Most of the wild hogs in North America are descendants of pigs brought over from Europe between the late 1500s and 1800s. Since these pigs are not native to the area, they can be a nuisance to the local habitats and surrounding human occupied properties. In fact, they cause hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of damage each year. It is estimated that there are 5-6 million wild pigs throughout the United States and Canada, with 2.6-3.4 million living in Texas alone. Although 750,000 are hunted in this state every year, Texas hog hunting won’t disappear anytime soon.
Despite the popularity of the activity, the pig population is holding steady. Hunters can typically hunt these tasty creatures year-round, which also provides ranchers who lease their land for hunting purposes with steady revenue. Many ranchers and other property owners manage the pig populations on their land to ensure a stable supply for years to come. To get in on the wild boar hunting scene, consider these tips before planning a trip to your nearest hunting spot.
1. Plan a Hog Hunt on Privately Owned Land
Your best chance for actually snagging a porker for your own is to contact a local land owner who offers inexpensive hog hunts on their property. Usually Texas public lands are overrun with hunters and the pickings are slim. However, private land owners use hog hunts to generate income, so most ensure that their pig population is steady from year to year. This method leaves plenty for hunters to snag if you are willing to pay a small fee to hunt.
2. Prepare Your Hunting Tactics
To hunt effectively, you need to understand your prey. While a hog’s line of sight is nearer to the ground, they are very sensitive to movement, even from far away. When hunting hogs, it is best to stake out a spot with a good view and clear shot, and then stay put until an opportunity presents itself. As the day grows hotter, the hogs will be looking for places to cool down, such as a watering hole or mud hole.
Those will be your best bets for finding a pig on a hot Texas day. As an alternative, you can always try trap hunting for this animal as well. The best time for hog hunting is early in the morning or at the end of the day when the pigs are migrating in packs.
3. Choose Your Weapon Wisely
Although hogs can grow to be as big as 400 pounds at maturity, a deer hunting rifle will work fine with a hog as well. Some hunters mistakenly use bigger guns or higher power ammo, but it’s unnecessary and can actually ruin the meat you are trying to salvage.
The best weapons against a full-grown hog are any .270 rifle, any .30-06 rifle, any 7mm-08 rifle, a .300 Winchester Magnum, or a .243 rifle as the absolute smallest option. Many hog hunters enjoy bow hunting as an alternative to firearms. For this type of hunting, a 50-60 pound bow with a three-bladed broad head is adequate.
4. Aim for Your Target
Full-grown hogs have a thick plated shoulder blade that is difficult to penetrate. The best place to aim for a quick kill shot on a hog is in the head at the base of the ear. The vital organs are tighter and lower on a pig than a deer, so they are harder to aim for when shooting.
If you would like to mount the head, then aim for the vitals. Just be aware that you will need pinpoint accuracy and more time to fire off a few rounds in order to accomplish this kill shot.
5. Tracking Your Shot
If you shoot a pig but don’t immediately take it down, you may be surprised at the lack of blood trail when you go to track it down. Pigs have a thick layer of fat the blood must soak through before dripping on the ground. Furthermore, their thick hair acts as a sponge soaking up a lot of the blood that first seeps through. Oftentimes you won’t spot any blood until 30 to 50 yards out.
Even at that, you will have to look for it on the brush and not the ground. If you know you hit a hog, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see any signs of wounding right away. Keep looking, surveying the land in semicircles, and eventually you will find it.
6. How to Serve Your Swine
Of course, the main reason for hunting wild boars is to hopefully secure a tasty meal or two from it once it’s all said and done. The way you prepare the meat can have a huge impact on the quality of your selections, as well as the boar’s age. Hunters find more selection in the type of meat they can get from younger, smaller boars. 190 pounds and below seems to be the where the most choice meat comes from. Sows typically aren’t in as good of shape as the male boars because they will have up to two litters a year and will be nursing younglings for a majority of that time.
Larger boars carry a lot of their testosterone in the genitals, so it’s important to carve these all out in one piece as to not affect the meat. You can find some pork chops on larger boars, but the rest may need to be used for sausage. You likely won’t find ham or ham steaks on these beasts. However, the meat is far from inedible.
Texas hog hunting is a fun sport for many, and these tips should make your trip even better. No matter if you’re hunting with a gun, bow, or trap, hunting hogs will leave you with a scrumptious spread in the end.
Although the weapons and gear may update with each hunting season, the fundamentals of the hog hunting sport continue to stay true. With ranchers helping keep the pig population alive and well in their respective areas, hopefully this hunting niche will stay thriving for many more years to come.