Feral Hogs: Scourge of the South

Feral Hogs: Scourge of the South

Feral hogs, like deer, are an extremely adaptable and prolific species.

If you want to keep your hunting skills sharp and equipment in good workingorder during the off-season, consider hunting feral hogs. Whitetails Columnist BobHumphrey killed this nice hog several years ago in South Texas.

The sun had just dipped below the mesquite trees, and for the first time all afternoon I felt the air begin to cool. I'd carved a makeshift blind out of a clump of cedars and was eagerly awaiting the first whitetails when I felt, more than heard, the clumping of hooves on hard soil. My fingers tensed as I glimpsed a patch of brown moving through the cedars. My heart raced as I saw more shapes, then sank when the first stepped into the open. Hogs!

My disappointment was fleeting, however, when I realized this was not a problem, but an opportunity. The outfitter had not only warned me about the hogs, he had strongly encouraged me to reduce any and all I saw to possession. They might have already ruined my afternoon hunt for deer, but they certainly would if I let them hang around. So, I did what any self-respecting bowhunter would do. As I sent an arrow on its way I thought, Pork chops instead of back straps tonight!


Meet the Porcines
Feral hogs, like deer, are an extremely adaptable and prolific species. With a helping hand from humans, they have expanded their range over much of the Southeast and Texas -- and they continue expanding north and west.



Unlike deer, however, feral hogs are not a native species. They also compete with deer for many of the same resources and are increasingly becoming a wildlife management problem -- so much so that the Quality Deer Management Association devoted a section to feral hogs in its 2010 Whitetail Report.

Competition
Deer and feral hogs eat many of the same foods. On healthy range, it's not as much of an issue, but where food is limited, hogs can represent serious competition. The availability of both hard and soft mast can be an important factor as to how healthy deer are going into the winter, and hogs love mast. They're also more aggressive than deer, and thus may out-compete deer when food is limited.


Competition becomes even more of an issue on managed property. A landowner may spend hundreds or thousands of dollars building food plots. To the untrained eye, the effect of routine deer feeding is barely discernible. But hogs aren't as delicate. They can tear up a food plot in days. On more intensively managed properties, they'll also dominate feeders, taking hundreds of dollars in feed away from deer.


Depredation, Economic Impact and Disease
So often we depend on landowners, particularly farmers, for a place to hunt. Scratching a living from the earth is hard enough without adding feral hogs. They destroy crops, fences and other property. In Texas alone, the estimated annual agricultural damage from feral hogs is $52 million. In the Southeast, they cause significant damage in newly planted pine plantations. According to the QDMA report, "Feral swine can also carry at least 30 important viral and bacterial diseases and 37 parasites that can affect humans, pets and a variety of livestock and wildlife."

Silver Lining
In hunting, as in life, there are always two sides to every story; and it turns out feral hogs do have some redeeming qualities, not the least of which is their value as a huntable species.

Regulations vary considerably, and their status runs the gamut from game to nuisance animals. Some states allow limited take during certain seasons, while others have no closed season and no bag limit. Landowners have found they can even recoup some of their property damages through trespass fees, leases and other income related to hog hunting. And as their numbers increase, so does their value as a recreational commodity.

They're also fun to hunt. Like coyotes, another deer hunter's bane, feral hogs can be mere targets of opportunity on a deer hunt. If you tag out early on a guided deer hunt, many outfitters will let you hunt hogs at little or no additional cost. And then there's hog hunting as a deliberate effort.

Spring Training
Because they can be hunted year-round in many states, feral hogs also make for great off-season training to get or keep your deer-hunting skills in shape. Unlike other "off-season" game such as groundhogs or even turkeys, hog hunting requires virtually the same equipment as deer hunting. You also use essentially the same skills and tactics.

You may be hunting from fixed stands (often over a feeder or feeding area) or spot-and stalk hunting, and the latter can be extremely challenging. While their eyesight is less keen than a deer's, a hog's hearing is at least as good as a whitetail's, and their sense of smell is superior.

And while the challenge of hunting feral hogs is on par with that posed by whitetails, so is the payoff. I can tell you from firsthand experience the loins from a fat sow are every bit as tasty as the best venison backstraps!

Recommended for You

Sit, stand or lean - this is what you'll need! Treestands & Blinds

Where Do I Put My Feet When Tree Saddle Hunting?

Greg Staggs

Sit, stand or lean - this is what you'll need!

Light up a buck's taste buds while drawing him in for a close shot. Whitetail

Hidey-Hole Whitetail Food Plots

Brad M. Mormann & Dr. Grant R. Woods

Light up a buck's taste buds while drawing him in for a close shot.

Take advantage of 360-degree shooting. Treestands & Blinds

How Do I Shoot from a Tree Saddle?

Greg Staggs

Take advantage of 360-degree shooting.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Bill Winke

Bill Winke's Top Five Bow Shooting Tips

Petersen's Bowhunting Field Editor Bill Winke give us his top five bow shooting tips

Bill Winke

Bill Winke's Bowhunting Treestand Set-Up Tips

Field Editor Bill Winke provides bowhunting treestand set-up tips that'll help make life easier when it's go time in the fall.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

We've rounded up the best new fixed-blade broadheads from the 2019 ATA Show. Check out our top picks! ATA Show

New Fixed-Blade Broadheads for 2019

Brian Strickland - January 10, 2019

We've rounded up the best new fixed-blade broadheads from the 2019 ATA Show. Check out our top...

We've rounded up the best new compound bows at the 2019 ATA Show. Here are our top picks for the year! ATA Show

Best New Bows for 2019

Tony J. Peterson - January 10, 2019

We've rounded up the best new compound bows at the 2019 ATA Show. Here are our top picks for...

We Rank 16 Top Models on Sharpness, Accuracy, Penetration & More


It's that time of year when Arrows & Broadheads

2017 Fixed-Blade Broadhead Test

Jon E. Silks - December 12, 2017

We Rank 16 Top Models on Sharpness, Accuracy, Penetration & More It's that time of year...

See More Stories

More Other Game

          Feral hogs, like deer, are an extremely adaptable and prolific species.     By Bob Other Game

Feral Hogs: Scourge of the South

March 16, 2011

Feral hogs, like deer, are an extremely adaptable and prolific species. By Bob



If the swamps of Central Florida are hog-hunting heaven, William Other Game

Hog Heaven: Bowhunting Florida Hogs

Christian Berg - June 07, 2012

If the swamps of Central Florida are hog-hunting heaven, William "Hoppy" Kempfer is a...

          The exciting, and sometimes dangerous, business of bowhunting wild boars.    By Patrick Other Game

Go Hog Wild!

Patrick Meitin - October 28, 2010

The exciting, and sometimes dangerous, business of bowhunting wild boars. By...

See More Other Game

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×