Wild Pork: A Love Affair

Wild Pork: A Love Affair

“Now, when y’all look through them thermal scopes, y’all should see that hothands glowin’ up thurr on tha’ targit” Brad drawled.

This was the first experience my friends and I ever with thermal or infrared technology, and to say we were giddy would be an understatement. After 12 long hours in a Chevy 1500 from the WI-IL border to the MO-AR border, we were finally at our destination. A hunting operation near Des Arc, MO. And boy, were we ready to lay the smack-down on some hogs. Once the zeros had been checked on our ARs, chambered in 7.62x51’s, we had a couple of hours before we’d meet back up, and we used the downtime to go scan the empty cornfields and cattle pastures for feral hogs.

At about midnight, after plenty of trash talk, hype-up, and excitement, we were told that with the light rain we were having, it might be a slow night.

“Hey Brad!” I shouted from the back seat.

“What’s up?” he responded.

“What’s one of these thermals cost, anyway?”

“Well,” he drawled, “some’a the nicer ones run ya five, six grand. Them’re bout two ta three per.”

Well damn, I thought to myself. I suppose I’m not getting one of these, ever.

We never did shoot a hog on that trip, even with three nights of hard looking and searching. That would change the following year, when I would put one of those 7.62x51s right through the earhole of a one-hundred-pound sow. That pig ate so well, it started my love affair with wild pork.

Fast forward a couple of years to February 2024. I convinced one of my very good friends to make the 22-hour drive from Chicago to chase down some bacon in hog-infested Waelder, Texas. It was here that my Sightmark story began. In preparation for this trip, I had a custom AR-15 built, chambered in 6.5 Grendel. Knowing that I’d be putting some kind of night vision scope, I asked my local gunsmith to keep things light and mobile, and he did an excellent job. If ever you find yourself near Monroe, WI and in need of an AR – or any firearm – please go see Randy at Dark Horse Arms. He does an amazing job.

In preparation for our hog hunting trip, I did my research, weighed the pros and cons, and watched YouTube videos of both product reviews and through-device footage of what would be my go-to hog hunting night vision scope. Eventually, I decided on Sightmark for their high-quality products and reasonable prices. I was able to order the Sightmark Wraith HD 4-32x50 for a very good price. I decided on this scope for two primary reasons: the first was the price point. While there are a couple of species we can hunt at night in WI, they’re not critters I typically hunt, so having a hog-specific night vision scope that wouldn’t break the bank was a top priority. Second, the video recordings from the Wraith HD’s built-in camera were all extremely crisp, clear, and easy to see. Even though the unit didn’t have any audio recording*, I add voice overs or music to my hunting videos anyway, and it was really the video capability that I was really interested in.

With my head full of carnitas, smoked-pork-tenderloin, ribs on the grill and the plethora of various sausages we’d get from the pigs we’d harvest, we left Chicago around 10am. We arrived at camp 22 hours later, ready to check our zeros. The one-shot zero on my Wraith was perfect. It was easy to understand, and it worked just like the manual said it should. That night, we got to test everything out in low-light conditions, and again, the scope performed extraordinarily well. My buddy had a couple of issues w/ his Wraith 4K Max, which wasn’t really a problem for us, because the button controls on the Wraith HD are, in my opinion, significantly easier to use than the ones on the Wraith 4K. The video came out amazing, and if you’d like to watch that for yourself, you can check out my YouTube channel, “Hunt Trap Fish!” The Sightmark HD is the perfect mid-level scope for anyone who wants to hunt at night at distances under 200 yards, and be able to video record, at a very low intro price.

We ended up shooting 11 hogs over the course of the next two days. Four of eleven were taken with lever guns – my .30-30 Winchester Model 94 and my friend’s .45-70 – and the remaining 7 were all taken with my 6.5 Grendel, topped with my Sightmark Wraith. We brought home roughly 300lbs of fresh wild pork each and filled a couple freezers. I’ll likely use the Wraith HD during the coming WI deer season as well, as I am absolutely obsessed with the video quality. I’ll likely add a quick detach battery back to my set-up, so I can save a bit of weight on batteries, and for deer season at least, I’ll likely remove the IR flashlight, just to avoid any potential gray areas with local DNR officials. Where this scope truly shined, for me, was on my Texas hog hunt, and I cannot wait to take it back to hill country next year.

 

 

*Newer models such as the Wraith 4K Mini and Wraith Thermal can record both video and audio.

 

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