Where to go: Here in California wild hogs are found throughout our state and naturally some areas are more productive than others. Mendocino, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Kern, Santa Barbra, Tehama, Colusa, Fresno, Calaveras, Humboldt, San Benito, Sonoma, Siskiyou, Santa Barbara, Tulare, King, Paso Robles, Yolo, Lassen and Fresno all harvest wild boar. I would recommend you start your search with private land owners. The Department of Fish and Wildlife reports show that 92.4% of successful hog hunts are done on private land. Of course you can get a hog on public land, but you only have a 7.6% of a chance of successfully harvesting a boar off public land. Plus private land owners do not want hogs on their land because of how destructive they are.
Starting your hunt: Often hog signs are hard to find because they move around a lot. So this means a lot of hiking! Hogs can be found almost anywhere, but the one thing they can’t live without is water. So this is a good starting point. Find where a pig would get water and start looking near those water sources especially in areas that have dense cover. Keep looking for the freshest tracks and any signs that you can and follow them.
Just because they are not where you saw them last time doesn’t mean they are not there. It’s hunting not shooting, some days they are there and some days they are not. Some days you find them in the morning and some days you find them in the afternoon. Use those days that you are not seeing any signs to get to know how these pigs move. This will help you learn the land even better and sometimes you run across one hiding under a bush, or you come over a ridge and there they are. When you don’t find them in the common areas that everyone sees them in they can be holding in the areas in-between them. Make sure to use your binoculars to look INTO the thick brush. The easiest thing to spot in the woods are ears and horizontal lines, diligently look at every rock, bush and shadow. You will be surprised when some of them will turn out to be a hog.
Learn the routes that they naturally take and don’t be surprised when you jump one in the place you least expect it. Be careful, they hold really tight and can come charging out at you at any time. But most of the time they will be running away from you. Regardless you need to be prepared to take a shot within seconds at any moment. If other people are getting pigs in the area and you are not, just remember pigs move a lot and just because they are not there when you were that does not mean the area is bad. A lot of the time a successful is hunt is when opportunity and preparation come together at the same time, this is also known as luck to some. I will tell you that I am not lucky, I just work harder them most. I learn as much about the area as I can, so I can move to other areas where they may have moved to or gone thru. Often I have a person that wants to hunt from the truck and I am ok with that. It makes for less hiking when I need to get picked up 2 to 12 miles from where I started, meaning I don’t have to hike back over areas that I have already covered.
Hog terrain and what to look for:
What do Wild Boar tracks look like:
Hog track are usually easily distinguished from a deer track.
A pig hoof is rounder at the toes and the toes can be spread because the animal is heavy, or they can spread from the impact of running. You can tell when a pig is not in a hurry because his toes will not spread very much in the mud. On harder ground they would be even closer together. If the hoof tips don't clear the ground, they can drag forward to make lines in the dirt that make the toes look pointed. This will sometimes make the hog track look like a deer track. But the drag marks will be as long the hog’s stride, a good way to tell how big the game you are hunting is.
Deer tracks comes to a point in-between the toes. Deer tracks are thinner and curve outward on the inside of the hoof. Deer tracks can imitate hog tracks if the toe tips push deeply into the softer ground. However, the deer track is much more narrow than the hogs and the inside is back cut, hogs do not have that. The hogs get a little fatter on the inside not skinner.
Both deer and hogs have dew claws that can leave an imprint on either side of each track if the hooves sink deeply into the ground for whatever the reason. The hogs tend to be to the outer side of back of the track, where a deer tends to be directly behind the back of the track. If you pay attention to them you will not be tracking the wrong animal, which does happen to a lot of hunters.
Submitted by: Michael Dickerson, All The Outdoors
Recently, I had the opportunity to take my son and wife on their first hog hunt. It was nice to go without any expectation other than just teaching them. We were able to see wild boar tracks, several deer feeding, and even bear and mountain lion tracks!
One thing that I have learned over the years is when taking a new person out with me on the hunt, that today may be the first time anyone has ever taken the time to explain the outdoors to them. As you are scouting and seeing signs, remember to point it out to them so they can learn to read a game trails, what tracks and scat belong to which animals, tell them what the forest is telling you and explain it to them as its happening.
Don’t be so focused on the hunt that you don’t get to enjoy the time just getting outdoors. It was a nice day teaching them how to read the forest like a book. And that's my kind of reading!
Here is some of my research and helpful tips to help with your next hog hunt:
First they have many names: American Wild Boar, Razorbacks, Feral Pigs, Russian and European Boar. The average adult boar is between 150 to 250 pounds. They have larger heads and snout, but the ears are smaller than domestic hogs. Their legs are longer and higher off the ground compared to domestic pigs. With broad shoulders that taper back to the hind quarter, this is the bone that grows between the inner hide and the meat of the pig providing armor to protect him while he is getting into fights with other male boars. Domestic hogs don’t have this armor. First on the list of predators are humans then bears, packs of wolves or dogs and panthers. A pig let (shoats) are young pig that can be taken by dogs, coyote, bobcats and the larger raptors such as owls and eagles. True to the hog's ruthless nature, shoats and pigs are commonly cannibalized by larger hogs.
There are 23 subspecies of hogs worldwide, but there is only one species in the US, Sus scrofa. The family is Suidae, thus the hog call, "sui". Just as our countless breeds of dogs were all derived from the wolf, our varieties of domestic hogs and all of their feral relatives were all derived from the Eurasian Wild Boar. They are incidentally not at all related to the southwest's javalina (collared peccary). The ancestors of the hog go back to the Ice Age, and their domestication was somewhere between 5000 to 9000 years ago. The American continents have no native hogs as the cold, snow and glaciers of the Ice Age blocked the hog's access to the North American Continent. Columbus in 1493 brought eight hogs to the West Indies. Importation to the American mainland was in the mid 1500's by Cortez and De Soto, and in the mid 1600's by La Salle. Pure Eurasian boars were not brought here until they were imported for sport hunting in the early 1900's. In the US the pure Eurasian hog is classed as an exotic, and the rest of the wild boar, originally domestic animals gone wild, are feral.
Wild pigs are normally black but they can have colors and patterns, here are some examples:
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