Friends made while young remain most durable, something that has proven true of the bowhunting friends made in college. My days attending Lubbock’s Texas Tech University were destitute times, bowhunting made possible only through the generosity of friends made within the off-campus archery community. This allowed me to shirttail onto deer leases I could ill afford, helping fill doe quotas and assisting in the emerging war on invasive feral hogs (circa late 1980s).
Thirty-some years later I make annual trips south to visit Steven Tisdale, who shared many Spartan bowhunting adventures while young, and many more “exotic” forays since. While I gallivanted the globe on video and writing assignments (without the slightest thought of a financial future) Tisdale toiled, becoming a wildly-successful entrepreneur. His success has afforded certain luxuries, like multiple deer leases and a small place of his own. And like my meager college days, I bowhunt Texas by the good graces of my host.
It has become customary to employ December Lone Star forays to wring out 2020 bow models, and Texas’ super-abundant, ruggedly-constructed and tenacious feral hogs provide the ultimate test subjects. And forget the drivel about hogs being deaf and nearly blind. Feral hogs have become a serious management problem, pursued relentlessly year round, with everything from thermal-image-equipped AR rifles to helicopters. They’re survivors. Also note that while corn feeders are available, spot-and-stalk hunting is what truly tests bowhunting skills and equipment.
In this spirit Bear Archery’s 2020 Status EKO made the 30-hour trip south in mid-December 2019. I’d already thoroughly tested Bear’s Status EKO for Inside Archery magazine (November 2019) so knew its capabilities. The Status, sporting the company’s all-new EKO Cam, proved well balanced and easy toting, smooth-drawing but impressively fast, and generally just easy to shoot well. These characteristics proved pivotal to success.
The first stalk didn’t go well, slipping into a loose knot of varied age-class hogs. Well, that’s not entirely accurate, because after tiptoeing through grabbing burrs and crispy weeds, across winter-yellowed salt grass, I’d closed the gap. But greed seized me. I had viable, sub-30-yard shots at several tasty hogs, but I’d set my sights on a large boar weighing maybe 200 pounds (constituting a 300-pounder in most hog tales, as everyone thinks hogs are bigger than reality). I was in range of that boar too, he just wouldn’t stand clear of deflecting brush, and when he did clear he scuttled through hurriedly. Long story short, an old sow busted me, despite the fact I stood dead still. I was out of place and she somehow knew it.
The following day we discovered another group of hogs. The wind was favorable but the ground cluttered and crispy. As I slowly closed gained ground I was again presented with opportunities at lesser pigs, yet an eating-fat, blonde sow grabbed my attention. I hugged shadow and was forced to wait long minutes for smaller hogs to clear. But then things went sour quickly, an unseen piglet catching me making a move and running through the loose-knit sounder.
The blonde sow dove into brush as I hit anchor, following patches through brush with my Trophy Ridge sight. Then she made a mistake, pausing, just briefly, in a gap. With no time to deploy a rangefinder, calculating arrow trajectory through intervening brush, I made the quick decision to shoot, placing my 40-yard pin on her elbow and thumbing the T-handle release. The arrow cleared crisscross twigs and zapped her right through the heart, resulting in a quick recovery. The Status EKO’s raw speed and forgiving nature had turned a highly-challenging shot into child’s play—adding more free-range pork to the larder.