Top 10 Hog Hunting Tips
I’ve been hunting hogs seriously for just about 4 years now. When I started I tried to absorb every bit of knowledge I could from the outfitters and guides I hunted with. Every tip and trick and tidbit they offered, I took to heart. As I got better and could hold my own, I learned what worked best for me – although it can vary based on the situation, there are a set list of things that I always do and practice to increase my chances for success. I have compiled my top 10 list of Tips (or things to consider) when hunting hogs.
#1 – WIND
This of course applies to any game you are hunting but it is paramount when hunting hogs since their sense of smell is excellent. Take the wind direction into account whenever you are doing anything related to hog hunting. Most important is to have the wind in your favor as you approach your hunting area and of course throughout the time you are hunting. If they get even the slightest whiff of you, the hunt is over.
#2 – SCENT CONTROL
Closely related to #1, I am a firm believer in scent control. I want every advantage for when the wind isn’t just perfect. Swirling winds and shifts in wind direction during a hunt can spoil things pretty quickly. I use a scent spray, a cover scent and I use a scent crusher bag for all my hunting attire. I spray down with the scent spray then apply cover scent at the stand location (raccoon urine works for me!). Of course, all my hunting clothes/hat have been treated in my scent crusher bag. The less scent you disperse, the better off you’ll be.
#3 – LOCATION
Granted, in this case, many “locations” are feeders. So, if you have hogs hitting feeders, you know where to go. But, in many cases you have to go find them. This is where being able to identify tracks, wallows, rooting areas and travel corridors is important. You will want to set up near hog sign. I know it seems obvious, but in many cases, if a place looks good and there’s no hog sign…well, there’s probably no hogs there. So, find the sign, scout, play the wind and you’ll up your chances for success.
#4 – WEAPON
Use the right weapon for the situation. If you are hunting groups of hogs (sounders) and you know there are multiple pigs coming in (or in a field for those doing crop protection), a semi-automatic is appropriate. I prefer my AR15 for these situations. In other cases where you may be targeting a lone pig – a boar or really dominant sow, a larger caliber bolt action with more range capability might be the ticket. I’m not saying you can’t kill these big pigs with an AR15 or even smaller caliber, but for these larger targets I like the insurance of a larger caliber and the stability and range of a nice bolt-action rifle. For this situation, I use my Tikka T3 Lite in .270 WIN. Bottom line is to use what you’re comfortable with, just make sure it matches the situation so you’re not at a disadvantage.
#5 – OPTICS
When I first started hunting pigs I used a regular scope (Nikon Pro Staff) and a red hunting light. This worked ok. I had some success. But, it was clear that the larger and/or smarter pigs would spook when hit with a red or green light. I missed out on some good pigs due to this. So, in August of 2015 I made the jump to digital night vision. This was a game changer. I got the ATN X-Sight. It uses an infrared light source to illuminate the field of view/target. This foray into night vision changed my life. So, I highly recommend getting night vision. Get what you can afford. Thermals will start at over $2000 while digital NV like the X-Sight will run you between $600 and $800. I will tell you from first-hand experience that you will kill more pigs and have more fun if you employ night vision. I still use my X-sight generation one scope and it hasn’t let me down yet. Check the youtube page for examples of this in action.
#6 – BE QUIET
While this might sound obvious, it warrants mentioning. Simple things like walking slowly, closing a truck door softly and not talking when arriving to and getting to your hunting area can make all the difference. You should consider yourself in stealth mode the instant you open the truck door. Of course, this applies to when you are on stand or in the blind as well. Something as simple as banging your gun on a blind wall or dropping your binos can have a significant negative impact on your hunt. Move slowly and deliberately, keep tab on your gear and be very careful with any movements you make. This means don’t have a squeaky chair and put your cell phone on vibrate. If the hogs can’t hear you or smell you, you’ve got them against the wall.
#7 – BE READY
An opportunity can present itself at any time. I’ve had times where as I walked up to a stand, there was a pig there or one was on its way. I always have my scope powered on and a round in the chamber (safety on of course) when I’m headed to and from the stand. Being ready as soon as you begin the trek to your hunting location can yield results should you encounter a target. Also, in my experience, some pigs, especially the larger, smarter boars, will not give you a lot of time to shoot. They will come in very cautiously and use cover and wind direction to their advantage. Once out in the open they can quickly turn tail and run away. Being ready and prepared to take the shot can get you one of these bad boys where if you were “waiting” for the perfect shot or not really ready, they can scurry off before you can seal the deal.
#8 – BE PATIENT
If you are not patient, you will have a hard time hunting pigs. Even if you have hogs patterned and on camera for specific times and days, many times they’ll alter their patterns abruptly. This is due to many things like pressure, moon phase, weather, wind, food availability, etc. Sure, in some cases, if you see them on camera at a certain time and day for days on end, you have a good chance of catching them on that pattern. But, in many cases, especially with the big boars, they are sporadic and unpredictable. This means, you have to sit…and sit…and sit. I am talking hours and hours. I took my biggest boar after sitting a spot for 10 hours straight – he came out at 5am and it was the only thing I saw that whole night. So, once you’re settled in, hang in there for the long haul. You never know when they’ll show so sit still and wait for the magic to happen.
#9 – BE AWARE
Once in the blind or on stand, don’t get complacent. Actively listen and scan the area (I use a night vision monocular). Hunting all night can be boring so you have to force yourself to hunt hard. Don’t play games on the cell phone or fall asleep. These rascals can show at any time – sometimes they rush in grunting – other times, they sneak in like a ghost. If you stay vigilant and you are aware, you’ll know as soon as things start to go your way and hopefully, seal the deal. I’ll also mention in this topic that you shouldn’t use your cell phone at night. The glow of the screen can deter pigs easily. They know their surroundings and a foreign light/glow will put them off.
#10 – HAVE FUN
It might seem obvious but I’ve encountered many hunters who get frustrated and annoyed when things don’t go their way (get a kill). Remember, it’s called hunting and not killing. You will have to work hard and be patient and many times, you won’t kill or sometimes, even see a pig. If you enjoy the overall experience of the hunt, you’ll be better off. Just enjoy being out there. I love seeing other wildlife and listening to the sounds of nature. I know, it sounds like a cop-out but I’m serious. If you look at the hunt as the sum of its parts, you’ll realize it’s an experience – not just the kill.
So there you have it – my top 10 tips or considerations for hog hunting. You can apply this really to hunting any game but I almost exclusively hunt hogs and these work for me.