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10255 Old Hernandez Road
Paicines, CA 95043

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PAICINES - For mid-January it was a very warm day for the central mountain country east of King City. The turn-off onto Old Hernandez Road, that leads to the hunt lodge of the RS Bar Guest Ranch, echoed with a lot of wildlife along the swiftly moving San Benito River, which cuts through the valley floor and bisects this beautiful 18,000 acre hunting ranch that is managed for wildlife.

    WON had accepted an invitation by ranch manager Jason Bumann to come up and do a combination hunt for Russian boar and upland game birds. The full moon would make it a little tougher on the big game end of the hunt and the valley quail were pretty much pushed back into the thick sage and chaparral. This region has a very huntable population of hybrid Russian/feral hogs and having the back up of prime ringneck pheasant and tight holding chukar would make for a solid couple of days of hunting.

    Bumann was heading out to disk a huge upper field to prepare it for winter wheat and other upland game bird crops, so he assigned Mike Luis to be this hunter's guide for the first half of the hunt.    

    “Jim, we are going to head a little to the west and scout out some of the higher ridges where the hogs have really been rooting up the country. Bring along your shotgun too, we might bump the covey of valley quail that hangs out on the edges of the thick cover,” stated guide/chef Luis.

    The temperature was pushing 80 degrees and the full moon had just passed. We saw lots of fresh rooting but the hogs stayed tight to the tick cover and only a couple of small porkers were spotted that evening. The morning brought frost on the ground with the temperature dropping below freezing as we headed out at day light in one of the ranch's hunting rigs.

    A high pressure system had moved into the region and not much was moving around although we did see a number of blacktail deer, some hogs off in the distance, a few small coveys of quail, wild Rio Grande turkey and a giant California Condor that winged off the branches of a tall digger pine.


   Bumann had finished his chores on the John Deere and was waiting for us in the lodge upon our return from the top of the (picture of trophy tusker) scenic mountains.

    “I think we should go ahead with your upland game bird hunt and then head out for an evening of hog hunting,” stated Bumann, as plans for the afternoon and evening hunts were firmed up.

    The pheasant and chukar held tight and my Timber and Bumann's German shorthair pointer Judy, teamed up to flush all the birds out of a native cover field next to the San Benito River. The hunt was successful despite a temperature pushing 80 degrees and it was dead calm, with very little scent for the two dogs to work.

    Jason's rig was a bit more comfortable than the “refrigerator” that Luis had us hunting in, even though he had cleverly rigged an aluminum shield over the heater fan to direct the hot air towards us. According to Luis the topless Jeep is great during deer season and the earlier months of hog hunting, but when the temperatures dip down below freezing the morning hunt can be a bit chilly.

    With Bumann, as guide, he spotted a group of hogs feeding on newly emerging grass of a big bowl. There were a couple of small boar in the herd and one that just fed in thick cover not allowing the guide to see if it had a good set of tusks.

    “Let's get out and move around the mountain. The little wind that is blowing is in our favor and we should be able to get closer to the hogs to get a better look at that bigger pig,” were the soft-spoken words of this experienced guide.

    We got even with the pigs and actually walked to within 50 yards of them before one old sow caught wind of us and the whole group headed up the canyon wall and into no man's land. The big black hog turned out to be just another sow and a non-shooter for this hunting editor.

    Right up to dark we saw more hogs, but the boars were all of a smaller class along with plenty of deer and another bachelor group of gobblers. The food and comfortable lodging offered up by the RS Bar Guest Ranch make for a wonderful hunting experience and Bumann was very confident that we would find a shootable tusker the following morning.

    In the morning we glassed a golden hillside and then spotted a group of hogs feeding down a ridgeline.

    “Jim, there are a couple of boars in that group, let's work our way up the canyon to the edge of that grove of oaks and get a better look at that spotted hog,” whispered Bumann.

    Stopping just short of the oaks a small group of hogs had moved up the ridge and was feeding just 25 yards off to our right. If they sensed danger they could blow the entire sneak up the hill. Fortunately, they turned down hill just prior to spotting us, which allowed time to check on the tusks on the bigger boar that was messing around with a sow.

    This is Condor country and the choice of ammo for my Weatherby Mark 5 -7 mm Mag was a 140-grain Barnes copper Triple Shock bullet. The shot was true to its mark at 100-yards and the hog just crumpled up in a pile. The shot placement was perfect, the copper bullet did its job and the result was a 225-pound older boar that sported nearly perfect 2.25-inch tusks.

    WON asked Bumann about hunting with copper bullets within the condor range and he offered the (picture of jason) following.

    “Actually, I have been shooting copper bullets for a number of years. I would load my own ammo and found that the performance of a Barnes copper bullet was deadly on wild hogs and blacktail deer. I know that the newer ammo on a dealer's shelf is more expensive than traditional lead ammo and that concerns some hunters. The only thing that I have seen when cleaning a hog is that even though the mushroom of the copper bullet is perfect there are times when a petal of copper might break off upon impact. A hunter just has to remember to take a little time and aim for the shoulder of an animal to make sure that the copper bullet hits something solid or it could just pass right through the animal, punching a hole but not expanding. With any boar you need to make sure he is down and not going to run off,” says Bumann.

    With the greening up taking place as well as plenty of wild oats and new wheat crops coming on, the outlook for the spring hog hunting season is good. Sows should be dropping piglets soon and there are plenty of younger boar that should fatten up quickly with the abundance of food on the ground and tubers to root up. The RS Bar Guest Ranch will continue with its hog hunting program through the spring months and cater to upland game bird hunters through early May. The ranch offers up fine accommodations, excellent food and is an ideal place for introducing youngsters and first time hunters to a good experience in a beautiful ranch setting. For more information on booking a hunt with RS Bar Guest Ranch call (831) 386-0300 or log on to their web site at


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