Heck, this could be about fishing, except our intended quarry is furry, hoofed, and smelly. It’s well documented that a wild pig’s sense of smell is its greatest alert sense. Much better than sight or hearing, and very tough for us to defeat or use to our advantage, but not impossible.
The most common baits for pigs (take advantage of their propensity to eat just about anything) is corn, fruit, grain, etc. Those baits can be “sweetened” by adding flavoring, be they store-bought and made for the express purpose of drawing in pigs, or as simple as Jello packages added to whatever food bait you choose.
Although I wouldn’t exactly call it sweetening, fermenting corn or souring, has been used for years and years with great success. However, if it has been used a lot in your area the pigs may associate it with hunting or human activity and avoid the area. Choose your bait wisely or mix some old fruit with the corn.
One year we had a heavy hail storm blow through and knock a lot of fruit from our apricot, pear, peach, and apple trees. I took the downed fruit and put them in with the corn I was using for bait and after a few weeks soaking…WOW. The change in smell and attraction for the pigs was immediate. It smelled very sweet when pouring it on the ground and it attracted pigs to the area very quickly. In one instance, I ran the pigs off as I approached the bait site after parking the truck, only to have them return 10 minutes later. At which point I took a small spotted female. The rest of the herd of 12-15 would not be discouraged even after shooting. When I first started baiting feral pigs, I was able to learn from Texas A&M research that berry-flavored Jello had good results on getting pigs to baits quickly. These flavors are still my favorites; be it strawberry, blueberry, or raspberry, berry flavors work well. I use one package per 5 gallons of corn/water mix. If I need corn soured quickly or on short notice, I substitute a cheap six-pack of beer for some of the water.
Lately, I’ve been taking advantage of the wild pig’s other propensities…procreation! Since the sows come into season so often, using a sow estrous scent seemed like a logical thing to try.
I mean heck, we’ve been using them for deer hunting for ages, why not pigs?! Since their sense of smell is so great and they seem to want to have litters of little piggies, it seems like a no brainer. My first attempt was rather unique, the aerosol spray can seemed to not operate properly. It spewed liquid out, instead of spraying it out in a normal aerosol fashion. We were sitting on a pond about 75 x 100 yards in size, with clear banks all the way around it. I dispersed the entire contents of the can on a bush near the ponds edge and walked over to our sitting area and less than ten minutes later a decent-sized spotted pig walks over and smells the area I sprayed. Of course my shooter is not ready because normally a pig is not supposed to show up that fast. It’s only 5 pm in August, still real early, and we’ve got 4-5 more hours of daylight. So it goes back into the brush unalarmed, and we wait some more. While we wait, 3 little pigs maybe 10 pounds each come out, circle the pond, spend some time smelling the area where I sprayed scent and walk past us less than 10 yards away. They catch our scent and run off to where they came out, having made a complete circle of the pond. A short bit later our first pig returns and it comes right back out to the same spot where I sprayed scent. This time she is ready and delivers a good hit at 80 yards. The big sow makes it 25 yards and dies. Yes, that’s right. It was a big sow? Coming to sow estrous scent? Maybe just curious, I don’t know. What I do know is we had a pig down in less than an hour, from spraying scent to dead pig, and had four pigs show up in that time period. Further testing will be done, but for now, I think it’s a good alternative to food-based baits.
Oddly enough when I’m actually hunting, I’ve probably taken more pigs just by being out walking in an area that they are prone to be in than hunting over bait or a feeder. I will spot them and stalk in from a distance, or just ease around in close cover with the wind in my favor and catch them by surprise. When doing this you are taking into consideration the cover, current food availability, or current food trend. An example would be when the prickly pear cactus is producing ripe fruit, that’s a good time to be cruising around the cactus flats or areas that have ripe fruit. Another example would be when the oaks are dropping acorns, it’s time to start hanging out in the little or big oak mottes. Yet another would be when the pecan trees are dropping nuts.
Take whatever foods the pigs like in your area and work those areas when the time is right. Late September to mid-October is acorn and pecan season in my area and always a good time to hang out in the oak mottes or pecan groves. It’s very hard to convince pigs to leave a natural food source in favor of a bait that you’ve provided. In essence, nature is providing your “bait” for you. A lot of times when nature does this the animals will ignore whatever you provide in favor of what nature is providing. Waterholes and good mud can also be a lure for pigs especially when it’s hot, or it’s been dry a while, and waterholes are drying up, or bugs are bad. All these are natural areas that you should take advantage of and use to your benefit when the time is right.
Some other lures we’ve used to attract pigs and hold them in an area are thick ropes soaked in old kerosene or diesel and oil.
Then take the ropes and wrap them tightly around fence posts or tree trunks. This lure uses the pigs tendency to rub against creosote telephone poles for relief against ticks and bugs. You are simply supplying them with a rubbing post that you can place in an area you can check from a distance or sneak up on from a downwind location easily. Many times the pigs will hang out in the area for long periods of time. These can be placed near water holes or feeding areas, and work well for separating pigs for a clean shot.
Pigs are not the dumb animal many think they are, but they are creatures of habit. Find the areas or foods they like and use it to your advantage. Change up the baits you use to lure them in and it can lead to more pork in the freezer.