A Quick Trip to Texas
Just a few weeks ago we were able to attend the Texas Airgun Show held in Mansfield, Texas. We enjoy going since the event is relatively close, it’s no big hassle to go and since this is Texas we are talking about, the people are the best. Top to bottom, everyone at the host range and the attendees are friendly, even enthusiastic people. That’s a good crowd to hang around. Since it was just going to be two representatives from Umarex going (myself and videographer Chad Sharpe) we only took a few products with us.
We bet on the audience being receptive to hunting-type airguns. We took the new .30 caliber Gauntlet PCP rifle, the AirSaber Elite X2, and the AirJavelin Pro. That was it. And that was enough. The crowd at the Texas Airgun show could not get enough of these. Particularly the air archery products drew the most attention. This is not a surprise. Our air archery platforms, the AirSabers and AirJavelins are massive hits with hunters for obvious reasons. But even people who don’t hunt are fascinated by the concept of launching an arrow with air instead of a string.
First Things First: Hunting With Chris Cook
Actually, I am getting a little bit ahead of myself. Chad and I took off on our way to Texas with a pit stop in mind. YouTube and Instagram user Chris Cook had invited us to come by his ranch for a little hog hunt. Chris has been using our AirSaber for several years now to help thin the feral pig population down around his ranch. Not only this, but Chris is very passionate about hunting and fishing and his adventures are not limited to just his home hunting grounds in Texas. He and his wife travel all over the world after various species of game and fish. His philosophy on living is that those adventures are worth working for and that there is a lot to learn by getting out and observing nature and interacting with various people.
With this invitation in mind, we took off in a southwestern direction ready for a good hunt and a good time at the Texas Airgun Show. Fort Smith is only about five hours from Chris’s ranch, our rendezvous point, but it became evident that we were going to be cutting it close to make it in time for a hunt. Traffic from McAlester, Okla., and south was absolutely brutal. Rolling around at turtle speed for miles and miles left an uneasy feeling. Would we be able to make up the time once we crossed into Texas? Thankfully, we were able to do just that. With the hammer down, Chad piloted the company Suburban to a just-in-the-nick-of-time arrival at Chris’s ranch.
We quickly made introductions and the minimum of small talk and headed over to the blind where we caught our breath and waited for all of 20 minutes before the hogs showed up. I grabbed Chad’s camera and let him have first dibs on piggly-wigglies. A younger hog, probably in the 60-80 pound range squared up to us at the feed. Chad had the .30 caliber Gauntlet and he placed the crosshairs on the upper skull of that pig. From the video, it looked like the pig made a quick turn of the head that made the difference in the pellet striking right above the eye to right behind the ear. If you know anything about the anatomy of a pig’s skeletal structure, only an inch or less of movement in a shot can make the difference between “chicken or feathers.”
Success With the AirSaber Elite X2
Unfortunately for Chad, it was feathers that evening. We debated whether to get down to see if we could track that pig. We decided to hold off for a bit as we suspected more pigs might come in and we could track them both if needed after the second one was shot. With this plan we waited in the stand as the sun fell closer to the horizon. At just about sunset we heard some brush popping off to our left. A short wait revealed the source of the noise, a good sized black boar who was making his way to the feeder. Since he was coming in from behind and at an angle, he was offering up a much more suitable target for the hard hitting AirSaber Elite X2 air archery gun I was carrying. Chad readied the camera and I slowly poked the muzzle of the AirSaber out of the stand’s window and placed the crosshair just behind the right shoulder of the hog. The arrow was sent flying with a careful pull of the trigger. I could see it bury into the hog who was quartering away from me. Just as quickly as the arrow entered the hog, he bolted down the pig trail which angled away from us to the left.
We waited about 5 minutes before getting down from the stand so as not to make the tracking any more difficult than it needed to be. We were able to find blood easily there in the dry Texas dust by the feeder, but the hunt for the track the boar took as he sped off to through the bushes was much more difficult to ascertain. By this point, darkness had fallen and we were solely tracking by flashlight illumination. Chad located an 18-inch section of the arrow which had worked its way out of the hog as he ran off. Certain of our trail, we felt that we would find him soon and we did, within about 30 yards of the arrow's location.
The black boar made it about 100 yards before he expired in a low spot in a mesquite thicket. With the hog located, I retrieved my SOG pocket knife from my Wrangler’s and Chad and I began field dressing the big critter. We did this for two reasons: 1. We didn’t want to be “that guy” and 2. It was still about 85 degrees out, so getting the carcass cooled off was of the essence. Not only that, but this hog was pretty good sized. Neither Chad nor I wanted to drag this critter any further than we needed to.
Chad and I walked back to the truck and found Chris waiting for us. We drove back down to the trail where the hog was stashed and loaded it up for the short drive back to the cabin. Once there, we weighed him and discovered that, field dressed, he weighed in at 175 pounds. Big enough. Chris got to work quartering him up and packing him in ice so we could get on the road to our hotel.
The Texas Airgun Show
The next day was the real reason we trekked down to Texas anyway. We began rolling southeast toward Mansfield around 10:30 p.m. We hit the hotel parking lot, smelling like dead pig, right before midnight and got checked in as quick as we could. The next morning would be here fast and a shower and sleep were calling.
The event was being held at the Arlington Sportsman’s Club - a lovely, clean, and well-kept club. Umarex was joined by AirForce Airguns on the range, but many other vendors and collectors had displays set up in the clubhouse. Periodically throughout the day we would see people who made purchases or trades come down to the range to try out their newly attained airguns.
The range where we were set up, didn’t sound like what you would think an “airgun range” would sound like. Between the .30 caliber Gauntlet, the AirSaber Elite 2X and the several big bores brought in by AirForce, hearing protection was required with the abundance of hard reflective surfaces. Without a doubt, the AirSaber Elite was the big attention getter on the whole range. Being able to sling an arrow at 450 FPS and hit the bag as hard as the AirSaber arrows do, it’s an impressive thing to behold. Not to mention that we had photos from the hunt the night before of that very AirSaber literally bringing home the bacon.
Chis made it to the show and hung out with us for most of the day. He certainly helped fill in the gaps for hunters who had in depth questions about hunting with the AirSabers. Chris has probably killed more game with our air gear than anyone, and done it in more places. Throughout the day, he would catch those guys who were genuinely interested in exploring airgun hunting options and giving them the real down-low from an end-user perspective.
There were hundreds of people who made their way around the bays and even a few familiar faces in attendance. Joe Iturralde from Predator International (JSB Pellets) was there, along with Eric Henderson (Mr. Longrange), and George Wells (Texas Brush Hog Camo). The day ran along at a quick pace and before we knew it, the show was wrapping up. Once loaded up, we met Chris and his lovely wife at a local eatery for a quick “fill-up” before hitting the road for home. And that, friends, is the story of one fast and fun weekend for a few airgunners at Umarex!