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Hunting the Elusive Wild Boar

THE KILL ZONE
ANATOMY OF A WILD BOAR
KNOW THE KILL ZONE!

The hunter makes or breaks any caliber or weapon!!! A well placed shot from a .223 will drop a hog in his tracks. OR, the worst shot from a 375 H&H will not stop'em. The dark red, the size of a medium paper plate, represents the ultimate drop'em in there track shot.


INTRODUCTION

Professional Guide Kevin Ryer
Kevin Ryer
Owner, Web Master
Professional Guide
As Web Master of TexasBoars.Com and a former Professional Guide for wild hogs I get a fair amount of questions requesting all kinds of information. Obviously the most common topic would be on hunting hogs, which can cover a broad variety of subjects. But the main line of questions seem to deal with how to actually find and begin a successful hunt for wild hogs.

HUNTING DEER OR HOGS?
The main problem seems to be the majority of hunters are applying deer hunting skills and tactics to hog hunting. It's true that many of those skills will get you a long way and are needed to locate fresh sign and determine the presence of hogs. But at some point those skills must give way to new ones. Skills that are adapted to the ways and life styles of wild hogs and not deer. Now, all of my experience comes from the Piney Woods and Hardwood bottomland of Texas. For years I have successfully hunted, trapped, bred and raised wild hogs. I started out just like many hunters do. Seeing lots of fresh hog sign while hunting for deer and rarely finding the hogs or just always being one step behind. Over the years I have found that there are reasons for this. The main reasons are the differences in lifestyles between the white tail deer, which most hunters have adapted their skills to, and wild hogs. Another big difference between hunting deer and hogs that should be considered is that here in Texas and many other states hogs are considered to be nothing more than nuisance animals. Because of that fact the rules and regulations are very lenient. This allows more freedom and time for the pursuit of the wild hog. They can be hunted 365 days a year and 24 hours a day with most any weapon or trap. Even with that leniency their numbers are still increasing rapidly. Deer on the other hand are highly regulated game animals in every state, whose population must be guarded and well managed to sustain their numbers. This strongly reflects the difference in the animals.
The difference in lifestyle between deer and hogs really creates a large gap between the animals.
Deer, as we all know breed once a year and will have one fawn and sometimes twins. Wild Sow will have two litters a year with most litters consisting of three to five piglets with the most common number of a litter being four. Her offspring will most likely be bred at or before six months of age, again having three or four piglets.
baby hogs
An average litter from a wild sow.
At 2 weeks old they are already eating corn.
Photo taken from the Hunting Preserve of Kevin Ryer.
I can hear the controversy brewing on that one already. I know that hunters and outdoor enthusiast have and do report sightings of wild sow with 8, 10, 12 and even more piglets, with some being months apart. And yes that's true. But let me set the record straight and explain why this is a common thing to see. Wild Sow will nurse most any piglet and wild piglets will go to extreme lengths to suckle any sow that is producing milk (yes, they're born pigs). The piglets also run together in their own little packs, along with the sow, where there is safety in numbers. Furthermore, all the nursing mothers won't always stay in a tight pack with the piglets. These facts will account for most all of the sightings of the higher number of piglets with one sow. Regardless of the misinformation, the breeding is prolific. One sow can easily be responsible for generating over 1,000 offspring in only five years. Which is a very conservative figure. The major difference between deer and hogs is their lifestyle. It's the lifestyle and habits that will require a hunter to use different techniques and skills to successfully hunt Wild hogs.
Wild hogs have no home territory. This is the biggest difference and one of the main reasons hunters fail to consistently take wild hogs. It is well known and documented that deer have a 'Home Range'. This Home is often described or limited to one or two square miles and deer won't stray far from home even under heavy hunting pressure. Wild hogs on the other hand, may go for miles and never return to an area even under the slightest hunting pressure. It would be wise to remember this fact if hogs have just entered or rarely enter your hunting area and a hunter wants to shoot one. If hunter plays his cards the wrong way and scares them it may be a long time before any more return. With this detail in mind a hog hunter should take care not to intrude on hogs and their hiding places. It's true the same care and precaution should be taken for deer also. But look at the difference. If you scare a white tail deer from it's resting place that deer will limit the distance it retreats and stay in it's home range. With hogs, forget it. If hogs are jumped from their hiding place they will most likely not stop their retreat anywhere near the same area. Then the hunter has lost his opportunity to take one of them.
SIGNS AND PATTERNS
So what should a hunter do to successfully find and take these hard to hunt hogs? First of all it's fair to assume that the population of wild hogs in a given hunting area will strongly determine the success of a hunter. In areas with high population or overpopulation it will be easier to successfully hunt wild hogs.
In most any situation hunters can improve their odds on taking a hog by following some simple guidelines.
In many cases the first signs of wild hogs are noticed in open fields where they have begun rooting up the ground. Rooting is one of the most highly prevalent sign hogs can make. They're easy to spot and keep track of.
hog rooting hog rooting
Both photos indicate rooting that has taken place each night for more than a week. This establishes a set pattern of hog activity.
Photos taken on the Reed Wildlife Ranch and in the front yard of a private residence.

The first mistake hunters will make after noticing rooting is to go in the woods and search for the hog's hide out. That is the last thing a hunter should do. The first thing that should be done is to study the sign and determine how fresh the sign is and for how long, or how many days the hogs have been rooting in one area. This is important information, because wild hogs are creatures of habit. The one thing that hunters can and should try to take advantage of is the hog's repetitive behavior or patterns, which is a weakness. A hunter should look for trails leading into the rooted pastures. Hogs will often use the same trail over and over again making a clean path under a fence and into the fields or pastures. They will often root in the same areas for days and weeks at a time. By studying and identifying these sign a skilled hunter should be able to determine whether or not the hogs have established a consistent pattern. The use of trail cameras can greatly aid in gathering information and discovering patterns also.
hog wallow
This area I nicknamed the "Wallow Pond". Hogs have wallowed in this pond time and time again for years. The wallow shown in the picture is fresh and as shows signs of being used every night. This also establishes a set pattern for this group of hogs making this area prime hunting.
Photo taken on the Reed Wildlife Ranch.
Hog Wallows and rubs are also signs made by wild hogs that a hunter can watch for and establish patterns on. By judging the activity at these locations and combining the rooting in pastures and other areas hunters can put together and establish a solid pattern of hog activity which is a must for a successful hunt.
It's not necessary to establish a complete pattern from the bedding area to the rooting area. All that is needed is one firm piece of the pattern, such as the rooting in fields. Once that pattern is established a hunter can begin developing a method or strategy to hunt the hogs, which will be discussed later. BAITING HOGS
A hunter can also change and alter the patterns of hogs to suit his needs. In fact deer hunters shoot many hogs, over corn feeders. There are many reasons why corn feeders are an asset to hunting hogs. The main reason is that they can alter and strengthen hog patterns and bring the hogs to hunters instead of the hunters having to find the hogs. This goes back to the basic principal, mentioned earlier, of not going in to find the hogs because it runs them off and they may not return. That's a big mistake when it comes to hog hunting.
feeder
This feeder along with a tripod stand was placed just inside a heavy patch of timber and thick cover. This will improve daytime hunting by altering and strengthening hog patterns to this specific spot. A night time hunt here is almost a guaranteed kill.
Photo taken on the Reed Wildlife Ranch.
wild hog hunting
This baited hunting spot uses ADS sewer pipe and an added extra. The large butt end from a bridge timber. Heavy with creosote and diesel, the hogs will spend quite a bit of time rubbing on it and will return to this spot just to rub on the post. Telephone poles offer the same lure to wild hogs.
Photo taken on the Reed Wildlife Ranch.

Again, the idea way to a successful hog hunt is to take advantage of the hog's weaknesses.
The most popular way to do this is with bait. In some states this may not be legal, to some hunters it may not be ethical, but none the less it is a highly successful strategy. By routinely baiting one or more spots, whether with automated feeders or other devices, hogs can be lured into a routine or pattern that can help make any hunter successful. With care and proper hunting techniques it can bring in hogs and in many cases it can hold hogs on the hunters property.
CHOOSING A BAIT
Many things should be taken into account before choosing a bait. The bait is always a big topic for debate. Some experienced hunters are completely convinced that sour corn is the best and no other can compare. Others have home brews that may contain beer or grape or raspberry Jell-O and the lists go on. This section is not to debate home brews, it's to provide information on how to bring in and hold hogs so hunters can shoot them. There are lots of things to consider when choosing bait or a combination of baits.
One of those considerations should be the coons. It does no good to put out 20 pounds of corn for the hogs when the coons will scarf it up before the hogs ever find it. Another one is using bait to cover a hunters scent, and another one is that the corn should remain crunchy so it will make noise when the hogs are feeding. Noise covers the hunters noises, alerts other hogs to a feeding frenzy and on those dark moonless nights it alerts hunters to the presence of hogs on the bait. With these reasons in mind I strongly recommend corn mixed with diesel or corn and milo mixed with diesel. Diesel will deter coons, it has a powerful aroma and the corn will stay crunchy. To prepare bait a hunter simply applies one quart of diesel to 5 gallons of corn. There is no need to let the mixture soak and more diesel can be used if desired.
BAITING DEVICES
There are lots of ways to bait for hogs.
One common way is to dig a hole one or two feet deep and one or two feet across. Place some bait in the bottom and cover it with a layer of dirt. Place some more bait in the hole and cover it with a layer of dirt. Proceed till the hole is full then be sure to place some bait on top. The hogs will work long and hard to dig the corn up and will return time after time till the corn is gone and they loose hope of getting any more. As long as the hole is continually baited the hogs should return.
feeder pipe
This pipe feeder is made from standard sewer pipe with holes. It is filled with corn and loosely tied down.
Photo taken on the Reed Wildlife Ranch.
Another way to bait a spot is to utilize pipe. Four and five inch sewer pipe with the holes already in it works real well. The rigid sewer pipe can be cut into two or three foot pieces with caps on each end. Simply remove a cap, fill it a little over half full and place it on the ground. It would be wise to anchor it in such a fashion that the hogs can knock it around and get the corn out with out dragging it off where you can't find it. You'll find that this is inexpensive to make, it makes some noise to alert you when the hogs are on it. It also makes the corn last a little longer by making it more difficult for the hogs to get the corn out.
Pipe feeder
This feeder pipe is made from Solid ADS sewer line. The bottom end is wired together tight enough to allow only small amounts of corn when the hogs push it around.
Photo taken on the Reed Wildlife Ranch.
Flexible sewer pipe called ADS can also be used. Again either four or five inch pipe is recommended.
I recommend buying ADS pipe in 10 foot pieces, with no holes in it. You'll find it's easy to cut some inch holes with just a pocketknife. I recommend one hole every two or three feet. One end can be smashed together and wired closed. The other end is tied about three feet up a "T"Post and left open so corn can be poured into the pipe. This pipe is very inexpensive, it costs around 3.75 for a 10-foot piece.
wild feeder
Automatic feeders are more expensive but are much more reliable at dispensing and rationing corn.
Photo taken on the Reed Wildlife Ranch
The more expensive way to go is an Automatic Feeder mounted underneath a 50-gallon barrel. I would recommend a feeder that can be set to throw corn about 2 hours before dark and then once more at around 11:00 PM. These feeders are reliable and require less maintenance. And they can save lots of corn by limiting its availability. It's hard to go wrong these feeders but they do need to be guarded against coons getting to the motors and stealing your corn. In many cases they also need to be protected from the hogs too. Hogs can push over the stands that the barrels are sitting on.
PLACING YOUR FEEDING DEVICES OR BAIT
Once a hunter has chosen bait and the devices to hold the bait it's then time to choose the spots where the bait will be placed. These spots should be easy to get to. They should be placed in an area that will fit the hunting method to be used. They should be located far enough away from any bedding areas so that the hogs can not hear, see or smell a hunter as they arrive to start their hunt. The baited spots are best located directly next to trails, wallows and other frequently used areas. The location is extremely important in all those regards, especially where there are fewer hogs around. Despite what many hunters believe hogs really aren't some kind of mobile four-legged corn detectors. Home brews of no kind will make hogs magically go where they haven't gone before. In order for the bait to be found quickly it must be placed so that the hogs will most likely walk right into it. Sometimes it helps to trickle a trail of corn leading to the baiting device.
STRATEGY FOR HUNTING HOG PATTERNS
Prehunt preparations can make a hunting spot better or it can ruin a hunt, it all depends on what the hunter's intentions are. There are several kinds of hunts a hunter will be preparing for. Long Term Hunting, Short Term Hunting and Quick Hunts are all types of hunting conditions that hunters may be faced with. Preparing for each one will be vastly different. The preparation for Long Term Hunting would involve lots of activities such as sawing limbs or small trees and cutting grass with a weed eater and other intrusive methods.
Hunting Wild Hogs
This hunting spot now offers prime hunting. But it took lots of time and energy. The hogs did not establish a regular pattern for weeks. BUT now, there are 4 wallows within 50 yards of the stand and the hogs come to this feeder every night.
Photo taken on the Reed Wildlife Ranch
It would possibly involve setting up feeding devices and comfortable stands near areas where hogs have had established patterns for years. This kind of activity is sure to scare the hogs off for an extended period of time. But, in the long run it should provide excellent hunting. This is not the kind of preparation a hunter would take if hogs were in the area and a hunter was faced with a limited amount of time.
When a hunter is restricted to Short Term Hunting, such as a month or two months as some public land is now governed, it would be wise to consider other less intrusive measures of preparation. This would also be true for those Quick Hunts of just one or two days. In this situation, a hunter should be scouting for fresh hog sign and trying to establish a pattern that already exists, without scaring the hogs that are in that pattern.


These hogs were taken by my 16 year old cousin using my "Quick Hunt Method". The hunt took place from 1:00PM to sunset and it was our first time on this property in Ben Wheeler TX. Both hogs were shot less than 30 yards away and were eating corn on a baited trail.
In a Short Term Hunt a hunter would leave the area after studying it. The plan would be to move into other areas if time permitted but not to risk jumping the hogs. The hunter can return the next day, study the sign and see if the hogs have returned. If so plans could be made for certain types of preparation that would not be intrusive, noisy or otherwise alert wary hogs. Such as baiting the area with corn by scattering it on the ground. It is not wise to pile the corn up. It's better to scatter the corn and make the hogs roam the area more and work for the corn. This will help stir natural odors in the area and help cover your activity. It also helps to bury corn in deep holes so it will keep the hogs coming back to finish getting the corn. All of this will reinforce the present pattern of those hogs and possibly bring in more.
The hunter should be prepared with some kind of light stand that can be carried into the area and set up quietly and with very little effort. The preparation could take more than two or three days with the hunter being very cautious too never jump the hogs or leave intrusive odors or damage. The baiting would continue and should lead to taking a hog either day or night. If night hunting is not allowed the hunter would have to study the sign and figure which direction the hogs are coming from. If it becomes obvious that the hogs will not come out in the daylight hours of morning or evening, then the operation would need to be moved ever closer to where the hogs are coming from, careful to never jump or scare the hogs. It would also be wise for the hunter to stay clear of the area during the middle of the day. He could search more areas to establish patterns from other groups of hogs and start working more and more spots. A portable climbing stand comes in handy in these situations. The hunter should remain patient be confident that he is afforded some time to have a successful hunt. A hunter who has only a day or two is at a real disadvantage.
wild feral hog rooting In this situation the rooting is too far from dense cover. It wouldn't be wise to wait here for a daylight hunt.
Photo taken on the Reed Wildlife Ranch
The Quick Hunter in the same situation as the Short-Term hunter above will be faced with having to make quicker decisions and will need to very skilled at reading and judging sign. When the pattern is found he will have to study the sign and decide whether to stop or proceed closer. The main factor in this decision is whether or not he can or will hunt during the nighttime hours. If he can hunt during the night it would be better to stop and quickly and quietly prepare for the upcoming hunt. A portable chair or climbing stand is all that should be used.

If the hunter is dayhunting only, he will have to judge the area and the sign, and decide whether to go further toward the hogs or not. Too far and he risks jumping them. Where should he be prepared to shoot or stop? The guiding factor for me is always the location. To make it simple for daytime hunting, you will always need to be near some kind of dense cover. If there were no type of dense cover, then I would track the hogs until I did reach some kind of noticeable dense cover. At that point I would stop and set up and wait, or go on in after them. Equal parts of luck and skill will determine the success of these short hunts.
hog rootingwild hog wallow
Both the rooting and the wallow in this picture are fresh, establish a consistent pattern and are located near thick cover. These are prime places to hunt hogs in daylight hours.
Once the preparation is done and the patterns are established, it's important that all activity be held to a minimum around any areas that hogs are frequently using. I can't count the number of times that I have taken hunters out to their stands, which are hot and heavy with hog activity, only to see them unzip their pants and relieve themselves or pull out a cigarette and start smoking. They may as well turn around and go home at that point, cause no wild hogs are likely to come around and stay when they get a smell of all that. Remember that hogs are the most intelligent animals in the woods here in North America. If you underestimate them to any degree less than that your hunts will most likely remain or be mostly unsuccessful.
NIGHT TIME HUNTING
Heading out to the stand for a long hunt at night will require some thought too. There are methods and things to know that can make the hunt easier and more successful.

Remember to bring some extra corn with you. This corn should be spread out, not piled, in any visible areas from your stand. This can really help because when hogs get up and start moving at night it's usually at a steady fast walk. Keep in mind that not every hog walking by the stand knows about the baited area that has been attracting other hogs. They may simply speed right on by and be gone before you know they were there. So if the extra corn is scattered in all directions that are visible from the stand, and a hog wanders into the area, they will stop to eat the corn. This should allow for a good clean shot.
On dark nights it's important that you hunt with your ears because you can't see with your eyes. Those feeding devices that create lots of noise will now be ready to pay off. You can also listen for the hogs crunching the corn. Hogs are very loud smackers. Along with smacking they make lots of noise sniffing out the corn that is scattered on the ground (not in piles). With the smacking, crunching and loud sniffing going on the hunter can get ready to switch on the light. This is a critical point in the hunt.
hunting light The light shown in the picture clips on to a scope. This type of light is a big help for night time hunting.
If the light is too bright it will scare the hogs. No 500,000 or 1,000,000 candlepower lights are needed. What you should have is a light that clips on to your gun or scope and can simply be turned on by an easy to get to rocker switch. These lights are sold in most popular hunting stores and magazines. Prices range from 30.00 to over 100.00 depending on the type you purchase. Some of the brighter lights will require filtered lenses that will be either red or blue. The purpose of these lenses is to dim the light so they won't scare the animals. Some hunters believe the lenses will cause hogs eyes to shine brighter. Hogs eyes do not shine or reflect back at you like deer and varmint eyes do. In fact hogs are very hard to see at night their dark colors absorb light making them very difficult to see. Once the hogs are lit up a hunter can either choose which hog they want or shoot the first one that comes into view.


FEEDERLIGHTS One of the biggest accomplishmnets for TEXASBOARS and night time hog hunting is the production of the TEXASBOARS FEEDERLIGHT! If you're hunting at night and need a sure-fire reliable way to see hogs that come to a baited area, these solar powered lights are exactly what you need!
There are a lot of different models to choose from but the basics of this strategy are simple. The lights come on at dark and stay on! The hogs walk in to the baited area and the hunter can see them! No flicking a switch, no bright light popping on off and above all no more of the nagging question "is a hog there or not,, is it time to turn on the light"?
All you have to do is sit in the stand and watch, when the hogs come in you can see them, and have the needed light to aim and shoot with no fumbling around for flashlights, switches, and other distractions that could scare the hogs.

See the TEXASBAORS FEEDERLIGHT INFORMATION PAGES AND ONLINE CATALOG!
The most affordable and the absolute brightest feederlights on the market today!

Artificial light is not the only light a hunter can use. Moonlight from a Full Moon or nearly Full Moon is more than bright enough to hunt and shoot with. The proper equipment is needed such as 10 x 50 binoculars, which can make seeing much easier by drawing and concentrating light. The same with riflescopes is true. I would recommend one that can be set on a power of 4 - 6 with an objective lens of at least 30-MM. The bigger the objective lens, the more light the scope can draw in. So a variable scope with a large objective lens such as a 3x-9x 40 MM is ideal. A 50MM objective is better yet. Using the binoculars and scope while hunting an open pasture at night can make shooting hogs a simple and exciting adventure.
Hunting Wild Boar
These 10x50 Tasco Binoculars and a 3x-9x 50MM rifle scope are inexpensive, and greatly enhance nigh time vision by gathering light. They can greatly improve the odds of having a successful full moon hunt with out any other sources of light.
Iron sights are for skilled night time hunters only. Shotguns with buck shot are not a wise choice. Iron sights require lots of practice to use at night and I strongly advise against it. I hope now that hunters understand the differences between hunting deer and hogs. I would also hope they would begin to learn the needed skills to begin a lifetime of successfully hunting hogs and enjoying all the excitement and rewards that go with it. I would also like to encourage hunters to respect the land and the people who own it. If that respect is taken for granted and lost, all the skills that have been gained and worked for, and all the excitement will be nothing more than memories. I hope my children can enjoy the great outdoors as I have, and hunt wild hogs, deer, elk and other wildlife all over this country. I hope that it won't be a situation where there's nothing left but stories and fading memories. Or something that just the wealthy can enjoy. I'm afraid it may become just that way, with hunting experiences enjoyed only by the Rich and Famous. What are you doing to help keep hunting a part of our great heritage?