Hog hunting is becoming more popular with northwest Iowa hunters every year. To see what all the hog hunting buzz is about, the Northwest Iowa Outdoors Pro-Staff took a 3 day trip to the Chain Ranch in near Canton Oklahoma. The Chain Ranch has 20,000 acres available for free range hog hunting, along with its 160 acre preserve.
Our first evening at the ranch we hunted the preserve. At first I was skeptical of hunting a preserve. Didn’t know for sure if would be more like shooting farm animals than actually hunting wild hogs. But the way this particular preserve is set up, the hogs are very much wild. The entire preserve is densely covered with cedars, sumac and scrub oaks. Most of the undergrowth was so thick I was wondering if even a hog could get through it!
Chain Ranch traps wild hogs throughout the rest of their ranch and relocates them into the preserve. The perimeter fence is intended to keep hogs in, but the only digging witnessed around the fence was on the outside from hogs trying to get into the preserve. As our guide James put it, “this place is a virtual Hog Hilton, all except for the death factor the hogs have no real reason to leave”. The preserve had all the cover, natural foods and water any pig would need. There were pigs of all sizes in the preserve which proved to me that natural reproduction was also occurring.
Preserve hunting at Chain Ranch is from enclosed blinds over game feeders. The feeders would kick in for a few seconds a couple times each morning and evening. There wouldn’t be enough corn come out each time to even give one hog a decent meal. All the feeders did was condition the hogs that at certain times they might be able find something to eat there. This did work well to draw the hogs out for a shot. Of the four person contingency only two saw any hogs that first night. This is when I first realized that these places only offer hunting, and not killing!
The next two nights our guide did a better job of which blind to place us in. Making sure we were set up with the wind in our faces, or we were hunting a cross wind. Hogs do have a tremendous sense of smell! This did make a big difference as we all saw multiple numbers of hogs the next couple nights.
Also I believe they have better eyesight and hearing that most give them credit for. I took the occasion on the second evening to test my theory. When I had hogs under the feeder I snuck out under the cover of a cedar tree right next to the blind to observe. It only took a few seconds for the hogs to spot me and bolt. I got the same reaction from making “un-natural” noises from the blind. Both of these tests were conducted before the feeder kicked on for the first time that evening. If the hogs came out with feed on the ground, it was a different story. They would be more concentrated on getting the corn before the next hog could, and you could get away with quite a bit of movement and noise.
All we saw on our hunt were small pigs, anywhere from 5lbs to about 100. We never did get a good opportunity at a trophy size hog. The evidence was all over the place that Chain Ranch’s preserve had large hogs, but they just didn’t show themselves for us. As I said before, they offer hunting, not killing. And hunting being hunting, sometimes all you see is small stuff. But I did take a couple 70 pounders with my Contender pistol just for the “experience”.
The accommodations at Chain Ranch were very good. The bunk house we stayed in had a full kitchen for our use, and the showers were good. The beds were about as comfortable as could be expected, they weren’t the most comfortable, but they were still better than some motels I’ve stayed in. The only drawback is the fact that it is a bunk house setting. We shared the place with another group. And with that, you will also share their behavior. If you are not the “partying” type, but the group you are sharing with is, don’t expect the best night’s sleep. It was not the fault of Chain Ranch that the one particular person from the other group felt it was in his best interest to drink an entire bottle of whisky before trying to polish of a bottle of tequila. And it also wasn’t Chain Ranch’s fault that this man stayed up all night moaning about how he was going to die from his “activities”.
Our overall experience at Chain Ranch was very good. Our guide James was fantastic! It was a very fun and relaxing trip, and we will definitely consider a return trip.