If it weren’t 95 degrees, with 90-percent humidity crowding my personal space, I would have sworn it was bow season in the Deep South. I was perched in a hang-on stand with a corn feeder 20 yards below me. I was thankful for the thick forest canopy shielding me from the intense August sun. I stared at the Daniel Defense Ambush rifle sitting in my lap. Moving my eyes up the barrel I was fixated on the beautiful SilencerCo suppressor firmly attached to the muzzle. This was my first suppressed hunt and I’ve been daydreaming about this opportunity for a while now.
I had caught the suppressor bug the year prior when my home state of Alabama legalized silencers for hunting. My weapon of choice for this hunt was a Daniel Defense Ambush 300 BLK. I’m a big fan of the Ambush series of rifles from Daniel Defense — I personally hunt with a 6.8 SPCII version. The camo-finished rifle has a Geisele two-stage trigger, 18-inch cold-hammer forged barrel and six-position buttstock.
We were hunting just off the Mississippi River near Natchez, Mississippi with Rex Holmes. Rex is the inventor and owner of Vapor Trail Scents. His most popular scent blend is called 33 Point Buck, which is both an attractant and scent eliminator. I’ll tell you more about Vapor Trail Scents and my experience with the products during my hunts later in the story though.
Rex is a big time bowhunter and he videos hunts for TV and for marketing promotions for his product. So when he sets up a feeder for hogs, he places two treestands (one for the shooter and one for the camera man positioned a little higher up the tree) within 20 to 30 yards of it. This incidentally makes the perfect setup for a suppressed 300 BLK rig, too.
The 300 BLK round, when loaded supersonic, pushes a 110 to 125-grain bullet around 2,200 to 2,400 fps. However, the popularity of the 300 BLK is that it can be loaded subsonic as well. When loaded with a 208 to 240-grain bullet, the muzzle velocity drops to around 1,000 fps or slightly lower — slower than the speed of sound, which ranges from a little more than 1,000 fps to 1,125 fps depending on air temp. The subsonic load produces about 500 ft./lbs. of energy compared to 1,400 ft./lbs in the supersonic load. However, the subsonic speed is the important factor when thinking in terms of the effectiveness of a suppressor. A .30-caliber suppressor will cut nearly all of the bang from the subsonic 300 BLK load and because the bullet’s speed doesn’t break the sound barrier there is no supersonic crack produced like there is when firing a .223 or any other supersonic load. This means that the subsonic BLK load is nearly quiet. In fact, the loudest sound from a shot in my rig is the semi-auto bolt slamming home after a shot, oh, and the smack of bullet on flesh when shooting a hog.
The 300 BLK ‘s reduced speed gives it a large arch which makes the 300 BLK obsolete for long-range work (beyond 100 yards). However, when your mission is to remove destructive feral hogs from hunting properties in Mississippi at bowhunting yardages, the silent 300 BLK is the perfect tool for the job.
It wasn’t long before I was snapped out of my suppressor dream state when my hunting partner Trey Crossno whispered, “Deer coming.” It wasn’t deer season, but we didn’t want to alarm any incoming animals, which in turn might alarm nearby hogs that danger is in the area. So we sat completely still as two does walked within 15 yards below us, feeding on the corn. Soon two swamp rabbits came out and began to feed and then closer to dusk a couple of raccoons joined the party. We had all kinds of wildlife within bowrange, but no hogs, so we sat patiently.
It’s legal to shoot hogs after dark in Mississippi on private land so we brought along a thermal adapters from EOTech and also had other rifles outfitted with Night Optics night vision scopes. Our plan was to sit after dark if hogs didn’t come out early. With the sun already gone and the ambient light fading quickly it appeared as if that was going to be the case.
Then suddenly both raccoons quickly fled from the corn and climbed a pine sapling nearby. Within seconds a dark silhouette bolted into the feeding area. It paused briefly and then took off! Disappearing into the pine saplings along the shallow end of the pond we were perched over. Confused, Trey and I sat intently staring into the pines. Without notice the silhouette quickly returned and stepped into the open. We could easily see this was a large hog and it began feeding below. At first it would take a few bites of corn and then retreat into the thicket to chomp it. Then it would step back out and eat some more. After a few minutes it fed in the open and calmed down. That’s when I told Trey that I was going to take my shot.
I activated the red-dot reticle in the EOTech sight and propped the rifle in my left palm as I steadied my elbow on my knee. I could easily see the illuminated red dot on the hog’s silhouetted body, but I wanted to aim more precise than what I was able to. So I flipped up the 3X EOTech magnifier and now had a much more pinpoint aiming point on the hog’s front shoulder. I placed the red dot just behind the front shoulder and waited for the pig to step in for a bite. I knew I had a few seconds where the hog would stand still — while picking up corn kernels — for me to make the shot. As soon as the red dot settled where I wanted it, I squeezed a couple pounds worth of tension on the trigger and then I heard, “phewwwwt.” Followed by the sound of the bolt-carrier group chambering another Freedom Munitions 208-grain A-Max round. I also heard the sound of bullet smashing bone as the hog spun and ran off slowly through the pine thicket, across a small mud flat, up a hill out of the pond and into the pine plantation behind us. I felt good about the shot, but I never heard the hog go down for good.
We waited until well after dark before we got down. With the silent shot of the subsonic BLK round we knew we didn’t disturb the area much so we waited on another hog. Nothing showed and once we heard the ATV drive by our location to get two other members of our hunting party we climbed down and quickly found blood. We trailed the blood out of the muddy banks of the pond, up the hill and into the pines. The hog was bleeding a lot and there were lots of bubbles in the blood — indicating I’d hit lung. After a few more minutes and probably 75 yards of trailing done, Trey spotted the hog piled up dead in some brush.
It turned out to be about a 175 to 200 pound boar with very nice cutters (tusks) on it. The subsonic 208-grain A-max bullet drove clean through the hog and clearly opened a significant wound channel, bleeding the hog out within less than 10 seconds. While the A-max bullet isn’t specifically designed for hunting, it did a satisfactory job on a super tough critter such as a mature boar. Shot placement is critical with the 300 BLK. It doesn’t carry the devastating energy of a high-velocity round, so putting it in the head or heart/lung area is vital. There are a few hunting-specific 300 BLK bullets on the market and I would recommend shooting some of those for accuracy testing to make sure your rifle likes them. The Freedom Munitions round that I used was highly accurate and I was able to practice on paper with it prior to hunting so I felt very confident in my shot placement.
With plenty of buzz surrounding the 300 BLK right now, due to it’s subsonic offerings, don’t get the impression that this round will solve all your hunting needs. In my opinion this is a niche round that when shot subsonic and suppressed offers tremendous quiet killing opportunities at close ranges. That’s why I title the article, “Bowhunting Hogs With The 300 BLK.” If you stick to the thick woods or small food plots with yardages under 100 yards then the 300 BLK is a ninja-style weapon that is the ultimate silent, but deadly combination.
Vapor Trail Scents
Rex Holmes is the inventor and owner of Vapor Trail Scents. His most popular scent blend is called 33 Point Buck, which is both an attractant and scent eliminator. While its marketed toward the deer bowhunter, it works on hogs and other wildlife, too. The real secret to its effectiveness is the auto-misting contraption that Rex sells with his scents. It’s a simple device that has a canister for the liquid scent and a sealed lid with a hand pump on top. With 10 pumps the unit is prepped for an entire hunt. A small valve at the end of a rubber-coted tube dispenses the liquid scent in a fine mist, that flows out with a continual pressure and it carries on the wind because of the extremely small mist particles.
Rex handed me a scent mister with his 33 Point Buck blend in it and I used it as directed while hunting. The first step is to spray down from head to tow, including the bottom of your boots, and then spray the mist from your stand about once an hour to help mask the scent coming off of your clothes and body while hunting.
I’ll admit that I’m a “play the wind” kind of guy. I would rather keep my scent far away from a deer or hog’s nose. With our stands set up more for bowhunting, meaning we would be in close and personal with the hogs and deer that came to feed at the feeders, I used the spray religiously during my three days of hunting. I can also assure you that I stunk plenty while hunting, because of the intense August heat and humidity I was sweating after the ATV ride, and then continually throughout the hunt. On two of the hunts my sent was blowing directly at the feeder and I had hog and deer feeding within 12 to 20 yards of my stand. I’ve bowhunted for more than 20 years and I only know of a time or two where I got a downwind-shot at an animal before it spooked. The last evening of the hunt I had a mature 8-point buck feeding down wind of me and he hung around for 12 minutes or more. While the deer and hog seemed a bit “jumpy” they continued to eat downwind me. I’ll admit that was pretty incredible.