For over six years, Jim West of Butte County had the right to proudly boast a shot that landed him atop the state record book in wild boar hunting.
Thanks to a local hunter, Mr. West will have to step aside.
Oakdale resident Joe Orth gunned down a 733.51-pound hog earlier this year with a single shot from 215 yards out, instantly etching his name in California lore with the biggest kill ever recorded in the ‘Free Range Wild Boar Weight Class.’ The hog outweighed West’s trophy boar by over 100 pounds and is the third-largest free range hog ever killed anywhere in the world according to the Weiser Weight and Tusk Trophy Wild Boar Record Book (wwtworldrecords.com).
It was a terrific shot on a mammoth hog that was crossing a hill on private ranch land between Cloverdale and Fort Bragg, and though Orth was traveling with Escalon’s Steve Bishop and the Linden-based Rhino’s Guide Service, he owes the record kill to none other than his new bride, Cathy Orth.
“She bought me the hog hunt for my 50th birthday, so it would have never happened without her,” Orth said with a beaming grin on Friday inside his Oakdale home. “The trip turned out to be something really special.”
Orth said rains hammered the first two days of the trip, but didn’t keep Bishop from tagging a large sow. The skies cleared on the third day, so the father-son guide team of Kerry and Cody Griffith split up to scout the expansive land for signs of hog.
Orth and Bishop traveled with the elder Griffith, and spotted three hogs crossing a hill when the three emerged from a grove of trees.
“I said ‘I think the hog in front is the biggest of the three’, and they felt the same way,” Orth said. “It turned out it was bigger than we ever imagined.”
Orth quickly pulled up his range finder to discover the hog was only 215 yards from their downhill location. He extended his .270 Winchester Short Magnum rifle and struck the animal just behind the shoulder for a perfect kill.
“I knew from around 200 yards the gun fires straight and I didn’t have to worry about the wind,” Orth said.
When the three approached the kill, Kerry Griffith immediately informed Orth the hog was going to be a special hunt. The three posed for a couple of quick photos and had the hog carried by quad and truck to be officially weighed. The scale proved Orth’s boar was a state record and one of the best ever recorded by any hunter.
Around 200 pounds of the beast was converted to bratwursts and meat patties, but the shoulders and head of the boar are currently being worked on by Oakdale taxidermist Robert Bradley, who owns a shop in Ceres. The mount will add to Orth’s already spectacular array of bull elk, antelope and even the fabled ‘jackalope.’