Shot Placement: Hogs, Hogs, Hogs

Hog Hunt Feral Hog Pig Hunting

Hog hunting has become wildly popular in the past few years.

Hog hunting has enjoyed Most Popular Hunt status for some time now. And of course, when people think feral hogs they tend to think Texas. It’s certainly true the Lone Star state has more than its share of the destructive pests, but they’re in far more states than just the one. In honor of the arrival of summer and the fact that you’re down to only a handful of hunt able predators and pests for a few months, I thought I’d indulge in flashback to a hog I took over Valentine’s Day a few years ago. Talk about a bloody Valentine.

Valentine’s Day was on Saturday that year. My companions — two of whom were seasoned hunters, the third was the 12-year-old son of one of the men, hoping to get his first hog — had set out the night before from Louisville, Kentucky hoping for a quick hunt before the holiday struck. The bed of the truck was piled with the assorted guns, bows, and gear required to outfit our group, In the cab, talk of past hunts dominated the conversation.

Ben rode shotgun while John drove and in the ensuing hours I discovered just how many game photos can be stored on a smart phone with extra memory (a lot more than my phone holds). I was content to assume the role of listener and heard some great stories along the way.

The discussion ranged from size of game to ammo performance to a brief discussion of snipers. The miles rolled by while the excited anticipation of a hopefully-successful hunt settled over us. It was February in the South and the weather was reasonably mild. We would, we assumed, be blessed with equally mild weather for the hunt. We were wrong.

Our hunt took place on a nice chunk of land covering some decently sharp hills and valleys. Although we expected an early start, it was after 0900 hours when we finally set out, parking at the base of a rise and tackling a steeper hike than anticipated. Slick rock coated the trail and the remnants of decaying leaves created slime beneath our feet. We had separate destinations and split up after cresting the hill.

A quick lesson in why hunting hogs is, while potentially dangerous (big, sharp tusks, anyone?) a pest problem, not a majestic game hunt. Wild hogs are an introduced species: domestic pigs, captive and feral, have been around since the days of Plymouth Rock and John Smith, but wild boar didn’t hit the North American scene until the 19th century.

It was 1890 when 13 wild boars were released on fenced property in New Hampshire; the first escapes occurred almost immediately. While those escapees were hunted down and shot, another group was brought over from Germany and transplanted to New York. By 1908 there were New York escapees populating the area, but it wasn’t over yet.

Jump to 1912, North Carolina: 13 European boars were placed in a preserve in Graham County. Ten years passed before the Great Boar Escape happened during the aftermath of a massive hunt that caused the hogs to understandably flee for their lives, taking the fence with them. The rest is wild boar-infesting-North-America history.

It was the many-generations-removed piggy offspring of those long-ago wild boars we set about hunting for our own version of a Valentine’s celebration.

Wild boars populate at an impressive rate and are tough as hell. There’s a gristly subcutaneous mantle over their shoulders, offering protection from goring during fights, and it’s the bane of uninformed hunters. Their anatomy varies from other game; taking aim at a hog with the same shot placement used on a deer is inadvisable. A hog’s heart and lungs are right above their elbows, and slightly forward.

Remember, just because they’re invasive, destructive pests – they do $400 million in damage annually in Texas alone, destroying crops, annihilating plant and less-tough animal life – doesn’t mean they should be denied a quick death. Whatever you hunt, be it deer, bear, coyote, or hog, it’s your job as a hunter to deliver an ethically sound, clean kill. That means knowing their anatomy.

As I trudged up the hillside that morning, I reminded myself with each chilly breath that these were just hills, not mountains like I was used to in my birthplace of Washington State. I carried a Remington R25 GII, the next generation model with a 20” stainless steel barrel coated in Teflon and a 1:10 twist rate. Thanks to a carbon fiber fore end and somewhat reduced size, it weighed in around seven pounds, more than a pound lighter than its predecessor.

Dragging myself up to what I hoped would be an ideal hunting area while trying to be quiet despite the higher altitude tugging at my lungs, I was quite grateful for the rifle’s lighter weight.

Hog Hunt Feral Hog Pig Hunting Remington GII .308 Rifle

The Remington R25 GII in .308 Win has served me well on quite a few hunts.

Prior to the hunt I’d run the R25 GII at Gunsite which only served to make me want to hunt with it. It has a Hogue pistol grip and free-float hand guard. Despite the dreary rain testing first took place, it kept on going with no failures. I was hunting with a model chambered in .308 Win, but the rifle comes in other calibers including .243 Win and 7mm-08. Other features include a SuperCell recoil pad, Mossy Oak Infinity finish, and an Elastomer extractor spring and dual ejectors. Mine was topped with a Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 1.75-5X 32mm scope.

Though my gun was Remington, my ammo was Hornady. Full Boar, of course. Full Boar comes in a wide range of popular hunting calibers including, but not limited to, .243 Win, 6.8 SPC, .30-06, and, of course, .308 Win. The rounds use Hornady’s ballistic-tipped GMX bullets and boast 95% or better weight retention, uniform expansion, and hard-core terminal performance. Basically, all the ingredients necessary to take down tough animals like a feral hogs.

The first hours passed slowly and the air grew cooler with each passing moment despite the clock’s climb towards noon. When I paused to use my cell phone to snap a quick picture of the view, I discovered I was standing in just the right spot to confuse my so-called smart phone’s time zone sensor. This discovery resulted in a few minutes spent pacing a small area watching my phone’s clock flicker one hour ahead, then behind, and ahead again. It was right about then that I heard the distant grunting of a sow’s contact call.

The sow and her piglets were entirely oblivious of my existence, and I eyed them through my scope as I considered my next move. They were rooting in the leaves for food, and as I admired the surprisingly pretty oranges and blacks of one piglet’s coat, a rust-colored boar edged into the clearing. Right about now is when you’d expect me to take my shot, but you’d be wrong, because right about now is when a small herd of deer came dashing through, scattering the hogs as they went.

And then it started to snow. So much for mild weather.

Snow wasn’t in the forecast but it quickly became evident this was the real deal as the tiny white flecks became full-fledged flakes and began to stick. It coated the ground quickly giving the world a soft-focus appearance while simultaneously freezing the bejeezus out of my face and hands.

Although I was wearing gloves they weren’t my warmest and my thin camo balaclava didn’t offer much help, either. I pulled my knit skull cap down tighter over my head and began praying to the gods of hunting for a boar to cross my path and spare me the agony of freezing to death.

Hog Hunt Feral Hog Pig Hunting Boar

Snow had begun to fall by the time the boar appeared on the hill above me.

I saw him coming and knew he was oblivious enough for me to take a “before” picture. Then came the final image through the Multi-X reticle of my scope. His coat was thick and blue, the hair bristling at his snout, nostrils twitching as he shuffled along, looking for food.

The leaves were quite thick in places and he stood belly-deep more than once. We proceeded to join in a hunting dance, his body hidden in the trees, mine slowing edging around for a clear shot. Finally he stepped out just enough, blissfully unaware of my presence. He stood on the hill’s crest, vitals exposed for a moment. The still-falling snow blurred my line of sight and cast a haze over the blue of his hide. I squeezed the trigger.

For a moment he stood there, utterly still, and I paused. I’d been confident of my placement, and yet…then he moved. He did a 180, revealing a through-and-through courtesy of the Hornady Full Boar, complete with the hose-like gush of heart’s blood.

Then he went down, hard. The entire process took only a matter of seconds and he was careening down the hill, hooves twitching in death, plowing snout-first through the leaves and snow. He came to rest thanks to a downed tree, slamming against its frozen bark. In a matter of seconds snow laced his coat and I stood, trying to feel my fingers. FYI, never go out without hand warmers.

My boar weighed in around 200 pounds. He was moving when I shot him at a distance of perhaps only 60 yards. Score one for being hidden in the trees. It was a good hunt, despite the cold.

Hog Hunt Feral Hog Pig Hunting

Hornady Full Boar to the heart dropped the boar hard.

The snow melted almost as quickly as it came; by the time I got back and stood by an outdoor fire pit wishing for a mug of coffee, it was gone. I’d gotten my heart for Valentine’s Day – of a sort. A heart shot counts. All four of us had success. So much success, in fact, the big truck was weighed down for the drive home. My blue boar made fantastic sausage and good ribs, and my rifle did exactly what it was meant to do: bring home the bacon.

Years later I still remember that hunt fondly. Man did I freeze – but it was worth it. Now it’s summer and the hogs are getting sluggish with the heat. Hunting them in the cooler hours, especially at night, is your best bet. And don’t be complaining about the heat. At least you aren’t being snowed on while wearing thin gloves and a worthless mask. After all, any day spent hog hunting is a good day, right?

comments

  1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    Somebody’s not going to like this article.

    Oh wait – hog with one g not two. Nevermind.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “Oh wait – hog with one g not two. Nevermind.”

      Well… Thanks to that SWAT story, the whole country now knows that little twerp’s exact address.

      So, it’s conceivable that situation could come to pass…

      1. avatar rosignol says:

        That would not be a good thing. Bloomberg would milk a martyr for everything it’s worth.

      2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        Don’t be surprised if it turns out he swatted himself. Nobody was home at the time. This is how the left operates.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          If it was someone from the pro-2A side they should probably lose their g un rights.

        2. avatar Ed Schrade says:

          Tried to sound like a hero to the communists that he works for.

    2. avatar Alan says:

      Master Hogg should be spanked not shot, as he isn’t worth the cost of ammunition used. Beside that, shooting annoying, unpleasant figures tends to martyr them, something that you do not want to do. Deflate them, by all means. Martyr them, certainly not, unless you wish to make permanent fixtures of them.

  2. avatar Geoff PR says:

    I had thought shot placement wasn’t particularity critical for hogs, based on some helicopter hunt videos of hogs seeming to freeze mid-stride when shot and then drop, with legs sticking straight out…

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I was always surprised that the Hogs went down so fast in helicopter hunts as well, especially since they’re often using buckshot.
      But then I did it myself, and realize that most of the shots are within 35 yards and striking down on the animal along its spine. Almost every shot we took was a CNS hit.

      1. avatar Southerner says:

        For thick cover hog hunts, I prefer bigger buckshot. The tight patterning 3 x .60″ pellet 12 gauge TriBall 3″ buckshot load from Dixie Slugs, is my choice of hog fodder for the big smoothbore Remington 870.

  3. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

    Even in CA on a winter hunt I wear wool undies and keep a wool hat and gloves in my kit. If that bastard murphy shows up I want to have a decent chance against the elements.

    Hand warmers are a good thing, also.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      Those single-use footwarmer pads are kinda neat as well…

  4. avatar samuraichatter says:

    I am wondering how this works in Arkansas. “Go hogs Go” – now lets shoot the team mascot 🙂

    1. avatar ironicatbest says:

      LOL, the first wild pig I saw, (my years pass), I was a kid. Was in Arkansas. Dad said they called them Razorbacks cause their so damned skinny. Oh BTW, don’t wear a Razorback logo T shirt around OU. I got mine ripped to shreds by a gang of teenagers.

  5. avatar Marty says:

    Don’t think we have any feral hogs here in the Central Mountains of Utah, at least I’ve never seen any. I hunted them one time In Kalifornia, an area called Hunter Ligget. The guys I was hunting with who were the experts, they kept talking about the 600 lb. Russian Blues. Unfortunately, I let one go, about 150 lbs., and never found a larger one. So, I’m 0 for 1 on the hogs.

    1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

      Otherwise known as Hungry Lizard back in the 80s. I did a stint there for a few months when my unit was tasked to test some new equipment.

      Hated the place. One day for PT we climbed the tallest peak there. Got back late late in the afternoon.

      1. avatar Marty says:

        Yup Manse, it was back in the 80’s when I was there on the hog hunt. Sure wish I could of scored.

    2. avatar Ram says:

      That’s cause your not in Texas where
      Everything is bigger!!!. Get it

      1. avatar Marty says:

        Yea, we love Texas. Last June, we went to Texas, specifically Stephenville. Beautiful, we loved the area. But, and a huge but, the property taxes and insurance was unbelievable. We figured we could afford $350,000. Even if we could afford to pay cash for the place, which we couldn’t, the taxes and insurance were about $1000 a month! Yea, we could have looked further south, but the heat and humidity made that a no go. Plus the fact that 95% of the state is private land and hunting for other than hog would probably be expensive. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact the feds have little influence in the state, that’s one of the reasons I love the state. Hell, here I can hunt just about anywhere within a few miles. I don’t even need to drive my truck to hunt, just get on my 4 wheeler and go. For that matter, I can shoot a buck on my own property. And at my age, that’s a good thing, but until now, I haven’t hunted on my property. My 17 year old daughter feed the deer apples out of her hand and has them all named. She does go with me on the hunts, helps me gut them and when we get home, helps me skin them, but doesn’t want me shooting her “pets”. So yea, you have a great state, but I simply can’t afford the taxes. Yea, you have no income taxes, but the property taxes more than make up for that, at least in the area I would be interested in.

  6. avatar TrueBornSonofLiberty says:

    I’m so confused. I really thought this article was in “code” and that Michael Moore, aka the bore, and Rosie the Sow Odonnel were the targets. Now I’m disappointed.

  7. avatar Iillinois_Minion says:

    Help a city slicker understand: Hogs are so prevalent, yet people are only too willing to charge $300+ for the opportunity to hunt them? I would love to go take few for food purposes, but the cost, not to mention travel considerations, are slightly off-putting.

    What am I missing? Where are the opportunities to help eradicate some of these pests that don;t cost a weeks wages? (for more than one pig that is)

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Unless you know the landowner, expect to pay money. The bottom line is, landowners don’t want strangers just roaming around their property shooting game, livestock, buildings, everything in sight. And unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens.
      Farmers & ranchers, like me, would rather pay someone to come out and professionally hunt and trap than just allow strangers to roam around their property shooting.

      1. avatar ironicatbest says:

        Yup, they shot one of my burro’s. Saw them driving down the road, stopped, shot, he dropped, they took off. Tried to chase them down but they out run me.

      2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Mr. Taylor,

        I very much appreciate the fact that land owners do NOT want hunters shooting their livestock and buildings. How do responsible hunters (which necessarily includes good marksmanship skills) break-through that entry-barrier?

        I ask because I would also LOVE to hunt feral hogs and wild boar that are damaging property.

        1. avatar Big Bill says:

          There’s a lot of free private land available and you can check the Internet for clues. The first sites to visit are those of game and fish departments, agricultural departments, state farm bureaus and state soil conservation services. These folks hear complaints about feral hogs from landowners and farmers all the time, and might be the gateway to a great hog hunt in early fall.

    2. avatar Klaus Von Schmitto says:

      Come to Florida. Hunt pretty much any public WMA. Costs 20 bucks a year.

    3. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      It’s illegal to charge to hunt them in Oregon. I’d love to kill some but the only substantial groups of them are on the big ranches in the southeast.

  8. avatar Gutshot says:

    Heard that the wild ones were a bit on the wormy side. Don’t dig worms in large quantities. Talking about hogs of course, not women. Although…..hmmm…

  9. avatar Ralph says:

    “And of course, when people think feral hogs they tend to think Texas.”

    Actually, when I think feral hogs, I think of the Massachusetts state legislature.

    1. avatar Marty says:

      Now that’s funny!

    2. avatar Greg says:

      Yup that is actually hilarious considering I did live there but now reside in Virginia and loving it.

  10. avatar Nitromike says:

    If cwd kills all our deer here in parking,perhaps we could stalk pigs so we have something to hunt in the way of big game!

  11. avatar Nitromike says:

    If cwd kills all our deer here in PA,perhaps we could stalk pigs so we have something to hunt in the way of big game!

    1. avatar bud says:

      after one trip to Louisiana pig hunting, we don’t want those pigs here. they tear the woods up ugly

  12. avatar ironicatbest says:

    This may sound cruel, hog eradication starts with shooting the sows and piglets.

    1. avatar Bcb says:

      My thoughts exactly. Kill them sows every chance you get as many as you can. If you don’t want to keep them just let it lay.

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Shooting piglets is ridiculous.
      They can’t run for long and they are easy to catch. I just hold them under by boot and stab them. The screams sometimes bring the sow back for another shot.

      1. avatar Thunderkawk says:

        Ammo is cheap and shooting is fun.

  13. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    What about shot placement? I have heard about the tough cartilage plate on feral hogs and boars and how that can render some shots useless. What is the solution?

    1. avatar Klaus Von Schmitto says:

      A bonded bullet at high velocity.

    2. avatar jwtaylor says:

      We have a simple rule, violating that rule gets you uninvited for future shooting.
      “See pig. Shoot pig.”
      Nobody cares if your shot placement is great. If you have a positive ID and all you can do is get a round into its trotting ass, do so. Bad gut shot? No such thing on a pig. Any shot in a pig is a good shot. This isn’t hunting, it’s eradication.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        I would imagine any shot pretty much anywhere in the torso or hams of feral hogs would be lethal — the only question is how long it would take the hog to die and whether or not you would be able to recover it (assuming that you want to).

        (Of course my statement above assumes that you are using suitable firearms and ammunition for the task.)

  14. avatar Honzo says:

    So where was this Valentine’s day hunt, please? I would like a chance a these critters myself.

  15. avatar Jerry Reeves says:

    I’m a cold weather lover. I killed 9 last deer season in front of dogs with anBrowning 10 gauge mag rack over 80 yds away dropped in their tracks. Not my weapon of choice but you can’t use rifles or pistols on deer dog drives. I just started chemo today for lung cancer but when I’m through I’m going to use my Ruger 44 mag auto carbine. Excellent fo up to 150 yds. And fast pointing.

  16. avatar GunGal says:

    I’m amazed we don’t have feral hogs out in the country place we have. My brother does keep a small herd of Long Horns. Think that could be a deterrence? Watched a LH bull pick up a rude little Long Horn calf with his horns and toss him a good ways away. Sure taught little guy a lessson
    We do have gray foxes, bobcats and cayotes. No bears or Mountain lions.
    Did get a photo of a feral piglet on wild life camera (before camera was stolen) Must have had something wrong with it for it to rejected by the other pigs

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