Wild Hogs – Scourge or Sport?!
The US Department of Agriculture estimates that there are over 5 million wild hogs in the United States today, and they do over 1.5 billion dollars in damages to agricultural lands annually.
There are populations in nearly three fourths of our states, and this pig population explosion is a problem no matter how you look at it, but it has opened the door for hunters. Hog hunting has become the fastest growing hunting sport in the US over the past few years, and like coyotes, this is due to expanding populations and ranges that mean more opportunity for hunters.
There aren’t many landowners that won’t allow hog hunting if these destructive creatures live on their land. In most states that have hogs, there is no closed season or bag limits, so opportunities abound.
Take for instance a property that I used to hunt every year in south Florida. It was a 5,000 acre working cattle ranch, and the land was split between pasture and forest with a few creeks and ponds scattered throughout. It was Osceola turkey heaven and there were a few wild hogs on the property.
The ranch manager was an avid hog hunter that utilized dogs to help keep the population in check, and the property was simply gorgeous. The pastures looked like golf course fairways, and the woods were pristine.
One year the manager left to work somewhere else, and for the following 9 months, no one hunted hogs. When I showed up for turkey season, I literally thought the pastures had been plowed for planting a crop, but I was soon to find out it was literally hundreds of acres of hog rooting. The woods were the same, and the property was ruined in my eyes. A population of wild hogs did that in less than a year.
There are three main ways that hogs are hunted in the US: over food/bait, spot and stalk, or by use of dogs.
Hogs are very smart animals and become nocturnal quickly if pressured. Where there is a lot of open ground or crop fields that hogs raid, traditional spot and stalking is effective. California has some of the country’s best spot and stalk hogging in the rolling grasslands on some of the state’s large properties. Once hogs are located, stalks are not all that difficult if you keep the wind in your favor and move slowly when the hogs aren’t looking directly at you. They smell and hear well, but their eyesight is not keen, so you can get away with some movement.
Places like Texas rely heavily on feeders or baiting for hog hunting. Stands are set up like for deer, and hogs can become habituated to coming in for a free meal of corn or some other attractant a couple of times a day. As mentioned earlier, they are quite intelligent, and often they wait until after dark to come to food. In many places shooting pigs at night is legal, and I have seen feeder sights equipped with lights on a rheostat that can slowly be turned up without spooking the hogs.
Lastly it is a longstanding tradition in the South to run hogs with dogs. Hunters go out with hounds, find fresh hog sign and release the dogs. Generally the hogs will bay up in thick cover or water, and hunters can move in for a shot. This can be a very intense and fast paced way to hunt, and it can also be very effective for taking hogs in thick cover where they would otherwise never be seen.
Winchester was the first ammunition company to respond to the demand for hog specific ammunition when the launched their Razorback XT line. There are centerfire, shotgun and handgun offerings, so no matter what firearm you prefer, there is a Razorback XT load for you.
The centerfire ammunition features an engineered hollow point with one-piece bullet construction offered in many popular calibers like .223, .30-06 and .308. The Razorback XT shotgun line includes both 00 buckshot as well as a 1 ounce segmented slug that also has an engineered hollow point. I love to hunt hogs with a handgun, and the 225 grain Razorback XT .44 magnum loads are my favorites. The beveled profile compresses the hollow point for delayed expansion and the one-piece bullet construction offers and maximum weight retention and strength, even on the biggest and toughest boars.
More and more hunters are taking to the fields in hopes of taking wild hogs. Whether you are a veteran or new to hogging, get out there and enjoy the expanding opportunities that we have to pursue these destructive yet fun to hunt big game animals. No matter how you choose to hunt hogs or with what weapon, the action can be fast, and with just a little luck you will end up with some delicious pork chops on the grill. Sooie!!!