Ask the President


Send your questions to Randy Rowley, FCS president, at info@fcs-texas.org.  Questions are in red (bold) font.  Responses are in black font.

Do you have any recommendations for hunting blind tents?

The doghouse blinds have always been good enough for me.  I usually don’t leave them up.  I did once and the wind or cows flattened it.  They’re easy to erect, but harder to roll back up so they fits back into the bags – there’s a knack to it.

Here’s a good deal on a see-through tent – https://www.tidewe.com/collections/holiday-sale2/products/50-off-hunting-blind-see-through-with-carrying-bag-2-3-person-pop-up-ground-blinds-270-degree.  Tidewe waders have a good reputation in the waterfowl community, so I think their blinds would be good to.

I want to buy a mid-range hunting tent.  Do you know of any used ones, or can you suggest a couple options and sellers?  Will Amazon or Bass Pro Shops suffice?

Cabelas sells hunting outfitter/base camp tents that are designed to stay up for weeks.  They’re typically designed for the Alaskan bush and are very expensive – starting at around $1,400.

A cheaper alternative is an army surplus tent (available at Army Surplus Stores – there’s one by McBride’s).  They’re made of heavy canvas and can be left erected for weeks.  Their downsides are their weight and they need to have waterproofing spray applied after rain.  They start at around $800.  Here’s one for $785 – https://www.usmilitarytents.com/Products/MODULAR-COMMAND-POST-SYSTEM-TENT-(MCPS)__MODULAR-spc-COMMAND-spc-POST-spc-SYSTEM-spc-TENT-spc-(MCPS).aspx

For camping tents, we have a Coleman Montana and like it.  Amazon sells 8-person and 6-person versions.  Bass Pro also has a good selection of tents.

I wouldn’t buy a used tent, unless I knew the person well and they’d let me return it if it leaks or is missing parts.

Do you know of any used feeders for sale?  I’m looking for easy set-up and filling.  I may need to get it above cows.

There are none presently on the FCS website.  I’ve seen some on Facebook Marketplace.

I’m wondering what the best shot is for 3-inch and 2 3/4-inch 20 gauges, and their effective range for turkey hunting?  What is the best low cost\easy decoy and call for beginners?  I have used the foam decoys and they seem easy and functional, and slate call and box call.  Likely good enough?

2 or 4 shot should be fine with 20 gauges.  Go with 3″.  As you’ll be using lead shot, the effective range will be around 50 yards.  If using steel shot (not recommended) it will be around 40 yards.  Foam decoys and slate/box calls should be adequate.

I have had the duck meat from our hunt in the deep freezer at -4° since the hunt so it should be well sterilized lol!  I’m planning to cook it on Sunday.  You said you had some good recipes – I would appreciate you sharing them.  I’ve only used duck in stir frying and cooked it well done so I would love to see some new ways.

Try one of these:

With waterfowl, especially, you should cook it fast on high heat and no more than medium rare (rare is better).  Or you can cook it slowly on low heat (i.e., via a crock pot), but it tastes a lot better cooked fast on high heat.  If you overcook it the meat will taste like liver.

I am a single father and my daughter is 12.  Naturally much of my life revolves around her.  Her outdoor passion for the last 8 years has been fly fishing and tying.  She has had 100-150 days on the water per year for the last eight years and has caused quite a stir in the industry on an international level.  While there are many organizations which focus on fly fishing, her new “acceptance” of fire arms has lead me to seek information on organizations with a broader outdoor experience.  Yours came to mind.  Ideally for us, an organization would have opportunity for her to learn new outdoor skills such as hunting and shooting but also have an anchor with what she is already quite familiar (i.e., fly fishing and tying).  Looking at the FCS event calendar I do not see fly fishing events.  Do you have many members who fly fish?  Does your group ever get together for river or public land trash pickups?  That is another passion of hers.

We have at least three members who fly fish.  One of them, Mark Dillow, is heavily involved in the Guadalupe River Chapter of Trout Unlimited (GRTU – https://grtu.org/) and national Trout Unlimited (TU).  If you’d like I can give you his contact info.

Most of our fishing is done by boat, which would make fly fishing difficult, if not impossible, and it would probably interfere with the other fishermen.  I’ve never had anyone ask me if they could fly fish from a boat during one of our events.

We’re also primarily a club for adults.  We don’t prohibit minors, but we don’t target or cater to them.  We often do training during meetings and some members will coach informally during sporting clays shoots.  The organizations that I know about who target kids, such as Kids Outdoor Zone (KOZ), introduce kids to fishing, but I don’t think that includes fly fishing.  So, her best option would be to become involved in GRTU.

Lately our ministries have involved feeding people wild game and other food.  Most of us are in our 60’s (I was 28 when we started the club and am 62 now) and trash cleanup on a river is beyond many of our physical abilities, unfortunately.  Also, to be blunt, it’s hard enough for me to get people to sign up for a shared-expense fishing trip or duck hunt – I’m sure an endeavor such as trash cleanup on a river would be met with the sound of crickets.  Years ago, when we were younger and not afflicted with bad backs and knees, arthritis, etc. we’d help people move, but even then the most I ever rounded up was three other guys other than myself.

May a citizen of Texas, without a CHL or an LTC, carry a concealed handgun at church?

If a person would have been eligible to get a LTC when they were required, he or she can carry now without a permit.  They can also carry in any place where they were allowed to carry before constitutional carry was passed.  The only exception for churches would be ones with 30.05, 30.06, and/or 30.07 signs posted in accordance with the requirements of the law (e.g. one-inch high letters).  I still advise people to get a LTC anyway as trusting an officer to figure out whether you were eligible before might not be wise.  They may take the position of ticketing you and confiscating your handgun and letting a judge figure out if you were carrying legally.

I noticed this disclaimer while logging in on the Texas OA app today.  Basically they are saying that the app is not a “source of truth” in regards to regulations and users should check the info independently.  Given this disclaimer a game warden might refuse taking info from the app in case of an argument – why would they show the disclaimer otherwise?  Sounds like users should call TPWD to verify any questionable items.

Every other year the Texas legislature meets and passes new legislation.  The governor then signs them into law (statute) and they are usually enacted on the following September the 1st.  The Outdoor Annual (OA) does a good job of noting those changes.

However, there are sometimes temporary changes made by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission that the OA might not reflect, such as changes that were made to speckled trout limits after many of them died after the 2021 Snowpocalypse.  But those chances would be noted on their website, which is updated more often than annually (unlike the OA).

The only weather I can think of that could cause a map to change would be heavy rains causing a flood that changed the route of a river, stream, or creek.  But that doesn’t happen very often.

When in doubt, it’s always best to check their website and/or with the local game warden.

Where can I sell high-end guns?

The Orvis Gun Room sells high-end guns on consignment.  The person who I contacted was Greg Carpiniellog – the Orvis Gun Department Manager.  His email address is CARPINIELLOG@orvis.com.  At the time of my inquiry, I was selling a Classic Doubles O/U 12 gauge shotgun.  From doing a web search I found two similar 12 gauges – one was selling for $1300 and the other was selling for $1195.  Also, at that time the asking price for the cheapest O/U that was for sale on the Orvis website was $2500.  I asked him if he was interested in selling my shotgun, as it was a lot less cheap than their cheapest gun, and he said no.  But he gave me a lot of good information on Classic Doubles.  Right now their cheapest shotgun is 5K.  A negative is they’re located in Manchester, Vermont, so you’d have to ship your gun(s) to them.

I’ll be happy to put these on the FCS Guns and Accessories for Sale page, at no charge.  Also, check out Texas Gun Trader.  They also don’t charge anything.  I’ve sold nine guns as a result of ads on their website.  All sales were local and none had any issues.  A lot more people look at their website than ours.

So you have a good list of rules for hunting camp/hunting together?  How about a list of gun range/sighting in rules?

Here are our FCS rules – https://fcs-texas.org/category/events/rules-of-conduct/.  FCS doesn’t have any range rules, but here are some from a local range – http://www.shadyoaksgunrange.com/wp-content/uploads/Annual-Waiver-SHADY-OAKS-GUN-ARCHERY-RANGE-03-11-2020.pdf.  Also, here are some rules on sighting in (although they’re really just range rules) – https://dwr.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/sighting-in-range-rules.pdf.  Lastly, here is information on sighting in procedures – 4 Rules for Effectively Sighting in Your Rifle and Sighting in your rifle.

How much do 3D archery shoots cost?

I have no idea – I’ve never shot one.  Contact Mike Walsh at duxmn@austin.rr.com or 512-560-7001 – he’s shot in Hill Country Bowhunters 3D shoots.

I didn’t receive my duck stamp in the mail.  What should I do?

Contact Amplex at duckstamp@amplex.com or 800/852-4897.  Do not contact the Federal Duck Stamp Office.

What accessories do I need to add to my stock/basic AR for hog and deer hunting and for home defense?

I recommend the following AR accessories for hog and deer hunting and home defense:

  1. Scope and scope mount.  For scopes see Choosing a Deer and Hog Rifle Scope.  For mounts I recommend the Burris Optics P.E.P.R. Riflescope Mount, Featuring Picatinny Ring Tops.  $75 at https://www.amazon.com/Burris-410343-Riflescope-Featuring-Picatinny/dp/B004P81FMU.  Note that they make them for 1”, 30mm, and 34mm scopes, so be sure to order one that fits your scope.
  2. Flashlight, either for nighttime hog or predator hunting or for home defense (as it’s very hard to hold and shoot a rifle with one hand and hold a flashlight in your other hand – attaching your flashlight to your rifle solves that problem; you also don’t have to spend time looking for your flashlight when seconds count).  If you can’t see the hogs or predators you won’t be able to shoot them.  Note that you can’t hunt deer at night, so if you’re only going to hunt deer and hunt hogs during the day a hunting flashlight isn’t a necessity.  For nighttime hunting I like the Odepro KL52Plus Zoomable Hunting Flashlight for $113 (comes with a red light (for predators), a green light (for hogs), infrared light (for blood tracking), and white light, which can be used as a tactical light).  It includes an on/off pressure switch.  They are weather, water and shock resistant; they cover free repair for any purchases within 24 months if problems develop with normal use.  It does not include a Picatinny rail mount – you’ll need to buy a Magpul M-LOK Cantilever Rail/Light Mount for $33, see #3 below).  The Elusive Wildlife Technologies Kill Light XLR 250), which as the name implies will shine out to 250 yards, costs $7 more.  It includes a low profile Picatinny rail mount, ready to be installed on Magpul 7 slot rail section – see #5 below; available in three color options: green (for hogs – 260 lumens), red (for predators – 270 lumens) or white (for tactical – 360 lumens), but it only comes with one of the three; withstands the abuses almost any hunting environment can throw at it, but does not indicate whether it is water-resistant; has a money back 45 day guarantee on the entire package including shipping and a lifetime warranty on the light body and LED).  I bought a Kill Light with a green lens several years ago, before Odepro came on the market.  If I were buying today to mount on an AR, I’d buy the Odepro and the Magpul M-LOK Cantilever Rail/Light Mount and save $7, compared to the price for the Kill light, and get a more versatile and powerful light that includes an on/off pressure switch.  For home defense – an Ozark Armament 600 Lumen Light for $50 at https://www.amazon.com/Ozark-Armament-Remote-Pressure-Switch/dp/B06XH9JX3N/ref=as_li_ss_tl?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1529773216&sr=1-2&keywords=ozark+600&linkCode=sl1&tag=pewpewtac-20&linkId=22f1c282f3dc179e3bcc0ccea237d094 (the bundle includes a Picatinny single rail mount, ready to be installed on Magpul 7 slot rail section – see #5 below; water resistant; lifetime warranty against any and all defects).  It comes with an on/off pressure switch.
  3. Magpul M-LOK Cantilever Rail/Light Mount, Aluminum.  $33 at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00MRB09NI/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.  It will mount directly to your M-LOK rail, either one of the sides or the bottom, as far forward as possible.  This is not needed if you buy the Orion H40-W LED Tactical Flashlight, Ozark Armament 600 Lumen Light, or current Exclusive Wildlife Kill Light 250 XLR Flashlights (see #2 above).  They are only needed for the Odepro KL52Plus Zoomable Hunting Flashlight and older Exclusive Wildlife Kill Light 250 XLR Flashlights without a low profile Picatinny rail mount.
  4. Magpul angled foregrip. $35 at https://www.academy.com/shop/pdp/magpul-afg2-angled-foregrip.  If you do a lot of shooting by just gripping your M-LOK rail you had better wear some thick gloves.  This foregrip also gives you better control of your rifle.  It should be mounted to your M-LOK bottom rail on a Magpul 7 slot rail section – see #5 below.
  5. Magpul 7 slot rail section for the foregrip (see #4 above).  You won’t be able to mount the foregrip on a M-LOK rail without a rail section.  You can get one at https://www.amazon.com/Magpul-M-LOK-Polymer-Rail-Slots/dp/B00PDKO7LU/ref=pd_bxgy_1/135-1955353-2153913?pd_rd_w=MwdyG&pf_rd_p=c64372fa-c41c-422e-990d-9e034f73989b&pf_rd_r=NRY3WTJWPSMBXHSDYTVG&pd_rd_r=20f1222b-d540-4dfe-b90d-db4cb8a6d99f&pd_rd_wg=559Nc&pd_rd_i=B00NTZ5738&th=1 for $13.
  6. EZshoot 2 Point Sling and Quick Release Sling Mount. $12 at https://www.ebay.com/itm/255104091413?hash=item3b65638515:g:lVQAAOSw2ftgutUb.  Slings make it easy to carry your rifle from your vehicle to your stand while you’re also carrying other stuff.  Also, if you’re just going to be stalking through the woods, a sling will put your rifle’s weight on your shoulders instead of your arms.
  7. Magpul ASAP – Ambidextrous Sling Attachment Point.  $27 at https://www.opticsplanet.com/magpul-asap-sling-plate.html.  This may not be needed if you have studs on your forearm and stock to attach a sling.
  8. Back Up Iron Sights (BUIS).  They’re mainly for home defense where a scope may make hitting a moving intruder difficult.  I got an open box one here for $26 – https://daggerdefense.com/products/open-box-dagger-defense-tactical-flip-buis-picatinny-rail-mounted-backup-iron-sights.  There wasn’t a scratch of ding on them.  However, if your scope isn’t mounted high you might have to use an angled BUIS like these (also $26) – https://daggerdefense.com/products/open-box-dagger-defense-flip-buis-45-degree-picatinny-rail-mounted-backup-iron-sightsThey mount directly to your Picatinny top rail – no Magpul rail section is needed.

What 5-gallon deer feeder and feeder battery charger should I get?

Academy and Bass Pro don’t have any 5-gallon feeders on their websites (just a 15-gallon Moultrie one, which would weigh 120 lbs. with three bags of corn in it and would require a lot thicker tree branch).

Best Deer Feeders for the Money recommends the American Hunter 5-Gallon Bucket Feeder.  You can get one on Amazon for $49.99.  However, it has more 1-star (bad) reviews than 5-star reviews on Amazon.  The downside is it comes with a plastic bucket, which isn’t as good as metal.  This one includes a varmint guard and appears to have a metal barrel – https://www.sportsmansguide.com/product/index/american-hunter-50-lb-hanging-feeder-treebark-camo?a=272788.  It costs $58.49 if you’re a Sportsman’s Guide member; $64.99 if you’re not.  I’d get that one, if I were you.

As to feeder battery chargers, I’d go with the HQRP Fully Automatic 6V/12V Sealed Lead Acid Smart Battery Charger SLA Maintainer, as it will shut off and won’t keep charging when the battery is fully charged.  They sell for $25.95.

Does the Club go deer hunting?  Does the Club hunt hogs for food, or is the intent just to kill them and leave them?

The Club rarely goes on day deer hunts.  As a lot of day leases are over hunted, I, as I’m in charge of big game hunts, only arrange day deer hunts with people who I know (and who let me know that they’re willing to let us hunt on their land).  Since 1988, we’ve only had five semi-guided day deer hunts.

Most of our deer hunters are either on season or year-round leases, so they’re not interested in also going on day deer hunts.  They’ve invested a lot of money in stands, feeders, corn, and maintaining their lease, so they have no interest in paying to hunt a place somewhere else that has worse odds (because they’re over hunted) than the places that they’re season or year-round leasing.

We require hunters to take home the meat that they harvest or donate it to the needy.  In our history, we’ve only had two hunters who didn’t want the hogs they shot, but other hunters took the meat home.  The following is in our Rules of Conduct – “Participants agree to: Never kill or shoot at birds or animals that they do not intend to eat or are not doing so to assist in wildlife depredation (e.g., shooting at sparrows and dragonflies.”

What decoys do I need for duck hunting?

The majority of the ducks that you’ll see and shoot on the Central Texas lakes are green-winged teal, gadwalls, redheads, and wigeons.  Pintails are a distant fifth place (but they’re good decoys to have as they’re highly visible).

Teal decoys really aren’t necessary, as teal will decoy to bigger decoys quite readily.  And redheads will decoy to pink decoys with purple polka dots – I’ve had them land close to me on afternoon hunts when I’m setting out decoys and on morning hunts when I’m picking decoys up.  So, I recommend starting out buying gadwalls and wigeons.

Scaups, shovelers (spoonbills), canvasbacks, buffleheads, mallards, wood ducks are rare.  It’s probably not worth buying decoys for them (except you often get 12 mallards per box, compared to six for the others).

As to brands, my Flambeau decoys have held up for more than 30 years and my Academy Game Winner Carvers Series decoys are holding up well.  My Greenhead Gear decoys aren’t holding up as well as my Flambeau’s.  I haven’t tried anything more expensive than Flambeau or Greenhead Gear.

Why not use a 20 gauge?

A 20 gauge has two distinct advantages.

The first is weight.  They’re between a 1/2 – 1 lb. lighter than the same model 12 gauge and their shells are lighter.  Again, given the above example, 1/8 ounce/shell = 3.125 ounces/box.  As most of the dove hunters that I know carry three boxes of shells with them in the field, that’s 9.375 ounces or a little more than half a pound.  For the 12 gauge dove hunter, a one pound heavier gun and half-pound heavier shells can mean a more fatigued hunter who will start to miss easy shots.  So, if you’re going to only hunt dove-sized game birds and shoot clay targets, a 20 gauge is a good choice.

The second is recoil.  Generally a 20 gauge of the same make and model will kick less than a 12 gauge.  However, there are exceptions.  Generally, the lighter the gun the more it will kick.  Just about the hardest kicking gun that I owned was a Franchi AL-48 recoil-operated 20 gauge that weighed five pounds.  I quickly traded it.  Recoil is more of a consideration for kids, people of smaller stature, and people who have sustained shoulder or neck injuries.  It’s also a consideration for heavier loads.

However, a 20 gauge has two distinct disadvantages.

The first is payload.  A 20 gauge has less pellets, given the same load type (for example, game load compared to game load).  For example, with 8 shot, a 1 oz. field load 20 gauge = 400 pellets.  A 1 1/8 oz. field load 12 gauge = 450 pellets.  The increased payload of the 12 gauge makes a big difference with ducks/pheasants and larger game birds or animals.  However, if your targets are only going to be dove-sized game birds or clay targets, then there isn’t a lot of difference (usually 12.5%) between the 12 gauge and 20 gauge payloads, given the same load type.

The second is cost.  To equal the payload of a 12 gauge 1 oz. game load you’d have to buy a 20 gauge 1 oz. field load, which will cost $1.50 – $2 more per box than a box of 12 gauge game loads, or $15 – $20 more per case.  Most hunters don’t want to pay more to get the same firepower.  But again, if you can live with 1/8 ounce less shot than the equivalent 12 gauge load type (i.e., game load to game load), you won’t have to spend more money.

The bottom line – if your targets are only going to be dove-sized game birds or clay targets and you aren’t bothered by having a 12.5% less payload compared to the same load type in 12 gauge, then a 20 gauge is a fine choice.  But if you plan to hunt ducks/pheasants or larger game birds or animals, you’ll probably find a 20 gauge lacking.

What caliber rifle should I get for my kiddo for deer and hogs?

The .243 is the minimum caliber that most manufacturers/sellers recommend for deer-sized game.  In fact, the Independence Ranch (where we used to hunt hogs) doesn’t allow anything smaller than a .243 to be used to hunt their hogs.  It’s offered in 80 and 100 grain loads, with the former being preferred for varmints and the latter being preferred for deer-sized game.  It’s the best choice for kids and many adults.  The 6mm Creedmoor and 6mm Remington (both are .244 caliber) have similar cartridge offerings to the .243, but their ammo is harder to find, as they’re not nearly as popular as the .243.

Don’t get anything in the .224 family (.223, .22-250, etc.).  Most of the loads for those calibers are varmint loads.  It says so right on the boxes.  Deer-sized game is not what they were designed for.  The few cartridges that are designed for deer-sized game use 62 grain loads or larger.  The 100 grain .243 has a 38% larger bullet.  With the .224 family there is less room for error so the hunter must have better shot placement than they would with calibers that are designed for deer-sized game.  Yes, many people have killed lots of deer-sized game with them, but most of those hunters have years of experience and have become expert shots.  Most kids don’t have years of experience and aren’t expert shots.  Put a .224 in their hands and you’ll be looking at a long track, and very possibly not recovering the game, which will cause it needless pain and suffering.  If  an inexperienced/not an expert shot kid uses a cartridge designed for deer-sized game, you probably won’t have a long track or any at all, and the game will expire quickly.

Don’t get anything bigger, such as a 6.5 Creedmoor, .25-06, .270, .280, 7mm-08, .308, .30-06, .30-30, etc.  They kick a lot more and your kiddo possibly will never want to shoot again.  Don’t get them any cartridge with the word “Magnum” in it’s name.  They can graduate to bigger calibers as they age/get bigger.  Also, .25-06, .280, 7mm-08, and .30-30 ammo are harder to find, as they’re not nearly as popular as the 6.5 Creedmoor, .270, .308, and .30-06.

For freshwater fishing here in central Texas, have you heard of any spot with good fishing reports that could be fished from the bank?  I’m wanting to take some friends who do not fish that much to a great spot.  But I don’t have access to a boat.

If this were the spring, I’d recommend to fish at The Steps on the San Gabriel River leading to Lake Granger or at Newman’s Bottom at Yegua Creek leading to Lake Somerville for white bass.  But, as the white bass run is long over, you wouldn’t get many bites at either place right now.

The best places, if you don’t mind traveling, include the Port Aransas south jetty, the Corpus Christi Packery Channel jetties, the Port Aransas Horace Caldwell Pier, or the Corpus Christi Bob Hall Pier.

We’re in the dog days of summer – you can find fish on lakes in Texas, but you’ll need a boat to get to most of them.  For example, there is a lot of shore access on Pace Bend Park on Lake Travis, but you’ll have to contend with the wakes from all the wake and ski boats and jet skiers.  If you’re using bobbers, those wakes will constantly push your bobbers back to shore.

There are lakes that have a lot of fishing access, such as Lake Granger, which is surrounded by Wildlife Management Areas (WMA’s) and parks, but most banks in the WMA’s (which dominate the lake) have trees right by the shore.  This makes casting difficult, so I advise fishing from the parks.  Lakes Belton, Somerville, and Stillhouse Hollow also have several WMA’s and parks that you can fish at.  Those lakes and Granger don’t get anywhere near the wake and ski boat and jet ski traffic that Lakes Travis and Austin do.

Bastrop and Fayette have two parks each, so shore access is limited.  They also have trails near the water, but you’d be casting right next to trees.  Decker only has one park, so shore access is even more limited.  There are spots where you can fish on Lady Bird, but you have to watch to ensure that your back cast doesn’t snag a biker, jogger, or walker.

Here are five freshwater spots near Austin where you might have a good day:

  1. Lake Pflugerville – you can fish the banks of the entire lake, but it often gets choked with hydrilla, so throw something that can punch through it (e.g. a crawdad with a 1-ounce weight).
  2. Brushy Creek Lake and Brushy Creek – there are many fishing spots from shore.
  3. Colorado River – there are many places to fish from shore.  Heading east from Austin, there’s Little Webberville Park, Big Webberville Park (aka Webberville Park), McKinney Roughs Nature Park (about a 15-minute hike to the river), Fisherman’s Park in Bastrop, Vernon Richard’s Park in Stephenville, etc.
  4. Moby Dick’s Pond.  Requires reservations, a two-hour minimum, and their present rate is $10/hour.  They’re catch and release only.  As it’s a private pond no fishing license is required.
  5. Quarries Park Lake.  This 13-acre lake, owned by Hyde Park Baptist Church, requires an annual permit ($45/year) to fish it.  It used to hardly be used, but not many kayakers use it.  They’re catch and release only.  As it’s a private pond no fishing license is required.

I have a buddy who is an avid hunter but has been fighting a good fight over the last couple of years with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  It would really be a special deal to get this guy out on a hog hunt.  The problem is he gets really tired real quick so not able to do a lot of walking/stalking and has to be a close drive from cedar park.  Are you aware of any place within a 30-45 min drive from Cedar Park that I could take him hog hunting?  We will use my night vision and thermals and really would not need a guide unless the property owner would require it.

The vast majority of hog hunts on game ranches are semi-guided (the guide shows you where the stands, feeders, cleaning station, and gut dump are and then leaves you on your own).  Rarely do game ranches allow self-guided hunts.  Rarer still do they offer fully guided hunts.

Some ranches have more success with group stalks.  Others have more success with stand hunting.  I’ve had success with both, although stalking should be limited to daylight hours.

Some ranches are geared for night hunting, with motion-activated lights under their feeders.  Some just have stands and feeders.

Unfortunately, hog hunting is an exhausting endeavor.  For example, Burl Fulenwider and I hunted last weekend at a ranchette just outside of Austin (unfortunately that property is no longer an option as the owners will move into their house on 6/1/21 and the wife wants all hunting activities to cease before then).  We arrived at 7:45 PM on Friday and hunted a makeshift stand until 3:30 AM on Saturday (and only saw five deer).  I got home at 4:00 AM and I’m still feeling the effects of staying up that late four days later.  We also just had four hunters hunt on a ranch near Rocksprings (186 miles away).  Two hogs were killed and one was missed.  All shots were during daylight hours.  They didn’t see anything at night, which is typically when you see hogs, as they’re predominantly nocturnal.

Unfortunately, I don’t know of any reasonable ranches within a 30 – 45 minute drive of Cedar Park.  Most hog hunting ranches are further east, south, west, or north.  Our previous hunt was near Crockett, 170 miles away.  The hunt before that was near Gonzales, 82 miles away.

How does someone get involved in the Austin Christian Bass Club?

I was a member of ACBC for two years, probably a decade ago.  They’re a great group of guys and I enjoyed fishing with them, but found that trying to keep up with my FCS duties, attend 40+ FCS events a year (on average), and fish with the ACBC guys was too much for me to handle (and stay married), so I stopped going to their tournaments and meetings.

Back then, the annual dues were $24.  They might be higher now.  The way that their tournaments worked is the rigger paid for the boat and vehicle gas and the non-rigger paid for the tournament entry fee.  Back then it was $20.  It’s probably higher now.  I can’t remember how boat ramp fees/park entrance fees were handled.

Back when I was a member, they met on the third Thursday evening each month and fished the following Saturday (I think that they’re still doing it that way).  Teams are chosen by drawing.  They put all the riggers in one cap and the non-riggers in another.  A rigger won’t fish with a rigger.  They don’t allow you to fish with someone more than once a year – this encourages a fisherman to get to know more men.

Tournaments are “paper” tournaments (bass are not kept).  You record the bass that you catch on their weight sheet.  Then you add up your best five.  It’s based on the honor system.  Tournament prizes are either trophies or small brass plates to put on a perpetual plaque.  They primarily fish local lakes (Fayette, Decker, Austin, Travis, Bastrop, and Stillhouse Hollow were their favorites when I was a member) but they have one tournament a year at a lake that is considerably further away (e.g., Richland Chambers).

Here is their website.  Here is their Contact Us web page.  I don’t see a way to join on their website, so I recommend that you contact them to find out what their procedures are.

Do you know of any company or individuals that do gun bluing work very well?

I had McBride’s Guns redo a shotgun barrel for me once with a matte finish.  Saltwater from duck hunting at the coast had started to make the barrel bluing splotchy.  However, within two years it started doing it again.  So I sold that gun and bought a camo one.

My cousin wants to come to Texas and go fishing with me.  Where do you suggest I take him and when do you think is the best time?

If you plan to bank fish, here is a list of Fishing Holes in the Austin Area.  Be aware that I haven’t updated the list since May 2019.

Mornings are usually best, as they wake up hungry.  Spring is generally the best time of year to fish.  Before the spawn, they’re eating like crazy to survive the spawn.  Bedded bass rarely eat during the spawn.  After the spawn, they’re trying to regain their lost weight.  They’ll spawn when the water temperature hits 60 degrees.   They usually spawn in mid to late March in central Texas.

Rather than bank fish or rent a boat, I recommend hiring a guide.  I highly recommend Ander Meine of Bassquash Fishing.  He’s a great teacher.

I also might be able to take the two of you on a self-chartered freshwater fishing trip, but it will have to fit my schedule, and, as you know, I’m fairly busy.  I guarantee you that we wouldn’t do as well as y’all would with Ander.

Do you use Loctite to keep fiberoptic shotgun sights from pivoting right or left?

I use Loctite Blue (removable) for my fiberoptic shotgun sights.  By so doing, if I decide that I want to try another one later, the old sight is easier to get off.

I know you duck hunt Granger, but have you ever bass fished it?  If you have, could you tell me anything about it?  Where did you put in?  Did you ever fish the river?

TPWD rates it poor for largemouths.  See Fishing Granger Lake.  I’ve never caught a largemouth there – only white bass.  It’s an excellent crappie and catfish lake.

The entire lake is surrounded by Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) – Sorefinger, Pecan Grove (below the dam), San Gabriel, and Willis Creek and parks Fox, Taylor, Willis Creek, and Friendship (going clockwise from the dam).  Here is a map of the lake – https://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/granger/Brochures/Granger%20Lake%20Map.pdf.

The San Gabriel WMA has a lot of stumps and trees in the water and the Willis Creek WMA has a lot of trees in the water. Straying from the channel in the San Gabriel WMA and on the San Gabriel River is foolish.  I usually hit six stumps on my way (at idle speed) to where we hunt in the dark and hit six more on the way back to the ramp in the daylight.  I’ve seen bass boats blowing through the channel at 50 MPH, which borders on suicidal.

The lake’s water level varies considerably, so there are plenty of stumps that you can see when the lake is at its normal pool but if the lake raises a foot or two you won’t’ see them, and then – Wham!

Therefore, I recommend that you fish the Sorefinger WMA if you still want to fish it.  It has a lot fewer trees and stumps.  There is a 24-hour ramp at Friendship Park, which is on the east border of the Sorefinger WMA.  It’s on FM 971, near the dam.

You would think that with all the timber that the bass fishing would be good, but that’s definitely not the case.

Where I can get hog hunting lights like yours, either red or green?

I paid $123 for my Texasboars.com three red light unit (see the picture below) about 15 years ago.  It doesn’t have a motion detector feature.  I just clip the alligator clips on a 12-volt battery.  It also works on a 6-volt battery, but not well – the one time that I used a 6-volt battery I couldn’t see my crosshairs in my scope.  Since I bought my light they have continued to improve them and their prices have skyrocketed.  Their top of the line light, which illuminates 5200+ square yards, now sells for $349 – see https://texasboars.com/shop/recon-rv718-feederlight-c-65.html.  Their second best light, which illuminates 2000+ square yards, sells for $235 – see https://texasboars.com/shop/recon-rv709-feederlight-c-66.html.  Their least expensive light, which illuminates 1375 square yards, sells for $86 – see https://texasboars.com/shop/prohunter-feederlight-c-67.html.

This picture was taken from 17 yards away.

I paid $40 for my green Moultrie light (see the picture below).  It screws into the bottom of my 5-gallon Moultrie feeder.  I got it at Tractor Supply online (at https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/moultrie-feeder-hog-light?cm_mmc=SEM-_-Google-_-DynamicAdGroups-_-AllSiteTSCExtAd&gclid=Cj0KCQjwhIP6BRCMARIsALu9Lfmh3J5Qf4xQYroB2X3MxHPV-2AJcac9z0BdMn_W5P6xDzt-71wis6AaAvRYEALw_wcB) in the early summer of 2020.  Academy also sells them.  They operate on four C cell batteries.  I read that their motion detector is iffy, but it works on mine.  Mine died after six months but Moultrie sent me a new one.  I also bought a solar panel for it and have sent it back twice.  I don’t recommend it.

This picture was taken from 15 yards away (the picture was enlarged).

I’m really impressed with All Seasons Feeders feeder mechanisms, so I’ll bet their lights are great too.  This one is solar-powered, and sells for around $149 – see https://www.allseasonsfeeders.com/collections/huniting-accessories/products/asf-boar-light-xt.  Here is it’s little brother, which sells for $69 – see https://www.allseasonsfeeders.com/collections/huniting-accessories/products/lil-squealer.

I and several other FCS guys own and love KillLight250 flashlights made by Elusive Wildlife Technologies.  Here are a few of their hog lights:

Sniper Hog Lights is another brand that people swear by.  Their Exterminator III sells for $390 – see https://sniperhoglights.com/exterminator-iii-feeder-light/.

What is the best fish finder to buy under 1K?  I looked at the Garmin Echomap.

Lowrance, Humminbird, and Garmin are the Ford’s, Chevy’s, and Dodge’s of the fish finder world.  You really can’t go wrong with any of them.

I have the Humminbird Helix 7.  My Minn Kota trolling motor is supposed to plot using the Helix, but I’ve never messed with it, as it’s on my center console.

A couple of friends love the Garmin Livescope, but they’re $2,500.

Here are some articles:

My son and I have never been deer hunting and were hoping to go this winter.  I do not see any events on your calendar for this.  Is that correct?  If you do not have a deer hunting event, where do you recommend going for beginners?

7/1/21 Update:

Kevin McConnell report that he has been a hunt master for the Texas Youth Hunting Program (TYHP) for over 20 years.  The Austin Woods and Waters club runs the largest youth hunt in the world every year out of Cave Creek, near Fredericksburg.  See http://TYHP.org to register and apply for the hunt.  It is usually the first or second weekend of January.  Let him know if you have any questions at kmcaustin@gmail.com.  Tom Hewitt reports that the TYHP is the largest in the USA.  Allen Hansen reports that TYHP does over 100 hunts a year.

Marc Ritter reported that the Safari Club International had/has? a youth hunt program with land owners to cull does.  For example, here’s an article on a ranch in Michigan that allowed youth hunters to harvest deer – Legends Ranch Hosts Special Youth Challenge Hunts for SCIF Youth Pathfinders.  Tom Hewitt reports that SCI clubs in Texas supports youth hunting organizations.  Dallas Safari Club, not affiliated with SCI, supports youth organizations.

Jim Bradley reports that the Texas Wildlife Association and TPWD has a Youth Hunting Program.

Tom Hewitt also reports that Operation Orphans actively offers children in homes the opportunity to be outdoors at host ranches.

We don’t have much demand for deer day hunts.  In our 31-year history, we have had five deer day hunts.  The vast majority of the guys in the Club who deer hunt are on season-long or year-round leases.  A problem with day hunt ranches is a lot of them are over hunted and, therefore, you don’t see many deer.

Here are four websites that advertise leases (including day leases):

And here are six Facebook Groups that advertise leases (you must join the groups):

  • Texas Hunting & Deer Leases
  • Texas Hunting and Deer Leases (they ripped off the first site’s name)
  • Texas Hunting Leases and Day Hunts
  • Texas Hunting Leases and Outfitters
  • Texas Hunting Guides & Outfitters
  • Texas Cheap Hunts and Fishing (this site tends to focus on day hunts)

Unfortunately, I don’t have a specific ranch/outfitter that I can recommend to you.  My advice is to find ones at the locations that you want to hunt in (or the distance that you want to travel) and within your price range and Google reviews on them.  If there have been bad experiences, people are quick to let the world know.  Generally speaking, South Texas has the biggest-racked deer and is the most expensive, Central Texas has the most deer, and West Texas, East Texas, and the Panhandle have the fewest deer North Texas comes has the second most deer.

Fort Hood allows deer hunting, but with quite a few strict rules, as one would expect on an Army base, such as you can’t go beyond sight of your blind while looking for a wounded deer and they will pick you up at a specific time (and you had better be where you’re supposed to be at that time).  Hunters hunt from box blinds.  See https://fthood.isportsman.net/.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers also offers deer hunts on some of their lakes.  See https://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/lake/SWF_Hunting_Guide_Final_2020_2021.pdf.

I’ve also read about good hunts on the Caddo/LBJ Grasslands.

I’ve done a lot of walk-in duck hunting up at Granger and the coast and have had a lot of trouble with hunters setting up on top of me.  Obviously, that’s public hunting at its finest.  Do you have any recommended walk-in areas where you’ve done well?

Granger – that’s a tough one, as the entire lake (except the parks) can be walked into, as it’s surrounded by Wildlife Management Areas (WMA’s).  However, the San Gabriel WMA gets less traffic than the Sore Finger and Willis Creek WMAs.  The problem there is if you go up the river you’ll be setting out your dekes where guys drive their boats.  I’d park at the end of CR 378 (Number 5 on https://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/granger/Brochures/Granger%20Lake%20Map.pdf). Also see https://www.google.com/maps/@30.6860252,-97.4030205,14z?hl=en.  Granger gets a lot of traffic from Austin hunters.

The Coast – walking in at the coast is a whole lot tougher as the bottom can be really sticky.  I’ve seen walk-in hunters at Wilson’s Cut on Hwy 361 between Corpus Christi and Port A (about five miles north of Corpus Christi).

Here are other lakes that I’ve done walk-in hunts at:

Belton – tougher as there are only three WMA’s where you can walk in – Owl Creek WMA (very tough walking with lots of trees and vines to trip over if you come in from Grove Road – so come in from Owl Creek Park – https://www.google.com/maps/@31.2234113,-97.5270029,15z?hl=en), White Flint WMA (https://www.google.com/maps/@31.2337599,-97.4790235,15z?hl=en – the problem with this area is the water by shore can be too deep for your dekes; there’s a pond in that WMA that sometimes has water in it, but it’s surrounded by trees, which makes shooting challenging), and Iron Bridge WMA (https://www.google.com/maps/@31.304313,-97.4931195,15z?hl=en but you’ll have the same problem there as you will going up the San Gabriel on Granger – the river will be too skinny to set out decoys).  Also, Belton has some of the stickiest mud that I’ve ever encountered.  Belton gets a lot of traffic from Fort Hood hunters.  See https://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/belton/images/BELTON_LAKE_OVERALL_RECREATION_MAP.pdf for more details.

Stillhouse Hollow – Even tougher as there are only two WMA’s to walk in to – at the end of Union Grove Road in the Union Grove WMA – https://www.google.com/maps/@31.0117237,-97.5982209,16z?hl=en and south and west of Cedar Gap Park (https://www.google.com/maps/@31.016002,-97.6527159,15z?hl=en – it’s a long walk to get to huntable areas and if you go up the river in a boat you’ll run into the same problem that you’ll find going up the San Gabriel on Granger or in the Iron Bridge WMA on Belton – you’ll be putting your dekes out where guys will come through with their boats).  The point to the north in the Union Grove WMA is a good spot, but if you want to get away from the other hunters, head east.  Stillhouse gets a lot of traffic from Fort Hood hunters.  See https://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/stillhouse/images/STILLHOUSE_HOLLOW_OVERALL_RECREATION_MAP.pdf for more details.

Somerville – the toughest as there is only one day hunt area to walk in to – the “cup bottom” to the east of the end of Iron Bridge Rd. (https://www.google.com/maps/@30.2901251,-96.6281178,16z?hl=en).  The shortest walk involves parking at the end of Iron Bridge Rd. and heading east.  Be aware that it’s almost as thick there as it is at the Owl Creek WMA, so skirt the shore if you can.  You can also park at the end of Frischer Rd., but it’s a longer walk to get to the “cup bottom” to the west (see https://www.google.com/maps/@30.2898657,-96.619685,16z?hl=en).  Somerville gets a lot of traffic from College Station hunters.  See https://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/somerville/Information/Waterfowl%20Hunting%20Lake%20Map.pdf for more details.

As to how I’ve done:

  • Granger – three good walk-in hunts in the San Gabriel WMA.
  • Stillhouse Hollow – one good walk-in hunt in the Union Grove WMA.
  • Belton and Somerville – no good walk-in hunts.  In fact, for Belton, I’ve had no good hunts via boat either and for Somerville, I’ve had one good hunt via boat (it was in the walk-in area before I knew that you had to hunt from shore in that area).

So, I’d focus on Granger and Stillhouse Hollow for walk-in hunts.

You must possess the Annual Public Hunting Permit to hunt Granger.  The other three do not require it (unless you go into the boats-only section of Somerville (with a boat) that is leased by the TPWD).  Here is the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Fort Worth District Hunting Guide.

My massage guy’s brother has started manufacturing 9mm with some Army friends as a business and has a large capacity press.  I am considering buying a brick of 500 9mm 115-grain bullets for $350.  What are other details I should ask and know before deciding?  The projectile type, powder measurements, etc.?  Do you know of a reliable source for ammo that I should review first?

The pressure of the rounds should not be greater than the recommended maximum pressure – 35,000 psi.  However, as these are undoubtedly target rounds (FMJ) that shouldn’t be a problem.  Another thing to be concerned about is the cases.  Brass cases are preferred, followed by aluminum, then steel.  Some guns have trouble chambering and/or ejecting aluminum and/or steel cased ammo.  As these are Army guys I’d bet my lunch that they’ll be brass.

Lastly, foreign components (cases, powder, primers, and bullets) can be a concern.  However, again, as these are Army guys I’d bet my lunch and dinner that everything is at military specifications (Mil-Spec) and made in the USA.

Be aware that some gun manufacturers will void their warranty if you shoot non-factory ammo and especially if you shoot reloads.  Your gun’s manufacturer may consider these shells to be reloaded.  I recommend that you read your warranty and check with your gun’s manufacturer if in doubt.

Gunbroker has a lot of ammo for sale from businesses and individuals.  Most are in cases of 10 or more boxes.  They have auctions like eBay and “Buy it now.”  That price is in line with prices that I’ve seen on Gunbroker.  Academy, when it has them, doesn’t allow you to buy more than three boxes.

David Featherston shared the following:

Just FYI, I’ve found Academy (in Sunset Valley on Brodie Lane) to be the BEST price on 9mm ammo these days (Federal, Winchester, etc. brands).  I just bought a box of 200 (full metal jacket) for $49.99 and a box of 100 for $26.99.  You just need to call ahead of time to see if it is in stock for a certain morning during the week.  They accommodate folks by opening at 8:30 vs. 9:00 am only for ammo seekers.  Their limit is 3 people at a time, so you need to start standing in line about 8:00 or 8:15.  They limit you to 3 boxes of any kind… no matter the quantity in the box.  The Brodie Lane store says that Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday mornings are typically when they have new stock ready to sell.

They’re not gouging anyone and I sure appreciate that!  (I tell them each time I go.)

What baitcaster rod and reel combo is your pick?  Do you do a right-handed or left-handed retrieve?

I don’t spend more than $100 for a rod/reel combo.  To me, there’s not much difference between a $100 combo and a $150 combo in performance.

Bass Pro Shops

This one has good reviews, including one from a beginner – https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/bass-pro-shops-100187478.  I’d get the 7′ medium rod strength (Jack-of-all-trades) version.

This one also had good reviews – https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/abu-garcia-mlf-baitcast-combo.  It only comes in a 7′ version.  Get the medium instead of the medium-heavy rod.

But if you’re willing to spend more then this is the one to get – https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/Abu-Garcia-Revo-SXBass-Pro-Shops-Johnny-Morris-CarbonLite-20-Baitcast-Rod-and-Reel-Combo.  The Revo has an excellent reputation.  Its drawbacks are the rod only comes in medium-heavy and it’s out of stock.


Lew’s combos (they have a good reputation) that are worth looking at include:

https://www.academy.com/shop/pdp/lews-speed-spool-lfs-7-ft-mh-baitcast-rod-and-reel-combo#repChildCatid=8216508.  It has three 5-star reviews.  It comes with a 7′ rod, in medium-heavy only.

https://www.academy.com/shop/pdp/lews-mach-smash-slp-6-ft-10-in-mh-baitcast-combo#repChildCatid=8190502.  Similar reviews to the first one and it’s $20 cheaper.  It comes with a 6′ 10″ rod, in medium-heavy only.

https://www.academy.com/shop/pdp/lews%C2%AE-american-hero%C2%AE-7-mh-baitcast-rod-and-reel-combo#repChildCatid=1480325.  It’s cheaper than the last one but has better reviews.  It comes with a 7′ rod, in medium-heavy only.

https://www.academy.com/shop/pdp/lews-laser-txs-6-ft-10-in-mh-baitcast-rod-and-reel-combo#repChildCatid=7988009.   It comes with a 6′ 10″ rod, in medium-heavy only.

For rods, I go by feel.  I fake cast them in the store.  If it feels like a broom handle or like a whip I put it back on the rack.  Both Bass Pro Shops and Academy have sales on combos frequently.  Academy sometimes runs all of their combos 25% off.

Probably 95% of right-handed guys go with a right-handed retrieve.  However, some don’t like casting the rod with their right hand and then switching it to their left hand to hold it while the right-hand is retrieving the lure, as that takes a couple of seconds of precious fishing time to make that switch.  To me, it feels awkward to retrieve with my left hand.  However, that may just be because that’s the way I’ve always done it.  Try them both and see what feels best for you.

What bullet types should I use for a .300 Blackout AAC for hog hunting?

It’s important to know when using a .300 Blackout to hunt medium-sized game such as hogs and deer, that it is a short-range caliber.  Supersonic ammo is limited to 200 yards and subsonic ammo is limited to 150 yards?, preferably a lot less.

The .300 Blackout was designed to provide a bullet that was a more viable medium-sized option for the AR platform than a .223, which was originally designed for varmints.  It was also designed to shoot suppressed and when it comes to suppressors, slower is better.  A subsonic round lacks the supersonic crack.  A suppressor only stops the blast at the muzzle – it does nothing for the supersonic crack.  A subsonic round through a suppressor is nice and quiet – although not movie-quiet.  A supersonic round through a suppressor defeats the purpose of the suppressor.

So, if you’re going to use a suppressor then use subsonic rounds, which is what they were designed for.  And if you’re going to shoot subsonic rounds then you need to do headshots on hogs (behind the eye to the ear – some guys shoot them in the ear) because the bullet is moving too slow to expand.  By doing so you’ll either kill them instantly and they’ll take a “dirt nap” or you’ll miss and they’ll run away.  Tracking a wounded hog at night is not easy and potentially dangerous.  A headshot eliminates the need to track.

With headshots, especially on big hogs with thick skulls, penetration is key.  If you shoot a hog with a bullet that is designed for the vitals (e.g., a hollow point or expanding soft point) it may flatten on the skull and not penetrate or adequately penetrate.  The solution is a solid, non-expanding bullet, such as a full metal jacket (FMJ).  This is where subsonic rounds with solid bullets really shine.

A 190+ grain solid core bullet in a .300 Blackout (such as a Sellier & Bellot Subsonic FMJ 200 grain) is moving a lot slower (1060 Feet Per Second – FPS) than a 125 grain or 110 grain expanding bullet (which travel at around 2200 FPS).  It is, without a doubt, the best bullet for head shooting hogs.  But you never should use a FMJ when shooting hogs or deer in the vitals, as they don’t expand and that won’t ensure humane kills.  Some ammo makers make supersonic hollow points for the .300 blackout but those bullets are designed to be shot into the vitals, not the head.  Some people say they don’t adequately expand to ensure a one-shot kill.  I’ve yet to have a chance to try one, but when I do I’ll revise this section.

If you’re not using a suppressor then an expanding fast bullet is the way to go, such as the copper Barnes VOR-TX Tipped Triple-Shock X Hollow Point 110 grain.  Barnes is a premium ammo maker and the VOR-TX Tipped Triple-Shock X Hollow Point comes at a premium price ($40 for 20 rounds, if you can find it).  With that bullet and similar ones, you should shoot hogs and deer in the vitals where the bullet’s expanding qualities can be maximized.  As it penetrates it’s also going to expand.  As it expands it leaves a wake of destruction which increases your chances of a one-hit kill.  This is a humane round that will put a hog or deer down without issue if you shoot it in the vitals.  Just don’t shoot a hog in the head with one.

I want to buy a rifle and scope for hog hunting.  I’d prefer for it to kick less than a .243.  My budget is $1500.

I do not recommend anything below a .243 with a 100-grain bullet for hogs.  The .243 is the minimum caliber that most manufacturers/sellers recommend for deer-sized game.  It’s offered in 80 and 100 grain loads, with the latter being preferred for deer-sized game.  The problem with .224 bullets, such as the .223/5.56, is they were designed for varmints (just look at the boxes of their typical 55-grain ammo and they’ll tell you what they were designed for).  Over the years the ammo makers developed heavier bullets for those calibers (typically 62-grain and up) to make them usable for up to deer-sized game.  But if a 300 lb.+ hog comes to your bait I would want to be holding something with more power.  You can kill hogs with .22’s but you have to hit them in the ear or just behind it, which is not easy to do in the dark (which is usually when hogs are out and about).  Nor is it easy to hit that spot with their frequently moving heads.

As you would like something that kicks a little less than a .243, going with a lesser caliber is not the answer.  A semi-auto will kick less than a bolt action, pump, or lever action (I guarantee you that a .300 Blackout in an AR kicks less than a bolt action .243).  Browning (BAR), Remington (Model 7500), and Benelli (R1) make semi-automatic rifles but none of them are as accurate or customizable as AR’s.  Typical AR’s are offered in calibers that are good choices for hogs.  These include (in my order of preference):

  1. .300 Blackout AAC (commonly called .300 Blackout) – it’s .308 caliber and the .223 is the parent cartridge (you can use these shells in AR .223 magazines).  It was designed to shoot suppressed with subsonic rounds.  It’s not a long-range cartridge, but hog hunting is not a long-range sport.  I bought one a couple of months ago and can’t wait to try it out on a piggie.  It hardly kicks at all and I don’t have a suppressor on mine (yet).  With a suppressor on it, the recoil will be minimal.
  2. 6.5mm Creedmoor (commonly called 6.5 Creedmoor) – was actually developed in 2007 but is just becoming popular now.  It has a reputation for long-range accuracy.  It is a great caliber for hogs.  When I go to Academy I almost always see it on their shelves.  I see more discussions on it than any other caliber in the FB groups that I’m a member of.  There are many who think that it’s the cat’s meow.  It’s #2 on my list as it probably will kick more than the .300 Blackout and it’s not designed for suppressors.
  3. .308 Winchester (very similar but not identical to the military 7.62x51mm NATO) – a fantastic caliber that can put down anything on this continent.  It has had two offspring – 7mm-08 and .243 and has very similar ballistics to the .30-06.  The one knock on it is AR’s that are chambered for it are not cheap (they’re called AR-10’s).  It’s #3 on my list due to the cost of the rifles.
  4. 6.5mm Grendel (AKA 6.5 Grendel) and 6.8mm Remington Special Purpose Cartridge (AKA 6.8 SPC, 6.8 SPC II, and 6.8×43mm – has the .30 Remington as its parent cartridge) are both great calibers for hogs but ammo for them is very hard to find right now and expensive.  A gun is no good if you can’t find ammo for it.

Remington makes an AR (the R-25) with typical deer calibers (.243 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington, .308 Winchester) but it’s very expensive ($1700 for just the rifle) and hard to find.

As to AR’s, there are several that have good reputations, including Colt, Bushmaster, SIG, Daniel Defense, Anderson, Springfield Armory, Ruger, DPMS, and many more.  But after a lot of research, I settled on two – the Diamondback DB15 and the CORE CORE15.  I watched a lot of YouTube reviews and read a lot of reviews and it was hard to find any that said anything that was less than flattering.  Best of all they have the best warranties in the industry.

I settled on the Diamondback DB15 in .300 Blackout as they were cheaper than the CORE and I only had 1K to spend (which is what I sold my O/U Classic Doubles shotgun for).  I got it new on Gunbroker for $655 (plus $25 shipping and a $20 FFL receiving fee).  I added a SIG Romeo 5 Red Dot ($132), two Magpul rail sections ($31 total), a Surefire flashlight (M300 is $269; mine was given to me by my son), a Magpul angled foregrip ($45; mine was given to me by my son), an EZshoot 2 Point Sling and Quick Release Sling Mount ($24), Tool Parts 1pcs Quick Detach Clamp-on Single Point Sling Swivel Attachment Buffer Tube Adapter – CN (a better place to attached your sling) ($15), and three 30-round  Magpul P-mags ($36).  So, I spent $941 on the above and my remaining $59 on ammo.

It has the following features:

  • Pistol Length Gas Impingement System
  • 4140 Chrome-Moly Free Float Barrel
  • 1:8 Twist
  • A2 Flash Hider
  • 15″ Diamondback Aluminum Key Mod Handguard
  • Shot-Peened, MPI Mil Spec 8620 Bolt Carrier
  • A3 Flattop Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum, T-Marked Upper
  • Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum Lower
  • Collapsible Stock
  • A2 Pistol Grip
  • Anodized Black Finish
  • Weight 6.65 Pounds
  • Length 32.5″-36.25″

As to scopes, given your budget, you won’t be able to afford a Day/Night scope if you get everything that I listed above (although you won’t need the Red Dot and can do without the flashlight and three extra magazines for a hog hunting rifle).  But if you can swing it I’d get an ATN X-sight 4K Pro 3-14X for $650 (you can get a refurbished one with a full factory warranty – the same as a new one – at Walmart for $100 less).  A friend of mine bought one and let me look through it at night – it’s amazing!

But if that breaks the bank I’d get a Vortex Crossfire II Hog Hunter 3-12X56 with a 30mm tube, and V-brite illuminated reticle.  Amazon has them for $300.

For either of these options, you’ll need a cantilever style mount made for an AR-15 such as the Burris Optics P.E.P.R. Scope Mount, Includes Both Smooth and Picatinny Ring Tops, 30mm ($90 on Amazon).  The cool thing about using the Picatinny ring tops is it allows you to put a Red Dot on the Picatinny ring top (on top of the scope).  This will give you precision shots with the scope at standing still hogs and shots at running hogs with the Red Dot.  Don’t spend more money on the quick-detach version of the mount – you won’t need it (it’s for guys who put a rifle scope on their AR one day and a Red Dot on it the next).

Instead of the Surefire Weapons Light (which is used primarily for home defense), I’d get an Odepro KL52Plus Zoomable Hunting Flashlight.  It includes red, green, white, and IR850 infrared (invisible to the eye – must be used with night vision) lenses and adjustable focus.  It’s shockproof and has a rechargeable battery.  It’s water-resistant and has a Smart Remote on/off pressure switch with a button that makes no noise.  It shines out to 417 yards.  It includes two weapons mounts.  Best of all they’re $113.  Use the green light for hogs.

In summary, I recommend the following for a hog hunting rifle:

$700 – Diamondback DB-15 in .300 Blackout AAC

$650 – ATN X-sight 4K Pro 3-14X

$90 – Burris Optics P.E.P.R. Scope Mount, Includes Both Smooth and Picatinny Ring Tops, 30mm

$113 – Odepro KL52Plus Zoomable Hunting Flashlight with Red Green White and IR850 Light LED Lamps Remote Pressure Switch Hunting Kit

$16 – Magpul rail section (to hold the foregrip)

$45 – Magpul angled foregrip

$15 – Tool Parts 1pcs Quick Detach Clamp-on Single Point Sling Swivel Attachment Buffer Tube Adapter – CN

$24 – EZshoot 2 Point Sling and Quick Release Sling Mount


If you swap the Vortex Crossfire II for the ATN you’d be at $1291, which would give you plenty of money left over for ammo and be below $1500.

For other options see:

My son lives in Seattle and wants to hunt deer and elk.  He wants some advice and any possible leads you might have for a good gun to use.  Do you recommend new or used?  What’s a good all-around gun with abundant and cheaper ammo?  30-06?   Plastic or wood stock?  Best reasonable scope?

Here are a couple of articles that will get you started:

I haven’t updated the first article since 2009, so the prices for those guns are higher now.  Also, there are different versions of the manufacturers’ rifles or they offer new rifles entirely.  For example, Browning now offers an X-bolt, which is basically an A-bolt on steroids.

I updated the second article on 9/10/20.  I will eventually update the first article.

As to calibers, since elk is in the equation, I’d recommend at least a .270 or 7mm08.  I’d definitely go with the more popular calibers, especially right now, as there has been a substantial ammo shortage and your odds of finding ammo for a .280 Remington (for example) will be lower.  They’ve been making .30-06 since 1906 and it comes in bullet weights from 110 – 220 grains.  I’d use 150 – 165 grain on deer and 180 grain on elk.  The 6.5 Creedmore has become a very popular caliber and I see several boxes of it every time that I go to Academy.  It’s supposed to be a flat shooter.  But it’s only 0.2559, which would be iffy on elk (a .270 Winchester is actually .277).  My order of preference would be .30-06, .308 (very available ammo and just slightly less performance than the ’06), and .270.

I’d go with a bolt action, as I’m a traditionalist.  However, I recently bought an AR in .300 Blackout for hogs, and if the riots come to my neighborhood.  For years I despised them and called them “toy guns.”  But I’m starting to like it and upgrading parts and adding things is fun.  The problem with an AR is most are chambered in .223/5.56 which was designed for varmints (but they make a few deer capable bullets for it).  .300 Blackout is a short-range cartridge.  The 6.5 Grendel is very hard to find and expensive.  The ammo is very hard to find.  .308 would be your best bet but those AR-10’s are expensive.  Remington makes an AR with typical deer calibers but it’s very expensive.  Pumps aren’t as accurate.  Neither are lever actions with the exceptions of the Browning BLR and the Savage Model 99.  Lever actions have mostly short-ranged calibers (with the above exceptions).  All of the bolt guns in my article are accurate, reliable, and similarly priced.  The Remington will be the most readily available.  I have a Model 700 BDL but if I were buying today I’d buy the CDL with the box magazine.

As to where to find one – I’m seeing more rifles show up at Academy.  I’ve also had good luck on www.gunbroker.com  I’ve bought five guns there and sold three.  It’s like eBay.  There are auctions and “Buy it Now.”  You must have the rifle shipped to an FFL dealer (my son is now one, in Liberty Hill).  Gunbroker has a list of FFL dealers per state.  They all do the same service, so I’d go with the cheapest one.  For example, Ryan charges $20 to receive a gun.  Find the rifle you want and shop.  It doesn’t take long to find the best price.  Just know that what guys are asking for on gunbroker is often not what the going rate is.  Some guys ask a high price and are counting on guys who don’t like to shop or are impulsive.  Follow/watch some auctions that are going on for the gun you want.  When it sells it will show you what it sold for.

I bought a Browning Gold shotgun on eBay for $480 several years ago.  The going price at the time was $750.  The reason that it was cheaper was it came only with one screw-in full choke.  After I receive it I bought two new chokes (Improved Cylinder and Modified) at Academy for $20 each and had a complete gun for $520.  But I was patient – I looked for around six months to find that diamond in the rough.

I’m not averse to buying a used gun, although I’d avoid used AR’s.  They’re often shot to hell and back and you just never know what’s about to break.  There aren’t too many things that can break on a bolt-action.  If you use gunbroker you’ll get it in the mail, unless you can find one where they’re selling it where you live and allow it to be picked up.  Texas Gun Trader is 100% face-to-face exchanges.  So, if you buy a used one from gunbroker make sure that the ad allows an examination period/return policy. You might need to send it back if it is not in the condition that was advertised.  Good sellers will post several pictures of the gun they’re selling.  Beware of stock photos unless it’s new.  If you see that a new rifle is only $50 or so more than a used one buy it as you’ll get the warranty.

I’m a wood and blue steel guy but have come to appreciate synthetic.  For rifles, it doesn’t change the point of impact from the weather changing, which wood is notorious for.  So if you get wood make sure that the barrel has been floated (you should be able to slide a dollar bill all the way down the length of it).  I’m also a big fan of 2.5 – 3.5 lb. triggers.  Most factory triggers are set at 7.5 lbs. to avoid lawsuits.  A trigger job makes a rifle much more accurate.

I go into copious details in my Choosing a Scope article.  As he won’t be hunting hogs a 3-9X40 will be adequate.  I really like Vortex and Burris.  They both have forever warranties.  I have a Vortex Crossfire II 3-9X50 with an illuminated V-bright dot in the reticle on my deer rifle.  It cost me $209 new.  Optics Planet is a good place to get optics.  As is Midway USA, Natchez Shooting Supply, and even Amazon (which has competitive prices).  Find the scope you want and shop.  As with rifles, it doesn’t take long to find the best price.

What depths do the lures in the below pictures run?

On the top are plastic worms with some brass and beads for Carolina rigging and what looks like spinnerbait trailer hooks.  Worms will not sink unless you use a worm weight to make them sink.  Here is an assortment – https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/bass-pro-shops-xps-60-piece-worm-weight-kit?hvarAID=shopping_googleproductextensions&affcode_c=&gclid=CjwKCAjwyo36BRAXEiwA24CwGfb5QuvO-GMBTNJ-asJtcPPOy0vEZbXdRBdK7aq6VFFmFZfSUw_vehoCOuAQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

Rigging tips – https://www.wideopenspaces.com/4-ways-to-rig-a-worm-weight/.

Texas rig – https://shopkarls.com/blog/texas-rig-101-need-know-t-rig/.

Carolina rig – https://officiallakeforktrophybass.com/how-to-setup-a-carolina-rig/.  Brass weights work best for Carolina rigs.  See https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/bass-pro-shops-carolina-weights.

How quickly they sink depends on the weight you choose, which depends on the wind and worm size/weight.  They’ll eventually sink to the bottom.  Worm fishing is a very slow way to fish.  Be sure to use offset gap worm hooks in sizes 2/0 – 5/0 and not the spinnerbait trailer hooks that are in the picture.

The two square-bill crankbaits below the worms will run 4 – 6′ deep.  They’re great to use around trees and rocks, as they bounce off structure.  They, and round-bill crankbaits, only sink when you start to retrieve them.  Fish them medium to fast.  The faster you retrieve them the deeper they sink.  Stop and go is a good technique for them.  Stop the retrieve, wait for a second or two, then start it again.  The stop and go method makes bass think the baitfish is wounded.  They’ll often hit it when it stops.  However, don’t stop it for too long as it will float back up to the surface.

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Bible Verse of the Day

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”


 June 2023