Tag Archives: wild pigs

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.

Wintertime Pigs

Contributed by Alex Vail, The Flying Kayak

When it comes to colder weather and hunting, most people immediately turn almost all of their attention to deer. And while deer season certainly is a big deal, it’s important to remember that in many parts of the country, it’s still legal to harvest wild pigs during the deer season. This is nice not only because you can still have a chance to fill the freezer if you don’t harvest a deer, but also because it can help keep the invasive pig issue somewhat under control. It’s important, however, to remember that hunting pigs during winter differs slightly than hunting them during the warmer months. Take the following tips into consideration when hunting pigs during the colder months, and you might just walk away with some bacon.

Man holding gun next to a wild pig

Image Credit: Alex Vail

Staying cool

It’s no surprise to anyone that pigs like to wallow in the mud. But one must remember that pigs wallow primarily to stay cool. When it’s already cold outside, the need to lay down in a mud hole and stay cool diminishes greatly. Though areas where pigs wallow are always a great place to check out, I personally wouldn’t spend nearly as much time in these areas as I would in the summer. The pigs simply don’t need it as badly.

Finding Food

As always, pig are… well… pigs. They need to eat, and they eat a lot. Unfortunately, they’re extremely difficult to pattern. Winter doesn’t make this task any easier as they’ll roam far and wide to not only find food, but to stay warm. If you have access to food plots or feeders, these are probably going to be your best options. Look for pigs to stay out more during daylight hours, too. Depending on the temperature, their need to stay warm will actually outweigh the need to stay cool.

Hunting rifle on top of spotted wild pig

Image Credit: Alex Vail

Increase range

Imagine a swamp in the deep south and how thick the foliage and cover can be during the summer. That cover, however, is a little different during the winter. Yes, there will always be places that are thick as can be, but generally a lot of foliage dies off during the winter months. Use this to your advantage and try taking something different than the slug gun. I personally like to break out the 30-06 with a 3×9 scope for pigs during the winter. On low power, I have easy target acquisition and I can take advantage of the newfound distance I can see in the woods.

Technology

Wintertime is an awesome chance to use new gadgets and technology when hunting pigs. Thermal imaging such as FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) and Nightvision can really step up your pig hunting game to the next level. As stated before, winter means slightly less foliage, so it’s easier to see a long distance with the Nightvision without all the brush in the way.

Two hunters as seen through night vision goggles

Image Credit: Alex Vail

Similarly, it’s easier to spot hot spots with thermal imaging because inanimate objects (stumps, logs, etc) don’t heat up as much during the day. They stay cooler, and help eliminate the chances of mistaking a stump for a boar. Just remember to check your local and state laws regarding such equipment.

Wild hog as seen through night vision scope

Image Credit: Alex Vail

So, the next time you get ready to take a trip to the woods, remember these tips while you’re bundling up in the morning. Just because it’s cold out, doesn’t mean a summertime favorite activity is done for. Afterall, bacon and eggs is hard to beat on a cool, crisp morning.