March 20, 2014
While whitetails, elk, and other ungulates seem to get all of the love from bowhunters, the dirty little secret amongst many of us is that hogs are the most fun to hunt. They may not be the most brag-worthy trophies, but they do represent hunting opportunities laced with pure enjoyment.
Sandwiched between the end of deer season and the onset of turkey season is a window of time that is best dedicated to the procurement of fresh pork chops. Currently, feral hogs exist in appreciable populations in well over half of the states. Sightings of wild pigs have occurred in nearly every state. This leads many of us to believe that hog hunting opportunities are widespread and easy to come by, but that's not entirely the case.
Emerging hog populations in many of the gateway states are under constant pressure. But hunting is not encouraged outright, which is a measure meant to curb unscrupulous individuals from trying to propagate the populations. Other states with more established populations have waged an all-out war on problematic piggies.
These are the states the traveling bowhunter should consider because densities are high enough to offer a quality hunt, yet the pigs are far from pushovers. Following are five states worthy of your hog hunting consideration.
While famous-for-God-knows-why types like the Kardashians and state politicians who seem to have spent very little time on planet earth seem to dominate our thoughts about California, the Golden State offers hunters plenty. If you can get past the politics and the paparazzi, you'll find pig hunting opportunities that rival all other states.
Pig hunters will find that they need to buy a hunting license, individual pig permits, and then locate a good place to hunt before ever hopping on a plane or loading the truck. Certainly, California isn't the most hunter friendly state, but it is thick with game and offers some of the most scenic vistas around. Baiting is prohibited, so hunting boils down to spotting and stalking or staking out waterholes and agricultural food sources.
Most wannabe hog hunters believe that the best method to kill pigs involves sitting next to a feeder and waiting for it to turn on, but the most fun you'll ever have is spotting a sounder of pigs rooting through a patch of live oaks or a field of barley and then attempting to crawl into bow range.
Arrow a pig in Florida and you may have just connected yourself to the history of our nation. Some believe that the feral boars and sows milling around the Sunshine State are descendants from those brought to the country by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto in 1539. Every county in Florida boasts a hog population, and private land hunters can pretty much kill them any way they'd like.
Public land pig chasers need to look into licensing and permit requirements, and there are some quality spots to bag a pig or two on Uncle Sam's ground. Florida is much more popular as a fishing destination, or perhaps for those looking to round out a turkey Grand Slam via an Osceola gobbler, but hunters simply looking for a great hunting trip would do well to research a hog hunt here.
One state that might not be on the radar of traveling hog hunters is Georgia. On private lands there is no closed season, no limit and pigs can be hunted at night. Public land hunters are subject to stricter regulations, but opportunities are still available for the nonresident, who must have a valid hunting license. Baited hunts are commonplace on private land, though Georgia hunters will also encounter perfect chances to sneak up on sleeping or feeding hogs.
Still-hunting along two-tracks that wind through swampy hog haunts and food sources is a great way to run into a porker or two without having to sit at a bait site. Many hunters plan to do both, though, to ensure plenty of shot opportunities and virtually guarantee the procurement of one of the best foods on earth — bacon.
It is now believed that every county in Oklahoma hosts a population of feral hogs, and few states are as friendly to non-residents as the Sooner State. Like college freshman, feral hogs spend most of their time in places that offer food, water and a chance for sexual activity given their penchant for reproducing as prolifically as possible. This means that Oklahoma hunters should obviously look for food and water and, of course, hog sign.
License requirements vary depending on the time of year you plan to hunt and whether you'll be spending your time on private land or public. Multiple methods for hunting Oklahoma porkers are available, with some quality public land spot-and-stalk hunts existing, which is not the case in many of the other states.
The Lone Star State is the premier destination for bowhunters looking to scratch a pig hunting itch. Considered an exotic animal in Texas, feral hogs are not subject to state bag limits, possession limits, or closed seasons provided you're hunting on private land. In other words, Texas offers the traveling hunter the chance to fill the freezer on multiple pigs any time of year.
It's generally believed that Texas' hog population stems from the introduction of pigs by Spanish explorers three centuries ago, which has given them plenty of time to reproduce. Today's population numbers in the millions and covers nearly all of Texas, with densities increasing the farther south and east you travel in the state.
There are plenty of outfitting services that cater to hogs, which may be shot any time of day or night, on feeders, out of helicopters, or just about any way that might result in a pork-laden barbecue.