In recent years, wild hog populations have exploded in the United States, often much to the chagrin of both farmers and ranchers. That's why these big, tough creatures are now common hunting targets. How much do you know about wild hog hunting?
Wild hog populations are strongest in the Gulf States, such as Texas and Florida. In some places, they are a genuine public nuisance.
They are often called razorbacks. This term is often used for wild hogs that descended partly from domesticated pigs.
Many hunters rely on dogs to corner and sometimes even pin down wild hogs. The speed of four-legged companions helps to cut off hog escape routes.
Wild hogs can be both big and aggressive. They can and do attack humans, and they can cause serious bodily harm. Each year, there are typically a few fatalities attributed to hog-related misadventures.
In places where hogs are common, the tell-tale signs of hog rooting are hard to miss. You can use the upturned dirt and maimed plants to figure out where the hogs might be hiding.
Pigs scrounge for food by digging at the dirt and rooting up plants with their snouts. Their insatiable appetites mean that just a few hogs can tear up huge swaths of agricultural land in just days.
Hogs often respond aggressively to calls. They'll charge through even heavy cover to see what the commotion is all about.
A hog distress call is often your best bet. Unless they're busy heading towards a specific destination, hogs will typically race towards a distress call, especially if you can mimic the shrieks of a young piglet.
Many hunters opt for .25 or .30 caliber rifles to hunt hogs, giving them substantial stopping power to drop large animals.
Hogs are aggressive animals that demand respect from all other creatures, including humans. Like bears, they are especially mean if you threaten their piglets.
Hog tracks look a lot like deer tracks, but typically they are rounder and wider than those of a deer. Tracks are another good way to find groups of hogs.
Hogs have naturally responded to hunting pressure by developing new habits. Many of them, particularly in hard-hunted areas, tend to feed at night in effort to avoid hunters.
When it comes to protecting their young, hogs are notoriously aggressive. If you draw them in using piglet distress calls, you may very well want to be in a tree stand, where you can remain out of harm's way.
Large predators, such as mountain lions and wolves, love bacon just as much as humans. They'll often prey on young or juvenile hogs. But once hogs are more than 20 pounds or so, they are a tough meal for most North American predators.
Some very large males can tip the scales at around 300 pounds. Some rare (and often unconfirmed) reports share news of hogs that push 500 pounds, but some of these are outright fabrications.
The population of hogs in the U.S. has tripled since 1990. There are about 2.5 million hogs in Texas alone.
Hogs have poor eyesight, meaning they'll struggle to see you if you wear camouflage. Their hearing isn't very good, either.
It's true that Gulf Coast states are pretty liberal when it comes to hog hunting, but on public land, there are typically limited seasons. On private land, however, some states allow hunting all year long.
Texas has well over 2 million of the hogs running wild through its sprawling lands. Hog hunting is a popular pastime in the Lone Star state.
Hunters kill and trap nearly 70 percent of the Texas population just to keep it sort of under control. Without aggressive hunting, the hogs would probably invade Dallas and take up residence in posh townhomes.
Hogs are cunning, and their high intelligence, combined with their phenomenal sense of smell, can make them very hard targets.
In most cases, hogs are creatures of habit, using the same paths and bedding locations. But disruptions from humans can quickly cause hogs to change their routines.
The hog diet is mostly made up of vegetation, but they'll eat anything, from small animals to large carcasses, including bones. So if you need to dispose of a dead body, well, there you go.
In places like Texas, females may average 1.5 litters per year, with about 5 piglets in each litter. Females can begin reproducing at just six months old, a fact that contributes to their fast population growth.
At top speed, they can hit a blazing 30 mph, far faster than any human. It's one reason you should avoid angering these large animals.
Hogs love pungent smells, especially those that are associated with berries. Many commercial hog baits, then, use flavoring such as strawberries.
If you want a true trophy, you'll be hunting large male hogs. Those hogs spend much of their time traveling alone.
Texas legislators approved a poisonous bait containing warfarin, which is proven to kill hogs. The poison is banned in Australia because it causes extreme suffering in the animals that consume it.
Wild hogs are not known for their social niceties. They defecate and urinate in their wallowing pools, and you'll smell the evidence.
Hogs are incredibly tough. They can absorb multiple (poorly-aimed) shots before succumbing to the effects of lead. If you don't want to spend hours chasing a wounded hog, make sure your aim is true.