If you want to be successful hunting hogs, you’d better get over the unfounded idea they’re stupid animals. In fact, your best bet is to hunt them with techniques you’d use to go after the smartest whitetail you’ve ever pursued, according to Federal Premium partner Mike Stroff, host of “Savage Outdoors.”
Pigs are smart, especially once they’ve been educated by encounters with hunters, and you need to match them with smart hunting tactics. “If you don’t, they’ll get almost to the point you can’t kill them, Stroff says. “A pressured hog is harder to hunt than a pressured whitetail.”
Pigs, Food & Water
Hogs have a thick plating of gristle behind the shoulder, natural armor that protects them when they try to hook and cut each other with their tusks, Stroff says. The bigger boars, those weighing 200 pounds and more, are packing even bigger gristle plates—serious armor. If that’s not enough, Stroff says sows have a gestation period of three months, three weeks and three days, which means they can have three litters a year with four to six piglets per litter—10 to 12 if conditions are right.
Their weakness, he says, is food, but if you continually hammer them at a food source, they’ll quit coming to that spot—at least during daylight. Rotating hunting locations may help prevent the fear factor in hogs, but if you’re hunting to control the population, that may not be a practical option.
So, you have to hunt smart, down to the smallest detail, Stroff says. Approach your hunting area like you would your deer stand, control your scent, and stay quiet and out of sight. Hogs have great noses, he says.
“If the wind is wrong, you won’t see them,” he says. “If they know you are there, they’re not coming. You need to get in without them smelling, hearing or seeing you.”
If you hunt where baiting is allowed, set your bait close to where the hogs want to be, where they bed down and loaf in the heat of the day, Stroff says, especially if they’ve gone nocturnal. Make it easy for them.
Water can be another factor. Stroff lives in Texas, where hunting over water sources is the next best bet to hunting over bait or feed. In fact, few and far between water sources can be as good as food sources in the hot summer months when hogs seek water and mud to wallow in, he says.
In states like Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, where there are abundant water sources, that is not as good of an option. “When there’s water everywhere, it’s not an easy set up, but in Texas, water is gold and they are going to be at water every day,” he says.
Hogs are tough, so Stroff arms himself accordingly, typically choosing deer calibers like 270 Win., .308 Win. and 30-06 Spring., mostly because he often gets cracks at hogs while hunting deer. But he says there’s no concrete guideline for hog calibers. “Ask five guys for their top three and you’ll get five different lists,” he says.
The important thing is choosing a bullet style that punches through the armor plate and will pass through it twice to get an exit hole, he says.
To do it, Stroff goes with Fusion ammunition. “Any of the Fusion rounds are great bullets that perform flawlessly when they hit the animal,” he says. “They will blast right through them.”
Stay away from bullets designed to fragment, he says. “You don’t want to shoot a bullet that will blow up on impact. It’ll just disintegrate on a hog.”