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Hams on the cloven hoof

Posted by on March 4, 2018

I guess you may have heard about the recent trouble with YouTube, many popular channels (like AoA) were shut down, and many of us received community strikes (get three and you’re gone!) on the way to being shut down, It appears tho have been related to a change in some of the algorithms they use to assess videos for appropriateness, at least that’s what I was told. Still at a loss why they seemed to target airguns, but be that as it may most of us are back up and running. I’m glad to say that on appeal and after review, my strike was removed and the age restriction lifted from most of my videos. The problems with age restrictions is that nobody can view your videos unless signed on, which limits traffic. Lets hope this is all behind us, but you never know for sure.

Now lets get back to what this blog is about, hunting! I’ve had several emails rolling in lately asking me about pig hunting with an airgun, and most these come from potential hunters that don’t have too much background on feral pigs so I thought I’d provide some basic information here.  I like hunting deer, but there are only a few states that currently allow airguns for deer, seasons are fairly short and limits low. Feral hogs on the other hand are wide spread, can be hunted with airguns almost everywhere the occur (except California), have no seasons, no limits, and are widely distributed. For this reason, I believe they are one of the best airgunning quarry for big bore airguns in N. America.

One of the ranches I hunt has lots of smaller pigs that can be drawn out in the day by laying corn in the road, but the big boars go nocturnal and are much more secretive …. that’s why they get big!

Feral pigs are rangy-looking non-native members of the domestic swine family. They are called feral pigs, wild pigs, razorbacks and other local names. These animals are originally native to Europe and Asia, and they are aggressive mammals posing serious ecological, economic, aesthetic, medical threats when the invade an ecosystem. Feral pigs have expanded their range over most of the contiguous United States. I’ve hunted them as far south as Florida, as far north as Michigan, as far west as California with many stops in between.

Feral pigs are a nuisance animal in almost every state in the country, though in California they are considered a game animal. Feral pigs look very similar to the domestic pig. They are medium sized hoofed mammals with a long, pointed head and stocky build. Feral hogs come in a variety of colors and sizes, and except for the larger tusk of the boars the sexes look much alike. Their hair is coarse with long bristles (coarser, denser and longer than that of a domestic pig). Domestic pigs start take on these characteristics within a generation if release into the wild. Colors and patterns range from solid black, gray, brown, blonde, white, or red to spotted with multiple colors. Usually the animals are black. An adult develops a thick, scruffy mane with stiff bristles tipped with blonde. Feral pigs have elongated, flexible, tough, flattened snouts, erect pointed ears that stand about four to five inches above their head. Their long tails are straight, never coiled like the tail of a domestic pig. They have four cloven feet, similar in appearance to a deer’s hooves. Boars have four continually growing tusks that can be extremely sharp. The upper tusks can be several inches in length. The upper canines curl up and out along the sides of the mouth. The shorter lower canines also turn out and curve back toward the eyes. Boars can use their tusks for defense and to establish a dominance during breeding.

Going into the Texas thickets is the best bet of finding a big boar in daylight, this is where the layup. It is tough walking through this stuff and seeing the pig before you push it.

 

Setting up an ambush can work well. If you find a place where pigs are moving and stay fairly still this is a good option. Pigs don’t see as poorly as some people would have you believe, but their vision is nowhere near as good as deer.

One of the reasons I like head shots on pigs is that boars develop a thick, tough skin of cartilage and scar tissue around their shoulders. This can make chest shots an uncertain option even with a high-power centerfire, though they can still be effective. I was on a hunt recently where 7 other hunters were using firearms, and I was the only one with an airgun. I shot four pigs, two of which were the largest shot that weekend, and all four dropped on the spot to headshots. The firearm hunters were less selective with their shot placement, and we lost several hours every day tracking their less effective (less selective) shots. I find that hunting with an air rifle makes you think your shot through and make wiser decisions about when and where to shoot.

This ranch has several simple blinds set up in strategic places, feeders, water holes, and natural funnels.

The best all around airgun for hog hunting is a .357 on up caliber from a gun generating 300+ fpe, but light rifles can be used if the hunter hold for closer shots and sticks to the head. My typical shot placement is to drop the pellet either right down the ear, or between the ear and the eye. If you’ve seen any of my videos using lighter rifles this is the only shot I take.

I was out stalking and had scared off a couple big pigs, and in disgust headed back to the ranch to get some lunch. As I crested a hill I saw this little porker running down the road right at me, and dropped him as he topped a hill I’d dropped behind.

Texas is one of my favorite states to hunt hogs in, lots of them and licenses are inexpensive. Unless you know someone with land you’ll probably have to pay to hunt as most of the land in the state is private property, but it’s generally a pretty reasonable price. I’m heading down in a couple weeks to hunt with my buddy Don Steele, where we’ll split our time between predators and hogs. Looking forward to it, we’re talking about setting up a hunt later in the year for a small group of airgunners and will let you know when and the details as the plans come together.

Speaking of airgun hunting events, we are going to do the S. Dakota prairie dog shoot again this year and I will post the details here and, on a video over on my YouTube channel in the next week or so with the details. We had a great time last year and expect this year to be another outstanding trip! I’ll be getting my Bantam out for both of these hunts.

One Response to Hams on the cloven hoof

  1. Wyeth Hecht

    Count me in on P-dog hunt. Great time last year.

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