Tag Archives: hog hunting

Post Season Bacon

Contributed by Alex Vail of The Flying Kayak

Depending on where you are in the country, hunting season has just about wrapped up. Deer season was months ago, and turkey season has pretty much come to an end. If you’re anything like me, you’re already counting down until opening day in fall. But don’t be so quick to put away the camos just yet. There’s one animal in particular that still offers hunting opportunity far later in the year, and year round in some cases: The feral pig.

Image: Alex Vail

Image: Alex Vail

By this point in time, if you’ve never heard of the feral pig or wild pigs, you’ve probably been living under a rock. They’re extremely invasive and have spread themselves throughout almost all of the Southeastern United States. The pigs were originally brought in by the Spanish, and in conjunction with a series of farm escapes throughout the years, they’ve spread like wildfire.

Pigs pose a major problem to agriculture. They cause millions of dollars in damage to crops every year because of the way they feed. Pigs naturally root up the ground to dig for tubers and roots. Areas that’ve had a group of pigs come through honestly look like someone came in and dragged a tractor disk across the ground. They rip up everything, and when you add in their extremely fast reproductive rates, they’ve gotten out of hand.

Image: Alex Vail

Image: Alex Vail

Over the past few years, states have begun to recognize the wild pig issue. All states that have feral pigs present have incorporated harvesting them into regular hunting seasons, but many have actually taken it a step further. States like Florida have unique laws. On specific Wildlife Management Areas, there are extra wild pig seasons that are open during various times over the summer. This not only allows the public access to many of these WMA’s during non-standard hunting times, but it also allows them the opportunity to hunt outside of the regular hunting season.

And let’s not forget private land. Depending on what part of the state you’re in, many counties allow for wild pigs to be harvested with the use of spotlight, night vision, or even the help of dogs. Hunting on private land for pigs also lasts year round; there’s no defined season. This has been put in place to try and help curb not only their spread, but also the amount of damage they can do to private land owners.

As with any outdoor activity (but especially hunting), be sure to check up and familiarize yourself with the local laws and regulations regarding pigs as each state is different. Hunters should also be well-prepared as far as gear goes to hunt pigs. Many public land areas forbid the use of center-fire rifles during pig seasons. This means a hunter is restricted to either archery hunting or shotguns. Using a bow for pigs can be very effective, but it’s important to ensure a clean shot as they are extremely tough animals. With shotguns, I would avoid buckshots entirely and just stick to slugs.

Image: Alex Vail

Image: Alex Vail

On private land, you’re usually welcome to use whatever you’d like. My personal favorites are either a 7.62×39 or a 30-06 when chasing pigs. There are obviously about a hundred different options for cartridges that will work for wild pigs, but that’s a discussion for another day. Just be sure to pick something that has a decent amount of knockdown power. Even a fairly small pig can be somewhat dangerous if cornered and wounded. If you’re planning on hunting at night, be sure to outfit your firearm properly. High-powered scopes are often difficult to wield when using spotlights, and finding your target in the crosshairs can be just as challenging.

Image: Alex Vail

Image: Alex Vail

So if you’ve found yourself down in the dumps because hunting season is over, consider taking a look at wild pigs. Harvesting them isn’t just for hunting’s sake, it’s actually good for our natural environments and agricultural productivity. And let’s be honest, there are few things better than waking up on a warm summer’s day and cooking up some bacon for breakfast.

Go Hunting in a Local State Park!

There are plenty of hunting opportunities available at state parks where you can see gorgeous views, illustrious trails, and, of course, lots of local wildlife. The best part of getting involved in the hunting scene at a nearby state park is that you won’t have to travel too far to enjoy the great outdoors. State parks are one of our most valuable resources in this country, so make sure you utilize them! Here are just a few states that offer exciting hunting events that you might want to join in on.

Controlled Hunting and Trapping Events, Ohio

Hunting in Ohio.

There are an estimated 600,000+ deer and 200,000+ turkeys in Ohio. [Image: http://hunt-ohio-deer-and-turkey-on-public-land.com/]

Join the Ohio Division of Wildlife and traverse through various areas that are normally closed to hunters. Youths and adults are eligible to participate, and individuals will be chosen based on a random computer generated drawing. There are opportunities to take part in controlled trapping, controller waterfowl hunting, and controlled deer hunting.

Learn more here.

Open Hunting, Managed Hunts, and Hunting Workshops, Virginia

Top counties for hunting in Virginia.

Image: http://www.gameandfishmag.com/

Virginia is an obvious choice for hunting, and luckily they have plenty of options! Similar to Ohio’s style, they have a lottery system-based for managed hunts for deer and feral hogs. Additionally there are also specific hunts tailored to youths (ages 12–17) and the disabled. If interested, you can make a reservation for specific sites, even claiming a certain zone or stand. Or simply partake in Virginia’s open hunting areas, which can be found at Fairy Stone State Park, Grayson Highlands State Park, Hungry Mother State Park, or Occoneechee State Park.

Learn more here.

Reserved Hunts, Indiana

Pheasant hunting in Indiana.

Pheasant hunting in Indiana. [Image: http://www.indianapheasant.com/]

Although the application submission deadlines have passed for many of these, they’re useful to keep in mind for the future. There are chances to get involved in various state park hosted deer, pheasant, and waterfowl hunts. From January 31 until March 24, you can submit applications for adult and youth turkey hunts as well, so keep your eyes peeled for those!

Learn more here.

Before you head out hunting this season, make sure you download our Pocket Ranger® Fish and Wildlife apps to aid in your adventures. Happy hunting!

What’s in a Daypack?

Contributed by Alex Vail of The Flying Kayak

The hike up the snow covered mountain wasn’t by any means easy. Each step crunched as our boots sank in the snow, and the steepness of the terrain made our leg muscles burn with each step. I turned to my hunter to see how he was doing, and he was absolutely winded.

“Are you all right?” I asked as we stopped for a break.

“Yeah,” he responded, slightly out of breath. “This pack is just sorta heavy.”

I looked at his daypack and quickly realized just how much he’d overpacked. The entire pack was bulging from all the gear that was crammed into it, and it was so full that the zipper actually popped off its track. Even the kitchen sink was threatening to fall out and slide back down the mountain to the truck.

I checked myself and realized I was completely comfortable. Recently I consolidated my daypack and lightened it up quite a bit. And it was at this moment that I was extremely thankful for doing so. Optimizing weight and taking only what’s absolutely necessary is vital when out in the field. It’s definitely important to take the essentials, but by catering what’s in your pack to the activity you’re participating in can really cut down on weight and make the whole day much more enjoyable. The following are a few tips to help you optimize exactly what goes into your pack every day.

The Essentials

There are a few items that always go into my daypack regardless of what activity I’m doing. These things practically never come out. One of the most important items is your standard compass.

Hand holding a compass from his day pack

Image: Alex Vail

If you’re as good at getting lost as I am, having a compass on you at all times is a must. It’s one of those things that you’d rather have and not need than need and not have. 

Inside my pack I also always carry a small kit with basic survival items in it, such as matches, a fire starting kit, a small extra pocket knife, fishing line/hooks, and an emergency blanket. There’s also a tiny basic first aid kit that’s secured inside as well. It fits neatly in a pouch on the pack and never really leaves unless I need something inside of it.

Man's hand holding a camo first aid kit from day pack

Image: Alex Vail

Water definitely makes the essentials list as well. I don’t care how cold it is or how short the walk is every day, water is a must. It’s necessary to try and plan out about how much water you might need over the course of the day since water is quite heavy, but it’s a good idea to carry a little more water into the field than you think you might need.

Finally I consider a good knife to be the last piece of essential gear. There are so many uses for a knife that the list could go on for ages, everything from starting a fire to cleaning an animal. A knife is another must.

All the Rest

green day pack on the floor

Image: Alex Vail

Everything else that is carried in your daypack can be considered “extra” or nonessential. These things might be essential for exactly what you’re doing each day, but they aren’t things you’d necessarily need each time you went outside. It’s important to make sure you’re taking exactly what you need each day, so you must consider what activity you’re doing. Look at binoculars, for example. Are you hunting pigs in the Georgia swamps where you can’t see beyond 50 yards? Then the binoculars aren’t necessary—leave them at home. Or are you hunting mule deer in the high desert in Colorado where you can see upwards of three miles? Bring them along.

The same thing holds true for clothing, food, etc. Are you going to be walking far in chilly weather? Then put that sweater in the daypack so you don’t get sweaty while you walk. Are you only going to be out until around lunchtime? You can probably leave the cook stove and food in the truck. I’ve had some hunters insist on carrying an entire extra box of ammunition, which of course adds weight, and I didn’t stop them. But there are alternative methods to cramming that entire box into the pack. Not everything needs to go inside of it. Use an ammo sleeve for the stock of your gun, for instance. Or rather than cramming that multitool inside, slip it onto your belt and help alleviate not only the weight in your pack but also the amount of time you spend rummaging through the pack in search of one item. 

So the next time you’re getting ready to head out into the field, ask yourself, “Will I really need this today?” Do this with each item, and you may be able to lighten up your daypack considerably and make it a much more efficient, better-suited pack for the day. Your back with thank you later.

Bacon and the 7.62×39

Contributed by Alex Vail of The Flying Kayak

When it comes to hunting wild pigs, one of the first things a hunter must decide is exactly what he/she wants to hunt with. A Google search along the lines of “pig hunting rounds” will most assuredly lead to message boards with hunters arguing ad nauseam about ballistics and preferred rounds. At the end of the day, round choice comes down to personal preference, and let’s be honest—there are tons of good pig hunting rounds out there. There’s more than one way to skin a cat (or pig), and this article won’t actually delve into the different types of hunting rounds out there. Instead this will focus on my own personal favorite pig hunting round.

A dead hog and a gun atop it.

Image Credit: Alex Vail

The 7.62×39 obviously isn’t the only round that I’ve used for pig hunting, but it certainly is my favorite. It’s one of those rounds that can generally be found in surplus and is incredibly inexpensive, especially when compared to some of the other popular rounds. Many hunters praise the 7.62 because it’s generally a hard hitting, heavy round. The 7.62×39 can be found in most stores in a variety of grains ranging from the standard 123gr up to 154gr SP. There are also a few different options as far as firearms go when dealing with this round.

AK-47

An AK-47.

Image Credit: Alex Vail

Probably one of the more recognizable rifles around the world, the AK-47 fires the 7.62×39 and is a an excellent choice for a pig gun. Most carry the standard 30 round magazine, which comes in handy because a hunter rarely only gets one shot when dealing with pigs. A relatively short rifle, the AK is perfect for dragging around in the thick brush that pigs often inhabit. Its size also makes for quick target acquisition, which is helpful when firing at multiple running pigs. One of the few cons is that it isn’t the most accurate rifle when shooting over longer ranges.

SKS

An SKS.

Image Credit: Alex Vail

The SKS is what I personally carry most often when pig hunting. It has a standard 10 round non-detachable magazine and is considerably longer than its AK cousin. This means that downrange accuracy is a bit better. With enough practice, it isn’t out of the question to take shots up to 400 yards away and expect to down a pig. There are also a wide range of aftermarket stocks for the SKS that can allow a hunter to easily add scopes, foregrips, optics, and detachable magazines. The same actually holds true for the AK.

Mini-Thirty

A Mini-Thirty.

Image Credit: Alex Vail

Coming late to the scene in 1987, the Ruger Mini-Thirty is the last of the common 7.62×39 rifles that I would consider using to hunt wild pigs. An extremely short and light rifle, the Mini-Thirty commonly sports a 20 round magazine (though a five round magazine is offered for states where magazine restrictions are in place). With it being a very lightweight rifle in comparison to is counterparts, it does have a slightly greater muzzle rise when firing. However, just like the AK-47 and the SKS, there are a wide range of aftermarket parts available for the rifle that can easily turn it into exactly what a hunter wants to use.

Obviously picking out what rifle you want is an important step, but a much more important thing to consider when hunting with the 7.62×39 comes down to an actual hunting issue: shot placement. Wild pigs are extremely tough animals. Thick hide, gristle, and bones make firing an ethical kill shot quite challenging. I’ve personally seen big boars run off like nothing happened after getting hit in the chest with much bigger rounds, like the 30-06 or the .458 SOCOM. The trick to effectively hunting pigs (with ANY round) boils down to shot placement.

Their shoulders are extremely thick and essentially act as a protective shield around their vitals. A pig’s organs are also arranged slightly differently than other animals, such as a deer. Their vitals are a bit more compact and tucked away behind the shoulder when looking at a broadside profile of the animal. This means that in order to effectively harvest a pig, one must wait for a suitable shot. Quartering away shots are ideal as the round can easily get past the protective shoulder plate and into the vitals. The same goes with shots quartering toward the hunter. Just remember that shots like this tend to travel through the animal, hitting the guts and making a big (and smelly) mess. Head and neck shots are also ideal. Pigs actually have a very large skull, and once a hunter has shaken the habit of instinctively aiming at the chest, head shots are extremely effective. For shot placement, draw an imaginary line from the back of the eye toward the body then draw one straight down from the ear—where these lines intersect is where the shot needs to be placed.

So if you’re in the market for a new rifle to hunt pigs, consider picking up one that’s chambered in 7.62×39. It’s often overlooked as a sufficient hunting round, but its effectiveness cannot be denied. Just remember proper shot placement when hunting pigs, and be sure to check your local and state laws concerning magazine capacity for harvesting game animals. And as always, happy hunting!