Summer feral hog stalking keeps hunters sharp and helps the land heal
Most Texas landowners, farmers and ranchers will curse at even the thought or mention of wild hogs. Rightfully so. The prolific pests are responsible for millions of dollars in damage to crops and the terrain every year.
And because they’re pests, hunters can bag them even during the summer, and doing so, aid in the fight against feral pigs.
Pursuing swine allows hunters to keep their skills sharp in the field during the offseason, and they can use the warm weather patterns to their advantage. Feral hogs don’t have sweat glands, so they must wallow in low areas that collect moisture to combat the Texas summertime heat. Understanding this, hunters can almost pinpoint when and where hogs will congregate on a particular property.
Knowing the wallowing and bedding areas is the key. These will be found just about anywhere there’s shade, cover, nearby water, moist soil and mud. There will be obvious signs, such as tracks, droppings and mud caked to the sides of tree trunks and low-hanging limbs where hogs are wallowing or bedding.
Once wallowing and bedding areas are found, hunters can stalk these regions of a property successfully on foot during the midday hours when temperatures are high and the pigs are using them. The best approach is to play the wind, as hogs have a keen sense of smell. Try to keep the wind in your face and remain downwind of the area you are targeting. If the wind is wrong, making this impossible, wait until the breeze is in your favor before hunting the given area.
Rifles, pistols and even a bow and arrow provide hunters with a variety of means for harvesting hogs while stalking on foot. Using a rifle allows hunters to pursue them at longer distance than a pistol or archery application. These are factors that everyone should consider when it comes to safety and confidence in their shooting skills.
Baiting hogs this time of year is another option. This can be as simple as hunting an established feeder on a property from a blind. Hunters also can begin baiting a new area and make plans to overlook it from a comfortable shooting distance. The best opportunities for hunting over bait will take place early and late, during the cooler portions of the day. Baiting spots adjacent to bedding and wallowing areas is a good idea, and will put you in a good position for some action.
One technique that works well, particularly after periods of summer rain when the soil is soft, is burying bait such as corn a few inches underground. Hogs will smell it, but will be unable to immediately eat it. They’ll have to dig to find it. This will help keep them in one location longer, giving you a better chance of getting a shot.
Another strategy is hunting along corridors hogs use to and from wallowing and bedding areas when they are on the move and looking for food. These trails will have plenty of tracks and be fairly obvious, because a sounder, a family of pigs, can wear a path in the ground quickly. If you can figure out which direction they will move from and when, you can have yourself a stellar hunt.
Identifying rooting spots and hunting near them also is a great option. These are areas where hogs have turned over the ground in search of grubs and seeds. Fresh rooting signs often show up after rains, because wet soil is easier for the pigs to dig through.
Rooted dirt in areas that groups of swine are frequenting will appear dark and moist. Old, abandoned rooting locations will appear lighter in color and dry. Hunting freshly rooted areas is the key. The pigs often will occupy these locales during the early morning and late evening hours, as well as overnight.
Chasing pigs during the offseason also is an excellent way to score some delicious wild game meat for the freezer. When prepared and cooked properly, the meat from wild swine provides excellent table fare.
Summertime hog hunts are a great source for making memories and spending quality time in the outdoors with friends and family. The sport can be fun and challenging, not to mention, the results of successful pig harvests bode well for our state’s lands.
Just because it’s not hunting season doesn’t mean you have to stop hunting. Find some pigs and do your part to improve the Texas soil, all the while, having one heck of a time.