Survival demands that one must be as self-sufficient as is possible. Aside from ensuring a constant supply of fresh, drinkable water, food and defense should be top priorities. Fortunately, the land provides a wealth of food, though it takes some degree of skill to harvest.
Hunting is an essential skill to learn when becoming self-sufficient and with even a basic knowledge, one is better prepared to provide for the family. There are many animals that can be hunted for their meat among other things, but few are so numerous as the wild boar.
With large, growing populations throughout the majority of States, they’re becoming a pest. As such, hunting laws are rather lax with many States allowing hunting throughout the year. Boar hunting is a centuries-old tradition, but it’s not easy to take down these tough creatures. It’s well worth learning some wild boar hunting tips before heading out.
Below we’ll discuss boars, where they can be found and when is the best time to hunt them. We’ll then take a look at the necessary equipment and the various methods one can use to take down a wild hog.
Meet the wild boar
Most of us are capable of recognizing a wild boar if we see one, they’re fairly difficult to mistake. With that in mind, it is not worth focussing too much on physical descriptions. Instead, it is more worthwhile to look at wild boar behavior. With an understanding of what makes a wild boar tick, it’s easier to track them down and hunt them successfully.
The wild boar is a large, strong creature when fully grown. Looking much like a large pig, they are covered in hair. The color and patterns vary, but black, gray and brown is typical. Their main weapons, aside from brute force, are their sharp tusks, which can have a devastating effect on anyone caught on the wrong end of them.
An average male (boar) will weigh upwards of 220lbs, while females (sows) typically reach 150lbs. Males develop tusks and a mane of hair running down their back.
Wild boar is amazingly adaptable, hence the significant rise in populations over the last few years. They are able to make a comfortable home anywhere and are not afraid of traveling to water and food sources if needs be. In fact, they have been known to live a day’s walk away from the nearest source of water.
They are able to survive in a range of climates, be it hot or cold, wet or dry. They will thrive in snowy conditions as well as arid climes and everything in between.
As with habitat, wild boar is not fussy when it comes to eating. They are capable of eating a wide variety of foods, second only to humans. Natural omnivores, they’re generally opportunistic feeders.
This is beneficial for a hunter, as they are always keen to investigate new and unusual food sources. Their diet consists mostly of plants, but they are also fond of mushrooms, bugs and grubs and even small mammals and eggs.
Wild boar is capable of rapid reproduction, with females able to give birth twice a year. Each litter consists, on average, of six piglets. They can be sexually mature as early as six months old. This is another contributing factor as to why wild boar populations are rocketing and why they are fast becoming a pest.
Another reason is that they have very few natural predators. While they are vulnerable to an extent when young, most predators leave them alone once they reach 40 pounds or so. Humans are the main cause of mortality, be it from hunting or collisions with vehicles.
Wild boar behavior
Knowing your prey is essential to successfully catching it. Wild boar exhibits certain behaviors that help a hunter track them and prepares one for an encounter.
- Wild boars are social animals and typically sows and piglets travel together in groups.
- Boars are more solitary and leave the group at about one year of age.
- The mating period is typically between November and January. Males are particularly dangerous at this time.
- Boars are built to dig and do so to get at food. They are capable of digging in frozen ground and a herd of hungry boar can more or less plow a field in no time. They are also able to turn over rocks as heavy as 50kg if there is something tasty beneath it.
- They have an incredibly keen sense of smell and hearing.
- Their eyesight is not very good,
- They are very smart and more experienced, older boars are capable of knowing when they’re being hunted.
- When they notice all is not well, they will freeze for a second or two before fleeing.
- In hot weather, they are fond of wallowing in wet mud in order to cool down and remove parasites.
- They are fond of scratching against tree trunks and poles as well as rocks.
Where and when?
With a little background knowledge of wild boar we can now set about the task of tracking them down and bringing them home. As previously mentioned, wild boar is capable of adapting to many different types of climates and habitats.
That is not to say that wild boar is everywhere, though it may seem like it at times. There are some areas in particular that one is more likely to run into a wild boar and it is these places we will discuss.
Where to look?
There are wild boar populations throughout much of the United States, however, the southeastern States are home to far more than most other areas, with the exception of California. With a population of over 2 million wild boar, Texas is home to the largest population of wild boar and it is the lone star state that many hunters head for in search of wild boar.
The northern States do have some small populations of wild boar, though the numbers pale in comparison to the south. In order to narrow things down a bit, it’s worth knowing what type of areas wild boar are most keen on and the signs to look out for.
While they have adapted to survive in many different areas, they generally prefer damp, wet ground near a water source and thick cover. Agricultural fields are also a popular feeding ground and they love to churn up the ground looking for roots to eat.
Wild boar signs
There are several signs that give wild boar away and once you can read them you will always know when you’re in hog country. The signs vary from feeding habits, to simply recognizing their footprints, among others.
- Rooting – this is the term given to the damage caused by a boar, or several, rooting around digging up food. They are capable of digging up a large patch of ground and it often looks like a field that has been recently plowed.
- Wallows – as wild boar lack sweat glands, they tend to cool down by wallowing in wet mud. They roll around in the mud covering themselves. They will typically urinate in it too, giving off a pungent smell. Wallows typically look like a depression in the ground and tracks will normally be easy to spot in the wet dirt.
- Tracks – boar tracks are similar to deer tracks, but are typically larger and more rounded rather than sharp and pointed. Try to follow tracks when you see them, especially if the signs are fresh.
- Hog rubs – after a nice wallow, wild boar tend to rub off the excess mud on trees or posts and scratch their bodies. If you notice a tree or post caked in mud and slightly scratched, with the ground beneath raked away you can be sure a boar has been here.
Knowing how to identify and read the signs above is essential to tracking and locating wild boar. Once one knows what to look for, finding a hog suddenly becomes far more manageable. The question still remains as to when one should attempt to hunt one down, however.
When to hunt hog?
In the majority of States, wild boar hunting season lasts year round. It’s always best to check this in your area, however. Many hunters agree that due to boars adapting to human practices, it’s more productive to hunt at night these days. Again, in many States this is legal.
Other hunters hunt at first and last light, believing this to be the best time to hunt hog. It depends on the area and what the hogs are used to. The time for hunting generally coincides with feeding times. One is less likely to come across a hog in the middle of the day, especially in warm climates. This is partly because hogs burn in the sun in the same way humans do.
They tend to stay in their holes, under cover throughout the hottest part of the day. Hunting during the mating season can be lucrative as luring boars out is easy with a little know-how. However, boars are also at their most dangerous at this time. Few things are more brutal than a wild boar in mating season and to anger one without being a safe distance away is unwise.
With an understanding of where and when to find wild boar and a good idea of what to look out for it’s worth equipping yourself with everything necessary for bringing home the bacon. Most of the various methods one can employ when hunting boar require more or less the same kit.
Hunters will typically use either a rifle or a bow when hunting wild boar. Rifles are favored by most as they are typically quicker to shoot, have more stopping power and are easier to use with accuracy.
- Rifle – many hunters use the same rifle that they would for deer hunting when hunting hogs. Anything from .243 caliber and up is okay, although many prefer to use at least .260 cal. With the increase in popularity for hog hunting, specific rifles for the purpose have entered the market. These will generally be equipped with tools specific to hog hunting, such as scopes, night vision scopes, ergonomic pistol grip and a rail for mounting a flashlight.
- Bow – When using a bow the hunter needs to be aware that a hogs skin is thick and the target area is small. Use a bow you’re comfortable with and look for heavy, broadhead arrows.
Like most types of hunting, a call can be used to lure hogs over if all else fails. This works particularly well during the mating season. There are several types of call available from piglets in distress to boars fighting.
Lures and bait
Some hunters use hog scent lures in order to bring the hogs to them. They are typically urine-based products and can work well to set the scene when one bears in mind the excellent sense of smell wild boar have. Other hunters use food as bait, with corn being particularly popular.
Corn feeders are frequently used to establish a feeding zone, which will later become a kill zone. Bait can also be buried deep in the ground, in order to keep the boar occupied while the hunter takes the shot.
There are several products available that enable one to hunt at night. Corn feeder lights, rifle mounted torches and night vision scopes are all options one should consider. Green and red lights are less recognizable to hogs, though contrary to popular belief, they are not completely ignorant of the change.
Wear tough, thick clothes that can offer some protection in the event of things going wrong. Also ensure that they don’t rustle too much. Remember the boar has a great sense of hearing.
For those using dogs, cut vests can be purchased in order to protect them from the tusks of a boar. Some of these have built in trackers, allowing the hunter to release the dogs and track them easily to the hog.
Nothing spooks wild boar more than the abnormal, more accurately, smelling a human nearby. They are smart and know that humans generally mean them harm, so they tend to avoid us like the plague.
Using a scent eliminator prevents their excellent sense of smell from detecting the would-be hunter. A small wind checker is also recommended.
Stand or blind
For those luring their prey to them, a stand or a blind will be necessary. These can be constructed in advance and can become permanent structures on your own land. Otherwise, basic camouflage will suffice. Small blinds can be constructed using the materials around the area, or portable, pop up options can be bought.
Wild boar hunting methods
There are several ways to hunt a wild boar. In some States tradition dictates the most popular, however it is generally down to personal preference.
Spot and stalk hunting
Also known as still hunting this is one of the most difficult methods. However, the other methods also employ a certain amount of stalking. The general principle is to head out into hog country and seek out signs of hogs. Once found, one must cautiously move through the area tracking the hog.
Depending on the time of day, the hunter can track the hog until they find it, then take the shot, or locate its bed and it’s feeding grounds and ambush it between the two, in a location of their choosing. This method demands that the hunter is well practiced in the art of moving silently, staying up wind of their prey and capable of taking control of the situation if things take an unexpected turn.
|Least amount of equipment required||Difficult to master the skill|
|Can be done any time of day||A change of wind or a snapped twig can give you away and cost you your prey|
|Exciting||Hard work with no guaranteed results|
These methods are largely similar and differ only in where the hunter is hidden. A stand is off the ground, typically up in a tree, in a specially constructed structure and is widely considered the safest option. A blind will be somewhere on the ground.
This method basically involves locating hogs first and foremost and anticipating where they will be. The odds can be improved by creating an area a hog is likely to be curious about. This can be done by creating a feeding zone or using calls and lures. When the hog or hogs enter the ambush, the shot is taken.
|Safest option ensures that the boar comes to an area of your choosing||Stands can be time-consuming to erect|
|A well-placed stand or blind can lure a lot of prey||Limited to one area rather than being mobile|
This final method is a tradition in Texas as well as some other southern States. The idea is to first locate the rough areas hogs may be dwelling in. Next dogs are sent in to sniff them out and bait them out by attacking. The hunter then comes and finishes the job. There are three types of hog hunting dogs; silent dogs, open trailing dogs and catch dogs.
Silent and open trailing dogs are employed to locate hogs, with silent dogs being more popular for the job. They do not bark, unlike open trailers. Once located, a catch dog is dispatched to hold the hog down until the hunter arrives. This method is most popular for removing pest hogs from private land.
|Very effective method of locating hogs||Requires well trained dogs|
|Easiest method||Danger of injury to dogs|
|Generally difficult to do without a guide|
Tips and tricks
With the basics of the methods covered, it’s useful to have a few tips and tricks up your sleeve.
Tracks to look out for
There are times when wild boar is more vulnerable. A few weeks after sows give birth, the young piglets tend to lead the group, as the adults are slower and need more time to eat and build up their energy.
With this in mind, spotting baby tracks can lead to a group of boars being more easily manipulated. Piglets are not as wary as their elders and will follow the scent of food into a nice, open area, perfect for an ambush.
Beware of sleeping hogs
Wild boar bed down in shallow holes in the ground, often under cover or long grass. Often they will be entirely hidden from site. Beware when following tracks that you don’t end up in there with one. They will normally stay still when humans are near, but if you get too close they will jump up and possibly attack.
Preparing for a hog hunt
Good preparation is essential for a successful hog hunt, especially if using a stand or blind. Trail cameras can be set up to get an idea of the habits of the local hogs, i.e. the roads they take, where they eat etc. If setting up an ambush with a corn feeder, learn in advance what time they generally come to feed.
Trail cameras are useful for any hunter when attempting to locate hogs, as they save time that might have been spent out scouting. More accurate scouting can now be done at home.
Setting up an ambush
There are many things hogs like, food being highest among them. However, hogs are also very fond of rubbing up against telephone poles over any natural tree. This could be as they contain creosote. If it’s possible to get your hands on an old telephone pole, or any wood treated in the same way, this can be used to lure hogs in.
Otherwise, food will always work, but never scatter it on the ground, as it won’t last long. It’s best to make them work for it. This will keep them busy as you aim and take the shot.
Where to ambush from?
Due to their excellent sense of smell, hunters must stay upwind of boar. With the wind in your face, the boar is far less likely to get a whiff of you. A clear shot should also be achievable, so avoid staying in too much cover.
If the hog does realize something’s not right, it will freeze for a few seconds before bolting. This is the time to take the shot if possible as it’s unlikely there will be another opportunity.
Where to aim
Whether using a rifle, shotgun or bow the killing shot should always be aimed at the vital organs, i.e. the heart and lungs. The kill zone is located about four or five inches behind the shoulder blade.
Bring home the bacon
If the wonderful taste of wild boar is too much to resist, or you’re a deer hunter looking for a little excitement in the offseason, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try hunting wild boar. With the more or less endless hunting season and generous harvest limits, it is always a great time to give it a go. What’s more, if you’re a deer hunter you will already own most of the gear required.
In a survival situation, the meat might just save your bacon. While hunting restrictions are lax, always check any regulations in advance. Most importantly, however, remember that wild boars can be very dangerous creatures. Do not tackle them lightly and take all the safety precautions.
Have you had a close scrape with a wild boar? Let us know in the comments section!