Wild Boar Running

Off-Season Hog Hunting

I strode down the palmetto-lined Jeep trail with the warm sun on my back, a good bow in my hand, and wild hogs on my mind. For a Minnesota boy like me, it feels good to be outside in a camo T-shirt in February, soaking up the Florida sun and on a hunt.

The plan was to slip into an evening treestand spot where the wild pigs come to feed towards sundown. But I never made it. As I rounded the trail’s bend at the entrance of a clearcut, I spotted movement. Pigs. I jumped back into the palmettos, pulled my binoculars from under my shirt, took a long look and started a plan.

Two young boars — good eating size, just what I was after — were grazing on something in the meadow, working their way toward a bulldozed woodpile in the center. I waited until they disappeared behind a pile of stumps and trotted quickly, but quietly over to the far end where I hoped the wind was in my favor and I hoped they would emerge. I knelt behind cover breathing hard from my scamper and the excitement of taking a wild boar with my bow.

Broadside At 25 Yards
Suspense-filled minutes passed and suddenly he was there. The calico one was broadside at 25 yards. I leaned back into the shadow, slowly drew my bow and leaned back to take aim. The sight pin rested on his elbow and I sent my arrow away. It smacked home, the pig squealed and dashed in a semi-circle around me and toppled just a stone’s throw away. I pulled a piece of rope from my pack. I tied his feet together, slung him across my back and then headed for camp to hang up tomorrow’s barbecue.

The author with a good-eatin’ size Florida boar.

It is hard to beat a late-winter trip to hunt hogs in the deep South where bag limits are generous, seasons are long and the pigs are plentiful. If you are interested in the trip, here are some tips.

Where To Find ‘Em
For wild pigs, the best hunting opportunities tend to be in Florida and Texas. There are excellent prospects as well in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana, and California. In most states, a boar is considered wild because they destroy the habitat and agriculture, and there are no bag limits, license fees, or closed season. You may be required to buy a small game license. Some states also have different regulations for private and public land. In Texas, most opportunities for hunting wild boar are on private ranches. These ranches offer hunts starting at around $300 for a three-day hunt.

How To Hunt ‘Em
The most popula hunting method is treestand hunting over bait, but may also include spot and stalk or hound hunting. A unique method of hunting wild boar that is catching on very fast is bowhunting in the moonlight on the ground. Wild boars are much more active in the middle of the night than they are in the daytime, and they tend to be not just more active, but more bold. Some hunters use lighted sight pins and spot and stalk methods in the brighter moonlit nights to sneak up on pigs. If supplemental lighting is needed, you can epoxy a flashlight to a bolt that will fit your stabilizer hole and gain the advantage that way (All these methods are illegal for most game animals. However, most states allow them for pigs. Check the regulations!)

Wild boars usually are most active around sunup and sundown. Take a stand, or be near your spot and start still-hunting a couple of hours before sundown.

Bowhunting Equipment
Any good deer hunting compound bow setup from around 40 pounds and up will work fine for most pig hunting. However, one consideration is that the bigger sows are tough, and bigger boars especially develop the notorious cartilage shield that protects their vital zone behind their front legs. For that reason, use the toughest broadheads and avoid mechanicals. If you are shooting a lower-poundage setup, I would recommend using a two-blade traditional-style broadhead, honed razor sharp as always.

Taking The Shot
Bowhunting experts agree that wild pigs are among the most difficult animals to kill, partly because of their legendary toughness and partly because of the size and location of their vital zone. Pigs must be shot very low and very far forward, more so than you would shoot at a deer or antelope. A shot, even at mid-body right behind the leg, is too high and will often result in a lost animal. Aim very low and on the meaty part of the shoulder muscle, just above the elbow.

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One Response to “Off-Season Hog Hunting”

  1. Win Gates

    I have trapped and killed more than 30 hogs over the past three years in Conway County, Arkansas. The biggest was a 252 lbs boar that I called in with a grunt call and some sow in heat scent. The rest have all been captured in my homemade heart-shaped pig trap, using cattle panels, t-posts, and barbed wire.
    Unfortunately, the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission has banned hog hunting on public land outside of deer season in the fall months. It seems some less-than reputable hunters were killing other animals under the guise of hog hunting. It is really too bad, because most of the feral hogs are on public lands. There are a number of public hunting areas that the hogs have completely run off the deer, and they are now whitetail deserts! Luckily, year-round hog hunting on private land is still permitted.
    I understand the thrill of hunting hogs with archery or black powder, or even with dogs. But they truly are a nuisance animal and very destructive. On our family farm, the goal is eradication, and the best way to do that is trapping, and/or shooting with a rifle. For me, it’s not about the thrill. It’s about preserving the habitat for native animals, and protecting the farm.