The Power of Community
Our followers know that I started hog hunting in late November 2014. I think back to that time and how far I’ve come. I’ve improved exponentially and am now what I consider to be a decent hog hunter. Not pro and not an expert, but I can hold my own. Did I do this alone? Nope…no way. Experiences in the field, putting the time in hunting and hunting with people BETTER than me have been instrumental to my development. Of course, one is never done learning so even though I’ve come a long way, I’ll spend a lifetime learning and improving.
While the experiences and the time hunting are invaluable in developing as a hunter, I credit most of my improvement to hunting with folks better than me. I’m not afraid to be wrong or to say I don’t know. When you open yourself up to learn and to take instruction, you make lots of friends and realize quickly that there is an active community of hunters out there eager to teach and to learn. So, the focus of this post is on the community aspect of hog hunting.
I sought out the many sites, forums and guides out there from which I could research, learn and apply the knowledge. I have met some amazing people and have learned at a rate that would have been impossible with just field experience and hunting.
I want to mention two of the best communities that have been fundamental in my progression as a hunter: The Texas Hog Hunters Association (THHA) and the ATN X-Sight Owners Group.
Through the THHA I have met some fantastic people. Everyone is very engaged and eager to help and to learn. Through the THHA I met a gentlemen who lives near me who had recently purchased 40 acres out of Rusk, TX. We exchanged a few messages and he graciously invited me down to hunt his property. It has been awesome. Not only did I make a great friend, I now have access to a place to hunt for free. Now, I was lucky – I don’t think this happens all the time but if you don’t put yourself out there and engage, you will never know what you’re missing. IN addition to meeting the great folks on THHA, there is a treasure trove of knowledge and experiences shared! Tactics, strategies, events and much more grace the thread of THHA. I also met a hog dog breeder on THHA and purchased my first hog dog. A black mouth/Catahoula. Her name is Tikka. I also found a great guide with which to do my first hog dog hunt. I’ll write a separate post on that as I am sure it is going to be quite the experience.
The ATN X-Sight Owners Group is another community that is very active and helpful. This one is focused on more the technical and capability aspects of the ATN X-Sight but also has great access to member videos, tips and so much more. I used this community to solve several issues with my scope and used their recommendations and experiences to choose the right aftermarket IR. As a hog hunter, night hunting is a reality and the ATN X-Sight is what makes me successful. I wrote a separate post on the X-Sight so check that out.
Now, in addition to the experiences, communities and time in the field, I do not want to minimize or in any way dilute the importance of hunting with guides. Early on in my hunting endeavors, I sought out guides that had good track records and that were responsive. There are plenty of guides out there so do your research before settling in on one. I hunted with several over the spring and summer and in doing so learned a ton! I also made really good friends! I hunt routinely with some of my favorite outfitters: 4J Ranch, Kent Outdoors and Affordable Outfitters. I want to stress the importance of listening and doing what the guides say. They tell me stories of people who come up and hunt their outfits that think they are Jim Shockey and think they know best. Of course, more often than not, they ignore the guide’s advice and end up going home with an empty cooler. I say that since you are paying the guide, get as much information and learning as you can from them. Do exactly what they say. They know their land, their game and what works and what doesn’t. Sure, you are a customer, but that doesn’t give you the right or latitude to treat the hunt and land like your own. If you can’t take instruction and don’t possess enough humility to realize you aren’t the expert, well, I suggest you pursue the DIY hunts and leave the guides to the rest of us. As mentioned, I also made great friends with the outfitters I hunted with. This is how community and relationships make you a better hunter! In some cases I have done web development work for a guide. I have also volunteered to come down to their ranch and fill feeders and string fence lines. I am also a reference for a select few guides. Now, you shouldn’t expect anything in return but I can safely say that if you establish a friendship, good things happen. The more time you spend with guides and hunters, the more you learn and the better you become. I am living proof of such a cause and effect.
So, make friends, engage on forums and Facebook groups and meet people. There are hundreds of thousands of great hunters out there ready and willing to interact and to share knowledge, experiences and information. IN most cases, those friendships and engagements will lead to good things whether it be access to hunting land, meeting a new hunting partner or discovering a new tip or device to help make you more successful.
Now, go out there, meet some folks, engage and get that Bacon!!!!