July 23, 2022
American literature professor and acclaimed author Joseph Campbell once wrote, "The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty ‘yes’ to your adventure." His take on adventure has always been foundational to my relentless, often spontaneous, pursuit of it.
As an ardent hunter, the experiences are what I’m after—and the more, the merrier. I’m a sample-platter kind of guy. That is, if you’re offering, I’m sampling. A recent trip to the newly established Three Curl Outfitters lodge, near Avalon, Texas, revealed a destination offering a wide variety of adventure for those visiting there. And it proved that hog hunting heaven resides in the Lone Star state.
The trip was billed as a chance to field-test Hornady’s new 6mm ARC 103-grain ELD-X ammunition on feral hogs, and Three Curl Outfitters was the proving ground. The Three Curl operation (threecurl.com) was selected because of its stellar reputation for putting clients in front of feral hogs—the nemesis of ranchers and farmers across the state. With over 500,000 acres of property to hunt, the opportunities to lob lead at a pack of pigs are seemingly limitless.
Night hunting is the method of choice for feral hog hunts at Three Curl, offering hunters a unique, lights-out adventure under the stars. It also improves the odds of slipping in close and going undetected. Our two nights afield would prove successful, producing a healthy stack of swine; however, it was our last long stalk that proved most memorable.
On our last night in camp, in the wee hours of morning, our guide, Corey Bradford, spotted a large sounder of hogs rooting up a wheat field about 800 yards away from the "Pig Rig"—the lodge’s specially-equipped Chevy Suburban. Bradford gathered our group and quickly devised a game plan.
Texas had received record rainfall prior to our arrival in camp, transforming the typically dusty landscape into a super-sized mud bog. For expediency and safety, each hunter would follow Bradford in single file as he navigated through the darkness via his thermal imaging binoculars.
Upon stepping foot into the wheat field, we quickly sank up to our ankles. The Texas terra firma was anything but, transformed by the torrential rains and now the consistency of stale chocolate pudding that had been churned with a generous amount of super glue. Needless to say, it was a challenge to remain in our rubber boots and upright in the super slop. After a 20-minute trudge, we’d narrowed the gap and paused to catch our breath before setting up for the carnage. However, the sounder had disappeared over a slight rise and down into a wash surrounded by a heavy thicket, so off we went again.
We slogged another 100 yards, now 900 or so from the truck, finding the sounder once again on the far side of the wash and heading up the opposite embankment. We were now just 50 yards from them, but they were skittish, likely from the noise of our small detail pushing through the field edge’s impossibly tall grass and unruly briars.
As quietly as we could, we set up our tripod gun rests, powered on our thermal sights and set our crosshairs on the pigs in the brush. I chose a sow on the left, another hunter settled on one in the middle and a third rested his reticle on the ear of one to our right.
Bradford slipped behind us, tapping each of us on the shoulder, and whispering, "Ready?" Each of us countered, "Ready." Bradford then made the count. "Three, two, one."
At one, we each triggered our weapons, initiating a one-sided fire fight. The semi-autos barked, each shooter crumbling one hog then moving to the next candidate target.
When the proverbial "dust" (of which there was absolutely none) settled, we’d leveled most of the hogs in the pack, with a few stragglers ambling off into deeper cover. It was now pushing 3 a.m. and none of us were interested in another protracted slog through that mud, so we called it a night. A great night, indeed. The Hornady ammo, with its light recoil, had proven incredibly effective on feral hogs.
With more than 500,000 combined acres of land to hunt hogs—either on the ground or from above in a helicopter— options abound to satisfy any hog hunting enthusiast. Numerous properties accommodate still-hunters equipped with either rifle or bow, day or night, as well as those who prefer to sit in a stand or blind.
If you haven’t tried it, nighttime hunting provides for an altogether different and incredibly exciting adventure. As we experienced, the post-sunset spot-and-stalk hunt over open crop fields with semi-automatic AR-platform rifles and thermal riflescopes is a favorite among Three Curl’s clients. A word to the wise if you plan to do a night hunt: Bring along plenty of energy drinks to stay awake and sharp into the wee hours.
Predator hunting is also available at Three Curl. Hunters often harvest predators while hog hunting; however, if you’d rather hunt predators exclusively, Three Curl can put you on them. Coyotes, bobcats, foxes and even cougars call rural Texas home. Hunting with Three Curl’s Pulsar thermal imagers means nothing can hide, day or night.
Three Curl Outfitters also offers world-class waterfowling opportunities and some of the best dove hunting in Texas, as well as quail and turkey hunting. Full hunting club and hunting lease options are also available and can include season-long, all-inclusive hunting adventures.
BEYOND THE HUNTING
In between hunts there is plenty to do at Three Curl Outfitters. Directly behind the lodge, guests enjoy clay target shooting via an automated thrower.
To the side of the lodge and stretching out over an expanse of open terrain lies a full shooting range, with handgunning targets, 50- and 100-yard sight-in lanes and additional targets out to 500 yards. This is the perfect place for plinking or preparing for an upcoming hunt.
Behind the shooting tables, guests can enjoy covered, close-range knife and tomahawk throwing, an activity ripe for friendly competition. On the other side of the covered area lies an additional tomahawk throwing area that allows throwers to put some respectable distance between themselves and the targets. On top of all this, and in true Texas fashion, there is some very good bass fishing available on the lodge property.
Simply put, Three Curl Outfitters is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground, and one to consider when planning your next hunting adventure.
WHILE YOU’RE THERE
Things to see and do in the area.
With the Three Curl Outfitters lodge nestled in the heart of Ellis County, about an hour south of Dallas, the surrounding area offers plenty of attractions. Texas is famous for its county courthouses, and the one in Waxahachie is well worth visiting. Across the street from the courthouse is a building erected in 1889 that now houses the Ellis County Museum and a treasure trove of Texas history.
The Waxahachie Creek Hike and Bike Trail offers four miles of creekside and wooded trails steeped in Texas’ natural beauty. Also close to the lodge, along Highway 287, the Texas Motorplex racetrack welcomes drag racing fans. Scores of drag racing records have been set on the concrete track.
For springtime visitors, Texas’s famed bluebonnets bloom in March and stick around through April. Not only is that a great time to hunt hogs, it’s also a perfect time to visit the town of Ennis, known as the Bluebonnet City of Texas and home to the Bluebonnet Trail, which comprises 40 miles of mapped bluebonnet fields.