Gary Lewis is the host of Adventure Journal and author of John Nosler – Going Ballistic, Black Bear Hunting, Hunting Oregon and other titles. Join him on a hog hunt through Central California in this latest adventure.
You don’t have to hunt for very long before people start telling you about great hunting places. These are what are known as wild goose chases. It is easy to fall for them, but you never know until you go. My friend Tim Rose called this one Pig Central. I packed my Filson bag and we hit the road south.
We were five hours out of Redding when Sam Pyke entered the keywords Hollister, CA, into his iPhone app and calculated our course. We hooked a right off of Interstate 5.
“Odd,” I said. “I would have guessed we would take an exit another 50 miles south.” We decided to trust the electronics and found ourselves headed west toward San Jose in rush hour traffic and not any closer to our destination.
Sam looked up from his iPhone. “Thirty-five minutes out,” he said. Odder still.
He looked closer. “This says Hollister is a clothing store.”
Apparently there is a Hollister store, for Dudes and Bettys, somewhere in San Jose. Recalculating…
At dusk, we saw the sign for Cinderella’s Motel and swung in. A Prince not-so Charming eyed me with suspicion when I said we had a room reserved. He had to check with his better half who sported a blonde wig and a princess complex. We were shown to the Western Room, themed with blue jeans, boots, a barn door and a Cinderella painting. Nothing says Old West like a fairy godmother.
At eleven o’clock, Tim Rose and Steve Manners stomped in. They had been out hunting and had a lot to tell us about plans for the morrow. We set the alarms for 4:15.
In the morning, we were 25 minutes late, so late I thought Steve’s truck might turn into a pumpkin.
We met our host, Leonard, mad with the fear that the pigs were already headed back to their beds. We jumped into his Jeep and bombed back toward the gate which we had just dutifully locked. The gate code was an easy one, but it was hard to see in the dawn’s early light.While we struggled to get the gate opened, Leonard tried to find his glasses. He turned around and drove back up the road looking for his spectacles.
Tim and Sam got the gate open about the time Leonard returned and we ripped off down the county road to another gate, this one a little easier to open. Then we blasted through a field of barley, still smarting under Leonard’s wrath.
It was eight in the morning when we eased through a bedding area, on the lookout for signs of our porcine prey. Minutes in, I saw the south end of a northbound porker. A small one, 40 pounds.
After 200 yards, I called a halt. Brush popped under cloven hoof while unseen pigs fed down the slope below us. We still had the wind, but I guessed we could use it to our advantage. I walked ahead and stood for a couple of minutes while the breeze blew my scent to the swine, then I doubled back about 50 yards to watch the trails.
Moments later, black and brown shapes materialized on the trail below. Flicking the lightweight 308 Kimber to my shoulder and thumbing the safety, I centered the crosshair on swine spine and sent 168 grains of lead-free Nosler E-Tip on its way. Two hundred pounds of ambulatory pork became the raw material for a ham sandwich.
That afternoon, our hunters bagged two more porkers. It was Pig Central, and you can’t find it on your iPhone.