The hunting of wild hogs in the United States was introduced to the natives by European immigrants.
Expedition crews and explorers brought firearms that they utilized to source food. Journals documenting early exploration voyages to the Americas are abounded with evidence of boar and sow hunting for nourishment.
And currently, the art of hunting is widely embraced in almost all states. Tons of anxious and eager hunters turn up every hunting season to participate in this prevalent pastime.
However, contrary to popular belief, there is much more involved than just picking up a bow and arrow or an accurate hunting rifle aim for hunting a wild hog. For a successful hunt, you must be familiar first with the basics of hunting, understand your prey’s behavior, and know how to effectively use hunting tools, gadgets, and weapons to your advantage.
When it comes to wild hog hunting, anecdotal evidence reveals that the use of knives and arrows can be challenging. The hide of feral swine is hardy, thus difficult to penetrate. Thus, most hog hunters prefer firearms to traditional weaponry such as knives. However, when the topic of guns and hunting fall within the same discussion, it is a bit confusing.
The associated lingo may prove a challenge, especially to someone new to hunting, such as the caliber talk.
Which is the best caliber for hog hunting? And what is the connection between a gun’s caliber and the success of the hunt?
In this article, we try to demystify this broad concept while highlighting tips and tricks you can use to better your hog hunting experience.
Why Do We Use Different Calibers When Shooting
Firearms are a broad and intricate subject. It always feels like one has to learn a completely different language and culture altogether.
And for novice users, it may get a bit intimidating hanging around firearm connoisseurs.
There’s a ton of jargon you have to familiarize yourself with in the world of firearms before you can become a good marksman. The word ‘caliber’ is one of those terms. It is an important aspect one considers before purchasing ammunition.
Caliber refers to the measurement of the empty interior space of a gun barrel. It may also refer to the diameter of a caliber bullet. The majority of cartridge manufacturers use calibers to name their products.
The type of caliber you use will define the success rate of your hunt. It also signifies that the hunter is responsible and practices humane hunting. Using a powerful caliber to hunt significantly smaller wild games may seem effective, but there won’t be much near left on the animal.
On the other hand, shooting big game with a weaker caliber will lead to prolonged suffering before the animal dies.
How To Determine What Caliber You Need
There are numerous ways you can go for wild hog hunts.
The traditional hunter may prefer stalking them on foot or hunting them with hounds, while the modern-day hog hunter will use tech tools like thermal sights for hunting them at night, shooting them from a helicopter, or while concealed behind a blind.
While wild hogs are tough animals, they are not impervious to bullets.
Anyone with good shot placement can bring down even the biggest boar in the sounder. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing the best caliber to use. Usually, the method you use for hunting these feral creatures will help determine this.
Will you be hunting from the skies in a helicopter or laying 400 yards away in a ditch awaiting your hunt?
The method of hunting will help determine the caliber you need for your rifle. The choice of caliber and weapon appropriate for a long-range shooter will differ from someone hunting on foot. And even at the ground level, you have to consider the firing range.
You will be amazed to learn that various guns, AR-style hunting rifles, and shotguns are explicitly used for hogs. There are good old Remingtons, Creedmoors, Grendels, and Rugers available.
For instance, the Hog Hunter is available in .338, .308 Winchester, and bolt action .223. Or the Hog Reaper from Weatherby: a 20-inch barrel with a threaded barrel. It may be better hunting with a .223 Remington compared to using 12-gauge cartridges.
The better the gun, the less ammunition you spend trying to take down the boar or sow. The 12- gauge shotgun can work for adult wild hogs, but a large caliber rifle is always a good choice if the law permits it.
It may save your life having a large caliber handgun, like the .454 or .50, if you face a wounded feral while afield.
The landscape’s layout will define the best hunting technique to use and the right firearm and caliber.
Most hogs will take a shot and still jolt off for about 40 yards. But a perfect shot will drop dead the hog on contact. You may have to spend hours at the shooting range practicing to land such deadly shots.
But if you are not the best at target practice, opt for a weapon like the semi-auto Modern Sporting Rifles that can work with various calibers.
What Is The Best Caliber For Hog Hunting
You will pick the best caliber for hog hunting, depending on the techniques you plan to use.
Many hunters attest to the effectiveness of the .223 as an all-rounder in terms of ballistics, but let’s consider the hunting method.
All animals have an incredible sense of smell, and so do hogs. They can pick up your scent from the wind or the ground.
A raised tower places you out of eye range. Hogs cannot climb trees, which gives you an elevated advantage. You can build a temporary tree stand hut or use an elevated tower blind on a designated hunting site.
A tree stand is especially helpful if you use baits or plan to hunt at night. They offer more protection from the elements and are safer than other methods. The thrill of the hunt is minimal comparatively as you silently sit for extended hours waiting for the feral hog to stray onto your kill zone.
The vantage position you have over the prey is great for accurate shots. Typically, any caliber of gun appropriate for deer hunting can be used for tree hog hunting.
On the ground level, your options are unlimited. You can trace the hogs on foot, stalk them while driving, or use blinds.
Since you are at an increased danger of coming head to head with an angry wild hog, you require a caliber that is quick-acting, such as a short barrel rifle.
As the name suggests, long-distance hog hunting is done from a far-off place. The hunter treks far and wide, selecting the right spot to lay and wait for prey.
You will require a rifle, as well as hunting cartridges capable of covering long ranges to deliver the fatal shot still. Ensure you have plenty of range target practice to hone your marksmanship.
Tips For Hunting Hogs
Having a plan before you set out doing the actual hunting will guide you through the process. Identify the potential areas you will be using as hunting spots and an escape route, should things get ugly.
Make sure the hunting grounds you choose provide ample cover. Conduct research to familiarize yourself with the terrain and help you come up with a list of everything you may need to optimize the hog hunting experience.
Carry essential gear
As a hunter, you already know that the gear can either make or break your hunt. Imagine stumbling upon a prize boar, only to realize that you are out of ammo or your quiver of arrows is depleted. If you prefer modern sporting rifles and guns to other traditional methods such as bows, arrows, and knives, investing in the best caliber for hog hunting might better your shots for effective kills. And wear camouflage clothes to help you blend into the landscape; this avoids detection by the prey.
Hog hunting gear can be costly, especially for beginners. Hence, come up with an all-inclusive list to determine what you need. Purchase all the essentials first. You can build up and advance your gear as time goes by.
Know the law
Different states have varying laws concerning the hunting of wild animals. In some places, hog hunting is seasonal. One can only hunt during these specified times of the year. In other areas (e.g. Texas or Florida) where the game is abundant, you may find that hunting occurs all year-round.
All in all, you must familiarize yourself with the local laws of the area you will be hunting in. Chances are, you may need to apply for a special permit or adhere to certain guidelines. Please inquire from the relevant authorities about hunting feral swine within their jurisdiction to avoid breaking the law. For instance, practices like baiting and night hunting are banned in some states.
Failure to observe such recommendations and restrictions is a breach of the law, and you may be penalized for breaking the rules. You may have to pay a hefty fine, or worse yet, risk getting your hunting license revoked.
Always have a loaded firearm
We cannot emphasize the importance of this strongly enough. When the moment presents itself, there may be a limited window to take action. You may lose the opportunity or create noise when loading, which will alert the hogs of your presence.
Once they sense you, they will go on defense mode. And in the event of an attack, you would have no time to load your firearm. Thus, ensure you have a readily-loaded gun to use quickly in any scenario.
Consider hunting with a friend or team
Hunting as part of a group or with a friend increases your chances of a successful hunt tenfold. As a team, you are better placed to maximize any opportunities present in the field.
And even when you split up, you are in constant communication. Having someone nearby kills the loneliness, optimizes the hunt, and will come in handy whenever an emergency arises.
Wild boar baits serve the same purpose as decoys in duck hunting. You would have to fill strategically placed feeders with foodstuff like corn to draw these ferals towards you to get the perfect kill shot.
Baiting and trapping are preferred when used in combination with either elevated or ground blinds or on designated hunting grounds.
Is Hog Hunting Dangerous?
Most beginner hunters have heard a tale or two of hog hunting gone wrong.
Hope you have never watched a video online of someone being attacked by a wild pig. That shouldn’t worry you. However, with the right technique, tools, and know-how, hunting hogs can turn into an enjoyable pastime.
It is one of the safest sports on the planet. And a point to note— most hogs will attack when they sense danger, their young are threatened, or when wounded. All the same, you need to exercise caution while hunting for hogs for two significant reasons. Let us take a look at them in-depth.
Hogs may be carriers of disease-causing pathogens
It is a known fact that the wild is full of mystery, and sometimes someone in the outdoors may encounter harmful elements. When it comes to hogs, the two major diseases human beings are at risk of contracting are tularemia and swine brucellosis. Both diseases cause some adverse effects that are detrimental to one’s health.
For instance, if you are exposed to the bacteria that give rise to swine brucellosis from infected hogs, almost every part of the body is impacted. One gets this contagious malady when one consumes food products derived from an infected feral pig or comes in contact with its secretions.
The brucellosis passes into the hunter’s bloodstream via open or unhealed wounds on the hands when slaughtering or gutting a sick hog. You will have symptoms that signify a localized infection in various organs and tissues such as the heart.
Clinical signs of infection include high undulating fevers accompanied by profuse sweating, pain in the muscles, headaches, anemia, and general body aches. And although the fatality rate is low, these debilitating symptoms greatly affect the hunter’s quality of life.
Therefore, to protect your health and wellbeing during hunting, one must employ caution. It may be difficult to distinguish an infected feral pig from an uninfected one, so to avoid contracting these diseases:
- Wear gloves made from latex or rubber to minimize direct contact when handling hog’s meat.
- Avoid the organs or bodily fluids that touch your bare skin.
- Use well-sharpened tools to minimize accidental cuts.
- Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water every time you handle a kill. And remember to clean your cutting tools too.
Hogs may become aggressive
As mentioned above, wild hogs may become aggressive and launch an attack when they feel threatened.
These animals are naturally temperamental and highly territorial, which means you may have to devise an escape plan ASAP if you find yourself in the nesting area of a sounder of pigs.
When a mommy pig senses your presence, things can get ugly pretty fast. Motherly instinct kicks in once mama detects danger, increasing her chances of charging. There will always be a confrontation if you attack a nursing sow or her piglets.
Wild hogs can grow to massive sizes, especially the boars (male hogs). Records indicate that the largest ever documented kill weighed in at over 1000 pounds. That is surely one mighty pig that you wouldn’t want to get into a battering contest with. Not to mention the four tusks that are sharp enough to tear through human flesh.
Therefore, you must take target practice before you embark on a hog hunting spree. Experts recommend putting down feral swine with the first shot or stab. Nothing beats the murderous rage of a wounded hog when attempting a revenge attack. And avoid sows with litter.
If you ever fall victim to a charging hog, the best advice would be to run for your dear life. Forget all the misconceptions about zig-zagging down the escape route. Just dash it. However, if you believe in your marksmanship and trust you are an excellent shot, you can turn the spectacle to your advantage.
If you have time to compose yourself, you can take a clean shot at the charging animal. But remember, this is only advisable if you are a confident shooter. Having a large caliber rifle or gun will come in handy during such situations.
Are you a rookie looking to try out hunting hogs for the first time?
Or a well-seasoned professional who needs to explore the wild and exercise hog hunting skills?
Whatever the reason, remember to bring adequate firepower and what to do in case of an attack. Have a happy hog hunt!