Hunting Florida Hogs

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Posted by: Captain Woody - Comments Off on Hunting Florida Hogs

Sometimes anglers get tired of catching fish and look for something else to do. Over the last few years hunting hogs has become popular for many hunting enthusiast and it’s something you can do year round. For those who like hunting and are tired of the same old things you might be interested in trying something different. These are the big game wild hogs found in everycountyofFlorida. They are not your ordinary barnyard pig, they’re ugly, stinky and one the smartest wild animals you’ll ever match wits against. There is an air of mystery about hunting wild hogs and a certain amount of danger, but regardless it’s gaining in popularity everywhere.

Non-native to North America hogs originated inEurasiaand began showing up as early as 1539 with the Hernando Desoto expeditions. It’s believed the first feral or wild hogs escaped from those expeditions and quickly reverted to the wild hogs we have today. Although they started out as domestic throughout the centuries now they’ve become full-blooded wild boars.

Physically, wild boars look very different and are much more aggressive from domestic pigs. With smaller ears and much longer snouts; their tails are straight and tufted at the tip. Hair coloring is brown to black with long bristles running from the head along the center line of the back. It can be raised up in the air two to three inches from the body as a warning when the boar is excited or agitated. With their hind legs shorter than front legs, wild boars have an “uphill” appearance. A mature wild boar can measure up to 40 inches at the shoulder and weigh up to 450 pounds; females somewhat shorter weighing up to 370 pounds. Under ideal conditions a healthy female (sow) can breed when only 6 months old and continue breeding every six months, producing four to 14 piglets per litter. Young wild boars are born with yellowish-brown coats with distinct dark stripes along the back providing camouflage coloring.

Because of their high reproductive rates and voracious appetitesFlorida’s up to its elbows in this prolific porker and it’s getting worse. There is an estimated half a million hogs rooting their way around the state causing serious agricultural, residential and wildlife habitat destruction. Wild hogs are opportunistic omnivorous eating machines with appetites extending beyond nuts, fruits, roots and tubers. Stomach contents actually revealed remnants of young animals, carrion and eggs of ground-nesters like sea turtles, turkey and quail.

Wild Hog Hunting – Stalking wild hogs is an exciting adventure you’ll never forget and the culinary benefits aren’t bad either. If you’re interested in pitting your wits against this cunning opponent then learning to identify certain things like food sources, rubs, wallows, habitats and travel patterns can be important to your success.

Wild hogs are tough intelligent animals with an incredible sense of smell, reasonable hearing, and moderate eyesight. They readily adapt to changing conditions and if it benefits their survival may modify their reaction to humans. Like their domestic cousins wild hogs prefer dense cover that’s close to water, and food.

Whether you’re looking for a trophy or one for the smoker you must recognize where they spend their time. Hogs do not have sweat glands, which make them partial to dense cover and shade with access to water. These pools of water or mud holes allow them to wallow and keep cool. Find these water holes along with muddy trees used to rub off the mud and you’ve found where they spend a lot of daytime hours.

Pin pointing exact food sources is more difficult, because hogs eat just about anything and doing so cause incredible ground damage which makes it those specific areas easily identifiable. Other key feeding areas include hardwoods and conifers that produce nuts or berry producing vegetation.

Hog tracks will resemble small calves and are easy to identify in moist areas. Learning to read these tracks can reveal pig trails to and from food and water. Following them often leads to tunnels through the dense vegetation and straight to bedding areas that are easily identifiable by the unpleasant odors associated with hogs.

Hunting Methods and Techniques

Spotting and Stalking – in reasonably exposed terrain can be an effective and challenging method. Position yourself facing the wind keeping open areas in clear sight. When you locate them start moving slowly and quietly in their direction keeping yourself downwind. By using all available cover you can usually get close enough for a quality shot.

Still hunting – is commonly used in thick or dense brush, find an area with fresh signs, then maintain soft/quiet footing and begin moving slowly stopping often to look, listen and smell. Stay alert as you move and keep your face into the wind.

Stationary Tree Stands or Blinds – is primarily an early morning technique so plan to arrive before sunrise. Pigs continually use certain areas or trails so choose a downwind location with good cover and a clear view. Now it’s a waiting game.

Taking the Shot – When you finally squeeze off the expected kill shot at a wild hog, remember they are surprisingly intelligent, physically adapt and mentally tough and horrifying thing you’ve ever heard about wounded hogs is true.

Head Shot – Not always the best: As a rule, a well placed head shot will drop the pig instantly and you’ve got an instant kill; especially if the bullet enters at or just behind the ear cutting the spinal cord or going through the brain. On the other hand, since animals are constantly moving their heads making this shot can be risky business unless perfectly executed. Virtually nothing in the head or neck area is vital to life except the central nervous system and the slightest miscue often leaves the charged up on adrenaline, blinded, with a possible broken jaw or some other mortal wound.

For that reason shot placement is especially important for a quick clean kill. Ideally, a shot on a broadside should be placed in the lower shoulder area. If the animal is quartering towards or away from you, you’ll want to place the shot so the bullet ends up in the vital organs between the shoulders a couple of inches above the front elbow, where the bullet should pass through the lungs and possibly the heart. Keep in mind that any unplaced broadside or shoulder shot that does sever the spinal cord seldom results in an instant kill leaving the animal mortally wounded and often un-recovered. Nevertheless, once you shoot any animal, it is your responsibility to recover it and depending on the wound it can take hours of hard work over rough terrain.

Much talk has been put forth about the head shot, and that can definitely be a kill shot, provided you hit the brain. Make note of the fact that a hog’s brain is well protected by its thick skull and a small target. Here again, a tough bullet with good penetration is key.

A broken shoulder certainly puts a hog down on the spot, allowing for a fast follow-up shot if it’s necessary; this ideal if you don’t want to have to trail the animal, but would rather kill it quickly and efficiently. Also in the case of a mature hog, you don’t want it coming after you with those nasty sharp tusks.

How Much Gun – One important thing to remember is take enough guns to do the job. I would not hunt hogs with any rim fire cartridge; unless I was dealing with very small young pigs. So, how much gun is enough? That depends on the hog and bullet placement. For normal hogs you might start with any cartridge in the class of a 30-30. Especially with 170-grain bullets you’ll get plenty of penetration. Smaller hogs can be killed with lesser cartridges, and larger boars would best be approached with something much heavier. Overall, you want to use enough gun and ammo to penetrate with enough depth to do the job efficiently, while allowing for a margin of error.

Everyone tries to make a clean kill, but it does not always happen and because pigs have thick hides with the inherent ability to seal a wound they often have a tendency to leave little or no blood. Therefore, after you take your shot try to determine whether you hit the animal and if it’s no longer visible, make a mental mark of where it was when you shot. Go to that spot and hopefully you’ll a have a dead animal; if not mark the spot, so you can return later. Now begin searching the immediate area for signs that help determine what type of wound you’re dealing with. Frothy blood indicates a lung shot which usually causes the animal to succumb rather quickly. On the other hand, stomach contents indicate a stomach wound which seldom drops one quickly. A stomach wounded animal will usually lie down after a short run and expire, so it’s often better to wait a little while before tracking.

Wild hogs are especially strong, hard to kill and capable of inflicting serious injury; they often backtrack charging from behind or lie in wait for an ambush When you think you are close to finding or have located the animal you shot always approach with caution. Stunned animals can also recover quickly attacking without warning; so be alert and prepared for a second shot until you’ve confirmed the animal is dead.

Field Dressing – Like most wild animals, hogs carry parasites and diseases that can transmit to humans. Several possibilities are brucellosis, tuberculosis, anthrax and trichinosis. When handling any carcass take every precaution to protect against disease and pest exposure and most importantly always avoid any blood to blood contact. At all times wear latex or rubber gloves, wear safety glasses or goggles, don’t eat or drink will dressing the animal, wear long sleeve shirts and pants, wash and disinfect hands and clothing and always cook the meat to a least 185 degrees.

The next time you pull your chair up to the dinner table for a wild hog roast pork dinner with brown rice and gravy, buttermilk biscuits, green beans and cold iced tea, you might find yourself wondering why more people don’t hunt hogs.