Cover ground and use your nose, Chauvin says
To be successful at hunting hogs on Louisiana public land, I use a combination of tactics. Maximum mileage covered by foot has continually proved most productive. Last season I harvested 72 pigs on several WMAs and NWRs — with only two taken from my tree climber.
When I’m after deer in the climber, I find it’s best to stay at locations hogs aren’t frequently visiting. But I love pig hunting, too, so on my midday missions I go after the hogs. (And during this process, I often find great deer hunting locations for the future.)
One thing I refuse to do is stop: From dawn to dusk I stay on the hunt every Friday morning through Sunday evening during the season.
I start hunting hogs each year when I get back from my Colorado hunts in mid-September. This season I already downed eight hogs on R. K. Yancey WMA in my first two weekends. (Hogs can be an incidental take during any legal hunting season with legal weapons and ammunition for that season.)
For most of our public lands, hog hunting can begin with the nutria season, according to several game wardens. But check any regulations with your regional Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries office to get the exact rules. Oddly, some WMA hunting regulations are listed in the trapping pamphlet but not in the hunting pamphlet.
Though I usually use archery equipment during deer season, I find using a shotgun with legal small game coyote tungsten shells works the best for hogs. I avoid the frangible Dead Coyote and use the stronger Tungsten Super Shot. Last year I harvested 32 pigs with my single-shot and over-and-under shotguns, 11 with the 100-pound longbow, eight with recurves, five by compound bow, three with a crossbow, one with a primitive pistol and 12 with various rifles.
The great thing about using a shotgun is there’s no need for a perfectly stationary hog. Still, I don’t like losing animals or wasting expensive tungsten shells, so I’m very selective on my shots — favoring those 35 yards and closer.
Most days venturing out into hog territory, I’ll see between 12 and 36 hogs on our public lands. Just don’t expect to see that many unless you intend to work. I cover 20 miles and take 40,000 steps the majority of my days in the woods. Often, I jog through the woods and jump them — then the stalk begins.
Cardio from hard pig hunting is just as great for one’s health as eating a quality diet, and lean pork makes for some healthy protein to add to meals. Still I can’t eat this many pigs myself, so I donate much of the meat to friends and family. And I backpack all of the meat out, so I never have to deal with moving carcasses unless I want an extra workout.
As for hog hunting tactics, every situation is different but these are some of my usual tricks (besides keeping the wind in your face.)
What’s the best? Simply use your nose.
I take most of my hogs by smelling them first. Once I smell a pig and know one is nearby, then I begin hunting slowly.
Your ears work, too. The most fun is when I hear pigs fighting, which makes finding them easiest. (This often happens in deep areas that aren’t pressured where hogs act naturally.)
Some locations are good every year, but often the hogs move to new areas depending on pressure, water and food sources. Basically, I just move quickly from spot to spot where I’ve seen pigs before, looking for hot sign.
I’ll only slow down when I find still-hot droppings, bubbles in wallows or fresh powdered dirt in the rootings. Just because I see hog droppings, mud in the wallow or dug rootings doesn’t get me to slow down — the sign has to be only a few hours old, otherwise I keep on moving.
During drought conditions, muddy wallows with water are the best, but with wet woods the hogs are more scattered. During the early season, I find them eating on early-dropping acorn trees. The bur oaks have been the ticket so far this season.
If a big hog and giant tusks are what you’re after, go deep and hunt early and late. Large boars weighing more than 300 pounds are usually at least 5 years old, and are no dummies. They feed all night long and move in the first and last hour of shooting time, usually just to get from their food to their beds for the day.
If a pig notices a human and blow snorts, they usually take off for a long way, unless it’s a big aggressive boar. They tend to get defensive of their turf. If a large boar grunts without seeing you well in thick cover, it’s best to get down on all fours and grunt back. The big boar will then usually walk back and forth grunting in anger thinking another boar is there. Usually this movement will allow a good shot.
Last Christmas Eve, I took out a big 300-pounder with my compound bow after startling it right before dark and grunting back. I tracked it with my shotgun the next morning and located it, and also shot another hog nearby.
I always track pigs with my shotgun if possible, both for safety and higher odds of finishing off the pig if it’s not yet expired. Wounded boars are extremely dangerous and have charged me when cornered in thick cover. Rifles are much tougher to use if a pig takes off running — away or in your direction.
When it’s very windy or during the midday, I hunt the thickest cover,but still move fast. Usually I’ll startle a pig and it has no clue I’m not just another pig or a deer.
If the leaves are wet, I’ll walk as fast as possible in more open areas so I can get a better view without making much noise from walking. After a rain, pigs love to move out in the open.
Even during a rain, I keep hunting. Then, I’m usually targeting thick cover because they bed for a storm. Usually I jump pigs during hard downpours within only a few yards of me because they can’t hear a thing until I’m almost on top of them.
If the leaves are dry and noisy without much wind, I’ll try to walk in more open areas and slow my pace. This allows me to spot the hog first from a further distance, without spooking it from my noise.
That’s how I took my biggest pig last season, one well over 300 pounds. I had jumped the beast the weekend before, and decided to finish my next Sunday trying to get him with my shotgun.
The woods were calm and dry, so I waited until the final 90 minutes of daylight to venture into the area. I walked the open woods scanning every big nuttall tree that was dropping —the large oak acorns seem to be their favorite food source from November through February.
Sure enough, what I thought was a fallen log was the monster boar feeding under a tree 80 yards away. I slowly crept closer using trees to hide my movement every time it turned away. Finally, I shot from 30 yards broadside, and my BB shot tungsten dropped the hog in its tracks.
Palmetto areas also make great pig-stalking locations to get really close to hogs. It’s easy to go silently along the palmetto edge and hear the hogs crashing in the noisy leaves. If the pigs are moving around, I move through the palmettos making lot of noise, too — the pigs think it’s another hog. Usually I shoot them in the palmettos up close and personal, from 2 to 10 yards away.
Many people shoot pigs at night or over feed, but I love getting up close with small game ammo and archery weapons for a challenging hunt where the hog often has the odds in its favor.
I highly suggest giving this type of ground-and-pound hog hunting action a try. Not only will you get in shape while getting some great tasting pork, but the more ground you cover allows you a better understanding of the forest for hunting every type of game. And fewer pigs in the woods are a wonderful thing for our native wildlife, so harvest as many as you can.
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