Night Vision - Hog Hunting Rifle

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Night Vision - Hog Hunting Rifle

Postby LowKey » 26 Jan 2018 21


“Shot placement is key”.

With that bit of hunting perspective in mind, the rifle being used for this night vision hog hunting experiment is an exceptionally accurate bolt action Savage Axis in 223. Academy currently sells this bottom-of-the-line gem for $279.

The CZ 527 in 7.62x39 was actually first choice. But it would have been too painful to remove the CZ’s Bushnell Banner scope that has been tweaked so meticulously during many shooting sessions. So instead, the Sightmark Photon XT digital night vision scope was mounted on the Savage Axis 223.

A friend in law enforcement recommended Speer Gold Dot 223 LE ammo for hunting hogs. Out to 150 yards, 75 grain 223 performance is similar to the 123 grain 7.62x39, and close to Ranch Dog's recommended minimum 1000 ft lbs of energy.

Ballistics Table Comparing 223 and 762x39.jpg

This Savage Axis 223 likes the Gold Dot LE ammo. Before replacing its traditional scope with the Photon XT, in light afternoon winds the Savage shot 1.5 MOA with 64 grain Gold Dot. And with completely calm winds, the Savage / 64 grain combo has shot some crazy tight groups.

After Christmas, the Savage Axis was re-zeroed using the Photon XT and the heavier 75 grain 223 Gold Dot LE ammo. At 150 yards the digital imaging of the 4.6 fixed power Photon XT is not as sharp as a normal scope, and the 75 grain rounds were not as extensively tested as the 64 grain. Time will tell whether the 75 grain Gold Dot will be as accurate as the 64 grain.

Winds Calm, Savage Axis Group With 64 Grain Gold Dot LE.jpg

After some teething pains learning the operation of the Photon XT, two hogs were taken on successive nights using the Photon / Axis / 75 grain combination. Each hog had been part of a different four hog sounder. Each hog was hit broadside with heart/lung chest shots. And each hog ran about 50 yards before falling.

The first hog had been browsing in an open pasture. It was recovered in the clearing after a short search, and the meat was harvested that night.

The next night the second hog made it into cover after being hit, showing no signs of distress as it ran. It was not found until the following morning when buzzards were spotted high in the tree line guarding their prize. This hog had an exit wound in the chest about the size of a quarter. Coyotes were seen on trail cams the next few nights looking for more easy pickings.

It is disheartening to lose an animal when you believe you’ve made a proper shot. And since we see so few hogs on my friend’s property here in the tropical South, we try to harvest the meat.

Because these hogs are strong enough to run after being hit, the best options may be to either take a broadside heart/lung chest shot only when hogs are far enough from a tree line, or to go for a CNS shot. Since this head/neck shot presents a much smaller target area, it would be more difficult to make a successful CNS hit at longer ranges.

Solo Hog on Trail Cam.JPG

For several nights the following week, a solo hog made his appearance in the pasture. According to experts at Texas A&M, a large hog traveling alone is almost always a boar (male) and not a sow (female). They say that when a boar matures, it becomes more solitary and only joins with a sounder when a sow comes in heat. (Boars are smart.)

This solitary boar was a fast mover. He would quickly cross the 700 yard pasture, only occasionally pausing to sniff the ground. After he moved downwind, it was difficult to maneuver for a shot without being seen or heard. Three nights in a row his instincts prevailed and the boar scooted away to safety.

On the fourth night, the boar moved more slowly across the pasture just outside a fence line. Watching from an elevated stand, it appeared his path might take him into firing range. But if the boar wandered further to his right, he would be too far away for a shot with the 223. If he wandered more to his left, he would be protected from a shot by the fence line.

Fence Line At Night.JPG

By 10 pm the wind was completely calm as the boar continued his approach. The boar paused to examine the ground when he was about 150 yards away, the maximum distance for which zero had been verified with the Photon. As his head and body seemed motionless, this would be an opportunity to try a CNS shot. It would be hit or miss. When a shot does not connect, a mature boar will often keep running until it reaches the cover of a tree line, hundreds of yards away if necessary. The smart ones don’t come back.

Very little moonlight penetrated the clouds. The Photon’s attached IR illuminator was clicked up to its maximum setting. The external IR illuminator was not needed. The battery cover was verified locked, and the brightness setting increased slightly. The rifle was on a solid rest. The green cross hairs were placed in position on the black hog.

The Axis 223 recoiled lightly when the trigger was pulled, and the falling hog remained visible in the Photon as he hit the ground. DRT, the hog was recovered and the meat was harvested.

Hog Taken From 145 Yards.PNG
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Re: Night Vision - Hog Hunting Rifle

Postby HarryAlonzo » 26 Jan 2018 23

Planning pays off. Nice work!
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Re: Night Vision - Hog Hunting Rifle

Postby Ranch Dog » 26 Jan 2018 23

Very nice report LowKey and good work!

I'm just back in from my first hunt with the Firefield NVRS on the Mini-30. I will detail mine in the morning, it wasn't successful but all the equipment worked well.
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Re: Night Vision - Hog Hunting Rifle

Postby akuser47 » 27 Jan 2018 17

Well done
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