When I was a kid, the only hogs we knew of were helping pay for kids’ scholarships through the local FFA or 4-H program. Many years go by and suddenly we start hearing about the feral hog outbreak where wild pigs are rooting up and tearing apart farms all across the U.S.A. Still in disbelief, we never expected to actually see them on our farm. Another couple years pass and we are out spotlighting for coyotes and run up on a group of 20 wild hogs running down the riverbank. We couldn’t believe our eyes, but this started what became one of our favorite methods of farm entertainment.
Fast-forward many years and now we’ve gained a lot of experience on feral pig behavior. Whether you are hunting by yourself, with a crew, or even with dogs, these tips should help you increase your hog hunting success.
Feral Hog Key Attributes
No matter what you are hunting, you need to know your target species’ key attributes. Know their strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, and behavior so you can exploit them to hunt smarter instead of harder. Feral hogs have very keen sense of smell. They are able to smell even better than deer and are usually able to pick up on human scent left behind on a nearby trap. Comparatively speaking, their eye sight is not their strong suit. We have stalked hogs with wind in our face (eliminating the scent aspect) and worked our way to be within 10 yards of them without triggering an alarm. Not to say they can’t see past 10 yards, but it is not an aspect they primarily rely on. Another sense that hogs lack is hearing. Wild hogs have a very poor ability to hear. A lot of the times they are constantly snorting, so I’ve always wondered if their snorting is the reason they can’t hear over themselves. If they stayed quiet all the time, maybe they could hear better!
Feral Hog Behavior
Hogs turn nocturnal as summer’s heat approaches or as hunting pressure intensifies. We regularly track our local hog behavior on game cameras and have documented hogs coming throughout the daytime when they aren’t pressured. As soon as we start hunting them, we notice they only come out at night, usually 1-2 hours after the sun goes down. As the hunting intensifies, they don’t come out until later and later and eventually it’s 1:00-2:00 AM before they come out in the highest pressured areas. The most successful method for hunting hogs is using trained dogs to track them down, bay the hog up, and then a catch dog such as a pitbull or dogo argentino will be released to hold the hog down until the hunter gets there.
Most hunters aren’t able to hunt with dogs, so they rely on understanding hog behavior to track them down. Hogs are always on the search for a consistent food source. One of the most successful methods of hunting hogs is to mount a Red or Green Outrigger Outdoors Hunting Light to your feeder, put a couple pounds of corn underneath the feeder, mix in some apples or apple-scented attractant or similar if available, and sit and wait. This tried and true old-fashioned method has been proven to work time and time again. With the Outrigger Outdoors hunting lights, you are able to make the most of the hogs poor eyesight by utilizing colors they are unable to see: red or green. Using the remote control, our customers will leave the light on dim until they see hogs gathering under the feeder. Once the hogs are in sight, slowly increase the brightness until it is bright enough for you to comfortably take a shot. Whether hunting with a gun or a bow, you are truly hunting smarter instead of harder.
Another method for hunting hogs, particularly in the daytime, is to walk dirt roads, trails, and edges of fields into the wind. Hogs will establish definite trails and often leave signs of rooting and tunnels in thick vegetation, leading to their home turf. When you see these signs, keep your trigger finger ready as you may be close to your next sounder of swine. When we track on foot, we have always had success near creeks, rivers, and ponds as well as near fields full of crops. Our highest pig yielding crops are alfalfa and corn. They will also hit cotton and grains hard but it seems alfalfa and corn always give us the “best” results (“best” depends on if you’re asking the hunter or the farmer, farmers generally hate wild hogs).
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