20 years ago wildlife authorities were practically begging people to go hunt deer. The same can be said today but instead of deer, they are begging us to hunt wild hogs. These hogs (also known as feral pigs) are quickly becoming a nuisance and their population boom is becoming quite an issue in most of the United States. Wild hogs are prevalent in 39 of the lower 48 states. So much so that, in 48 of the 50 states there are little or no regulations on hog hunting. That means there is no limit, no season, and no restrictions. You can kill as many as you want as often as you want. No bag limit!
That being said there are various ways to hunt wild hogs. Different techniques vary from region to region. No matter what technique you employ, always remember, wild hogs can be very aggressive, therefore some of these techniques are borderline dangerous. Always take into account the risk involved before you attempt to bag a wild hog or feral pig.
The first technique we will cover is called “Walking them down” or “Jump shooting.” We also call it “Stalking” and it is the technique that is most often used when one is a novice hog hunter. It is also used most often when one is alone. This technique is often used in rough terrain where you have to cover areas of rolling hills, similar to California hunting. This technique involves looking for physical signs on the grounds where hogs may have been. This may or may not include the ground being rooted up, rub marks on trees, marshy areas where hogs have wallowed to cool off, shady areas where they may have escaped the hot sun, or even seeing hog droppings on the ground. Once you spot your hog the “stalk” begins. Sneak up as silently as possible. Make sure you have a position that guarantees a clean kill, and take your shot. Of course, as you would any downed animal, make sure you approach it cautiously and carefully. Keep a round in the chamber and the safety off, approach the animal from behind and with either the muzzle of your rifle or another pointy, long object, poke the beast in the eye to ensure it is dead before you begin to field dress your kill. Jump shooting is also where one accidentally stumbles upon a hog or group of hogs and you take your shot. Surprise!
The next technique we will cover is Stand/Blind/Tree Stand Hunting. This method of hunting is geared more toward the hunter who is somewhat familiar with his hunting area. In this case you would try to set up your tree stand or blind in an area that you know is close to a hog trail or gathering place. Most often theses areas have been “baited ” weeks in advance to “train” the hogs that there will be some treat there for them, whether it be corn, grain, or some other bait that will bring them to you. Once they learn there will be something there for them, all you need to do is sit and wait, eventually they will come to you and the shot is yours to take. It is said that Hogs can smell corn over a mile away, whether that is true or not remains to be seen but it is certain that corn is a major attractant for hogs. Some other bait may include grain, berries, acorn or even strawberries!
Drive Hunting is another technique used to hunt wild hogs. This method calls for a minimum of 8 or 10 hunters. In this technique you set all but 2 of the group around a small group of cypress trees, also called “heads.” These trees grow in low lying marshy, damp areas where the hogs gather to cool off. You then send in 2 or 3 of your hunters into the “head” to flush out any hogs relaxing in there. The hunters surrounding the head then are able to take the shot once the hogs flee into the open area. This is a popular method in Florida.
One of the most popular methods or techniques of hog hunting is hunting with dogs. There are 2 types of hunting dogs used in hog hunting- “bay” dogs and “catch” dogs. While neither type is breed specific, they both have an important job to do. The first dog, the “bay” dog, picks up the scent of the hog and then runs the hog until he is either surrounded or cornered. From there the “catch” dog takes over. His job is to either subdue the hog or at least keep the hog’s attention trained on himself so that the hunter can safely go for the clean kill. This method is often used at night when other methods of hog hunting would be impossible.
With the explosion of technology in society, we see that represented even in hog hunting. Our final method we will be covering is the use of Trail Cams. These are special types of digital cameras that the hunter attaches to a tree or post in his hunting area. These cameras are motion activated so when you train them on a baited area or a known hog trail, they’ll capture the time and date of hog activity. This is invaluable information when setting up a blind or tree stand.
No matter what method you employ, hog hunting is an exciting foray into the world of hunting. And as always, remember to use adequate weaponry and appropriate safety attire. Stay away from pellet guns or rim fire cartridges as they would be totally inadequate against a wild hog. Have fun and happy hunting!