We do battle with feral hogs in southwest Texas
After about a decade in the ATV media business, it can start to feel like you’ve done just about everything there is to do with an ATV or UTV. That’s certainly not a complaint, as I’ve got a memory bank full of awesome adventures I’ll remember for the rest of my life. But every once in a while you get a reminder that there are things you didn’t even know were possible. I had one such experience recently when Honda invited me to southwest Texas to ride the Pioneer 1000-5 LE.
The trip brought me to the impressive Ox Ranch, which consists of 18,000 acres of rugged and scenic Texas hill country landscape loaded with both exotic and domestic game animals. The gathered media, however, weren’t going to be hunting exotic species – we were going after the plague of Texas farmers and ranchers…feral hogs.
As an avid archer, I was hoping to take down a hog with my new Prime Centergy Hybrid hunting bow. Ox Ranch had a turkey target on hand that I could practice on, but with all the activity on the ranch, the hogs were in hiding during the day and I got shut out. Fortunately, Honda offered up a unique opportunity to bag a Texas hog.
In addition to media members, Honda also invited Smith & Wesson and Crimson Trace along. I was handed a Performance Center by Smith & Wesson M&P 10 rifle chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor ammunition. Crimson Trace outfitted each of the Smith & Wesson AR rifles with its LNQ-100G LiNQ Wireless Green Laser Sight.
It looked like some night hunting was in our future, which is great. But how could we incorporate the Honda Pioneer UTVs? This is where things got very cool. The folks at Ox Ranch have some military-spec night vision goggles and gave one set to the driver/guide and one set to the shooter (me) to wear, so we could drive around without any lights. According to the Ox Ranch website, these are the same night vision goggles used by Seal Team Six when they took out Bin Laden!
This was my first experience with night vision goggles of any kind and I was like a kid with a new toy. I couldn’t believe how clearly I could see in pitch black darkness.
After getting comfortable with the goggles, we loaded up the Pioneer 1000-5 and I rode shotgun (technically rifle, I suppose) as we began the search for feral pigs. One of the oddest and most surreal moments of my entire life was driving through a tower of giraffes in pitch black while wearing night vision goggles and holding onto a rifle for dear life. Chalk up one more unforgettable experience for the ATV/UTV memory bank.
When we drove up on our first group of hogs, I was late to react and wasn’t able to get a good shot off. I’m far from firearm expert and taking aim as the Pioneer comes to a quick halt was more difficult than I’d imagined it would be.
Fortunately, the driver eventually found another sounder of feral pigs and I was able to settle myself down enough to get off a good shot and take one down. It was odd not using the scope mounted on a rifle when shooting. Instead, I just pressed a button on the grip of the rifle with my middle finger to turn on the Crimson Trace green laser sight. From there I simply pointed the laser at the pig and pulled the trigger.
When we weren’t out hunting, we were checking the Ox Ranch property in the Pioneer 1000 LE and 1000-5 LE models. I just picked up a pair of Wolverine Claw Durashocks hunting boots and pretty much wore them all week. These are the most comfortable hunting boots I’ve ever worn and they served me well while driving the Pioneer and exploring the area on foot. The boots are also waterproof, and I tested that out by standing in a stream for a few minutes without getting soaked. Success! I haven’t had them long enough to see how they’ll perform over the long term, but the first week was very promising.
I’ve driven the Pioneer 1000-5 LE before and was happy to get back behind the wheel. The FOX QS3 shocks on the LE help make this the most capable Pioneer ever made. It just soaks up trail chop far better than the rest of the Pioneer family. If I wanted to get a Honda UTV for work and play, this would be the one. You can probably do without the LE model on a pure work machine, but the LE offers Cadillac-like comfort on trail rides.
The folks at Ox Ranch brought us all over the property in the Honda Pioneer 1000-5 and showed us an incredible variety of animals, along with a cool cave system and even one area with fossilized dinosaur footprints that were studied by an area university. This place is truly incredible and the Ox Ranch staff members are amazingly accommodating.
After this experience, it will be a while before I worry that I’ve done it all in an ATV or UTV. I can’t wait to see what’s next.