The feral hog population is growing quickly, and has been for a while. Experts estimate that over the past two decades or so, a small population of 900,000 has exploded to as many as 5 million spread across the southeastern United States and along the coast of California. Globally, the problem is even worse. The feral hogs (native of Eurasia) are known for their quick breeding, their huge appetite for crops, and their ability to range far and wide across very large territories.
For hunters, growing populations of feral hogs are something like a call to arms. Some professional hog trappers and hunters think that in order to stunt the population growth in Texas alone, every active hunter in the state would have to take down two hogs each year.
And while that may make feral hogs sound like an easy target, they’re anything but. Many hunters underestimate the hogs, which are incredibly smart. They’ve got good memories, the nose of a mature whitetail buck, and the night vision and survival instincts of a coyote. Taking a hog down is going to take every bit of experience, skill, patience, and technical advantage a hunter can muster.
We spoke with a few hog hunters from Texas, and they shared these four tips to help you get the edge when hunting feral hogs.
Know Your Hunting Grounds
The biggest favor you can do for yourself is to start thinking about these hogs like they’re whitetail. You want to get to know your hunting grounds and where the hogs spend their time. This is easiest between November and March, when farms are barren and the hogs are on their own to scavenge for food in the woods. If you set up feeders in the right places, put out trail cameras to track their movement, and get a feel for when they move from their water source to finding food, you’ll have a better chance of getting the drop on your target.
Keep Quiet and Stay Downwind
Along those lines, it’s absolutely critical you keep the noise and the scents you bring with you down to a minimum. Feral hogs have strong noses, and they’ll smell you coming if you don’t stay downwind. They also learn to fear the noises hunters make, from quick movements to the very sound of a gunshot. If you’re going to track a hog, or if you’re ready to take a shot, make it count; you may not get many chances to approach a hog with its guard down.
Use Lights Conservatively
Experienced hog hunters know that older, more mature hogs tend to have experiences with hunting parties. They’re actively hunted throughout the Southeast, and the more run-ins they have, the smarter they get. One clear example of this is their fear of hunting lights. Younger hogs might not react to feeder lights or gun-mounted lights, but groups that have been hunted before will associate the lights with gunfire, and they’ll run. That means you have 1-2 attempts at a group with your lights at full blast before they get wise. With that in mind, your best bet is to ditch the lights altogether and go with thermal imaging, like the tech we use in our SEEK-enabled Inteliscope Pro+ model.
Use A Bow or Crossbow
Archery might not be your thing, but if you’re really itching to take down a hog, some experts suggest a bow or crossbow may be the way to go. The name of the game when hunting hogs is to give them as little to remember about your hunts as you can. If you take the sound of gunfire out of the equation, you may find it easier to not only take one hog down, but many more from the same group.
Download the free app or buy Inteliscope with SEEK® Thermal to take down more hogs today!