Arrowing Pineywoods Pork At The Cougar Run Ranch
By Courtney Farris


As I passed through the tree lined entrance of Cougar Run II, I was finally able to revere the scenic beauty of Texasí pine and post oak forests and I breathed a sigh of relief after having spent the last few hours fighting Houston traffic in a marathon to get away from the city. Upon arrival, all I could think about was how to make a good first impression on the men who were going to be sharing camp with me for the next two days. As a guest to this beautiful ranch I maintained that my focus would be on bow hunting hogs and having a good time.

After I unpacked at the pleasantly comfortable two bedroom, two bath camp house, the ranch manager and our guide for the weekend, Johnny Crew, took me on a nighttime tour of the ranch. In the headlights of his Ranger off-road utility vehicle, we spotted dozens of hogs. As I lay in my bunk bed that night, unable to sleep from excitement, I thought to myself ďIím going to like it here. This ranch is a special placeĒ 

The next morning, I navigated my way to my ladder stand in the dark. Daylight came soon but in the blackness of the predawn hours, I could already hear the lurking of hogs below me. Before it was even light enough to shoot, I had already seen a few shoats, a herd of red deer and some fallow that were browsing a field nearby. The feeder went off about an hour later and I was suddenly surrounded by scrambling hogs of all sizes and colors. 

One nice sized boar dominated the corn and snarled aggressively to ward off the others. They were so distracted, I could easily move around in the spacious ladder stand without being seen. After my morning hunt, I climbed down from my stand and inadvertently stumbled into several of Halís buffalo.

While I didnít take any boar back to camp with me that morning, I was convinced that the unseasonably cool temperatures would produce a great afternoon hunt. 

Haley and I decided to spend mid day easing down the back roads in search of hogs. The delightfully mild morning quickly melted away into hot and humid afternoon. I couldnít stay hydrated. This modestly sized ranch seems huge when traversed on foot. By the time we found pigs on our stalk I was dripping with sweat. After hours of playing hide and seek with the pigs, I was exhausted, but with my bow and Catquiver I explored a great deal of the ranch and saw an abundance of wildlife. 

Swamps, bogs, and dense deciduous trees characterize the ranch. This terrain provides ideal cover for game. Stalking hogs at Cougar Run can be very productive but it is also very challenging, and while we busted many hogs out of the brush that day, we flung no arrows.

After resting briefly back at the camp house I went back out to sit on stand. Again I saw red deer, fallow deer, whitetails, and a few rams, but no hogs. 

The woods grew very quiet for a long time until a nice large boar aptly named Socks surprised me as he appeared suddenly right underneath my ladder! I trembled anxiously as I watched this huge animal rooting his way into my shooting lane. I only needed for him to give me a clear shot at his vital area. Then, for no apparent reason he casually turned and walked back down the trail. I decided to quickly change my position in case Socks or another big pig approached me from the same direction. I moved to another ladder with a better vantage that would allow me to ambush this trail. Just as I settled in, I thought I heard Socks again. He was rolling logs with his snout. My plan was falling perfectly into place. I picked up my bow as Socks slowly closed the distance. I ranged him at 23 yards and drew my bow as he stepped behind an oak tree. Just as he reemerged the whining sound of a truck coming down the road startled him back into the woods. Frustrated, I let down my bow, but this was not to be my last encounter with the big boar, Socks. 
Just before dark, another large group of hogs came out of the woodwork to eat corn. The group was mostly made up of shoats and half grown boars with one big Oreoģ colored sow on their heels. Nobody had to twist my arm. As soon as she presented me with a clear shot, I sent a carbon projectile into her chest. With nighttime quickly encroaching upon my hunt, Johnny, Haley, and another hunter came to assist me in recovering my big sow. As I walked up to her with my flashlight I realized how big she actually was. How exciting! My first day hunting at Cougar Run and I already had a big pig on the ground as well as multiple opportunities to harvest hogs.

While hunting hogs, I had been secretly admiring Halís beautiful fallow deer. I wanted to try and shoot a doe for the freezer and after discussing this with Johnny, plans were made to try and get one before the weekend was over. Johnny spent the better part of Sunday trying to help me find the fallow herd which proved to be no easy task. An enormous effort was put into locating a mature fallow doe. These animals are wise and they have the hunters patterned extremely well. I was so fatigued by Sunday night from chasing fallow all over the ranch, my muscles ached. We tried several times to spot and stalk the deer but they were always just a step out of range. Finally, Johnny put me up in a ladder stand that was situated on a well used trail. We knew the fallow were in a field nearby and would be coming down the trail presently. I hadnít been sitting in the stand for 10 minutes when several fallow and some rams started passing by within bow range. Soon, they would be out of range completely. As I drew my bow, one fallow spooked which alerted the other animals, including the white phase doe I was trying to shoot. She was just a little too slow in her departure and my arrow connected successfully. She ran only 40 yards and crashed within view. I could see the sun glowing off of her solid white hide. I heard Johnny clapping for me and I was elated to have my well earned fallow. 

As I returned to Central Texas with an ice chest full of fresh meat and a few new campfire stories from my hunt in the Pineywoods, I realized that the Cougar Run Ranch had made the best impression of all. This ranch has very good facilities and a friendly, helpful staff. You are guaranteed to see hogs on your hunt along with a variety of other animals.