Condor down & ungrateful hog soaring! Did I just hear someone at CA DFG have a heart attack? Wait a second, I got that backwards. It is hog down & ungrateful condor soaring*.
It’s all Ltdann’s fault anyway. When we visited, he showed the Admiral his grinding, sausage making and smoking set up. Even worse, he gave us one of his smoked salami’s. That was it. The Admiral was “Full Speed Ahead and Damn the Tusks”. Having grown up in New Zealand where her dad had a full service old time grocery including a real butcher shop, the Admiral can not only make sausage but she can tie them three at a time – at least she used to. She bought a serious grinder so now it was time to get a “sausage sow”. She was dead set on a sow as the Admiral does not like boars – says even the smaller ones have a distinctive smell when cooking – a fact agreed to no less a hog maven than Tom Willoughby. So she called up Tom and arranged to go sausage chasing on Monday morning, May 21st as we headed to Pinnacles National Monument.
1 Oyster.jpgOn the way up, we stopped in Port San Luis where the Admiral checked out the oyster supply, lunch was oysters and French bread. Port San Luis was jammed with people –it was 67 degrees. By the time we’d arrived at Paso Robles 30 min. later, it was 92, 25 degrees hotter. No wonder everyone was at the beach. Dinner in Paso was at the Artesian Restaurant that had been recommended to us by some LA friends. The place had a really nice and inventive menu with almost all the food coming from local ranches, farms and producers. They had a list of local purveyors and who was on the list, Ocean Rose®, the “brand name” of the mariculture abalone operation run by friends of ours and from who I get the baby shells for making ear rings that many of you now have. Also on the list was Hearst beef which is from Jack Ranch where we have been hog and dove hunting. Small world.
2 Mission.jpgDuring dinner, suddenly around 6:30 pm, most of the staff simply walked out the front door – WTF? Is this a spontaneous strike? Is our dinner in peril? No, it was the solar eclipse we’d forgotten about so we like the rest of the guests then piled out the door and had a “look”. After dinner, it was up to San Miguel to stop at the mission to say a blessing for the hogs and to bed early. A special treat was that we met Padre Larry, the Guardian of the Mission and he gave us a private tour of the inside of the mission buildings that are not open to the public as they are an living quarters for the Franciscan fathers. Way cool.
O’dark thirty (4:30) am on Monday found us 30 miles up the road in San Ardo where Tom was waiting by his truck. But no dogs. “So why no dogs?” He replied; “The Admiral’s shooting, I don’t expect we’ll need to be chasing any wounded animal.” But he brought the dogs the times I hunted with him…. We drove NE in the dark and soon we were going up some steep dirt tracks. Tom was quite concerned as we ran into heavy fog that really lowered the visibility on the ridges where we planned to hunt. The hogs also had not “bunched up” yet as they do later when the food is scare. And we had a very small window of time in the morning before the hogs would head for the brush and we had to go our separate ways.
Tom stopped the truck on a dirt track in thick fog and pitch dark. We then walked the track over a rise into the next saddle and we could see some hog tracks in the dust. We then simply stood there with our rifles waiting for sunrise and hopefully less fog. Well the sun sort of came up but the fog persisted. Occasionally we’d get break to maybe 100 yds but soon it would close in again. Then around 7 am, the fog lifted temporarily in front to maybe 300 yards and there, on the ridge right in front of us stand 3 nice hogs. Tom figured they’d been there all the time, we just couldn’t see them. One was about 220 yds away in the middle of the hillside while the other two were further away on the hi3 Admiral lining up.jpgll’s edge and just in sight. The Admiral lays her Tikka T3 Lite 30-06 loaded with Federal 110 Barnes TTSX on her sticks, puts the cross hairs on closest hog and cranks up the power (Picture on left, no flash for obvious reasons). The Admiral shakes her head and her exact words were; “Not on my kitchen table”. I look through my scope and yup, the hog has a pronounced “razor back” of hair and tusks are evident. It was a big boar, an “AC” hog, named for a certain hunter from Vandenberg Air Force Base. It certainly resembled him. And then, I swear, the beast looked right at me, grinned and winked. But is was foggy and my eyes are old so I may have been mistaken…
The other two hogs however appeared to be perfect size dry sows but they were right on the edge of the hill and disappeared from view as they slowly moved to our right. Tom quickly gathers up the Admiral and heads off to get down wind of the sows with me in pursuit. We walk very quickly but quietly around the hillock on the right. When downwind and hopefully some distance below the hogs, we start up hill figuring to see them 125-150 yds away toward the hill top. Well the damn hill is not only very steep but it is covered in tall grass; i.e. tough going and worse seeing. All of a sudden, over a small hummock, - ears! Cr@p, it’s the two sows and they are no more than 30 yds from us. All we can see is their backs and ears but we know it isn’t the boar as there is no “razorback”….So Tom and the Admiral very carefully move up a4 Sow down.jpg bit further to get into a shot position. Tom actually has her by the clothing at the nape of her neck and is lifting/pulling her up the hillside it is so steep. – I only wish I had my video but I’m carrying my ’06 as a back up. But each time they gain a little altitude, the hogs have moved a further up the hill which takes them out of view because of the shape of the hill. Finally, after three such moves, The Admiral sees ears, eyes and back of a hog quartering away from her and Tom whispers; “Pull the trigger” – BAM. The hog leaps and disappears but Tom simply says; “one down”. We scrabble up 50 yards and a nice 130 lbs sow lies dead less than 10 feet from the place where she was shot (lots of blood on ground). In the picture (taken later), Tom is holding the hog’s tail for the hill was so steep that if he didn’t, the hog would have rolled down it. This is the entry wound side.
Tom quickly stationed the Admiral with her gun by the hog and he and I hoofed it back to the saddle, me to see if the other hogs will come around that side while Tom goes for the truck. I waited in the fog. Five minutes later, in a break in the fog, here comes the big boar right along th5 Hog hanging.jpge track toward me some 250 yds away. However, before I can even think of aiming, I hear the truck coming over the hill and so does the hog. He dives off the track down into the brush in the deep canyon and is gone. Tom and I went and looked for him but he’d lit out for the next county. We collect the Admiral and her hog. She tells me that she could only see the ears, the eye and about 8 inches of the back so she aimed just into the grass there above where the middle of the animal figuring on the shot going forward and upward given the steep angle. You can see the exit wound on the carcass just behind the shoulder – interestingly, it was smaller in diameter than the entry wound which hit a rib. Shot was a clean pass through, nicked the stomach and continued forward and got the lungs. The Admiral says that after Tom and I left, she’d thanked the spirit of the hog for feeding us.
Tom as usual gutted and skinned the Admiral’s hog before I could even sort out our gear. He then went home to attend to a bunch of matters and hung the hog in his cold room where we collected it on Wednesday as we headed for home. The Admiral and I headed for breakfast at King City and then up to Pinnacles National Monument (PNM) East Entrance.
6 Bambi BT.jpgOn the way over to the East entrance to the PNM, we saw coyote, roadrunners, a big Tom turkey just standing by the side of the road (he knew the season was over) and Black Tail deer. We watched a young buck (photo) and doe (insert) for some time and got up real close – I could have hit them with a rock. Look at the close up of his face. He is definitely winking at me! Having only hunted mule deer, we don’t know if it is all black tails or just the ones in this area but they are small.
9 Pinnacles.jpg headed up the Reservoir trail and over the Rim trail looking for Condors. Low and behold, we spotted two juvenile (the front wing feathers were not white but brown/tan) condors. They were way way way up in the sky but we’re pretty sure they were condors after talking to one of the rangers. Look over the tops of the tall rock spires in the photo - No, you can NOT see them – you needed 8x binoculars to make them out. Anyway, the damn Condors were rude as can be. Here we are, being ever so careful to always shoot that expensive lead-free ammo do you think they even said, “Thanks” or even “Hi”. But NOoooooo, they just soared and soared. Ungrateful things ….
We spent the next day exploring the West side of Pinnacles National Monument and Soledad mission. Wednesday we picked up the hog from Tom’s, removed the hams and put the lot in our ice chest. We then headed home via more Oyster’s at Port San Luis and dinner in Santa Barbara with our older daughter. Sally the sausage sow will be processed by us on Thursday including making a fresh pate from ˝ meat and ˝ liver. Yumm.
*Nothing but the truth suffered in the telling of this tale.
Last edited by asaxon; 05-25-2012 at 01:12 AM.
As always, nicely done! Congrats to you both.
Life's short . . . Hunt hard
Why tip-toe quietly through life, only to arrive safely at death ?
Very nice...love those semi-fog conditions. You can get close that way sometimes when you couldn't otherwise.
Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.
The U.S. city with the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, Washington, D.C., has the highest murder rate at 24 per 100,000. The state with the most unrestrictive gun regulations, Vermont, has the lowest murder rate at 0.48 per 100,000.
You two are really turning into hog slayers!!! Tell the Admiral congrats!
Congrats to the Admiral, Andy!
Outstanding trravelogue...Btw, you and the Admiral sure eat good!
Science flies people to the moon...Religion flies people into buildings
Seriously Andy, the woman is "hot" in the picture with the rifle. I wouldn't post a picture like that of my wife on this sight if I were you. That's like porn!
Sierra Pacific Fly fishers Association
SCVQUWF (santa clarita valley quail upland wildlife federation)
It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming. ~John Steinbeck
I am exhausted just reading about your wild hunting / hiking adventure story, but it was awesome! Congrats to u and your better half, thanks for sharing your story and photos and food!....tra
P.s. the pinnacles is an awesome place to hike and repel and mountian climb for sure its been years since I been there but I got some awesome photos for sure I got to dig up, I think it was the falcon trial that has caves u go through if I recall.....its good to go in the fall or earli spring before it gets to freekin hot at the pinnacles....
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Great story and pics, how did you arrange them on the page?
That exit hole is worrisome, a product of unleaded ammo?
Andy and his lovely wife are living the dream.Nice story and i wondered where you got them little tinny shells.
( Trying like hell to live the dream)
Hoyt carbon element 70#, 5 pin spot hogg, spot hogg wiseguy release, 340 grains FMJ, G5 montec 100 grains, ripcord rest
I have no problem with the exit hole. As Tom W taught me, any shot that drop the animal in 50 feet of less is a great shot... The Barnes bullets (and Winchester e-tip, Hornady GMX etc lead free) dont' break apart but generally form nice 4 leaf clovers and kill just fine and pass through is common. I dont' want to open the discussion of these bullets - it has been thrashed about many times on this forum. Suffice it to say, the stuff works ok. I was more surprized at the entry wound which was far bigger (2.5 inches) and I at first mistook for the exit as I didn't see the shot taken (I was staying out of sight so not to spook the hog). I think, but don't really know) that it was so big as it hit a rib directly and the 110 gr. 30-06 is screeming at that close range.
Last edited by asaxon; 05-25-2012 at 08:21 AM.
Thanks fellows for all your nice comments. Since the Admiral and I are well into AARP territory, all we can do is work on the quality of the days we have; the quantity is “limited” and we have little control over that. It was pretty hot in the afternoons up at the Pinnacles as Roman Archer mentioned, certainly plenty hot enough for us, but it was no where near as hot as it can get. We do plan to go back in the late fall or early spring next year when it is cooler. And speaking of hot, the Admiral got a kick out of being called hot in the picture with a rifle. At our age, it is enough to just not be found “cold” in the morning. She figures you have a thing for rifles k_rad.
B2 Picking what.jpgAnother interesting sight on the trip was coming across this field with all this equipment and people working. The scene was incredibly colorful. Double click on the photo and you should be able to see a bigger version to see the colors better. But for the life of us we couldn’t figure out what they were picking even when we used binos to look. Some sort of green leafy thing they would tie in bunches and throw onto the conveyors. On the way back, we drove down to look and the Admiral tells me it was Broccolini. I’d never heard of the damn stuff much less eaten it. I tasted it – far too bitter for my liking. According to Wiki, “it is a green vegetable with smaller florets and longer, thin stalks than broccoli often misidentified as young broccoli. It is a cross between broccoli and kai-lan Chinese broccoli.”
I also noticed all the pictures of the Admiral & Tom with the pig I have were covered with little whitish circles. It is especially easy to see on the left side of the picture. ??? I finally figured out what that was – I had used the flash as it was still pretty dark and those circles are backscatter from the water droplets of the fog…B1 Fog spots.jpg
Finally, I took this picture of a red tailed hawk and then used the “auto adjust colors” and for some reason, it spit out a rather cool but unnatural image.B4 Red tailed hawk1.jpgB5 Red tailed hawk2.jpg
Next hunt is Mule deer on Catalina in mid July.
From the Admiral's Sausage Hog. We are waiting for spices to arrive before having a go at making the sausage. Most recipes say use 15-20% fat. What is the best fat to use in sausage making? We have discarded the fat from the hog so that is not an option.Hog backstrap.jpg
Hog back strap sliced, about to be rolled, wrapped in bacon and then grilled.
Country paté, half ground hog shoulder meat and half ground liver.
.#Country pate from SS.jpg
We are definitely living “high on the hog”.
Get some smoked bacon bit's and pieces, 2 1/2 lbs for a 10 lb patch of sausage. If not, ask the butcher for PORK fat. More than likely, he'll just give it to you, if not it'll be real cheap.
Life's short . . . Hunt hard
Why tip-toe quietly through life, only to arrive safely at death ?
So when you met your wife was there an ad in the paper, Looking for good wife; must hunt cook clean and make sausage. Send picture of rifle and sausage machine???
Great story I hope the wife and I are enjoying life as much as the two of you are.
Last edited by mtnsammy; 05-31-2012 at 09:56 AM.
great story and love the idea of taking the wife out for a day afield
I agree with LtDan, go buy some hog fat. Should be delicious!