By Pete Rogers
The distinct grunt caught my attention and I immediately froze. Then another, and another – it was a group of pigs feeding mere yards from me.
I am one of those rare hunters who prefer hunting pigs over just about anything else. The allure, methods, and abundance of pigs make them a great game to hunt.
The thick palmettos in the south Florida forest made it impossible to see the pigs, but I knew they were there. There was a rustling of the palmettos, movement of fronds, and then they emerged.
The stalk began twenty minutes before when we spotted a group of pigs feeding across an old road into the palmettos. Grabbing our bows, we tore off to the area and began stalking them.
Feral swine, hogs, pigs, whatever you call them, are fast becoming one of the most popular animals for hunters across North America. Feral swine are found in a number of southern states. Their population explosion is well documented.
Opportunities are abundant to hunt and kill feral hogs. Mostly a nuisance animal, most states do not consider feral hogs game animals. This opens the door for liberal limits and seasons. Many states have year-around hunting and no limit on the size or number of hogs you can kill.
Methods of hunting hogs include baiting with corn, running them with well-trained dogs, and spot and stalk. By far the most fun, in my opinion, is spot and stalk.
Hogs are excellent game to practice good stalking. Their sense of smell is excellent, but their eyesight is not as keen. The best time to stalk them is while they are feeding. Hogs are so distracted by feeding, they seldom see or hear your approach.
Keeping the wind in your favor is the key to successful stalking. So too, is being able to see the hogs you are approaching. Move while they are moving; stop when they stop.
Hoppy Kempfer of Osceola Outfitters in St. Cloud, Florida likes to combine baiting and stalking.
“We know when the feeders are going off, so we plan to approach the feeders downwind about ten minutes after they go off. If there are no pigs there, we move to another feeder.” This tactic concentrates the hogs and allows for greater success for the hunters.
Other methods of stalking depend largely on the terrain. In farm country, hogs can often be seen in fields early in the mornings. Once spotted, a plan is made to adjust and move into range for a good shot.
Recently during trapping season here in South Carolina, I was checking my coyote traps when I drove by a field and saw a small group of pigs in a fresh field. Immediately I jumped into pig-hunter mode!
Grabbing my Rock River RRage in .223, I moved into position to make a stalk along the edge of the woods. The pigs were busy feeding, and I was able to close the distance. The cover along the edge of the field was fading, so I sat down and waited for my chance.
When a sow turned broadside at 80 yards, I released the safety, focused my aim, and at the report of the Rock River, the rest of the pigs went scurrying. A well-placed neck shot anchored the sow.
Stalking pigs can be opportunistic or can be well planned. I cannot remember how many pig hunts first started out as deer hunts. But while walking to my stand, I bumped into a group of pigs and immediately changed into a pig hunt.
Equipment for hunting pigs is simple. The same gun you would use for whitetail will work fine. I prefer neck shots, so the .223 up to 7mm Mag. are all fine cartridges for pigs.
For archery equipment, shot placement is critical. Pigs have a tough hide and big boars have a protective “shield” or layer of thick hide protecting their vitals. Shots should be behind the shoulder with quartering-away shots preferred.
I like to use a heavier arrow with a tough broadhead. Lately, the Easton 5mm FMJ has been extremely effective.
On the hunt in Florida, we used the new SEVR broadhead on the 5mm FMJ and had excellent success. I even had a complete pass through, which is rare for pigs.
Stalking pigs is some of the most fun you can have in the woods. If stalking within a few yards of feeding doesn’t get you excited, you need a new hobby.
If given the chance to stalk some pigs – take it. You will forever be hooked.