I love hog hunting. It is probably my favorite type of hunting. I am not referring to shooting feral hogs descended from domestic hogs that escaped captivity and reproduced in the wild. I am talking about hunting Russian boar in east Tennessee.
A Breed Unto Itself
The Russian boar is a different breed of animal. It is related to domestic hogs, I suppose, but built differently and with a different temperament. It is tough to hunt and tough to kill. Broad at the shoulders and narrow at the hips, carrying impressive tusks and a low tolerance for people invading its territory, it will put up a fight if cornered.
I used to raise domestic hogs in my younger days; mostly Durocs. Durocs are famous for having good-sized hams on them. They are muscular hogs with big, round butts, which produce the finest cured country hams in the world. They are the Latin woman version of “porkness.”
A Russian boar is pretty much the opposite of this. It has a long, slim build and can move out as fast as a jackrabbit.
One of my favorite things about hunting Russian boar is that, unlike deer hunting, it can take place most any time of day with good success. Hunting whitetail deer in this area usually requires getting into the woods long before first light, sitting still in a stand and trying to keep one’s hands from freezing to the stock of the rifle while waiting hours for a deer to show up.
Wild boar can be very successfully hunted on foot during normal 9-to-5 business hours, and they tend to hole up until the hunter gets pretty close. They then dart from cover as if shot out of a cannon, giving the hunter a chance to be within range of a fast-moving hog.
My first experience hunting Russian boar was several years ago while testing a new hunting rifle. No large game was in season at the time, so I went to east Tennessee to a hunting area that comprised a couple of thousand acres of timber on steep hills—prime habitat for hogs. This was all private land and was well managed for wild hogs. Having a hunting lodge close by, and offering guide services, it made for some very good hunting, so I loaded up and headed for east Tennessee with my cousin Melvin, who came along to hunt as well.
Melvin, Dwayne? Whatever
Melvin and I have always been close. We are first cousins on both sides of the family. It sounds like inbreeding, but it’s not. His mother was my father’s sister, and his father was my mother’s brother— sort of an “I’ll marry your sister if you’ll marry mine” kind of thing. Anyway, we grew up more like brothers than cousins.
His full name was Melvin Dwayne Kent, and most folks just knew him as “Dwayne.” He let me get away with calling him “Melvin,” but few others could. Melvin was 10 years older than me, and I reminded him of that as often as I could. Still, we spent a lot of time together, mostly riding motorcycles all over the United States and often hunting together. This time, we decided to pursue some Russian boar, so off we went.
Arriving at the lodge really late, no one could be found, so we set up our gear in an empty cabin and crawled into a couple of empty bunks for the night. The next morning, the guides showed up and offered to take us on a hunt after breakfast. We declined, preferring to hunt on our own.
Asking one of the guides where would be the most likely place to find some quality hogs, he pointed across the valley to a tall mountain top, stating that the hogs should be in that area, so Melvin and I headed in that direction.
Starting at the base of the mountain, the going was rough. It was mostly heavy timber growing out of a limestone bluff and covered with wet leaves. Taking a step forward usually resulted in sliding back two, but we progressed slowly for most of the morning.
On the way up the mountain, I would often stop to let my older cousin rest. I would even gasp for air and hang onto a tree trunk, just so he wouldn’t feel badly about being out of breath. I am just a nice guy like that; I did a great job of wheezing and holding my chest (it came almost naturally at that altitude).
Getting near the top, I felt as if I should have planted a flag, claiming the area where surely no other human being had ever set foot—no sane one, anyway. But having neither a flag nor a way to bore a hole into limestone, I scrapped that idea and proceeded to do my best imitation of a man experiencing total cardiac arrest.
Proceeding along an old fence row, I jumped a hog out of a wallow. I think he was as surprised as I was, and both the boar and I leapt into the air and took off running … in opposite directions. I informed Cousin Melvin that I chose to wait for a better hog, so the hunt continued for the rest of the morning—without success.
A Jaded Boar
Heading down the mountainside, we arrived back at camp to regroup, at which time the amused guide informed us that the hogs come off the mountain late in the afternoon to get water, and they could now be found near a creek in the bottoms. I could have put that information to good use earlier in the day and saved the trouble of conquering that mountain.
Hunting near the creek, we both scored on a couple of nice hogs. While gutting the animals, another boar approached. It had smelled blood and was rather angry about the whole situation. He first sniffed one of the carcasses and then turned his attention to me.
I drew a Ruger Blackhawk .45 from its holster and proceeded to fire off a volley of 300-grain Cor-Bon softpoints in the direction of the boar. By this time, a guide had arrived. He had heard the earlier shooting and was watching the ordeal unfold. I thought I had missed that boar, but the guide said that each shot was a solid hit. However, the boar didn’t seem to be impressed that I had placed four bullets into his chest.
I had one shot left (I was saving that one for myself), but the boar finally did me a huge favor and fell over dead. The bullets had fully penetrated his chest, but he had been a tough bugger.
I have since hunted Russian boar a few more times, and each hunt was rewarding. But none was as memorable as that hunt in the mountains of east Tennessee with Cousin Melvin.
Jeff Quinn is a full-time writer/reviewer on Gunblast. com, an online gun magazine started in 2000. He has also written for the Gun Digest Annual and enjoys living life in the woods of Tennessee, where he raises Longhorn cattle … and his grandkids.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the October 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.