By Dave Dolbee
Hogs are quickly becoming a top game animal for hunters, and why wouldn’t they? Hogs are cheap to hunt, very prolific and extremely destructive to the local habitat. A single sow can have 15 to 20 piglets in a litter and up to three litters per year. Even if we went with lower numbers, a sow can easily produce 30-plus piglets a year with a 50 percent survivability to maturity. Conservatively, that would mean a 15-fold increase per sow, per year. That equates to exponential growth and destruction.
In the United States, particularly throughout the south, the population has exploded—no surprise there. Each hog can uproot an entire acre of vegetation per day, so a heard of 15 would be significant; a herd of 200+ is down right devastating. This has the attention of ranchers, farmers, wildlife biologists, state game officials and most of all, hunters.
Local laws vary, so be sure to check with your local game and fish department, but most areas consider hogs a varmint and want them dead. This means little regulation in regard to seasons, limits, fees or methods of take. Best of all, you are hunting pork. It is friendly to families with a spouse or kids that are shy of game meat, or think the animal was too cute for table fare.
The cost of entry is great for experienced sportsmen looking for off-season opportunities and a great first hunt. For little to no cost, you can take a new hunter on a hog hunt. If you do not know where to find hogs, call your state game agency. I am sure a local biologist will be able to point you in the right direction. Alternatively, there are several exotic hunting operations that focus on hogs.
These ranches boast high success rates. Some restrict opportunities to spot-and-stalk while others have bait sites or chase hogs with dogs. A few even offer opportunities to hunt hogs from a helicopter! Hunting behind dogs is an experience, but not one that I would recommend for first time hunters. The action is fast, and the hunter has to know his or her place before the dogs the get on the pig. This does not lend itself to neophyte (newbie) in my opinion—but that is just my opinion.
If you choose to plan your own hunt, there are a few necessities you may want to check out. You’ll need a good set of boots. Depending on your area and time of the year, your boots will need to be waterproof. I am not a fan of snakes, so I take that into account when selecting footwear as well. If you are hunting behind dogs, you’ll certainly need something sufficient to run across uneven ground.
Hogs have excellent eyesight so a quality camo is a must. Unlike many mammals, hogs can see color. Be sure to take that into consideration as well when selecting your camo pattern in relation to the local vegetation. The nose of a whitetail deer is the stuff of legend, but deer have nothing on a hog. Pigs can smell a single acorn under a foot of dirt. Unless you regularly wear more than 12 inches of dirt, a good scent control program will up your odds for success.
Depending on the terrain you will be hunting, good optics are an absolute must. The wide-open foothills of California allow for glassing at a distance. While the thick vegetation in the south provide the cover pigs love. They are smart too. A hog will hole-up and let you walk right by—or bust out of the brush and ruin your day with razor-sharp tusks. You’ll want to find a bad tempered boar before he finds you.
In many areas you can also up your odds with a little bit of legwork ahead of time. There are dozens of supplements and attractants specifically for hogs. A new attractant I have recently received positive reviews about is Hog Trap from In Sights Nutrition.
Hog Trap was designed to draw hogs in close and help hunters put a real dent in this destructive population. Hog Trap is a super sweet treat hogs can’t resist. You can’t drop it and hide behind the nearest tree like a cartoon character, but with a little bit of work and perhaps a trail camera, you can train the local hogs to show up and determine when they will arrive. If legal, plan your hunt around a strategy and enjoy the success or watch your new hunter enjoy their first success.
For more information regarding In Sights Hog Trap: In Sights Nutrition, LLC, Box 310, Lometa, TX 76853