Feral hog hunting hunt ar-15 MSR caliber
Yes, feral hogs deserve a fast, ethical kill, too. (Courtesy Kat Ainsworth Stevens)
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By Mark Oliva

Celebrating National Shooting Sports Month doesn’t have to be just a range activity. Hunters can get into the game too and while they’re at it, lend a helping hand to conservation and fight climate change.

That’s right. Hunters go can green and not just wear green by hunting hogs.

At least 12 states allow year-round hog hunting. They stretch coast-to-coast, from California to Virginia and Texas to Wisconsin. Hunters can take advantage of the dog days of summer to put some pork in the freezer. At the same time, hunters can be doing a favor when it comes to reducing carbon emissions and growing the next generations of hunters.

Ecological Menace

Feral hogs have long been known to be a scourge on wildlife. They are a non-native species introduced into North America as a food source. Domesticated pigs were brought to North America in the 1500s and released into the wild. They’ve been reported in 45 states and were largely contained to the Southern United States through most of the last century. That was until the population exploded. It was referred to as a pig bomb.” There’s even a Netflix documentary on the phenomenon.

Feral hogs are environmental assassins. They’re responsible for $1.5 billion worth of crop damage annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wild hogs devastate farmers’ fields by trampling or eating crops and rooting and eating seeds before they sprout. They will eat nearly anything they come across, making them particularly harmful to native wildlife.

Feral pigs, hogs hunting damage
Bigstock

They raid nests and devour eggs of birds and even alligators, even eating small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Their rooting and wallowing affects fish, with muddy run-offs polluting streams, ponds and lakes. They’re also known carriers of swine brucellosis, pseudorabies and tularemia among other diseases.

A more recent study shows that feral hogs are also responsible for releasing more carbon emissions than 1 million cars. Carbon trapped in the soil is released into the atmosphere by the hogs’ rooting activity.

Hog Medicine: Hunting

The good news is states are making it easier than ever to put a dent in the hog populations. Texas, ground central for the swine overrun, eliminated license requirements in 2019 to hunt hogs on private property with landowner consent. That means anyone, resident or nonresident, needs only to secure landowner permission to bring home the bacon.

Alabama opened up night hunting for hogs and coyotes and so far has sold over 500 licenses. It’s just $15 for residents and $51 for nonresident hunters. That makes it a bargain for out-of-staters. A license to hunt all game species in Alabama runs nearly $330 for non-residents. The recently passed law also allows hunters to use devices that were previously banned, including night vision, thermal optics and lights.

Night Vision hog pig hunt
Shutterstock

Alabama’s not the only state. Hog hunting at night is permitted in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. Hunters should be sure to check state-specific regulations as many states limit it to private property or with notification to authorities for depredation purposes.

Texas is taking hog hunting to new heights. Helicopter hog hunts have become a bucket-list excursion for hunters who want to try their hand at aerial marksmanship. If helicopters are a little intimidating, Texas allows for hot air balloon hog hunting.

+ONE

Guam is using hog hunting as a tool to reduce the invasive pigs and grow new hunters. The South Pacific U.S. territory is hosting the annual Field to Fork – Babui, or wild pig hunt on Aug. 21.

It is an island-wide effort that uses the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Grant Program, funded in part by the Pittman-Robertson excise taxes paid by firearm and ammunition manufacturers. The hunt will feed families, foster safe, responsible and ethical hunter development and reduce our nuisance feral pig population.

Hog hunting is a great way to introduce new hunters to big game hunting.  They can be hunted by spot-and-stalk, stands or with dogs. Just about any deer gun will work, but hog hunting is also a favorite for those who want to put their Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR) to work. There are entire online communities dedicated to hunting hog with AR-15-style rifles.

Chefs are dedicating books to teaching hunters that wild hogs make for good table fare. Eater Austin reported on one Texas chef and restaurant owner who made it his mission to educate the masses on the pork bonanza available to them.

Dai Due owner and chef Jesse Griffiths’s longtime mission is to convince people to eat wild hogs. Enter The Hog Book, a definitive guide to hunting, preparing, and cooking the wild animal, which he is self-publishing this August.

National Shooting Sports Month, created by NSSF to recruit, retain and reinvigorate recreational shooters and hunters, is the perfect time not just to get to the range. That’s the point of NSSF’s +ONE program to grow new recreational shooters and hunters. There’s game in the woods and it’s open season. Tipping over a feral hog not only helps pack the freezer, it’s good for the environment too.

 

Mark Oliva is Director, Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. He is a retired Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant with 25 years of service, including tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Albania, and Zaire.

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45 COMMENTS

  1. “The hunt will feed families, foster safe, responsible and ethical hunter development and reduce our nuisance feral pig population.”

    Sounds perfectly reasonable to me… get out there and bring home the bacon!

  2. Here in CA the state and the farmers ring their hands and cry for relief from the wild hogs. Then they try to charge you ridiculous sums for the privilege of doing so. Last I did it the state charged a 22 dollar tag for every hog shot.

    We should save Texas from the hogs by transporting them to CA.

    • At least you are allowed to cull them. Feral hogs are just getting established in Montana and our Fish, Wildlife and Parks say we are not allowed to shoot hogs we find…WTH? I guess they want a vigorous population to study for possible adverse effects on native wildlife. When I asked my local FWP Warden he said (off the record) that the decision makes no sense to him either.

      • Just eat the evidence, or feed it to your dogs and cats. I find it difficult to believe MT can be that dumb unless it’s coming from the Hollywood influences.

        • The big farmers / ranchers are almost all Democrat. They are accustomed to Gov’t handouts. IMO, they want the hogs to entrench so they can scam more $$…both from government entities and by allowing people to “harvest” hogs on their property for a price.

      • A conservation officer I talked to in Missouri said hed rather hunters not shoot hogs, said it scatters the herd and makes them harder to mass trap.

      • Set up a 5 gallon bucket of tannerite with plenty of corn in the general area. What for the pests, then shoot the bucket. BOOM No More Pests that you didn’t shoot.

        • A 5-gallon bucket full of Tannerite will cost probably a thousand bucks.

          That stuff ain’t cheap…

    • Log into Facebook to enter?

      I have no F-book account, and refuse to create one.

      ‘Sweaty Teddy’ and I shall never meet for his giveaway hunt…

  3. Hog hunting is FUN! .308 bolt action, pump shotgun with slugs, .357 magnum lever action, .44 magnum revolver, just a few of my favorite methods.

    • I hear some people actually hunt them with spears. Sounds like a good way for the hog to get mad and get you. The English did it but on horseback. A least you could make a fast exit.

    • “…harpoon a fat chick.”

      I’ve done that.

      Well, it was a 7-inch ‘harpoon’.

      She, and I, liked it.

      And still do it, now and again… 😉

  4. It’s a lot of fun, but everyone sees dollar signs. Instead of something to help them out, farmers try to monetize it and end up with massive population explosions.

    Good job guys.

  5. My group discovered that by naming certain large hogs our success rate increased. The most successful name is Joe Biden and every one was a clean head shot. Their meat is very toxic, however, so these hogs are thrown in a ditch and covered to let their carcasses fertilize the trees near by when their roots track to the filled ditches.
    What would your favorite name be? (No Donald Trumps, I bet!)

  6. Not a hunter so…I understand that California only allows hunting dawn to dusk, and night vision devices are illegal.

    Also, a cattle rancher I know has a neighbor who feeds the wild hogs that come by her house (northern California). One of his men shot the big boar, and they barbecued it. He said it was pretty awful, probably because most of their diet in these parts is acorns.

    If hogs carry so many diseases, how is it safe to butcher them much less eat them?

      • I didn’t think that possums cooked…What do you do, boil them in a hot spring? Stick them on an iron post and hope for lightning?

        • I’m just trying to help out them dumb humans that think their the ,,,,,,who are the top food in the chain.
          It’s not my fault yah lost function of your appendix.

    • They are better to eat in the cold winter, but the 200 lb. and smaller are the best. There are books and articles on how to properly handle the meat to improve taste. We had hogs really bad where i live and several of the neighbors and myself declared war on them. Only a few are around now but will repopulate again.

      • I had chili verde made with feral hog. It was delicious.

        I would imagine wild hog would be fatty and greasy like domesticated hogs were when I was a kid in the 1960s. They’re breeding a higher quality meat source these days.

    • “…probably because most of their diet in these parts is acorns.”

      Oh Mark, acorn fed critters can be the tastiest, especially if mostly from the white oaks. The big old animals can be more gamey because of hormones, but more often than not, gaminess is introduced by the hunter and/or butcher. Shoot one that’s been super stressed, get hair on the meat, get glandular secretions or digestive tract contents on the meat, don’t cool it quickly enough, hey, the list of don’ts is long.

      And, possums don’t need to cook, at least to kill rabies, as they aren’t susceptible. That comment was for our benefit.

      • Scrub oaks, not white oaks here. Indians used to make a paste from them. Understand that is pretty nasty stuff too. If it isn’t oak, its is grass and manzanita. Not much else to eat this side of the Trinities. Other side has more rain.

    • Shooting a boar – well there’s your problem. I never shoot the male tuskers. Only the mommies or maybe the young’uns. I know some of my Jewish friends have figured out how to butcher the males without the rank smell and taste. But I don’t have that skill. So in general, it’s safer and easier to go after the young females (in hunting and in life) for better eating.

      • I did not know people of the Jewish religion ate swine.
        However, I might be getting old and forgetting stuff.
        Oh God just kill me now, I’m getting like theBiden.

  7. For y’all not acquainted with wild hog control, they breed so fast that you’ve got to kill 70% of the population every year, just to stay even. I don’t care how much ammo or how many hunters you’ve got, you’ll never get it done just by shooting the things. Learn how to use a corral trap and get 20 or 30 at a time, and you might stand a chance. We’ve been at this for a long time in MS, and we’re still not able prevent population growth. Y’all up North that are just now starting to think about this better get your act together and get on it right now.

    • Dont know about hogs, my experience in eradication of vermin is. Trapping is better then hunting and poison is better then traps.

  8. Hog hunting isn’t boar hunting in the traditional, European sense. It’s simply pest extermination that has to proceed on an industrial scale if the feral population is to be controlled. You don’t want to kill one hog. You want to kill a hundred. Then, what do you do with so many corpses?

    • BBQ a couple young ones. Bury or burn the rest, or take ’em to the nearest landfill or leave ’em for the buzzards or other critters. Down this way, feed ’em to the gators.

  9. I can’t believe you can’t use lights to hunt pigs!

    Downunder spot light hunting is the most common method.

    And our pig season is 24/7/365.

  10. I need to get back to hunting in my old age. Feral hogs seem to be a good pursuit. Checked my state to find them in the PA county where I was born. Guess I gotta get my trusted firearms ready and visit the area. (I now live in eastern PA). Unfortunately the final OK needs to be given by my “sofa and TV attached Wife. Wish me luck.

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