GUNS AND TACTICS FOR WIILD BOAR
"Originally Published Spring of 1997" "Updated March 2008"
Tactics for hunting wild feral hogs day or night. Suggested Bullet, makers, choice, weight, velocity and performance for large wild hogs using rifles, pistols and revolvers.
BULLET PLACEMENT REFERENCE | BULLET MANUFACTURERS
GUNS AND LOADS FOR WILD HOGS
When planning a hunt for Wild Boar a hunter should seriously consider the gun, caliber, and load to fit the hunting situation. There are many factors hunters should consider before going on a hunt for big wild boar. It's important that the load match the the hunting style.
What do I mean by this? Simple, no hunter is perfect, so no hunter should assume he or she will always get, make or take the perfect shot. Choose a load that will work even in a less than ideal situation. One load from the same gun can make an instant kill in one situation and fail miserably in the next. For example, a quartering forward shot. A large hog quartering toward a hunter requires deep penetration through massive amounts of meat and possibly large bone too. This is a demanding job and impossible for the wrong load in the right gun.
I have hunted hogs for years and guided on a professional level for wild boar. I have shot my share of hogs in lots of different situations, and as a guide I have seen all manner of shots and bullets used on wild hogs. In the following article I will make suggestions and recommendations based on my experience,plus information from others whom I feel are experienced.
In the load tables these recommendations are based on bullet weight combined with velocity and bullet structure - the things needed to produce adequate penetration and tissue damage that can bring down a large boar. I understand smaller rounds can kill smaller hogs and small rounds can also kill big boar. It is not the purpose of this article to debate those claims. I live in a real world. In my real world I have found and killed 400 lb + wild boar when I really didn't expect them. If you go on a hunting trip and meet up with a 400 lb wild boar would you want to kill it, wound it or have to pass on the chance? Most hunters will need to be prepared to kill large boar with a capable weapon. It's the hunter's choice. What I recommend below will kill large boar with a decent shot. I also understand and want the readers to understand that in some given areas hogs can reach mammoth size, 500 lbs +. If you intend to kill the very biggest then you better beef it up to the HILT. In the tables are Calibers, Maximum Ranges, Minimum Velocities and Capable Shot Placements for that given round based on my experience in the field.
In the revolver table below is listed most all of the popular and useful rounds available today. Most revolvers fall short when it comes to velocity. I am a firm believer in MAXIMUM VELOCITY combined with PROPER BULLET WEIGHT. To help I would never use a barrel shorter than 6 inches. In my experience, I have discovered that in order for a bullet, (from revolvers 357 to 45 cal), to inflict adequate tissue damage (wide enough wound channel) the given bullet should be traveling around 1,100 fps on impact. This is based on a boatload of dead hogs, and lots of bullet testing.
Velocity must also be combined with the needed bullet mass (weight) and toughness to extend the tissue damage (wound channel) sometimes deep into the animals vital organs (heart, lungs, spine or jugular). And most important in the combination is the bullets structure. The structure of the bullet must have the ability to transfer the bullets energy properly.
Self Defense and Game hunting are not interchangeable. Even Hornady with their XTP design can not stand on the ground that their bullet was designed specifically for big game hunting. They work OK at best. It was designed for self defense, but is adequate for large game. As my friend Bill puts it "nuff said"
In most revolvers a hand loaded, lubricated, hard cast bullet, can obtain higher velocities with less pressure than jacketed bullets. This allows heavier loads at higher velocities. On the downside a hunter will have to recognize that with the hardness of the bullet comes a loss of controlled expansion. The hunter is afforded deep penetration and bone breaking toughness but some sacrifice is made in shocking power and tissue damage (a smaller wound channel). Look for bullets with flatter points or hollow points in hard cast design. I would stay away from round nose or sharper pointed hard cast bullets bullets.
My Recommendation now goes with Cast Performance Bullet Company, who is now making a full line up of cast bullets for the handloader. They make cast bullets with a wide flat nose, which increases shocking power.
A Jacketed Bullet, although slower, possesses controlled expansion and can produce heavy shocking power and large wound channels. BUT, the softer lead will allow more rapid bullet expansion, and less penetration. Jacketed bullets for hunting are few and far between. Look for harder lead antimony bullets with shallow hollow points, or soft point bullets. DO NOT CHOOSE SELF DEFENSE ROUNDS ! As of now I can recommend THREE bullets;
The first jacketed bullet I would recommend is the NOSLER PARTITION (PHG). It is available in 357
cal. (180 grn) 44 cal. (250 grn) and 45 cal. (260 and 300 grn). I have not personally used or tested these bullets. I understand from a number of sources they are very reliable in both shock and
penetration at 1200 + velocities. WINCHESTER SUPREME OFFERS THESE BULLETS AS PARTITION GOLD.
My personal handgun for hunting is a 44 mag Ruger Super Redhawk 9 1/2 bbl seen above. I use a Custom 240 grain Hard Cast Semi-Wad Cutter Hollow Point. The bullet's performance is similar to the Nosler Partition bullets made for larger rifles. (Nosler now makes partition bullet for Handguns) It affords me both shock and penetration. It is more than capable of handling the bullet placements for most situations. See above the 2 bullets on the left.They were both recovered from large hogs after breaking down both legs and lodging in the cape on the opposite side. The 2 right bullets were recovered from head-on shots on medium sized hogs. They were both shot the same night at about 30 yards. Both bullets entered the mouth and were recovered from the intestines.
Hornady's web site
Nosler Partition Handgun Bullets.
For other hard cast and jacketed bullets ;
LEADHEAD hard cast bullets
Cast Performance hard cast bullets
H. D. Smith reloading pages, for detailed hand loading information.
Bullet placement is critical. In the table I have dedicated a column to the limits of bullet placement. The most deadly and fairly easy shot with a wild boar is in the NECK. Most any bullet placed between the shoulder and Jaw or ear will drop a hog in its tracks. Even if the hog runs, the blood trail is always good
The neck shot in the table is defined as (1).
The shoulder shot (2) presents the largest target and can be made broadside or quartering away. But the demands on the bullet are greatly increased. Boar hogs have CAPES (hardened skin) that can be 3 inches thick, massive legs and bones, and then a rib cage - and often there is fatty tissue also.
The quartering forward shot (3) is not recommended accept with the heaviest of loads and ample velocity, and at fairly close ranges. The shot is a poor one because the vitals are well protected and hard to hit.
Anal shots (4) are not recommended at all. But in some situations you may find you need it. I HAVE done this in defense of dog and man. The goal of an anal shot is to break the pelvic bones and disrupt the spine. A heavy bullet placed in the anus should strike the pelvis and spine, disabling the animal for another shot.
When purchasing Handgun Ammunition, or any ammunition, I would highly recommend that a hunter purchase only ammunition that has been chrono tested and proven to meet the requirements in the table (tables) below.
Handloaders need to take care when loading max loads. Approach max loads carefully, checking for signs of excessive pressure in your loads. REVOLVERS Abbreviations, Nosler Partition Handgun Bullet (PHG)- Hornady Xtreme Terminal performance (XTP) - Sierra Full Profile Jacket (FPJ), Hard Cast (HC)
FOR RELOADING INFORMATION TRY H. D. Smith reloading pages, for detailed hand loading information.
GRAYBEARDS HOME PAGES. Bill Graham and I have been E-mail buddies for quite some time now. I regard Bill as an extremely knowledgeable person on most hunting handguns. He is a pleasure to write to and I'm sure he would like you to visit his pages.
Due to the seemingly endless variety of calibers and barrel lengths in this category I'm going to take a different approach. I believe this will simplify things. Instead of trying to list every caliber or round that now exist in these handguns, I'm simply going to list the bullet diameter. Then I will list the minimum velocity that I feel is needed to produce deadly results on large hogs with the listed bullet placements. You may notice in the bullet weight category I list only the heaviest bullets. That's because with large hogs that's the only load a hunter should use in most situations (a heavy bullet is a must for the needed penetration). Also, I prefer the use of 'Premium' bullets that are made to open easily at lower velocities and hold together on hard impacts.
Rifles allow more flexibility and a larger selection of bullets. Due to the fact that I hunt hogs in pastures, at night, in close proximity to cattle, I will include some small bore calibers. For those who need an explanation, here it is. Every hunter is liable and responsible for every shot they fire. When cattle are in close proximity I feel obliged to use a rifle that has the least possibility of producing stray bullets or ricochet. I speak specifically of two calibers. The 220 swift, my favorite, and the 22-250. There are others, but the combination of light bullets and blazing speed allows a hand loaded 220 or 22-250 to be fired around cattle with little fear of stray rounds. After my earlier comments I can already hear some comments from hunters on the selection of these cartridges. But as I stated earlier there can be many factors that lead to a hunters selection, respect for a landowners property (livestock) is one of them. Through trial and error I have locked on to a load in my 220 that is capable of taking large hogs. This load is a 55 grn F.M.J. boat tail, loaded at it's max. The sheer blazing speed assures that even a full metal jacket will disrupt and separate on any impact, deleting the chance of stray bullets. It also can penetrate a shoulder and reach the lungs of most large hogs (I know it sounds ironic but it's true and it works for me) Although most every shot I make is in the neck, where an instant take down is guaranteed, I have made less than perfect shots. I do not recommend these calibers in any other situation. With a .224 diameter bullet there is rarely a blood trail and the bullet must have a perfectly open path to its target. In my experience this bullet has performed poorly on foggy nights and is of little use on a rainy or misty day.
Update, March 2008: Barnes and Nosler have come out with .22 caliber bullets capable of fairly decent penetration. Nosler has a 60 grain Partition bullet that will give 18 to 20 inches of penetration. With good shot placement, it should do ok on most hogs. However, keep in mind the limits here, and avoid shots at shallow angles. There are limits to everything. Barnes has a 53 grain Triple Shock bullet now. The Triple Shock should do even better than the Nosler on penetration. They make even heavier .22 caliber bullets, but a twist rate faster than the standard 1 in 14 inches will be needed to stabilize them. Most .22-250 and .220 Swift rifles still use the 1 in 14 twist.
In calibers ranging from .243 to the .270 a High Performance controlled expansion bullet is a good choice for the needed penetration. I highly recommend Partition bullets from NOSLER, or Barnes X Triple Shocks
In the 30 caliber (.308) a bullet loaded with 180 - 200 grn bullets will do fine with "regular" bullets. Premium bullets are still the better choice in case you do run into that 500 lb beast.
In bores larger than the .308 regular hunting bullets will do fine as long as the bullets stay on the heavy end of the spectrum.
Check out these High Performance Bullets:
HOW TO HUNT THEM
LOCATING HOGS | PICKING A SPOT | NIGHT TIME HUNTING | IN PASTURES
IN THE WOODS | DAY TIME HUNTING
Now that you have picked your cartridge, referred to a loading manual to load that cartridge or bought your cartridges, you're ready to hunt wild hogs.
A hunter can locate wild hogs by identifying the signs they leave behind. I have already written on this topic in detail. Just link on over to Signs Of the Wild Hog.
When picking a spot remember that a hogs sense of smell is his greatest defense. A hunter should always try to keep his B.O. away from the intended hunting area. Hogs can hear just as good as any other wild animal. So keep the noise down. Don't think they can't see good either. I have seen it written a hundred times and heard it told even more that hogs can't see well. I've trapped and raised wild hogs for years and I can tell you they can see just fine. Although at night I feel they do loose some of that ability. I know I've got too close to too many in some of my night excursions. Deer are supposed to see well at night and I have got pretty close to a few of them. A hunter should keep these senses of smell, hearing, and seeing in mind when they're waiting for hogs.
Here in TX it's not illegal to hunt hogs at night. They can be hunted 24 hours a day 365 days a year. But it may not be that way in every state, so check on the regulations before you try it. I like hunting at night. Most every hog I've shot has been during night time. Sitting in a hay meadow at night is very relaxing and enjoyable. Watching those big black shadowy hogs move into the open is thrilling.
Let me say this and get it out if the way. DON'T TRY USING IRON SIGHTS. OR WORSE YET A DANG SHOTGUN. Just think about it for a few seconds. In order to use these weapons or sights, A LIGHT MUST BE SHINING ON THEM. In the heat of the moment it is nearly impossible to shine a light on your barrel and the hog at the same time. BUT every time I invite a guest to go hunting with me at night, the first thing I hear is "I'll BRING A SHOTGUN." I warn them about how hard it is and that it won't work, then I let them to save argument. AND NOT ONCE have they succeeded in killing a hog. AND they have shot at plenty. THEIR EXCUSE: "MAN I CAN'T SEE THE END OF MY BARREL !" TO AIM FOLKS it takes a scope and a flashlight, or a bright moon.
At night on a full moon I use either my pistol (44 mag) or a rifle. My pistol is topped with a Tasco Pro Point. With low batteries it will form a dot dim enough to use at night. It takes lots of practice to use this combination. Most pistol scopes can't gather enough of the moons light to be used effectively. When there's not enough moon light I will generally have a friend help by shining a light or shooting while I shine the light. When I'm by myself I'll top my scope with a light made especially for that purpose. This light is made to clip directly on to a scope so there is no hands needed to hold it. A laser sight works wonders. I have used a friend's 44 mag a couple of times that is equipped with a laser. I'm gonna haf'ta git one of them for myself. A rifle is the way to go in open pastures. Long shots are not uncommon and I have watched many hogs slip out of sight when armed only with my revolver.
With a rifle at night a hunter can get those far away hogs. A rifle topped with a 4 to 6 power, 40 or 50 MM front end light gathering scope makes picking a hog off simple stuff. Really not a whole lot more to say on rifles. Don't forget to refer to my tables for the proper loads.
A good point for me to make right now on night hunting is this. A good aid for helping you see at night is a pair of 10x50 binoculars. Yes those big bulky ones you hate to carry around. They can turn low light into daylight. BUT, the best thing I've put to use is a 3rd Generation 3x Night Vision Scope. It wasn't mounted on a gun but I didn't care. MAN this thing can literally turn total darkness into day. If you have never looked through one your missing out. Although they turn every thing into shades of green. And with a 3rd generation infrared aluminator they literally make an animal's eyeballs glow green.
Of course, most of the time there's not a full moon to help see across those pastures, and most people don't have night vision equipment. This calls for a change in tactics.
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.
When you don't have all the fancy night time lights you can move into the woods - especially when there's not much moonlight. If you can't see'em coming, then you need to hear them coming. In the woods at night you need to hear them so you can see them. To do this you need to find a spot where the hogs frequent. Places such as wallows or rubs. Usually both of these are together and this makes for a good hunting spot. I usually always have a friend with me so one of us can shine the light while the other shoots. It helps to keep me from being scared out of my wits too. All you have to do is set up close enough to the wallow that you can clearly hear and see (with a light) the animals while they wallow or rub. First you will likely hear the hogs approach. BUT, don't turn on the light until the animals have stopped to wallow and rub. When the hogs have gathered turn on the light and quickly pick one out. The light usually won't scare'em. They will often stop what they're doing but won't run off. Once you pick one out and have a clear neck shot let'em have it.
If a hunter is fortunate to have a feeder and a stand this same tactic will apply with or without moonlight. A hunter might also wait beside a well used trail at night. This word of advice though. Hogs usually travel at a very quick pace at night. They often cover great distances and get where they're going in a hurry. Fast moving hogs on a trail makes for a difficult shot. That's why I strongly suggest that you pick a place where they're likely to stop. It might pay off to put some corn on the trail so if one comes by he will stop to eat. This helps in two ways. First by stopping the animal for a shot, second by letting the hunter hear the animal. That's right, hogs are noisy eaters. So when they stop and eat the corn you can hear them.
Try to always place your shot in the neck or at least take out a shoulder. Tracking a wounded hog at night is dangerous. Nuff said.
Of course you can always try to find one in the daytime. Use the same tactics that I have described above, only you won't need a light. Trails are usually a good bet for daylight hunting. During the late evening and early morning try to catch the hogs on their trails coming from or going to a close by bedding area.