Texas hog hunting
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Don’t look now, but the country is under attack. The enemy swine have established a beachhead and are advancing across the country. Note that I am using “swine” as a noun and not an adjective. Swine, hog, pig, and wild boar are synonyms for the same animal, and it really doesn’t matter what label you use. Wild hog numbers can be counted into the millions, and the cost of property damage and control efforts have reached into the billions of dollars. There is no easy fix.

Unless we do something to stem this invasion, the “Three Little Pigs” will go from a children’s story to a nightmare. If you are starting to wonder what you can do to defend your homestead, I have the answer. Take up arms, learn to hunt, and join the battle. This one article won’t transform you into Daniel Boone, but it will get you started.

My first battlefield experience came about seven years ago. I was hunting the outback of Australia and I could truly be considered a raw recruit. I managed to take a couple of hogs, but I really didn’t advance in the ranks. However, for the past two years I have made a yearly hunting trip to the Circle WC Ranch in Texas. Bill Wilson of Wilson Combat owns the ranch and I consider it the boot camp of hog hunting. Bill has taken hundreds of hogs, and in this time of war, he would be my Captain. What I pass on here, I have learned from Bill.

KNOW YOUR ENEMY

First, take a tactical approach and study your enemy. Let a hog even get a whiff of you and it will be gone in a heartbeat. Its sense of smell is superb. Its eyesight is poor in comparison, which makes stalking a viable form of hunting as long as you keep tabs on wind direction. Size and intelligence are other factors to take into account. That cute little piglet will go from a few pounds to 50 rather quickly and keep growing. A full-grown hog will be between 100 to 200 pounds with many reaching an even higher weight.

Besides the brawn, they also have brains. Most scientific studies rate the hog in the top five animals for intelligence, even above your pet dog.

Before I forget, let me mention one more trait of the hog. They’re mean! As I mentioned, they like to eat and soon learn to push their way around to get the best meals. They are smart enough to consider you a danger, and if they can’t avoid you, they will try to go through you. Now that you have an idea of the enemy you’re facing, it is time to plan your strategy.

SCOUTING STRATEGIES

Too many people have a lopsided view of hunting. They think all a hunter has to do is walk out in the woods and shoot the prey. There is a lot more to it than that. Finding hogs and getting a good shot isn’t as easy as it sounds. However, if they are on your property, you will soon see signs of their presence.

Everyone knows to look for tracks, but also look for wallows and signs of rooting. Hogs are normally active at night, sometimes into the early morning and often emerge late evening. During the day they try to stay in thick cover, but they will break this cover in the evening to travel back and forth to a food source.

Rooting for roots and grubs while they travel, they leave evidence on their trails. Pigs can’t sweat and have a habit of wallowing in mud to cool off. These wallows at the edge of a water source are also a dead giveaway. Wallows could be good places to set up a a ground or elevated ambush.

Once you locate these wallows and trails, you can follow the path to their main food source. The bad part is, it is probably in your garden or field crops. Find their favored hunting grounds and you will have three choices on how to take them. Some people use trained dogs to chase and capture/kill hogs. I’ll pass on this method since it requires well-trained dogs and also just isn’t my style of hunting. From that point, you can either stalk or ambush them during their normal travel times. Both of these methods have worked well for me, and while stalking is more interesting, the basic ambush—from the ground or a treestand—has proven to be much more productive.

STALKING

As I learned the hard way, stalking has a learning curve. You want to spot a hog at a distance and then try to sneak within range for a shot. Make sure you are advancing from down wind or that excellent nose is going to pick up your scent. Move slowly and be prepared to take your time. Most hogs will travel in a group, and that means there are several noses and several sets of eyes, all looking for danger. If you can work your way into range for a shot, wait. Prepare, but wait until the hog moves into a position that gives you the best shot at its vitals.

HIGHER LEARNING

The most productive method to hunt hogs from is a blind or elevated stand. Find an active area of feeding and erect your stand during the day. Keep the wind in mind, and then wait for your game to come to you. You can also increase your chances by adding to their food supply, using baits such as corn to attract them. This is the one time when their nose will get them in trouble. The smell of corn or other baits will soon pull the hogs into range. Unfortunately, a lot of times this will be after dark.

ARM YOURSELF

Everyone has his favorite firearms and few want to admit that “Old Betsy” isn’t up to the task. Others will tout their ability to hunt with nothing more than a .22LR. “Boy, just shoot them in the ear and they’ll go down!” To the first group I say, “Rejoice, this article may be your excuse to go out and purchase a new rifle.”

To the second group, I say, “If you can make a shot in the field on a target that’s only an inch or two in size, and is constantly moving, more power to you. But, more times than not, you will only wound an animal, not kill it.” No matter what game you are hunting, you owe it the quickest and most humane death possible.

On a hog there are two shots I recommend. The first is through the portion of the chest that contains the heart and lungs. The second is a shot mid-neck where you would hit the spinal cord. Look up the anatomy of a hog and learn where these targets are located. Both shots are going to require a cartridge big enough to give adequate penetration and a bullet designed to hold together long enough to reach these organs. One aspect of a boar is that as it grows, it develops a shield of fat and gristle around the area of the shoulder.

RIFLE POTENCY

It takes some power to penetrate this shield for a clean and humane kill. Bill recommends nothing smaller than a .308 Winchester in a bolt gun and I agree with him. A lever action in .30-30 or larger would suffice if you choose the proper bullet. My personal choice is the AR-platform rifle chambered in Wilson’s 7.62x40WT.

ARs in calibers such as the 6.8 SPC, 6.5 Grendel, and 7.62x40WT are rapidly becoming the new wave of hunting arms and have proven themselves capable in the field. Equipped with a 16-inch barrel and topped with the Leupold VXR Patrol Scope, the AR is easy to carry and quick to point. The Leupold scope has never failed to give me a good sight picture, even during the last moments of daylight.

RANCH READY

My first day at the ranch, Bill pointed out what he thought to be the perfect shot. “Wait for the hog to quarter towards you and place the shot mid-chest. This avoids the thickest part of the shoulder and gives a straight path to the heart and lungs,” he advised. That same day, a 240-pound boar gave me the chance to try out Bill’s advice with happy results. The boar never took another step.

During my trips to the ranch I’ve managed eight hogs, all with the same results. Six have been with the 7.62x40WT and one with the .25/223 wildcat. The last one was with Bill’s newest product, an AR chambered in .458 SOCOM. There are two main things to remember when you choose your hog gun. Pick a rifle with enough power and practice enough to make shots count. Also, don’t hesitate to pass on a shot. If the hog doesn’t give you a good shot, let it go. You will have another chance and it is better than wounding a trophy that you can’t recover.

MEAT ON THE GROUND

You got a shot and the hog is down, now what do you do? It’s simple, prepare for some good eating! Even the most timid of my neighbors have learned not to hesitate when asking for a pound or two of sausage. Most deer hunters have learned how to butcher their game, and a hog is rather similar. If you have never had the experience, get advice from a neighbor. Better yet, take him hunting with you.

You also have the option of taking the hog to a professional processor, where the meat will be cared for and packaged like it was store bought. Nearly every rural area will have one located nearby. It is worth the cost for the meat, and if they let you watch, the knowledge gained is invaluable.

STUDY GAME LAWS

My last piece of advice may be the most important. Study your local wildlife laws. States are just learning how to handle these new invaders and the laws vary from state to state. The laws may affect when and how you hunt, along with the firearms you are allowed to use. Here in North Carolina, the problem has gotten bad enough that wild boar have been downgraded to the same status as the coyote. That gives us a year round hunting season. For more information, visit wilsoncombat.com.

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