By Zachary Pritchard

Wild hog hunting is becoming more and more popular around the country. This is due to the high reproductive rate of wild hogs and the annoyances that they can cause. The gestation period for hogs is only three weeks and three days which allows them to breed nearly three times per year, and they birth an average of 8 piglets each or sometimes even up to 12. So you can see why they can grow in numbers rapidly. This is one of the main reasons for the increase of hunting them in the past several years. Due to this increase, they are moving into many unwanted areas including crop fields, golf courses and even backyards destroying the soil while searching for grubs/crops and other food. Therefore, more and more people from different backgrounds are heading out into the hunting field to track these invasive animals. With many people hunting comes many tactics, weapons and gear being used. The gear can range from simple to extremely detailed. Now weaponry and tactics are related in the sense that a dedicated hunter will most likely be using a weapon that is designed more to the varmint style of hunting, due to there not being a varmint hunting season.

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Wild hogs can cause extensive damage to crops, especially if the local population is large.

We will start by discussing weaponry, which can range from a simple deer rifle or shotgun to fully equipped AR rifles with night-vision scopes, and somewhere along that spectrum dogs are used to aid in the hunt. The weaponry can be related to the different tactics that are used. Different tactics will end up bringing new weaponry to the field to fit that tactic of hunting. The tactics can also range from simple to extremely detailed and dedicated. For example, simple hunters that only hunt hogs during deer season just use their deer rifle if a hog happens to cross their path. These hunters don’t have much tactics other than a sit and wait approach. Other hunters take it a little further by changing their tactics. They hunt at other times than deer season or they head out at night using spotlights without loading up on advanced equipment or weaponry.

Somewhere in between these types of hog hunters are the ones who are hunting for the meat. Although many people say the meat isn’t good, or isn’t good if the hog is over a certain weight, or the animals stink, or whatever reason they want to give people, these hunters still hunt hogs solely for the meat. Even when hunters go simply for sport, they can still get a large amount of meat from a wild hog. In some instances this meat can help feed their families for a long time and keep them from having to buy a lot of meat from the store. In between these two, you have the ones who stalk hunt and usually only seek out one hog that they want as a trophy. These hogs can get very large and become great trophies, especially when they have large tusks that haven’t been broken due to fighting. These hunters usually have cameras set up around the property to study and find the one they want to go after.

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Now we can move on to the more dedicated hunters that will go far beyond the simple deer rifle and stand. These hunters transform the bed of their truck into a shooting rest while driving ranch roads with a varmint rifle setup. Usually an AR 15 of some sort equipped with night-vision and suppressors (silencers) is their weapon of choice. This eliminates the need for spotlights during shooting and eliminates the scatter effect after the first shot. With these two tactics in place, it allows the hunter to harvest as many hogs as possible before they are out of sight. There are at least two different types of hunters that use this strategy. The first is the one that is doing it for the sport or the challenge it can bring. The second is the farmer that is tired of the hogs tearing up their crop fields. The only way to significantly make a dent is to get serious about it. Even with these two different mind sets, the end goal of killing as many as possible is the same.

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AR rifle outfitted for hog hunting.

Let’s move on to the dedicated but sporty hunters, the ones who bring dogs into the mix. Dogs have been introduced into all aspects of hunting from retrieving birds to tracking deer and even tracking and baying hogs. In a general sense the dogs are cornering them to give the hunter time to get there and tie the hog up. In my opinion these hunters are the most dedicated hunters. Although by using dogs their tactics may not be as detailed as others, their challenge is far greater. Their view on killing as many as possible is not there. The main reason for hunting them is for the challenge it brings after the hog is bayed.

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Hunting dogs can be of great use when tracking wild hogs.

Along next to hunting hogs with dogs, we have using traps. Traps can be an efficient way of catching several hogs at a time. A lot of the farmers who have trouble with hogs tearing up crops use traps. This can be because they can catch more than one without having to go out with an expensive AR 15 rifle several hours a night. This way they can set traps in evening and check them in morning when they get up. There are several types of traps and no single trap is the best. It all depends on the hogs in that area. In some areas the box trap is best, but in others the corral trap worked best. It is usually a trial and error operation to see what trap, trip system and bait works best. You do have to get pretty aggressive with this and run the traps daily to get results, so this strategy can be time consuming and take away from the work that needs to be done. There are places in different parts of Texas that will take the hogs alive. The farmers can then make a little money back on the time spent if they decide its worth it to get them in a trailer and haul them to that place.

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Trail cameras and setting traps can be a great way to track and contain local wild hog populations.

For beginner hunters who want to start hunting hogs, they should start simple and move on to more detailed and dedicated weaponry and tactics as they gain interest. Some people want to jump into detailed weaponry and tactics group immediately, but this can be expensive if they invest money into weaponry and gear and then find that they don’t enjoy it. If you start simple and gradually move into more detailed gear and dedicated tactics, you can ensure that this is a sport you want to pursue before committing a lot of money to it.

Images one, two, four, five and thumb courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.