• The Easy Switch: Hogs to Prairie Dogs

    Since those of us who regularly visit this website are true believers in the at-home switch barrel (and bolt head) versatility of the Savage 110 and its successors, I realize I'm preaching to the choir. Suffice to say my enthusiasm for this action as a platform for many uses continues to increase.

    Here's an account of a hunt during which I carried my Savage Model 16FLSS--- a left-hand short action repeater which started life as a .243 Win. Its since had more versions than a waffling politician, but for this hog hunt it was fitted with an Adams & Bennett chrome-moly barrel in .358 Winchester which was cut to 21 and the exterior Armoloy plated. A Sharp Shooter Supply recoil lug and Rifle Basix trigger were parts of the package. The original factory tupperware stock (with barrel channel reinforced) was installed for this hunt, and the addition of a Nikon Monarch 2X-7X scope seemed to make for a nearly perfect mid-range hog hunting rig. The rifle liked Nosler 225-grain Partitions pushed at 2,440 fps, and honest 1 100-yard groups were the norm rather than the exception.

    Also, included with this article is a photograph taken on the South Dakota prairie in July 2006 of this same action transformed into a .223 Ackley Improved critter killing machine--- Adams & Bennett stainless steel barrel, Harrell muzzle brake, Savage Low Profile laminated stock and Burris 6X-24X Black Diamond scope in a Talbot mount.

    In January of 2006 I was fortunate to have been drawn for a hog hunt on Cumberland Island, Georgia. I accompanied four Georgia friends who had hunted the island numerous times. Cumberland is a narrow, 18-mile-long barrier island facing the Atlantic Ocean at the southeastern-most corner of the state. Its mostly overgrown by a varied transition ecosystem from pines to palms and armadillos to wild horses. The feral hog population dates back nearly 200 years, and efforts to totally eradicate them have been unsuccessful. Consequently, a unique hunting opportunity exists. Hunting is from two established primitive camps, and hunting parties successfully drawn for the hunt must bring everything needed for the 4-night stay, including all food and drinking water. We lived very comfortably with all the gear and grub we hauled in. A ferry leaving out of St. Marys, Georgia, was our transportation to and from the island, and I was amazed at the huge piles of hunting & camping gear crammed aboard that ferry!

    Having hunted Cumberland and other Georgia barrier islands often, my hunting buddies had the camping gear and routine honed to the last detail. After camp set-up on the arrival day we had a half day left for scouting time (without guns) prior to the hunt starting the following morning. Spencer Barron and I headed out together, while his sons Charles and Steve, and Wes Campbell, all chose different areas to scout. Most of us had GPS units and topo. maps; these were invaluable to me since Id hunted the swamps and forests of Cumberland Island only once before.

    Spencer and I found fresh hog sign and spotted three hogs during our scouting foray. After a 3-mile-plus hike before daybreak next morning we crept quietly back into that hot area. About 2:00 p.m. I spotted a large hog feeding my way. I slowly put down the heated MRE I was having for lunch and held the rifle on her until she turned nearly broadside at about 60 yards. The Nosler 225-grain Partition took her at mid-shoulder height but a couple of inches behind where Id intended. Expecting her to drop to the shot I was surprised to watch the big sow sprint off into the swamp, even though dragging a foreleg! She piled up within another 60 yards, though, and then the real work began. While straining and grunting enough ourselves to make most hogs blush with envy, Spencer and I dragged this 200-pound-plus hog about 100 yards to a tree so as to hoist her up off the ground for on-the-spot butchering. Actually, we could only manage to hoist her up about half way. Spencer was an experienced pro at this process, thankfully, and we had the carcass skinned and quartered in not much over an hour. Three of the quarters (lost the onside shoulder due to bullet damage & bruising) and the loins were packed into plastic trash bags and loaded into/onto our backpacks for the 3-mile slog past dark back to camp. For me it was an exhausting trek hauling half the meat, my rifle and other gear. By the way, Spencer killed a nice hog with a Smith & Wesson 629 in the same area the next day, and his son Charles took another dandy with his .470 double during the 3-day hunt. Lots of fine eating pork to haul back to the mainland! I had all mine smoked, and it was very tender & tasty.

    Looking back on this successful hog hunt adventure, I don't feel I could have put together a better rifle/scope combination for that purpose. Viva la Savage!!

    Submitted by Phil French

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