A true Texas weed: the mesquite. Mesquite brush has spread across the Lone Star State from Laredo to Amarillo. While it does offer shade and some habitat cover for wildlife, most ranchers want it gone. It shades out grasses that cattle prefer and grows so thick and prickly you can’t walk through it.
Texas ranchers use various methods to control mesquite and other unwanted brush like cedar, prickly pear and yucca. Chemical sprays, fire and heavy machinery are all used to control Texas weeds.
When mesquites are cut down, unless they are killed completely, they typically grow back “meaner” than before. Thorns are bigger and more numerous on re-sprouted plants.
Like mesquites, feral hogs have spread like a plague across Texas. Estimates put their current numbers at 2 million statewide. Some hunters call them trophies while others call them pests, or weeds. This herd was captured at night on a trail camera.
I shot this big boar with a Mathews bow while deer hunting in 2009. It was never put on scales, but using girth and length measurements and a slaughterhouse formula, it was estimated to weigh 350-400 pounds! Shot distance was 20 yards.
I shot this grizzled-looking old boar with a Hoyt bow on an off-season hunt in March 2010. Estimated weight was 300 pounds. In Texas, feral hogs can be hunted year-round with no bag limits.
In the fall of 2010, I got the chance to hunt pigs with a very special traditional bow. My friend and bowyer, South Cox at Stalker Recurves, built me a mesquite wood recurve. The recurve’s riser was built using a mesquite tree I cut off my family’s ranch in the Texas Panhandle.
Here, bowyer South Cox is sanding a riser in his California bow shop. South crafts some of the finest custom recurves available today.
Here’s South cutting a piece of mesquite wood he used to build my bow. After I cut the mesquite and mailed it, he had to let the green wood dry for more than six months before he could work with it.
South Cox in his shop cutting a piece of the mesquite to be used in the bow’s riser. Before he built bows, South worked with wood for 20 years, installing wood floors, building hand rails for stair cases and making cabinets.
Here South uses a file to make the string notches on the limb tip. Building a bow from scratch is a tedious, labor-intensive job.
I cut my mesquite wood for my custom recurve from a large mesquite tree like this one off my family’s Texas ranch. The hardest part was finding a “straight” tree with no knots in the wood.
My finished mesquite wood bow next to a deer rub on a mesquite tree. Before I went after deer with a stickbow, I wanted to first try for a hog.
Once the bow was finished, I spent time practicing with it on a 3-D deer target. After a while, I could cluster three arrows at a time into tight groups at 10 and 15 yards. My goal was to wait for a shot under 20 yards.
I wanted to kill a hog with my new mesquite wood bow: a weed taken with a weed! These large tracks near a corn feeder were my first hint that some big pigs were in the area. Notice the rounded toes on the hog track.
I set up a trail camera over the bait area where I found the large tracks and got these pictures on November 8. At least four large, spotted pigs and one big black one were on the camera. Most of the pigs are nocturnal in my area, but these were visiting the feed just before dark.
Another picture of the mob of wild hogs visiting my stand site. I estimated the weight of the bigger pigs at 200 pounds or more. Once the pigs showed up, the deer vacated the area.
On the afternoon of November 9, I setup 80 yards from the bait area. I backed off to get the wind right. My plan was to let the pigs come to the feed, settle down and then I would stalk them. I used the cover of a large cedar tree to close the distance. I shot this big sow at sunset as the mob was feeding unaware just 14 yards away!
My 475-grain Gold Tip carbon arrow fired from my 50-pound Stalker Recurve hit this pig in the crease behind the left shoulder, shredding both lungs. The big pig made it about 75 yards before the razor sharp 2-bladed German Kinetics broadhead did its deadly work.
My hunt for a Texas weed with my “weed” bow came full circle. A few days later, after marinating the pork backstrap in a secret formula, I cooked it over a fire made of mesquite wood. Some friends and I ate the wild pork along with some venison steaks on a November deer hunt.
Hogs have spread across the Lone Star state, and many others, like a modern-day plague. Similarly, mesquite brush has covered the map from one end of Texas to the other, transforming once open grasslands into brushy, prickly pastures. Brandon Ray of Amarillo brought these two “pests” together for a full-circle hunt, using a custom-built recurve bow made from a mesquite tree on his family’s ranch to take a 200-pound Texas sow that was then cooked over a mesquite fire.