Pork on the Ta­ble

Tips for tak­ing down wild hogs

Modern Pioneer - - Contents - By Thomas C. Ta­bor

Tips for tak­ing down wild hogs

To­day, hunt­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties sel­dom in­crease, but there is one ex­cep­tion. Feral-hog pop­u­la­tions are in­creas­ing nearly na­tion­wide, and that has opened many new and ex­cit­ing hunt­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. Wild pigs have mul­ti­plied so much, in fact, that some ar­eas now con­sider them sec­ond only to white-tailed deer in hunt­ing pop­u­lar­ity. Since pigs are of­ten con­sid­ered an in­va­sive species, hunt­ing re­stric­tions are few.

Even though feral hogs have be­come plen­ti­ful, that fact doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily equate to an easy hunt. Pigs are tremen­dously in­tel­li­gent, cun­ning and crafty by nature, and if you’re go­ing to hunt them suc­cess­fully, you should thor­oughly un­der­stand their habits and have a few tricks up your sleeve. Hav­ing hunted hogs around the U.S. and in sev­eral other coun­tries, I’ve de­vel­oped a few tips that might help you put wild pork on your din­ner ta­ble.

Look to the Wa­ter

Pigs are nat­u­rally drawn to wet and marshy ar­eas for two rea­sons. First, they don’t pos­sess sweat glands, so they of­ten seek relief from mid­day heat in moist, shaded ar­eas. Sec­ondly, wal­low­ing in mud re­lieves them of pests—lice, ticks and blowflies—that fre­quently plague them.

Be­ing om­ni­vores, pigs can find a source of food al­most any­where; thus, wa­ter may hold even more im­por­tance in a pig’s life than food. With a diet con­sist­ing of var­i­ous nuts, roots, weeds, grasses, berries, tu­bers, in­sects, car­rion, bird nests, rep­tiles and even dis­carded refuse, find­ing food is rarely dif­fi­cult for most wild swine. Con­se­quently, some­times less em­pha­sis should be placed on food and more on wa­ter. Look for rubs, scat, tracks and signs of wal­low­ing as in­di­ca­tors of the an­i­mal’s pres­ence and move­ments, which al­lows you to dis­cover prospec­tive am­bush sites.

Other Pig In­di­ca­tors

Pigs are ex­ca­va­tors by nature, tear­ing up the ground while look­ing for roots, tu­bers and in­sects. They’re so de­struc­tive that a sounder of 20-30 pigs can de­stroy as many as 10 acres of agri­cul­tural ground within a week. Watch­ing for signs of ground dis­tur­bance is para­mount for a pig hunter.

Less ob­vi­ous in­di­ca­tors of pig ac­tiv­ity can be rub­bing ar­eas on logs, trees, fence posts or large rocks. As a way of sat­is­fy­ing an itch or rid­ding them­selves of in­sects and other pests, hogs fre­quently rub against what­ever they can find.

As un­be­liev­able as it might sound, pigs even scratch their itches on tele­phone poles. Pigs

seem to rec­og­nize that the cre­osote re­pels bugs and other pests, and they cap­i­tal­ize on that when­ever pos­si­ble. I even read one ac­count where a hunter cut up an old tele­phone pole into short lengths, then placed them in his hunt­ing area as at­trac­tants. Re­port­edly, that worked very well to draw in pigs. I haven’t tried this tech­nique, but I’ve of­ten thought that chunks of cre­osote-coated rail­road ties would likely work equally well. If you try this tech­nique, how­ever, it would be wise to make sure that us­ing such at­trac­tants isn’t pro­hib­ited.

Look for Tracks Large or Small

Like most moth­ers, sows have a par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult time keep­ing their young­sters in line. Not yet ed­u­cated to the rules of sur­vival, piglets tend to wan­der aim­lessly, leav­ing many tracks in their

wake. So, even tracks that ap­pear small could lead you to larger hogs in the fam­ily group.

Fur­ther ben­e­fit­ing hunters, nurs­ing some­times de­pletes the mother pig’s cal­cium lev­els, which can en­cour­age longer hours of for­ag­ing, in­clud­ing dur­ing day­light hours.


In many ar­eas of the coun­try, bait­ing for hogs is per­fectly le­gal. In those ar­eas, com­mer­cial baits are of­ten sold. Var­i­ous other prod­ucts can also serve as ef­fec­tive bait, in­clud­ing corn. It’s im­por­tant, though, to avoid any prod­ucts that con­tain salt since pigs lack sweat glands.

For the best bait­ing re­sults, first de­ter­mine if there are or re­cently were pigs in the im­me­di­ate area prior to putting down bait. Be­cause pigs have such a di­verse diet, feed alone of­ten isn’t at­trac­tive enough to pull the an­i­mals from great dis­tances, but when fresh pig sign is found, bait­ing of­ten pro­duces re­sults.

K-9 Hunt­ing

Hogs can be ex­tremely dan­ger­ous. Their ra­zor-sharp tusks can lit­er­ally rip a man’s leg wide open, some­times even sev­er­ing the femoral artery, killing un­for­tu­nate vic­tims. They’re no less dan­ger­ous to hunt­ing dogs. Where per­mit­ted, only highly trained dogs should be used.

Hogs are typ­i­cally hunted with a min­i­mum of two dogs. In this case, one dog may be trained to dis­tract the pig while the other moves in and latches on, hold­ing the hog for the hunter to shoot. Un­der these cir­cum­stances, a hunter must be ex­tremely care­ful to place the shot ac­cu­rately, avoid­ing ac­ci­den­tally wound­ing one of the dogs fran­ti­cally mov­ing about.

Avoid Scent and Noise

While a hog’s eye­sight is ex­tremely poor, its senses of smell and hear­ing are very acute. Con­sider us­ing all of the same scent-de­stroy­ing meth­ods you do while deer hunt­ing, and never for­get about your boots. Sim­ply walk­ing into an area can leave be­hind scent traces pun­gent to a hog’s nose.

Just like deer hunt­ing, whether still-hunt­ing or hid­ing in am­bush, you must be ex­tremely cog­nizant of both your noise and the wind di­rec­tion. To mon­i­tor the wind di­rec­tion, a bot­tle of in­di­ca­tor pow­der (of­fered by sev­eral scen­te­lim­i­na­tion man­u­fac­tur­ers) can be very use­ful.

Hunt­ing by Night

Feral hogs are noc­tur­nal by nature, and this some­times makes night hunt­ing con­sid­er­ably

more pro­duc­tive. Not all ar­eas per­mit hunt­ing at night, but where it is per­mis­si­ble, it can be a fun way to sub­stan­tially in­crease your odds of suc­cess. Some light source is gen­er­ally nec­es­sary. It can be a hand-held de­vice or a light mounted di­rectly on your weapon. A rheo­stat switch, which per­mits the user to grad­u­ally in­crease the light’s in­ten­sity to avoid spook­ing hogs, is ben­e­fi­cial. A red-col­ored lens, which is less dis­rup­tive than white light, can also be used.

“Wild pigs have mul­ti­plied so much … that some ar­eas now con­sider them sec­ond only to white-tailed deer in hunt­ing pop­u­lar­ity.”

Shot Place­ment

A hog’s vi­tals are much far­ther for­ward than on many other game an­i­mals. For that rea­son, it’s best on a broad­side shot for the bul­let to travel through the front shoul­der rather than be­hind it. A shot through the cen­ter of the shoul­der, in most cases, re­sults in a quick, hu­mane kill. While I gen­er­ally don’t rec­om­mend head shots on most game species, it’s a deadly shot on close-range hogs. On a broad­side shot, place the bul­let near the ear canal.

Small Isn’t Nec­es­sar­ily a Bad Thing

Un­like many other game species, tro­phy hunt­ing is of lit­tle im­por­tance when con­sid­er­ing wild hogs. Ev­ery­one has their pref­er­ences, but mine is to tar­get good-tast­ing pork. In this case, pass­ing up an older boar to take home a bet­ter­tast­ing younger hog makes good sense. Wild pork tastes some­what like do­mes­ti­cally raised pork, but in most cases, it has greater mus­cle tone and con­sid­er­ably less fat, mak­ing the meat drier and slightly tougher. Older boars are of­ten stronger and less palat­able.

Go Get ’Em

Hog hunts can be done af­ford­ably and of­ten dur­ing a deer hunter’s off­sea­son. If you’re in­ter­ested in chas­ing hogs, but don’t have con­nec­tions to hog coun­try, re­search out­fit­ters in Texas, Ge­or­gia and Florida. Many other south­ern states also have ex­cel­lent hog num­bers. Be sure to check ref­er­ences so you don’t get burned.

Once you put some pork on the ta­ble, you’ll be hooked for life.

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