Not Your Daddy’s White Tail! — Hog Hunting is Always in Season

Not Your Daddy’s White Tail! — Hog Hunting is Always in Season

by Carlos M. Lopez

The whitetail deer is the #1 sought after big game animal in North America, and years ago hogs were just considered target practice while one was out during the deer hunt. Today in Florida, where I live, the wild hog is gaining ground quickly as a favorite to hunt. There are several different reasons why I believe wild boars are gaining such increased attention. The main reason? The excitement. There is a definite element of danger that you don’t have while hunting deer.

A mature wild boar weighing over 200 pounds will attack viciously without prejudice and so will a sow with shoats. Be careful when hunting these formidable wild creatures. It baffles me how the state of Florida can classify wild hogs as small game. This classification must have been determined by someone who has never seen the cutters or whetters on these animals. I recommend always carrying a sidearm when hunting boar; I don’t ever go without one. It’s better to be safe than sorry. I have seen a few videos showing wild boar attacking a hunter, and in most cases, the hunters have been cut to the bone with those razor sharp cutters. As for average shooting distances, most are relatively close, within 100 yards. While many calibers will suffice, my personal favorite is my Marlin CS 3030 Lever Action that used to be my New York brush gun for whitetails. I believe, for most people, a 223 would be the minimum caliber I would humanely use.

Another reason why the wild hog is gaining popularity in Florida is because of their destructive nature. Agricultural farms and cattle ranches lose precious time and money when hogs root their properties. Wild hogs can be hunted 365 days of the year on private property. The state of Florida has an ample concentration of wild pigs in its 67 counties. So far it has been a losing battle since hogs are so prolific. Each pregnant sow can produce 6 to 10 piglets on average, twice a year. Those female piglets can then begin to produce their own litter after six months. Do the math. You need to harvest 75% of the hogs on that land in order to keep a balance. Trappers are sometimes used because of the incredible amount of land destruction and crop damage that hogs cause. 

 The wave of unwanted wild hogs has taken this country by storm. Wild boars are currently found in over 40 US states, and will obviously populate the other states within a matter of time. Wild boars are detrimental to native game animals. They are omnivores and will eat whatever they can get. Quail, wild turkey eggs, baby fawns, even insects and reptiles. Found in the stomach of one wild hog were the remains of over 50 toads! In times of drought when food is scarce, wild hogs have been known to cannibalize their own young. They are very adaptable and can live anywhere whatever the climate. 

Many land managers and owners will grant permission to hunt their private property since they benefit from any culling that is done. Any granted access to private land hunting should be treated like gold. If you are lucky enough to be able to hunt private property here consider yourself part of the “secret society” of privileged hog hunters. Be respectful and treat it better than you would your own property. You will reap the benefits of an incredibly exciting hunt and the land owners get free extermination services.

There are options available if a hunter does not have access to private property. Hiring a guide is one of them. Look them up in the back of a respected hunting publication, do some online research, ask questions at your local hunting store, or speak with outfitters at hunting shows. Word of mouth is the best recommendation I can advise.

Another option is looking into hunting public lands in Florida if private land is not available to you. These Wildlife Management Areas are open to everyone. There is a lottery system in place in order to draw a permit. You choose the open WMA dates that you prefer and then cross your fingers that your first choice is picked. There are over 5.8 million acres of public access available to sportsmen/women. It happens to be one of the largest public land hunting systems in this country. The State of Florida is continuously looking to acquire large tracts of land from private landowners. There are over 700 FWC law enforcement officers who patrol the state so pay attention to the rules. You need a management area permit, a valid hunting license and a quota permit if hunting during quota periods. Make sure to contact your local government area agency as each WMA has its own rules. For additional rules, regulations & electronic submissions go to www.myfwc.com.

Hogs can be harvested with many different weapons and methods. Weapons primarily used are: rifles, muzzleloaders, shotguns, archery, handgun, crossbow, spears and knives. Some methods used: spot/stalk, stands, blinds; running dogs or hunting near a feeder and trapping. Some of the basic tactics used in finding wild hogs is looking for their tell tale signs. Examples of feral hog activity would be fresh rooting, wallows, mud caked scratch posts & trees, hoof tracks, scat or coarse hair stuck to barbed wire where wild boar cross fences. Locate a few of these and you are half way to scoring some serious meat for your freezer. Put in your time, be positive & patient and success will eventually follow.

Let’s not forget another really important benefit. Their meat is tasty and since I am of Cuban descent – I know pork. Pit roast, marinate overnight, use a crock pot, or just quarter them down and cook it. Any way you slice it, wild hog meat tastes great if the proper care is taken after harvest. Wild hog meat (pork) is very lean and most of the animal can be consumed. Hindquarters, shoulders, ribs, back-straps. It can all be cooked to perfection. A hunter favorite is making sausages and wild hogs are a BBQ’s best friend. Always wear rubber gloves when you field dress any wild game. Cool off the meat as soon as possible, wash it off with clean water and put in a cooler with ice.

Wild hogs are here to stay. Get used to it, enjoy the adrenaline and exploit the opportunity to hunt them in your home state. Let me clue you in on one last thing. If you hunt in a warm weather state like I do, do yourself a favor and get yourself a ThermaCELL or you will be miserable while donating a pint of blood to your local mosquitoes.

Be safe, take a child hunting and fishing or introduce an adult to the sport.

Shoot straight….


Carlos M. Lopez


{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Carlos September 12, 2015, 1:56 pm

    If anyone needs help in your Farming of Hog infesting and destroying your crop. Throw me an email to take care of your business. Located in FL.

  • Carlos M. Lopez August 5, 2013, 8:02 pm

    Mr. B,

    Most mature FL hogs on average are between 100 – 175 pounds realistically. It is not uncommon though to shoot 200-300 pounders and as the administrator replied…400 lbs. A trophy hog is really determined by each specific hunter and what they personally consider to be a trophy. In my opinion, a 30-06 caliber rifle can take down any North American big game animal. States like Florida and Texas definitely have no shortage of wild hogs. Come on down to FL and give Dwayne at KRHF a call.

    We love pork,

    Carlos…..

  • Mr.B July 27, 2013, 5:04 pm

    Carlos: Exactly how big are those Florida hogs? I hear so many conflicting reports. In New York State, some are averaging around 70 lbs., and then I see online photographs of champion 1,500 pound animals. Would it be wise to figure something light in caliber or play it safe and go with something like a .30-06 caliber in the event anything truly big is found? The hog that was given to me some years ago weighed 210 lbs. dressed. The guy that shot only wanted the mount and knew that I enjoy the delicious meat. He used to do the same with Whitetail and I never had any real shortage of good table fare. The boar in Europe average 2,000 to 3,000 lbs., and I talked with guys that hunted them and they said the colder air makes the hogs stronger and at times hungrier, so they grow larger. I was going to hunt New York State but.., the laws and the Conservation people are alarmists and insist not to eat the meat. That is a sin, if you ask me. I started thinking about Florida, as things down there are more down to earth and common sense still lives. Wild boar has to be, the absolute best meat that I have ever eaten.

    • Administrator July 28, 2013, 3:52 pm

      Big trophy hogs in florida are in the 400 pound range with 2 -3″ tusks.

  • Everett Gage January 5, 2013, 10:55 am

    I use a single barrel 20 gauge (fully rifled) with winchester partition gold sabot slugs it shoots a 3 inch group at hundred yards.Have shot deer out to 150 yds with it.It only cost 200.00 new and I put a scope on it.I got a leopold 3to 9 on mine.Works fine for deer and hogs.Can get it in 12 gauge too but recoil is brutal on the 12.The 20 recoil was pretty heavy so I had a good recoil pad put on it. Hope this helps, Buck

  • Rob January 20, 2012, 9:55 am

    As a wild hog hunter I enjoyed reading your story Mr Lopez but unfortunately you forgot to mention just one thing.According to WMA (I spoke on the phone on Jan.19 of 2012 in order to get permits) to hunt a wild hog a hunter is allowed to use ONLY .17,22,22 mag caliber rifle,pistol and bow.There are some exceptions that you can use usual calibers in the swamps of near Okeechobee but those areas are almost impossible to navigate on foot.Please do tell me that I was fooled by WMA rep and they allow any caliber to hunt a hog?
    Thanks. robkesmail@gmail.com

    • Carlos M. Lopez April 25, 2012, 10:37 am

      Rob,

      No…unfortunately Rob, you are correct. Each WMA has their own specific rules, but for the most part they do not allow centerfire rifles. I stress the importance of getting the specific current WMA Regulations Summary pamphlet and Area Map for the WMA that you plan to hunt. Read it thoroughly and call them if you have any questions or are not clear about something.

      Most WMA’s have a specific Archery, Muzzleloading, Small Game, and Sprng Turkey Season dates and explain in detail the regulations for each. The main focus is on Public safety and that is why large caliber rifles are not allowed. To hunt hogs on WMA’s, we are for the most part, narrowed down to using a shotgun, rimfire, bow or muzzleloader. Each specific WMA has it’s own unique regulations pertaining to which season and quarry you are hunting. I always say….read it twice !!

      Regrads,

      CML………….

      • Mike Lawrence July 12, 2015, 12:36 pm

        What amazes me is that the hunter is doing a big favor to the farmer and/or rancher in harvesting the feral hogs/pigs on their land. Yet, the land owner insists on charging such a large amount for the favor. If the land owners would charge a more reasonable fee, more people would help the land owners out by hunting more. I am on a fixed income and cannot afford the $200.00 to $300.00 fee for a few days hunting.

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