Deer season has been over for months. The long honey-do list is finally completed. Is all of this time spent away from hunting making you uneasy? If you choose to, you can watch hunting shows and read magazine articles for the next few months to take care of your hunting needs until deer season opens up again. However, a far more exciting option would be to go hog hunting during the off season, when other seasons are closed to get your hunting fix.
Some of the best year-round hog hunting can be found in states like Alabama, California, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Over thirty states have breeding populations of wild hogs. At this rate it is very possible that in ten years almost all states will have established populations of wild hogs.
Many ranchers and farmers will allow hog hunting on their property for little of nothing. I have hunted some prime hog ground in Texas for as little as seventy-five dollars per day. That price often includes lodging. Many of these ranches can be found on the internet.
There is also good public land hunting in most states with no limit to the number of pigs a hunter can kill. Use the internet to search a state’s wildlife agency for more information.
Another option is one of the many outfitters that run a special for wild hogs once the more popular big game hunting seasons are closed. While the ground is still covered with snow in the northern regions of the country you can head to the sunny south to extend your hunting season.
Hogs can be hunted using several different methods. The most popular are spot and stalk hunting and hunting out of a stand or ground blind with or without the use of bait.
Knowing what and where the hogs are eating, whether it is at a timed feeder or at a natural food source such as clover, alfalfa, acorns or grain fields is an effective way to hunt hogs.
Because hogs do not have sweat glands, hanging a tree stand or putting a ground blind near a water source is often productive. When the weather turns off hot, hunters can easily find hogs that are trying to cool off in water and mud.
Another choice location for a stand is where hogs are rooting for insects. A sounder of hogs can upturn acres of ground in one night. They eat grubs and termites out of rotten logs, and eat insects and earthworms from the ground. When a hunter comes across an area that hogs have been rooting there will be no mistaking that hogs are close.
Early morning and late evening are the best times to be on stand. Catch the hogs off guard as they approach their favorite acorn crop or food plot. Sit off a trail that leads to a wallow to intercept a hog that needs to cool off during the heat of the day.
Hunting near timed feeders (where legal) is one of the easiest ways to hunt for feeding hogs. Feeders that are programmed to start dispensing food at certain times of the day are popular amongst both hunters and wild pigs. Hogs quickly learn the schedule of the feeders and will be there when they start scattering food or shortly thereafter.
Mechanical feeders can be quite expensive. Timed feeders are preferred by most hunters, but if you would rather not invest a couple hundred dollars into a feeder there are other options.
Kernels of corn or even corn that is still on the cob can be used as bait. Spread the corn on the ground in open areas that is close enough to cover so you can hunt without the fear of being seen. Hogs do not see well, but do not press your luck. Meadows, logging roads, pastures and near hog trails are all good choices.
Give the hogs time to find the corn. You should pre-bait the area a couple of days before you hunt. At first light on the third day make sure you are in position to intercept the hogs as they are traveling to the bait. I can almost bet the hogs will come by sooner than later.
I have never used commercial hog baits. I know hunters who have and swear by them. Commercial baits are a sweet smelling lure that attracts hogs and are normally combined with corn for best results. As I mentioned, I have never used commercial baits, but I have never heard complaints from hunters who use them religiously.
I recommend hunting the trails leading to the bait. Do not hunt over the bait itself. If you shoot or injure a hog at the bait, other hogs will begin to associate the bait with danger. If this happens, the hogs could stay away for several days. Killing a hog on a trail will not interfere with the hogs wanting to visit the bait.
Archery hunters should stay put after arrowing a hog on a trail. At first the hogs are confused but probably not scared yet. I have seen hogs disperse in different directions when a shot hog begins squealing only to come back down the same trail a few minutes later. Take advantage of hogs that might come back. Eventually the hogs are going to wise-up to the danger.
Just like reading deer sign is important to deer hunters, reading hog sign is important to hog hunting. Especially if you want to attempt a stalk. If you are not in known hog country you could walk for hours without seeing a pig. Knowing where the hogs are eating early and late in the day is as important as knowing where the hogs are hanging out during the rest of the day. Do not scout for hog sign too far in advance. Wait till the day before you hunt before you do any scouting. Hogs move around a lot and could be in one place today and miles away the next. Begin your scouting close to water and dense cover. Hogs can be found anywhere, but that is where they prefer to bed and travel.
The best way to find a hog to attempt a stalk on is either by using your binoculars or driving your vehicle and looking for them in known hang-outs. Do not forget about water. Hogs use it to both drink from and wallow in.
One of the best ways to find where hogs have been and hopefully will be again is old fashioned foot work. Some sure-fire sign that hogs leave behind is obvious. Foot prints left by hogs, mud that they wallow in and damaged trees are hard evidence that hogs have been around recently.
It is easy for a hunter to know when he has found a wallow. Hogs urinate and defecate in their wallows. Your nose will tell you if hogs are using it as a wallow or not.
Look for trees that hogs are rubbing against with their sides and backs and sharpening their tusks on. Hogs often use the same tree over and over again. After time the trees will finally die. A mature boar will leave slash marks higher off the ground than a young hog will. When you find where hogs are destroying the trees, most often cedars and pines, it confirms that hogs are in the area.
Early in the morning check water that has hog sign. If you spot a pig, attempt your stalk from the downwind side before the mercury rises and the hogs search out shade to bed down in.
Clover, alfalfa, grain fields and acorns are a favorite of and often frequented by hogs. In late afternoon glass these areas for feeding hogs. Once you spot feeding hogs attempt a stalk while using the wind to keep from getting busted.
Another tactic hunters can use is to combine bait with stalking. This is by far the most successful way to stalk a hog. Hogs are a noisy bunch when they are eating. Hunters can often hear hogs at a feeder or other pre-baited location long before they see the hogs. Again, from the downwind side, quietly try to stalk within range.
Hogs can be a tough animal to recover once they are shot. Knowing where the vitals lay can increase your odds for a quick recovery. There is an armored like plate that sits over the hog’s shoulders. The purpose of the plate is to protect its vitals from the tusks of other hogs during a fight. Overtime, this shield can get very thick, making it tough to penetrate with a broadhead. A high percentage shot would be to aim in the back third of the hog’s ribs as he is quartering away from you.
A hog will not leave much of a blood trail. The high fat content on a hog causes wounds to quickly close. If your hog does not drop within eye-sight, a dog that has been trained to track wounded animals will often find your hog.
The next time the summer blues set in, or when you are ready to escape the cold go wild hog hunting. Long hunting seasons that are filled with plenty of action at a lot of hogs that will provide good food and a nice looking mount for your trophy room. What more can you ask for?