When a friend suggested going to America to shoot pigs, Ed Cook wasn’t sure that the idea would fly
When my mate, Mackerel, said: “Ed, you up for shooting some pigs,” while out lamping one night, I looked at him as if he had lost the plot. “What are you banging on about?” I said. “You wanna shoot some pigs?” He reached for his phone and showed me a video of pig shooting in the United States.
“I’ll be up for that one day,” I said in a voice that betrayed dubious commitment. But over the next few months I gave it some thought. I’ve hunted most species in the UK, so the thought of something different was appealing. I mentioned it to my brother, Nath, and we decided to join Mackerel.
Eighteen months later, and after making some good contacts in the Texas hunting community, we were on a plane. This was never going to be a normal holiday. For a start, putting the three of us together has the potential for trouble. Add to this a foreign country, a huge selection of guns, unlimited pigs and a giant recreational vehicle (RV), and it was destined to be memorable.
We created a list of what we wanted to do and narrowed it down to bow fishing at night, shooting pigs with a machine gun from a helicopter, and pig hunting with dogs. Anything else would be a bonus.
On arrival, Mackerel was ‘volunteered’ to drive the RV and after a couple of wrong turns we were on our way to meet Richard Fleury, of Central Texas Bowfishing Charters.
The location was a river full of carp. Introductions done, the four of us set off on Richard’s boat, its lights illuminating the water. Richard briefed us on how to use the fishing bows and reels and soon after Mackerel bagged his first carp with his first shot. Not a bad start. However, 100 or so shots later we still had the same tally. Richard showed us again how to do it, equating for diffraction, but we couldn’t manage it, though it was great fun nonetheless.
Next up, pig shooting. Destination reached, it was an early start at the airport. We were given a safety briefing for shooting from a helicopter with an AR15 machine gun and were soon above the countryside – each of us armed. Due to the thick vegetation the pigs were hard to see but Nath shot one early into our trip. A little while later he spotted a coyote; the pilot banked and gave us firm instructions to “shoot it”. We didn’t need telling twice. We ended with some coyotes and a pig, had an amazing experience and saw first hand the damage the pigs cause.
Our final activity, pig hunting with dogs, was the highlight for me. Thanks to my friend Matthew Renner, of Boars of Texas, we were in the capable hands of Landon and Corey and their dogs. They hunted with three pit bulls, which held the pigs at bay until we dispatched them. By the time it had become too hot for the dogs, we had shot six pigs.
Our 10-day road trip provided some real adventures and we made some good friends. It also ended the way it had started – with vehicle trouble. As I drove across a field to check some pig traps, Mackerel informed me to “mind the tree”. Bang! Crunch! I had created more roof ventilation.
‘Nath spotted a coyote; the pilot banked and instructed us to “shoot it”.’