Off-Season Wild Hog Hunting Tune-Up – U.S. Department of Agriculture reports reveal there are now established populations of feral hogs in 42 states. Of course Florida, Texas and California have had wild hog populations for as long as Europeans have been kicking around North America, largely escapees from Spanish explorations. Hawaii has harbored descendants of Polynesian hogs for far longer. Wild hogs inflict tens of billons of dollars in property damage annually, making them reviled by ranching and farming interests.
Being public enemy No. 1 with many landowners works out well for perspective hog hunters, as it means access to private lands plagued by marauding hogs is usually easy to secure, or at least easily arranged on the cheap. Even in Texas, where hunting free is rare, productive hog hunts can be arranged for as little as $100-$150 a day.
In the big picture, I enjoy bowhunting wild boars as much as any big game, despite having bagged maybe 100 from across the nation; including Southwest states not normally associated with wild swine. There are typically minimal regulations (save California, of course), generous or no bag limits and year-round opportunities.
Off-Season Wild Hog Hunting Tune-Up
Though I’ve taken hogs as bonus game while chasing more coveted game, I also engage in off-season trips where hogs are the primary target. These spring and summer forays provide a bowhunting fix when big-game seasons are well removed, while also serving to keep shooting and hunting skills sharp—and freezers well stocked.
I long used spring and summer hog-hunting expeditions to field test newly-assembled bow outfits, arrows or broadheads and other accessories. This is a perfect opportunity to see if, say, a particular arrow or broadhead penetrates as advertised, a quiver proves field practical, or even if my boots raise blisters. Better now than on an important deer or elk hunt! Any gear that shines while pursuing tenacious and super-wary wild boars will pass muster on the more traditional big game of fall.
The idea of wild hogs as indestructible, dangerous game has been greatly overblown, mainly in the sporting press whose job is to ratchet up the drama. In reality 90 percent of the hogs bowhunters encounter weigh no more than an average deer (these are also the best eating), meaning the whitetail rig you already own is more than sufficient. That said, there’s nothing wrong with being prepared for the other 10 percent—stocky boars weighing more than 300 pounds and often wearing a thick gristle plate earned through fighting—and perhaps a layer of adobe-like mud added for good measure. This “big-boar” gear also leaves you prepared for any elk hunt.
Off-Season Wild Hog Hunting Tune-Up
I’ve killed plenty of behemoth boars with standard-issue whitetail rigs, including light carbon arrows and aggressive mechanical broadheads (though my every-day outfit includes 70-pound draw weight drawn to 30 inches). Still, when planning hog-specific missions I normally choose heavier shafts and more efficient broadhead styles—just in case one of those big boars abandons his nocturnal tendencies and gives me a shot.
The bow remains the same, it’s the terminal tackle that changes, seeking added penetration and more reliability on targets weighing more than an average deer (an approach I also apply to elk). Hogs aren’t as large as elk, obviously, but an old boar hog is a compact bundle of pure sinew, muscle and tenacity.
While most bowhunters choose lighter carbon arrows for speed, or a middle-ground shaft as a do-it-all projectile, heavier carbon arrows for hogs make a lot of sense. I also gravitate to ultra-thin shafts. Excellent examples include Carbon Express Maxima Red SD, Easton 4mm Deep Six FMJ, Black Eagle Deep Impact, Bloodsport Evidence or Victory Archery VAP TKO or VAP-SS. All weigh from 10 to 11 gpi, for total finished weights around 450-plus grains.
A sturdy fixed-blade or true cut-on-contact broadhead also provides added insurance against a thick gristle shield (however rare) or especially a major bone hit (as proper shot placement on hogs means crowding the shoulder closely). I really like one-piece-milled, three-blade heads like the Afflictor, Muzzy ONE, G5 Montec M3 and SlickTrick SS3. Though there’s certainly nothing wrong with sturdier replaceable-blade heads like the Quality Archery Designs Exodus, New Archery Products Thunderhead Nitro or Trophy Taker Shuttle T-Lok, and especially true cut-on-contacts like Northern Broadheads, KuduPoint or the SIK F4, just to toss out some easy examples. More efficient mechanical designs, like the Rage Hypodermic or Trypan HC, SIK2, SlickTrick Assailant or VIP Combat Veteran, just as examples, work as well with high-energy bow rigs.
Hog hunting is generally pretty straight forward. Still-hunting shady creek bottoms showing plenty of hog sign (blunted hoof prints and/or dog-like droppings) or spot-and-stalk approaches in more open country are as simple as it gets and highly productive under the right circumstances. Slipping in close for a face-to-face encounter with hogs is also as exciting as it gets. Concentrating efforts on agricultural crops, natural foods such as wild plum thickets or any wet, cool place is always time well spent. In Texas we frequently “corn” long sections of private ranch roads or large openings that can be glassed from afar and check them periodically for feeding hogs to stalk.
Bait is always a great approach to hog-hunting success—where legal of course. Shelled corn is difficult to beat, but prepared hog baits like those from Evolved Habitats or Wildgame Innovations can offer farther-reaching attraction when time is limited. The best approach is a feed station established well ahead of time, practically guaranteeing shots at greedy hogs.
Don’t forget water-holes, especially during warm and/or dry periods. Hogs need daily water to survive, are likely to arrive at any time during the day—even under a pounding-hot sun—and often use watering sites to wallow to remove ticks or simply to cool off. Guarding isolated water is nearly always productive—just be sure to spray down with insect repellent to ward off irritating ticks and chiggers. Nexus Outdoors BugBlocker products or BioShield Spray offer excellent protection.
I love bowhunting hogs and I especially enjoy eating them. My frequent hog adventures keep our freezers filled with yummy breakfast and link sausages (check out himtnjerky.com), but more importantly keep me tuned up for highly-anticipated fall big-game seasons via multiple stalks per day and plenty of shooting.
As always read more at insidearchery.com.
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