and everyone was excited for the next morning’s hunt.
I woke up at about 3 a.m. to the sound of wind. Wind blowing so hard that I half expected the lodge to blow over. The wind had still been blowing at midnight when we wrapped up the evening and it seem to just pick up from there. When my alarm went off at 5 a.m. it actually sounded like the wind had picked up slightly. The morning hunt was absolutely miserable to say the least.
By the evening hunt of day 2 I had about three pounds of sand packed in my eyes and my contacts were basically like sandpaper. Since I had to ditch the contacts and switch to glasses I chose to take the rifle to the stand with me that evening as shooting my bow with my glasses on is a bit tough. I crawled up in a tall elevated stand and settled in for a windy evening. I had about 200 + yards of shooting area out in front of me with lanes that fed into it from my right and from behind me. It wasn’t more than five minutes after Brice drove off that the hogs started running in to the mineral pellets that were all over the ground. It was more like hogs were flooding in at 20 to 25 at a time. Most were smaller, but I was amazed at how they came running. I stopped counting at about 100 and if I were to guess I would say there were at least 150 different hogs that came into the area of my stand that night. There were so many and they were running around so much that it was tough to get a clear shot at any of the medium sized hogs in the group. I had some opportunities but truth be told I prefer using my bow far more than a rifle, so I was only going to shoot a big one if the chance presented itself. Once again, several of the other guys got luck that night and many had seen rams come through their areas….except Greg and I. The only two hunters left on the ranch looking for rams. Surprisingly enough the wind tapered off a bit by the time we got back to the skinning shed and we enjoyed another long night of cleaning up hogs and telling stories, but my mind was occupied with the third and final day coming. My goal of dropping a ram was still pending and that was all I could think about as the wind picked back up and we settled into bed for the evening.
On day 3 I woke up about 5 a.m. and, for a brief few seconds, I didn’t hear the wind. I guess mother nature was just taking a second to inhale and fill her lungs back up as my excitement was shattered shortly thereafter with wind gusts that seemed to make the lodge shake. By this point I was just about fed up with the Texas hurricane but I reluctantly put in my contacts as there was no way I was not taking my bow out for the last day. We grabbed our gear, jumped in the back of the pickup, and we were off for another drop off at our stands. Brice dropped me off at a stand that was in the far back corner of the property in an area I hadn’t seen up until that point. He told me it was a good stand for rams and that was all I needed to hear.
I was comfortably perched in my elevated boat seat stand, about 9 feet off the ground or so, with a nice shooting lane cut out of the trees that surrounded me. I had about a 60 yard shooting lane that was open close to 180 degrees in front of me and it looked to be an area with a lot of movement through it judging by all the trails and tracks. Directly to my left was the top of a cedar tree that was about 6 feet higher than my stand but it was completely out of the way of any shooting that could occur for the stand. Except for that day. That day the wind was blasting so hard that the top of the cedar tree was whipping over at me. One large gust sent the tree top directly into the side of my head, honestly giving me flashbacks to football and making me see stars. A few minutes later it slammed into me again so hard that it almost knocked my bow out of my hands. I climbed down the ladder and stood at the bottom of the stand for a few minutes to escape the wind and recover from the beating I had just endured.
As I stood there silently cussing the wind I noticed through the bush that a small hog with a crippled back leg had wandered in about 15 yards in front of my stand. Not expecting much action on that windy morning I decided to see how close in I could stalk in to the little pig before he busted me with no intention of shooting him. I slowly worked my way around one of the cedar trees that engulfed the back of the stand and began walking on my knees towards the hog. After I had moved about five feet I heard what sounded like a group of deer running up behind me. I looked out the corner of my eye and saw the opportunity I had been waiting for rushing in from my right. A group of about 5 or 6 rams came running in and began feeding around the front of my stand. I quickly moved behind a different cedar tree and stood up to get a better look at them. I noticed there was a unique Jacobs ram in the group. Jacobs rams typically have four horns, with two out the top and two that go down sort of below their jaws. This one had two up top but only one on the bottom. I knew that was the ram I wanted. I spent maybe the next ten minutes shuffling inch by inch behind the cedar tree covering maybe 6 feet until I had a clear shot around the side of the cedar. I slowly got back on my knees to wait for a clear shot at my ram. After a few minutes that seemed like an hour my ram moved out the side of the group and gave me a 15ish yard shot. I watched the Element Typhoon/Rage Hypodermic combo once again punch through and do its job. The ram stumbled about 15 yards and dropped. The last day had finally brought me some luck and my number one goal for the trip was accomplished!
After returning to the lodge from the morning hunt Greg decided to grab his rifle and head out for some spot-and-stalk action to see if he could track down a ram. I was in the skinning shed with Brice checking out my ram when, about 10 minutes after Greg had set out on foot, I heard a rifle shot through the wind. Seconds later I got a text from Greg that said “ram down!” I jumped in Brice’s pickup and drove out to where Greg said he was going and found him standing next to a nice Texas Dall that he made a great shot on, especially considering the wind he had to adjust for. We loaded up the ram and went back to the lodge for a little down time before the evening hunt.
That night our group loaded up and headed out just as the wind FINALLY died off. I took up a spot on a short elevated stand and kicked back to see what the evening would bring. At that point I had one hog left to complete my package but I felt like I had accomplished everything I had set out to so I felt zero pressure to take anything short of a perfect shot opportunity. It didn’t take long for a few hogs here and there to wander past my stand but they were all crossing over at 60 to 70 yards out. About an hour before dark the quiet evening lit up with gun shots from all over the place. When we left the lodge that evening Greg and Tim still had two hogs to get. As the gunshots went off I started getting text messages from Greg and Tim. They both tagged out within a 30 minute window that evening, as did several other of our fellow hunters. I finally had a few hogs come in to 20 yards or so but it was too dark to see my sight pins, so they got a pass and I enjoyed a pleasant evening watching the wildlife move around the ranch and watching the sun set on a memorable day and an unforgettable trip to Dos Plumas.
If you are considering a Texas hog and/or ram hunt I would highly recommend Dos Plumas. From what I have seen, found through research, and experienced, there is a wide range of quality in these types of hunts. Some are awesome, some are way over-priced, some are underpriced (you get what you pay for, no doubt), and some are just plain scams with tons of hidden fees and/or poor hunting. Brice does an amazing job at managing Dos Plumas. He rotates people around to different parts of the ranch so areas aren’t over hunted, he knows where to put hunters based on conditions, and he has rules in place that allow him to manage his ranch in order to provide excellent hunts to customers. If you would like to hear more about our Dos Plumas experience or hog hunts in general please reach out to me. These hunts are like nothing you have ever experienced before if you have only hunted the traditional big game, and the meat from hogs and rams is amazing. It’s also a good way to bridge the gap in hunts from January to spring turkey!