While at the SHOT Show, I visited the Umarex booth and checked out their Air Saber. It’s like a PCP airgun except that it shoots arrows. It has an aluminum tube which a nockless arrow slides over. When shot, a blast of regulated compressed air spits the arrow down range.
Shortly thereafter Bill Olson, the publisher of “Texas Outdoors Journal” called and invited me to go on a Texas Aoudad and hog hunt. Heck yeah, can I hunt with an Air Saber? We scrambled to get everything lined up and then one week before the hunt the guide called and canceled. But Bill hustled and got us a hunt lined up on the 2Morrow Ranch.
I flew down to San Antonio after midnight on Sunday and Air Olson (Bill’s pickup) picked me up and we drove as far as Uvalde. The next morning we drove on to the ranch. The first afternoon was scheduled for filming. We had to do some photo shoots on the Umarex Air Saber, Master Cutlery knives, Morrell Target and Wasp Broadheads.
We completed our filming, and Weston, the ranch owner’s son, asked if I wanted to hunt that evening.
Of course. Most of South Texas has thick mesquite brush, live oaks and all manner of prickly pears but this ranch was exceptionally brushy which didn’t afford for many long shots. Which was fine since I was going to be using the Air Saber, which is advertised as only having a range of 70 yards.
While filming I’d sighted in the Air Saber and at the moment only felt comfortable taking 50-yard shots, but later in the week after more shooting, I felt good out to 70 yards. I saw some game that afternoon but no hogs. No biggie, we had a week to hunt.
At first Bill and I were the only hunters in camp. It was great. They had a camp cook named Karen that kept us well fed. In fact, we gained weight. The food was a lot better than me and my buddies get to enjoy when up in the high country elk hunting. Some nights elk hunting you stumble back into camp well after dark and just want to skip dinner and go to bed. I could get used to having a camp cook!
I forget the whole series of events but Bill and I would head out an hour before daylight every morning and then come in for lunch and then head back out in the afternoon and hunt until dark. Hogs like feeding late afternoon into the night and if hogs are hunted much, they go nocturnal but we didn’t have any night vision gear.
We were having a hard time finding any hogs. I lose track but I believe it was Wednesday afternoon. … Right at dusk I looked around and saw two hogs to our left. I nudged Bill and threw up the Air Saber. They were a little fidgety and moving around feeding semi-fast. I ranged them at 65 yards but wanted to wait a minute to see if they wouldn’t feed in closer.
By this time, Bill was running the range finder which was a tremendous help. If he hadn’t been running the range finder it is likely that I would have missed my shot as fast as they were moving around. Bill whispered: 50 yards. I put the cross hairs behind the hog’s shoulder but in a hot second he was out to 65 yards. That would be somewhere around a 12-16-inch drop in the trajectory of the arrow.
Oh no, was he going to feed out further and not offer a shot? Then suddenly they started feeding back in closer. They stopped for a second and Bill hissed: 50 yards. Would they come closer or should I not chance it and take the 50-yard shot? I looked above the scope and noticed that the darkness was growing thicker by the second. I didn’t have but 2-3 minutes before there wouldn’t be enough daylight to take a shot.
The hog with a unique white shoulder had moved out further. The closest one turned broadside, Bill said “50 yards” and I squeezed the trigger. Wow! The Air Saber thumped the hog and slammed it to the ground.
The arrow passed through, severed the bottom half of the spinal column and landed 15 yards past the hog. No wonder the hog had been flattened. The Air Saber travels over 400 fps, which is why I used a heavy-duty Morrell target to sight it in. With a regular target it would have buried the arrows and the fletching would have been ripped off when pulling them out. Talk about power.
The last night, we saw two Nilgai cows at dusk. They were out 100-150 yards, too far for the Air Saber but Bill did get one with his .338 Win. Mag. We skinned it and then the next morning I got up at 5:15, and guide Kendall and I boned it while Bill was packing.
We split the meat up and Bill dropped me off at the airport and it was back to Idaho. The next day after church, I smoked a Nilgai tenderloin on my pellet grill. Bill assured me that Nilgai would be the best wild game that I’d ever eaten. After Katy, Kolby and I ate the whole tenderloin, it was hard to argue!
What a great hunt.
Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.