Feral - adjective - (especially of an animal) in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity or domestication. I think all of us can be a little feral when we finally get out into the woods after being confined and or restricted from our normal lives prior to COVID-19. Not to mention the shortages or complete lack of those things that make us happy - bullets, powder, and primers. Ah, the smell of gunpowder in the morning. As for the domestication part of the definition, my wife has told me I have become domesticated since my retirement in mid July. I've been called many things but domesticated wasn't one of them until now. Enough about me, let's talk about the feral hog that ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We have several blinds/tripods that we hunt on our property with all but two having feeders dispensing corn. The one's with feeders all have "hog sign" around them, but rarely do you see any hogs during normal/legal deer hunting hours. You'll find fairly large areas of rooted up soil, or cactus pushed out of the way, and even very large rocks moved in order for them to get at every last kernel of corn. I hadn't seen any hogs all season, but weekend before last my son saw some at our west blind during the morning hunt. I hunted at the same blind that evening and several other evenings with no porkers showing up. Finally this past Saturday I went to that blind in the morning and sure enough they showed up. There was a group of 6 or 8, I couldn't be sure how many because they were moving in and out of the brush that surrounds the feeder opening. This particular one was very skittish and would only stick it's nose into the opening as if testing the wind and turn around and trot back into the brush. The others had no problem going "hog wild" after the corn, even directly under the feeder. They had no cause for concern, but their friend knew something was wrong. That's why it had to die. I couldn't let it teach the others to be cautious around a feeder, I had to extinguish that behavior before it spread. In less than a minute it decided that it was time to go and take it's less wary friends with it, but I was ready. I had already placed my homemade sandbag (actually filled with walnut tumbling media) made from a portion of blue jean leg in the window, and had the Contender at the ready. As it tried to slip around the back of the opening with brush on it's right side, and a jet black hog on it's left, I slipped the 300 grain XTP past the black pig's nose into the shoulder of my intended target. It hit the dirt and the others scattered. There was a twitch or two of it's ear and a flick or two of it's tail and that was all. A quick examination revealed the bullet went where I pointed it, dead center in the left shoulder, and exited slightly in front of the right shoulder. It was only a 55 yard shot, but I was pleased. There was no forensic investigation since the hog exceeded the gross weight restriction for barbequed pig - the whole thing has to fit on the pit at one time. About 30 to 50 pounds live weight is about perfect, with 75 pounds being absolute max. I like to use these sized pigs and larger for bullet testing. I always expansion/penetration test in water jugs, and it will weed out some bullets before you get disappointed in the killing fields. Being able to drive a bullet through both shoulders of a good sized hog is true testament to a bullet's integrity and the cartridge's power.
The second part of the story involves the SSK 12 inch 44 mag barrel that had been neglected pretty much since I bought it used from a gentleman in Florida via Gunbroker.com. He had several SSK barrels that he was selling and offered a discount if I took several of them off his hands. Since I already had a 14 inch SSK and a 12 inch T/C barrel in 44 mag, this one migrated it's way to the back and bottom of the safe. Finally this past summer I dug it out and mounted a scope and sited it in using ammo that was worked up for some of my other 44 mags. I was pleasantly surprised with the groups at 50 yards, and could have used any one of the existing loads to hunt, but you know how it is, it has to have it's own load.
I hadn't really worked with the Hornady 300 grain XTP and Lil Gun in the 44 mag so I thought I would give it try. I think I got some really good results and decided to stick with the 20.5 grain load with the bullet seated to the bottom cannelure.
Expansion testing on this bullet was performed previously using a 14 inch 444 Marlin Contender barrel going 1600 fps at the muzzle and testing performed at 100 yards, as well as a 14 inch 44 mag Contender barrel going 1350 at the muzzle with testing at 50 yards.
Bullet on far left was fired at 1600 fps with retained weight of 280.8 grains, and the one on the far right was fired at 1350 fps with retained weight of 300 grains.
I know that feral hogs can't compare to other larger game like bear or elk or moose, but in my neck of the woods it's the toughest thing on four legs, and they are plentiful. So I'll keep using them for ballistic test medium until something bigger shows up. Stay feral ya'll!