Bowhunting Florida Hogs

By Brad FensonAugust 15, 20171 Comment

The early morning light was obscured by heavy ground fog, making it difficult to see more than 100 yards. We worked our way up a pipeline dissecting dense forest, with an understory of impenetrable palmettos. My guide stopped in his tracks, and I almost walked into him. A big grin spread across his face, as he pointed to a big black hog that wandered out onto the trail ahead. When the hog was facing away, we skirted the edge of the trees to get closer. The big boar was headed for his daily haunt to avoid the direct sun and insects, and we had to catch him, and get close enough with a crossbow before he went back into cover.

We were almost 50 yards from the hog when he put his nose to the ground and trotted off into the adjacent vegetation. His hooves rattled and crushed the dried understory as he continued on his way to a shady hangout. We did try to catch up with him, but the noise we made was horrendous.

Central Florida is well known for tremendous hog hunting, and when I got a chance to hunt with Osceola Outfitters, I started packing my crossbow case. Located in the heart of hog country, they manage habitat to entice pigs to live the good life, right in their backyard. It would be difficult to spend a day hunting and not see hogs. While sighting in my crossbow in camp, a hog trotted past us, as though one of the 3-D targets had come to life.

crossbow practice

Getting the TenPoint crossbow dialed in.

I sat a stand in the evening and had a wide array of hogs come to visit. A sow with piglets, smaller than a loaf of bread came in making more noise than a 2,000-pound Brahma bull. I thought for sure the holy grail of all hogs was trotting in when instead it was a family unit of wieners anxious for dinner.

The small hogs made me let my guard down, and when a portly white-and-black colored boar came in, I almost missed it. The weary porker snuck his nose out of the bush about 120 yards away and immediately walked into a creek bottom. I watched intently for 15 minutes and was sure the hog had wandered off or lost interest in the possibilities of dinner. I started to look around my stand, in case he had circled to check things out. Convinced the hog was gone, it surprised me once again when his ears poked up over the creek bank. He must have gone down to the water and laid in the cool mud for 20 minutes before deciding to check things out.

This hog was the opposite of the wieners I’d seen early. The boar was on high alert and couldn’t decide if he was coming or going. He would start down a trail, only to second guess himself and head back to the creek. He had three false starts before heading to a trail on the edge of the bush, where he tiptoed in with his ears scanning the area like radar dishes scanning for the enemy. With his nose held high, the boar kept checking the breeze for danger. The whole time the boar was deciding what to do, I sat perfectly still. Even when a mosquito came and sampled the red protein from my ear, I didn’t dare move.

When the hog finally got within range, he started to feed. I opted to sit still and see if he wouldn’t settle down a bit. I didn’t want him jumping the string when I pulled the trigger on my TenPoint Phantom RCX. It is a quiet crossbow, but a hog on high alert is like a spring-loaded trap machine.

After eating for a minute, the pig seemed to let his nose and belly do the thinking for him and soon focused on dinner. I carefully slid the safety off on my bow and found the hog in my scope. He never really stood still and took small steps between each nibble of food. I waited until the hog turned broadside, wanting to make a perfect shot. The dense cover in Florida is no place to have to track an animal any farther than necessary.

When the hog finally turned, I wasted no time settling my crosshair on his shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The hog didn’t have a clue what happened, and the arrow flew through him before he had a chance to react. The boar spun and ran, traveling faster than a thoroughbred at the Kentucky Derby. He had let out an ear-piercing squeal on impact and didn’t travel far before I heard it fall over on the dried underbrush.

blood trail

First blood in Florida.

I text my guide, and he showed up with his tracking dog and turned it loose. It was only a matter of seconds before we had the hog pinpointed and were dragging it back to the truck. The black-and-white hog was the start of a great hunt, but I still wanted to take a hog at eye level, on the ground.

Brad Fenson hog

Hog number one in Florida was down.

The next morning, we were back in the area where we had seen the big black hog. We started stalking through the maze of forest and trails when we caught sight of two hogs rooting off the edge of a pasture. There wasn’t much wind, and we picked each step and foot placement with painstaking caution. Luckily, the hogs were content feeding, and we eventually closed the distance. The two pigs wandered in and out of view through the vegetation. I snuck up beside my guide, slid an arrow down the rail and checked to make sure the nock seated properly. I shouldered my crossbow and waited until one of the pigs came back into view.

dead hog with crossbow

My ground attack with a crossbow paid off.

A big oinker moved into the clear, but never offered a shot before evaporating into the foliage once again. The second hog was rooting and grunting as it edged closer to us and when it was just 22 yards it turned and stopped for a brief second.

My arrow sliced through the first hog to stand still in the blink of an eye. The lighted Omni-nock was easy to see against the black target. The hog ran off squealing, and fell silent within seconds. My guide looked at me and smiled, appreciative of the animals he knows he doesn’t have to track far.

We were back in camp before the heat of the day smothered us with humidity. My Florida hog adventure had been the perfect test for my new TenPoint Phantom RCX, and it didn’t let me down. I can’t wait to go back, as my freezer is starting to run low on lean pork.

Know Hogs

Hogs are extremely tough animals, and can be difficult to kill. Place an arrow too far back, and you’re likely never to see it again. It may go against everything you’ve heard as a bow hunter but aim for the front shoulder. Come straight up the front leg, on a broadside profile, and place your arrow in the bottom half of the animal. It is a lethal shot, and with a good arrow and broadhead, you can get a complete pass through, even though you’re hitting bone. Our outfitter stressed correct arrow placement on a hog, and it turned out to be great advice.

crossbow hog

Increased Kinetic Energy

Kinetic energy is a measurement of the total energy an arrow and broadhead develop at a given moment in time while being delivered by a specific bow. When it comes to crossbows, heavier arrows and broadheads equate to increased kinetic energy. An Easton Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) arrow is the perfect marriage of carbon and aluminum. The carbon provides incredible strength, while the aluminum adds extra weight to increase kinetic energy, while the surface has less heat and friction on impact to improve penetration and the chances of a pass-through.

Easton FMJ crossbow bolt

Easton’s FMJ crossbow bolt proved to be more than tough enough for hogs.

TenPoint Phantom

TenPoint’s Phantom RCX crossbow maximizes technology with a draw weight of just 140 pounds, shooting an arrow just shy of 370 fps. Reversing the cams on the limbs not only increases the length of the power stroke but the angle at which the arrow is launched. Once again, physics and math were used to create a more efficient crossbow, that is sure to last much longer, as stress on components decreases substantially.

tenpoint rcx


Broadhead Selection

Hog hunting with NAP doublecross

The new NAP Doublecross is proving to be deadly on more than just deer.

NAP Spitfire DoubleCross have two large blades that deploy on impact, as well as two additional bleeder blades. The four cutting blades, in a 100-grain head, with a chisel tip and aluminum ferrule, proved to have the needed penetration to get through thick hides, bone, and dense tissue.

Today’s archery equipment has come a long way, no doubt. Gone are the days when archers would shudder with intimidation from using inferior gear on hogs. Nowadays the game has changed. Crossbows like the TenPoint Phantom RCX deliver bone crushing energy. And today’s arrows and broadheads are performing like never before. They are tougher, fly better, and cut some of the most brutal holes on earth.

The summer months provide a great time to test your rig on pigs. And pound for pound, you just might find it to be the most exciting hunt of the year.

Brad Fenson
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