Hog Hunting Guide: How and Why to Hunt Wild Hogs
- 22 Feb, 2018
If you've ever thought about going hog hunting, here are a few tips and tactics that might help get you started.
Wild hogs are quickly becoming one of the most popular animals to hunt in America. Why? They are tough, generally require only a small fee, and we have massive populations in the south. You can hunt them on private ranches, or try your luck on public land. You can hunt them in the fall, winter, spring or summer. You can hunt them successfully with archery tackle, black powder rifles, high powered rifles, or just about any weapon you can imagine. There is something for everyone in the hog hunting game. If you have been considering going hog hunting, here are a few things to know.
Why to Hunt Wild Hogs - History
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the topic is the history of how hogs came to America. Hogs are not native to the continent, but have done tremendously well since their introduction.
The first hogs are thought to have first been brought to this continent by the conquistador Hernando de Soto. De Soto brought 13 hogs along to supply his troop with food as he raided and pillaged his way across the interior of America. By the time he died, it is estimated his swine sounder (term for a group of hogs) reached over 700. His journey across the interior lasted for three years. All along, De Soto’s hogs wandered off and were lost in the woods. Before long, these once domesticated hogs were well adapted to their new environment. This isn’t uncommon. In fact, within just a few months hogs that have been domesticated will turn feral. They start by growing long hair, tusks, and getting more aggressive. All these traits would help them survive in the wild. As time went on, and more colonists brought European swine, the continent’s herd of wild hogs grew.
Although De Soto and other early colonists laid the foundation for our modern wild hog population, many other people would transport wild hogs for hunting purposes. In fact, in 1912, a breeding population of Eurasian wild boars were brought over from Europe to Hooper Bald, North Carolina. Like previous pigs, many of these boars escaped domestication and were soon running with the wild hogs already in the area. While many more hogs were brought to America, these are the two major events that have shaped our current situation today. By 2013 there was estimated to be over 5 million hogs that had expanded to 45 states.
Today wild hogs are seen as a major problem in many of the states they inhabit. In 2016 the USDA estimated that wild hogs are causing $1.5 billion worth damage each year. Much of this damage is done to agricultural fields, but hogs also harm forests, lawns, and waterways. Some people also warn that hogs could cause disease outbreaks to occur as well. Because hogs are non-native, highly adaptable, and have no natural predators, their populations are ballooning and spiraling out of control. Although you would need to kill 70% of a sounder’s population to level off it’s growth, hunting, or trapping, for management is one of the only options.
How to Hunt Wild Hogs - Tactics
When it come to hunting wild hogs, there are a few main tactics involved.
Ambush: Perhaps the most popular method of hog hunting is to ambush them at food sources or other areas of habit. If you know where hogs are feeding or wallowing, you can create setups to give you the leg up for success. Most hunters use ground blinds, but tree stands could certainly serve the same purpose. When creating your setup, it’s always good to take the prevailing wind direction into consideration. Hogs have excellent hearing and an even better sense of smell. If the wind is wrong, you may blow them out before you even see them.
Spot and Stalk: Another method of hunting hogs that is becoming more popular is the spot and stalk method. As with any game animal, if you are able to spot an animal, there might be the ability to creep closer for a shot. Although this method isn’t as widely practiced as ambushing, it is a good opportunity to hone your stalking skills. As with animals like deer, elk, and antelope, if you make a wrong move on a hog stalk, your chances of success just went out the window. Use this method to put some pork in the freezer or to practice up for your fall big game hunts.
Alternative: With the growing popularity, and growing prices to hunt, there have been a few alternative methods pop up in recent years. One way people are hunting hogs, that is not as uncommon you might think, is hunting them from helicopter. In Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, you can legally hunt swine from helicopters in an effort to better regulate their populations. Although this can cost thousands of dollars, the businesses seem to be doing well. Some even allow the use of machine guns if you are itching to lay down a lot of lead. Depending on your interests, hunting hogs from a helicopter might be a fun way to spend the weekend.
Management: If you are looking not for an enjoyable weekend, but to control a local hog population, you may be better off trapping them. Consensus seems to be forming that trapping hogs is a much more effective management tool. The goal of trapping hogs is to trap an entire sounder in one swoop. Because hogs are extremely intelligent, if you shoot one at a time, or trap a few here and there, you will eventually educate the population. Some designers have created large suspended traps that can remotely drop and catch an entire sounder at once. While these are expensive, they solve the problems most often related to hog trapping.
Whatever your reasons for hunting hogs, you can be assured there will always be targets out there. Despite the best efforts of hunters and trappers, the hog population continues to grow year in and year out. It is one of those hunts that can generally be experienced fairly inexpensively, unless you are looking to go airborne. With all the hogs that are roaming our nation’s woods, it is hard to imagine it all started with 13 off a conquistador’s ship. Happy hunting.NEXT: 7 STEPS TO RELOADING AMMO
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