A Miss And A Hit: My Second-Chance Trophy Boar

I lined up my scope’s crosshairs right below his ear. I tried to calm my breathing and stop my thinking to focus on the hog at hand. I squeezed the trigger ... and missed.

by Brian McCombie


The only way to shake off a dreaded miss is to pick up your rifle and seek redemption.


It was just after 10 a.m. on a September morning at the T Diamond Ranch in West Texas. As I sat atop a tripod stand near a muddy watering hole, the sun began baking the landscape.

The temperature was forecasted to reach more than 100 degrees that day; it had hit 104 the day before. At some point, as the mercury rose late in the morning, my hunting guide offered some encouraging words: “Hogs will likely hit the watering hole, slop around in the cooling mud until they get a nice, thick coating, and then head deep into the shady mesquite to sleep away the afternoon’s heat.”

He came through the brush and down the small slope leading to the water—the biggest wild hog I had ever seen. He was at least 350 pounds, looking like a propane tank with stubby legs. He hide was white and tan, with several reddish brown splotches. The boar trotted directly to the mud, turned sideways to me at 100 yards and flopped down, his body sinking deep with his head and jowls resting on the mud.

I lined up my scope’s crosshairs right below his ear. I tried to calm my breathing and stop my thinking to focus on the hog at hand. I squeezed the trigger … and missed. And missed twice more as the boar jumped up. He leapt from the black muck with surprising athleticism, despite his bulk, and sprinted into the brush.

I take this hog hunting thing way too seriously, so I truly hated myself at that moment. I’d killed hogs in the 250-pound range, and more than once, but this would’ve been my trophy—my boar of a lifetime. He was easiliy over 300 pounds with a head the size of a basketball.

But I missed. What a loser, I thought.

Having missed his shot at the hog of a lifetime, the author double-checked his rifle’s zero at the shooting range. Sure enough, the VTAC II was drilling 1-inch groups at 100 yards. That revelation didn’t make him feel better.

I arrived at a different stand before dawn the next morning. A couple of hours passed and I was just starting to get sleepy, until I heard grunting and squealing.

At least 20 wild porkers popped out of the mesquite and began trotting across a field some 80-90 yards to my right. A grey sow led the way, followed by a line of many smaller hogs—many only a few months old, others yearlings. The last hog was a dark boar with a stout, triangular head and blocky shoulders. The way he was taking his time, I just knew: This big guy didn’t rush anywhere, for anyone.

I swung my Smith & Wesson VTAC II rifle along the rail of my tripod stand, lined up the crosshairs of my scope on the boar’s mid-shoulder area and squeezed off a shot. And another fast follow-up shot, even as the hog began to sprint.

I fired twice more as he ran (both ultimately misses), my heart suddenly thumping all the way into my throat, but the hog was moving too fast. He crossed behind some trees and then reappeared, his legs churning. The boar hit the ground chest-first as I attempted to line up my scope on him. He tried to rise up, but fell back and went still.

This beefy wild boar is the author’s biggest hog to date, killed at the T Diamond Ranch with NRA Outdoors

My first bullet took the boar mid-shoulder and plunged down and through his heart-lung area. The next bullet hit him about 6 inches farther back—not a kill shot, but a solid follow-up to help anchor him.

My guides pegged him at 310 pounds, maybe more. He was huge! I felt so fortunate that I had been given a second chance at a big trophy boar, and that my shooting had done the trick.

The VTAC II rifle topped with a Leupold Mark AR MOD 1 scope had a lot to do with this success story, but I greatly credit my choice of ammunition for performing on a hog of that size. I used Remington’s Hog Hammer in .223 Rem., firing a 62-grain Barnes TSX bullet. When we cut into the boar, we found the bullet from that first, killing shot.

The Barnes TSX bullet used to kill the author’s hog was later measured on a reloading scale. It weighed 61.5 grains and it had mushroomed to .45 inches in diameter. That’s one tough bullet. 

The TSX bullet penetrated an amazing 16 inches of very solid hog—including his shield (the hard cartilage “vest” covering a boar’s shoulder and chest)—and it pierced his vitals. It passed all the way through and hit the lower shield on the boar’s left side, which actually flung the bullet 3 inches back into him.

I haven’t forgotten the giant white boar, but I’ve nearly forgiven myself for the miss. I hope to have a chance at him again one day … or maybe his bigger brother. If that never happens, I still have my boar of a lifetime.



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