LAST UPDATED: May 1st, 2015
Quite often I am asked why I love to hunt wild boar. First, I grew up in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia where deer, turkey, and squirrels took up the majority of my time when I was not with pencil in hand learning the three R’s. I dreamed as a kid what it would be like to chase wild hogs through the snake and alligator infested swamps of the south. In 2006 my dream became a reality when my family and I moved to Ocala, Florida; better known as “the center of wild boar country”!
If you’re in the right place, hog hunting success can easily be had.
My first several hunts for wild hogs ended unsuccessful and I became obsessed with learning why I was always coming up short in my efforts to stumble upon one of these elusive creatures. To begin with, I didn’t realize that hogs are extremely nocturnal. Imagine a 5 ½ year old mature buck that has been pressured all year from hunters and you will start to understand the level of difficulty you will have trying to harvest a wild hog during daylight hours.
Thankfully, I learned one piece of valuable advice from a long time southern hog chaser. He told me, “Son you have to hunt hogs where they are going to be, not where the sign says they have been.” That quote stuck with me and as a result, finding and harvesting wild hogs has become a successful passion for me.
Hog hunting is also a great way to expose kids to the joy of hunting.
If you are looking to increase your success rate on these animals there are three main elements that must be in place. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Filling The Gut
Food is the reason wild hogs travel as often as they do. In essence, wild hogs only focus on two things…..eating and breeding. The most valuable asset to your hog hunting adventure is making sure they have a stable and plentiful food source. Corn is one of the most successful ways to hunt hogs, but if you prefer to opt out of the “feeder routine” you can look for oak trees close to bedding areas and swamps. Hogs tend to stay close to areas that provide cover and a quick escape route.
Smell No Evil
The second element that must be in place is the wind. Hogs have an incredible sense of smell. A hog’s nose is by far its most valuable sensory organ. When setting up, whether in a stand, blind, or spot and stalk, make sure the wind is in your face; just as you would when hunting deer.
It is important to take the same precautions when hunting hogs as you would if you were hunting deer. Quality scent control products are a must.
The third element that is critical to your success is the amount of pressure you place on an area. Hogs are nocturnal by nature so any unnecessary pressure where you are hunting will increase the odds of them showing up when the moon is overhead. Stay out of bedding areas and wallow areas where hogs tend to spend much of their day.
Location, Location, Location
I’m often asked where the best places are to hunt hogs. Personally, I feel that central Florida has some of the biggest hogs in the south. The areas surrounding Orlando and Ocala Florida seem to produce well and have numerous quality outfitters that cater to hog hunting. If you enjoy management area hunting there are several to choose from. Goethe WMA and state forest is a great option for public hunting as well as Devil’s Hammock WMA. Both of these central Florida management areas hold solid numbers of hogs.
Hunting hogs in the south requires you to have gear that can get the job done. My recommendations for bowhunting hogs are as follows.
• I recommend a bow that you are comfortable with and can shoot with great accuracy. There is no room for error when shooting at a hog with a bow.
• Use a heavier than normal arrow such as you would for thick skinned game. Hogs can be tough to penetrate and have small kill zones. A hard hitting arrow is a must.
• The broadhead discussion for taking hogs is always heavily debated. I consistently use a fixed blade broadhead for hunting wild hogs. Once, I once shot a hog and upon closer examination, discovered that it had half of an arrow and the entire mechanical blade broadhead inside of its body. The wound had healed and the hog had survived for some time.
• Scent Elimination products can make a huge difference in your hog hunting experience. I try to eliminate as much foreign odor as possible. Hogs have a terrific nose and they will often scent check an area before entering. Showering, spraying down, and staying on the correct side of the wind will benefit you as you try and harvest a wild hog. I carry a wind checker with me at all times to make sure the wind is in my favor.
• One valuable asset that can improve your experience is a Thermacell unit. This little device can make or break your hunt here in the south. I would give up all my gear except my bow in order to have a Thermacell when hunting the south; it can be that critical.
Due to the way a hog is built and the manner in which its vitals rest inside the body cavity, shooting accuracy is crucial for a quick, humane kill.
Hitting The Spot
Now that you are geared up for your hunt, let’s talk about shot placement for hogs when hunting them with a stick and string. As you can see in the photo above, the heart and lung area is extremely small and tucked behind the front leg of the hog. The optimal shot on a hog with a bow is quartering away so you have a better chance of hitting both the lungs and heart. If a hog is quartering toward you, you have no shot that will result in a clean, ethical harvest. I also recommend shooting at hogs from a distance of 20 yards or less. This creates better penetration and accuracy within the shot.
Hogs are considered small game in Florida and can also be hunted year round on private property. You can even hunt hogs at night with the use of a light. In this circumstance I recommend a green LED light. Hogs tend to pay no attention to the color green or red. You can save yourself a tremendous amount of money by purchasing a green film and placing it over an exiting spotlight that you may already have. A specialized light from a manufacturer can cost upwards of 150$. The green or red film can be purchased for less than 20$. Night hunts can be the best time to harvest a mature boar hog because older hogs can become almost totally nocturnal.
Broadhead choice is also important due to the tough hide and the “armor” that covers the wild hog’s chest. Pictured here is the NAP Bloodrunner.
Preserving The Kill
One last important element to discuss is protecting your wild hog meat. Here is a recipe that I use to help eliminate any strong taste associated with the meat. This recipe also adds a tremendous amount of flavor when the meat is cooked. The ingredients are as follows:
• 2 gallons of apple cider vinegar
• 2 gallons of orange juice
• equally spread sea salt over the entire amount of meat
We use this recipe once the meat has been quartered and placed into a cooler. The period in which I let the meat soak is normally 2 full days. You may drain the cooler if necessary but be sure to add more of the ingredients if you do so.
There you have it—-a closer look into the various elements necessary to be successful in hunting wild boar. The thrill of chasing these amazing animals can be some of the most heart pounding, adrenalin pumping bowhunting adventures you will ever embark on. Be sure to check out FinalFateTV.com and watch how we use these techniques to harvest some great wild hogs.