Cougar Run II Smack Down!
By Haley Kitagawa


Who would think that within an hour of the Houston area you could find a Bow hunterís paradise? Hal Newsome has put together an outstanding operation which is not only convenient in location but affordable as well. I have heard some say that Cougar Run is like shooting pigs in a barrel, I would have to say they have never hunted the ranch or are greatly misinformed. The ranch offers a very challenging hunt for those in seek of a trophy, but at the same time offers some great opportunities for novice hunters as well. You could sit a stand all weekend and take some good meat hogs, but if you want to put a hoss boar on the ground you had better bring your ďAĒ game. Hal and the ranch manager Johnny are both very dedicated to providing a great affordable hunt. This weekend proved that as we were joined buy two return hunters from Colorado. Thatís right these guys have made the drive several times proves that Cougar Run has what it takes to keep Bow hunters Happy!

I decided to hunt stand #2 Saturday morning in hopes of letting the air out of one of the big boys. Things looked promising as there were already pigs camped out under the feeder. The only problem I had, was getting into the tripod without sending the little corn Hoovers running. About the time I remembered that it had rained the night before, I found myself standing on the bottom step, covered in rain water. The water had pooled up in the tripod seat. Well the pigs were less startled than I was, but I figured I would try my luck on the ground. The feeder went off and I was surrounded by a dozen pigs 50#s and smaller. The sucked up every piece of corn out there and moved on to another feeder further back on the ranch. Another group of nice rams made their way in to see if the hogs had missed any of the corn as I made a stalk out to one of the other feeders. I stalked down to feeders #3 and #4 and could not get up for a shot on the nice little herd of pigs that had made their way in to feed on all of the corn. I spent the rest of the morning about fifty yards behind them trying to get close enough for a shot. I finally made it back to the lodge empty handed for some much needed water and A/C. I decided to make another stalk through the woods that afternoon. Creepy through the thick woods I saw several groups of fallow does (which are currently on special), a group of great looking buffalo, and some full curl and better Corsican rams. The stalk went about the same as my morning hunt so I headed back in for a shower before heading out to stand #4 for the evening hunt. 

Sitting in stand #4 that evening looked promising until the wind started to swirl. I had a couple of 50-60 lb. pigs coming in when the wind sent them off in another direction. With a little bit of light left I decided to get down and attempt another stalk. I made a loop around to get into the wind for a stalk on stand #3. I could see a group of 50# pigs tearing it up under the feeder so I crept in using some of the oak and pines to cover my approach. I stopped behind a large pine and drew back at twenty yards. I anchored my pin right on his elbow and sent a four blade muzzy screaming threw a blonde spotted boar. He was the largest of that group and probably weight 40-50 lbs. My arrow was sitting under water in the wallow they had formed under the feeder, but still had a little blood on the feathers. I watched the pigs haul tail into the swamp twenty yards from the feeder. I could see the small boar start to stumble as he made his way through the tall grass and water. A minute later I saw the rest of the black shoats that were with him at the feeder made it across to the other bank. I could see the grass rustling and hear splashing where I had last seen my pig. I felt confident that he was down for the count and returned to the bunkhouse to get Johnny and the 4x4 to retrieve the hog. 

Back at the bunkhouse I found out that Courtney our new staff member had a found blood but did not see the pig go down. Johnny and I grabbed some lights and were off to help Courtney find her hog. She was standing on the last blood when we drove up on her in the dark. We quickly picked up the rest of the trail and I found the hog thirty yards from where Courtney had run out of light. The large sow was down for the count and we loaded her into the Mule. We drove over to the swamp and drove right into the shallow water in search of my pig. We found the spot he had laid down, but to our surprise there was no pig. With no way to track him in the water we called off the search and headed back in to camp to get Courtneyís pig in the cooler. 

The next morning I decided I had enough walking and headed out to hunt stand #9 directly behind the bunkhouse. As I headed for the stand I could see a few deer and a couple of small pigs already camped out waiting for the feeder to go off. I eased back out of there and headed to #8 a little further down the trail. Nothing was under #8 so I got up in the ladder stand and settled in. Within 15 minutes a group of 6 pigs ranging from 60 lbs. all the way up to 120 lbs. made their way in. With no corn on the ground they moved on quickly. The feeder went off shortly after they moved on and it wasnít long before I had a couple of 50 lb. black pigs under the feeder. Five minutes latter they were joined by the first group that visited me that morning. I waited for the largest of the group to quarter away slightly under the feeder and drew back. I anchored my pin right at his elbow for the perfect heart shot. A smooth release and I watched my arrow burry up to the white feathers. He made a little loop under my stand with the arrow working itself out and falling conveniently at the base of the ladder, running twenty yards further straight into a pine tree and falling over stone dead. I nocked another arrow and waited to see if anything else would make its way in. Another group of 50 lb. pigs came in but did not stick around long. I decided to get down and drag my pig out to the road. He was a descent boar and had a beautiful coat with a large head. His cutters were only about an inch but he would have made a pretty awesome mount none the less. Johnny and I came back with the Mule, loaded up the hog and went back to see how Courtney had done. Courtney had seen one good boar, but it did not give here a shot. 

After a quick photo shoot and water break Courtney headed back out with Johnny to take a fallow doe and I stalked the ranch in search of another good pig. Once again, all that my stalk produced was weight loss. Donít get me wrong folks I am not saying that stalking on the ranch is not productive. The heat and the thick green underbrush as a result of all of the recent rainfall factored in on the difficulty of the stalk hunting on this trip. I would almost step on a hog before seeing it out there and send them all running. The right weather and range conditions all play a role in a successful stalk. Courtney was able to harvest a nice white fallow doe and was out off cooler room. She needed to make the drive back to Austin so after helping her load her cooler I headed back out to stand #9 for the evening hunt.

Sitting on stand I was treated to a wide variety of wildlife viewing. Two groups of Fallow does feed in the pasture to my right before moving on. A group of Fallow bucks followed close behind them. A heard of Red Deer also moved through. The feeder went off and three nice Corsican rams came in. I decided to spook them off before they could get to the corn and threw a small stick at them. They decided that they could find a nice quite meal elsewhere and moved on. Two small black pigs came in to the corn first. I wanted to wait to see if anything bigger would come in, and it paid off. A nice 130-140 lb. sow came in with a group of 90-100lb. pigs. She looked very healthy and had a very large head on her. She was a reddish blonde color with black spots. At ten yards I drew back and anchored my pin. The release was good and my Muzzy had the done the job again. The arrow passed completely through her and lodged in a limb on the ground. I watched her run out of site and marked the last spot I could see her. I set down my bow in the stand and climbed down to get a good look at my arrow. I had good blood on the arrow and could see good blood all the way down the trail. As I looked around I spotted another group of pigs headed for the feeder. I turned around and hauled butt back up the ladder. I made it up just in time to grab another arrow when the pigs made their way into the corn. I picked out a nice 60 lb. blonde sow and sent another Muzzy tipped CarbonXpress zipping through her heart. I could see the blood pouring down her legs as she tore down the same trail as the large sow 5 minutes earlier. I had two good hits within five minutes. With one arrow left in the quiver I got down and took up the trail with about a half hour of light remaining. The trail was easy to follow with large splashes of blood indicating a good hit. I found her bedded down about 40 yards down the trails. She looked like she was going to expire soon but past experiences with hogs told me to put another one in her. I drew back and made a 25 yard shot taking out the right lung. The sow made it to here feet and stumbled another 20 yards. When she stopped her legs were all locked straight and she looked to be shaking. I decided that I would take the original arrow I had shot her with out of my quiver and placed a second arrow in her chest. The force of the arrow hitting her was enough to nock her to the ground. She was standing there dead and just needed a little push to nock her over. I headed back to the feeder to follow my other blood trail. I pulled the arrow out of the ground and it was covered in thick blood. I started to follow the trail when it ran into the large sows trail. Frustrated I looked around and spotted her dead five yards to my right. I had two pigs down and it was still light out. Johnny and I picked them up with the Mule and I spent the rest of the evening cleaning hogs before heading home.

Once again I had a great hunt at Cougar Run II. I canít say enough about the quality of the ranch and the dedication of the staff. Hal and Johnny truly go the extra mile to keep their hunters happy and safe. If you live in the Houston area, you have no excuse not to give Hal a call and head out to the ranch. If you live anywhere else you donít have an excuse either, the guys from Colorado made the 13+ hour drive again so you should too. Get out there and have a heck of a good time chasing hogs and exotics at the Cougar Run II.