The Guide to Hog Hunting in Texas
There are few states that can compare to the experience of hog hunting in Texas. It is known that feral pigs roam the south, but few are aware that approximately half of the estimated 6 million hogs in the United States are located in Texas. This surplus of wild hogs has lead to an estimated $400 million in damages per year for the Lone Star State alone. These statistics show how detrimental hogs are to the state; but where there are struggles, there are always opportunities.
As shown in the above graph, the hog populations in Texas tower all other states. This graph on population size estimates of invasive wild pigs was taken from the USDA.
Best Areas for Hog Hunting in Texas
Wild hogs are abundant across the entire state of Texas, namely 253 out of 254 counties have documented wild hogs. That being said, there are certain parts of Texas that have higher hog population densities than others. The West and North regions of Texas have lower hog populations, while the South, Central, and Eastern regions of Texas have much higher wild hog populations.
Hogs prefer areas with water, so it is not entirely surprising the driest parts of Texas have the least amount of hogs while the areas with more rainfall have higher hog populations. Hogs are more abundant near rivers and streams than dry land. Combine these rivers and stream with a nearby farm full of crops, and it is easy to why hog hunting in Texas has taken off. Texas has the ideal habitat for wild hogs, which is one of many reasons it has the highest population of hogs in the United States.
Texas Bounty on Feral Hogs
There are some Texas counties that issue a bounty for feral hogs. Namely, Hays and Caldwell counties offer $2 per tail and the hunter with the most tails is eligible to win up to $1,000 in prizes. The state of Texas has over $100,000 available through the County Feral Hog Grant. There may be more counties issuing a bounty on feral hogs in the near future, but if you're interested in making a little spare change, the bounty associated with hog hunting in Texas can be rewarding. The counties with feral hog bounties are primarily focused in the South, Central, and Eastern portions of Texas.
South Texas Hog Hunting
The areas of hog hunting in South Texas include the cities along the gulf coast, from Houston to Brownsville, and up to San Antonio. The southwest portion of Texas, primarily near Harlingen and Laredo, is home to javelina in addition to traditional feral hogs. South Texas offers the most diverse variety of wild hogs for hunting in comparison to other parts of Texas.
Due to the flat plains found in South Texas, this area of the state is more common for helicopter hog hunting trips. West Texas and North Texas are also common for these trips.
Central Texas Hog Hunting
The areas of hog hunting in Central Texas include Austin, San Saba, San Marcos, and up to Bryan / College Station. Central Texas is known for the rolling hills and terrain, which are not ideal for helicopters but work well for night hunting hogs. Obtaining some good hog hunting lights can make for a great central Texas hog hunting trip.
Many central Texas hog hunters will hunt hogs with dogs, but central Texas is well-known for its deer hunting. Llano claims to be the deer capital of Texas, which is why most hog hunting is done after the sun goes down. The hogs are known to eat left-over corn under the deer feeders. There are many bow hunters in central Texas who enjoy the sport, but you've got to know where to aim with a bow. Hogs are tough creatures, and shot placement is key.
East Texas Hog Hunting
The areas of hog hunting in East Texas include Beaumont, Tyler, Nacogdoches and the neighboring cities. East Texas has a lot of tall pines, which is also difficult for helicopter hunts. The flip side is that the tall pines can make for dark nights. This means hunting hogs at night with bright hog hunting lights that they can't see puts the odds in your favor at harvesting more wild hogs.
Many east Texas hog hunters will hunt hogs with dogs or they will put corn and other bait attractants out to hunt hogs.
Best Time to Hunt Hogs in Texas
The best time to hunt hogs is between November and March. These are the coldest months of the year, which push hogs to be far more active than during the hot summer months. This time frame is ideal when hog hunting in Texas, but if you are considering other states, it is important to be aware of the climate change as the seasons change.
Texas has went a step further in their fight on hogs by doing more than having an unlimited bag limit and open season. A hunting license is no longer required to hunt hogs in Texas. Governor Abbott signed Senate Bill 317 into law on May 31, 2019, which allows any landowner, landowner’s agent or lessee to hunt wild hogs without a hunting license.
Texas is Home to Helicopter Hog Hunting
If you're looking to go hog hunting in a helicopter, Texas offers a wide variety of outfitters that are ready to fulfill the task. Hog hunting in Texas from a helicopter is an action-packed experience unlike anything else, and it is a form of community service to help the local farmers and ranchers.
Our family in west Texas has hired trappers as well as helicopter hog hunters to get rid of hogs and coyotes. Our family raises sheep and has farm land located along the Concho River. Although west Texas has lower hog populations than other parts, the proximity to the Concho River has resulted in our family farm being the target of many hogs and other predators.
Cost of Helicopter Hog Hunting Trip
The downside to helicopter hog hunting in Texas is the cost. The average cost of helicopter hog hunts in Texas is $2,500 per person for a 2 hour trip. This cost can fluctuate depending on the size of the helicopter, the number of people going on the trip, whether or not you intend on videoing your hunt, and some places may or may not include room and board with this estimated average price.
Most helicopter hog hunts include a semi-automatic rifle with unlimited ammo, and the weapon of choice is typically an AR-15 (.223).
Types of Helicopters for Hog Hunting
The most common types of helicopter for hog hunting are the R44 Raven and R66 Turbine helicopters. Lower end outfits may offer an option for an R22 at a discounted price while high end outfits may offer a 206 Bell Helicopter at a higher price. The helicopter is the bulk of the cost for these types of hog hunting trips, so the one you choose can have a direct impact on final cost of the trip.
The R44 Raven is a single engine pistol helicopter and is the smallest of the helicopters used for hog hunting. Some outfits may opt to use the R22, although less common due to its ability to only hold a pilot and a single passenger. The R44 is a great helicopter for 1-2 person hog hunts. The R44 Raven is rated to hold a pilot and 3 passengers, but most outfits limit the capacity to 2 customers when hog hunting in Texas.
The R66 is a larger helicopter powered by a Rolls Royce RR300 turboshaft engine. The R66 is faster and smoother than the R44, and has 5 total seats. Most outfits allow up to 3 passengers to ride in an R66.
The 206 Bell Helicopter is powered by two Rolls Royce 250-C20R turboshaft engines and is configured for a two person crew and 4 passengers. This is the fastest and most luxurious of the helicopters used for hog hunting.
Once the Texas Sun Falls, Stay at the Feeder
A poor deer hunting trip can turn into a great hog hunting trip in Texas. Once the sun falls down, stay in the blind and the odds are that hogs will come walking up to your deer feeder. Bring along some quality hog hunting lights, and you're in for a fun night hunting trip. For best results, there are several wild hog bait attractants that area easy to make.
Hogs can be easily spooked by certain wavelengths of light, but we've gone into detail on the science behind this in our guide to buying the best hog hunting lights.