Guest Blog by Jonny Noyan, First Defense Firearm Instruction & California Predator Control Team
“JN…do NOT look at those teeth! Stay focused on that little red illuminated dot in middle of the crosshairs. Just don’t EVEN THINK ABOUT LOOKING AT HIS CUTTERS!!!” That was all I needed to hear to know we found, “The One.” That one trophy boar that I had been dreaming of all these years was finally in front of me.
The story begins with a project. I had in mind to build a new hunting rifle in anticipation of this year’s annual trek to the hills of Hollister, California. All my life I’ve been around and used firearms. I shot my first hog around 10 years ago on a ranch in Santa Maria using a traditional bolt action chambered in .308. Later, I was exposed to some fast paced, high adrenaline hunting. I was in love!
I’ve always been intrigued by Eugene Stoner’s creation, the AR-15. I decided it was time to build my own version, an accurate, reliable hog hunting firearm. As for caliber, I was impressed by Tim LeGendre’s .45 Professional that evolved into the .450 Bushmaster. Jeff Cooper nicknamed this round the 450 Thumper.
After much internet research and consulting with friends and gun shops, the building began.
Introduced in 2007 by Hornady and Bushmaster and nicknamed “The Thumper”, the .450 Bushmaster is one of the most radical cartridges ever chambered in the battle-proven AR platform. A .451 diameter 275gr lead free projectile capable of delivering nearly 2700 ft. lbs of energy into the hog of my dreams? I was excited!
As the late spring trophy hog hunt approached, the rifle was complete, the custom reloads tested and everything zeroed. All I had to do was complete my mission on the wild boar hunt of a lifetime.
It was great being back on the ranch, meeting up with Matt Mcgrew, of Mcgrew Guide Services. In the first two days, we passed on four or five nice boars with 3” tusks, all worthy of being wall hangers, just not the monster I wanted. After spooking a hog after an hour-long stalk, I was discouraged and concerned about being too selective.
It was the last morning and we planned to wake up an hour earlier and hit the road for a long drive to the south. Matt had located some big boars there. My alarm was set for 3:15 AM. Or so I thought. At 4:58 I awakened when Matt knocked on my door. He opened the door and said, “You still asleep? We gotta go brother!”
I cannot repeat the expletives I uttered, but my eyes opened wide and I put it in high gear. Four minutes later, I was in the jeep with Matt and his dogs Missy and King (aka The King of Cali), and off we went. With an hour’s drive ahead, I poured some coffee to wake up, still in a daze with my heart racing from oversleeping, knowing I had cut a good hour and a half off the last day.
As we headed out, the sun rose behind a peak at the far southeast section of the ranch. With highs in the mid 90s, the hog spotting window was short. They would head for the hills to bed down for the day around 9 AM.
I needed to get within 150 yards to make that one clean kill shot. Using any cover we could find, including the jeep and a fallen tree limb, we made it under the shade of a large tree within 100 yards of the beast. Matt set up shooting sticks and I got my rest. From here, if a shot presented itself, I knew I could put the bullet where it needed to go. While waiting for a clean shot, the smaller boar rushed over to fight the bigger one. Instead of standing his ground, the bigger boar ran into a ditch and simply disappeared. I immediately felt totally defeated.
Suddenly, that huge beast reappeared heading right for us. Ninety yards. Eighty yards. Seventy yards. He stopped to to eat. Still on my rest, ready to shoot, he simply wouldn’t present a decent shot. Deep breaths in and out, I knew I had to stay calm, remain focused and do my part.
All Matthew kept saying was, “do not look at his teeth!” I knew what that meant…they were white and huge! As the boar remained facing us, Matt took two small slow steps to my left and gestured a little movement. I mounted that Thumper solidly on my shoulder and instantly acquired the brain stem of the boar with my Leupold VX-R Firedot reticle. The boar turned his head just enough for a shot to fly. Slow press, clean trigger break and THUMP, as the 450 Thumper does. One shot, one little twitch, and he was dead.
Confused by our early arrival, their eyes locked onto the beast in the jeep, and it was obvious why we were back. With a little smile I calmly said, “We got him.”