I set a goal for myself last month to take down at least one hog on each of the 12 days I planned to hunt in September.
Fortunately, I exceeded my own expectations and knocked down 16 public land pigs last month.
So why take so many hogs? The answer is easy: they taste great and better yet, it’s a whole lot of fun.
Ever been within 20 yards of snorting pigs as they fight one another, but the cover is too thick to even see one? As they keep moving along, you have to trail them and remain invisible to all those eyes and noses to get the perfect shot.
It’s definitely an adrenaline-filled experience every time.
Many people ask me about how it’s done, or question why I think small game ammo is a good idea. Several buddies have even gone to my spots and seen hogs, but end up leaving empty-handed.
I can tell you these creatures are tough, and I’ve lost many with archery equipment before. However, after putting down so many of these pigs, I proved to myself that the small game ammo is indeed very, very practical.
So use these proven tactics to put more pork on your table:
Follow your nose and ears. I smell or hear the majority of pigs long before I see them.
Don’t waste time walking slowly. Unless I’m at a watering hole or actively stalking a pig, I walk briskly or jog with the wind in my face. A startled hog rarely takes off very far if it doesn’t smell a person.
If the wind is wrong; stop, drop and roll. I blend in by rolling in mud holes before the hunt to mask any of my human odor.
Covering the most ground is key, so this style of hunting isn’t for the lazy. Many days I hike over 15 miles on foot, only stopping when shooting hours expire or a pig bites the dust. Speed, stamina and power are required because most hogs need to be run down through dense vegetation either before or after the shot.
Pack light. I keep gear in running fanny packs, and extra shells on a gun sleeve. I wear road-racing compression tops and tights covered by a bug-suit, then lace up marathon racing shoes. More details on my gear can be found on the accompanying video.
Be patient. If a solo hog suddenly scurries off, don’t lose confidence or start to follow it until you investigate the thicket or wallow it spooked from. Unless it is a big bore, pigs usually stay in packs. Many times the rest of the pack never noticed your presence, so that flushed hog might actually put you on even more pigs.
If the hog was alone, hook around towards the area he left. The hog always will be looking behind him, so a sideways approach will sometimes catch him off guard. Estimate how far he ran by the sounds of the forest floor. Usually this stalk is so slow that the pig seems to forget it was jumped, and often starts carelessly eating again.
Unless you are very close never shoot for the thick head. Instead, aim for a low body shot. The pellets will penetrate a big hog’s ribcage inside 30 yards, but still rarely stop it. Low front shoulder shots are best, but most of my hogs are shot in the back legs while running off. With a wounded limb, the hog can be tracked down and quickly finished off.
Don’t get greedy. Once you shoot a hog, relentlessly pursue that pig until it is down for good before chasing the rest of the pack. If not, you might come back to no hog at all.
So how did I end up bagging 16 hogs in September?
The two giants that I killed minutes into the season, along with my wife Laura’s first hog, were detailed along with the new WMA rules in my previous hog article here.
Each of my next two weekends resulted in five hogs going down.
On Sept. 14, after a 15-minute stalk, I was filming a snake when I shot a nice 80-pound spotted sow. Then it took me 7 hours of tracking in the heat before I got a 110-pound boar.
That Sunday, I noticed a pack of smaller hogs 40 yards away. Unable to approach closer because of dry leaves, I lined up two 35-pounders and hit both with one shot.
Usually my weekends end on Sunday, but I was off until that Monday afternoon, so I did a morning run at Sicily Island Hills WMA. Those tough hill sprints wore me out, but on the way home I couldn’t resist getting in another training run in at R. K. Yancey WMA: that hot six-miler was done military style.
But the windy conditions and my blistering pace hid any noise. I spotted a hog out of the corner of my eye and boom, I was two miles deep with no time to waste to get the big 70-pound sow back to my vehicle.
So I jogged the hog out, making it to work in the nick of time.
The following Friday I hunted 5 hours with no results until the rain started. After 8 exhausting hours, I had a 160-, 130- and 40- pound boar crammed in my SportRack on top of my SUV.
The next day I smoked a nice 70-pound sow.
Laura was jealous and rushed back from her vacation for one last hunt that Sunday. After walking for hours, we finally saw some hogs and stalked them within ten yards, taking a tender 30-pound sow together.
The final weekend I took a 100-pound sow on Friday, and an 80-pounder on Sunday.
My former college cross-country pal, Andre, joined me on Saturday. We saw pigs five times, and I ran down and killed a nice bore in the first pack. But Itold him he would have to give chase to get the next one.
He hadn’t run since college, but he had a blast accompanying me on some grueling mileage just like we did for cross-country. He even sprinted after a hog with me.
If we were back in our college days, the hog would have most certainly lost that race.