No License Required to Hunt Texas Hogs Starting Sept. 1st!

Idaho chef Randy King has hunted wild hogs in Texas ten times. A new law may make this hunt easier. (Photo: Randy King)

On May 31, 2019, Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed HB 317 into law. It passed unanimously in the state’s House and Senate. It concerns a language change in the rules for hog hunting in Texas. But will it make a significant difference in the efforts to control the voracious critters?

Hog hunting in Texas is extremely popular. “It’s synonymous: Texas and pigs,” chef Randy King told GunsAmerica in an exclusive interview.

“It’s an opportunity that just isn’t available in other places. It’s a working man’s dream hunt,” he continued. King, a professional chef from Idaho, has hunted wild hogs in Texas ten times!

Previously, hog hunting on private land required hunters to purchase a hunting license. At $48 for non-resident hunters, the cost was not egregious, but not having to hassle with it should make it easier to hunt.

Landowners could previously allow hunting on their land without a license, but they had to claim depredation from the hogs. Now, they don’t have to claim depredation and can allow unlicensed hunters to shoot them.

King said that wild hogs are not only fun to hunt, but they are good to eat. Unlike some other wild meats, wild hog is familiar and tastes like domestic pork. “Large boars may have ‘boar taint’, a really strong taste. But a medium-sized sow is delicious,” said King, a published chef.

Size matters in wild hog meat. Big boars may have ‘boar taint’, while medium-sized sows are good. The best meat is found on smaller piglets, like these taken by King incidentally during a duck hunt. (Photo: Randy King)

Wild hogs are unregulated animals in Texas, which means there is not a limit on hunting them and just about anything goes when choosing a weapon. It also means that salvaging meat is not required by law.

“I’ve seen t-shirts that say, ‘Member of the Vulture Feeding Club.’ Guys might use a .50 BMG and just leave the carcass,” King went on. “If I made a blanket statement, I’d say most Texans don’t salvage pig meat.”

Unlike other wild animals, Texas laws allow wild hog to be sold for public consumption as long as it’s inspected by a USDA certified facility. That means the meat must be inspected and butchered while it’s fresh, and that’s not always easy. Federal laws prohibit the sale of game animals, but since wild hogs are an invasive and unregulated species, the law doesn’t apply. In Texas, you might find wild hog on a restaurant’s menu.

Texas has millions of wild hogs and they do millions of dollars’ worth of damage to farms and ranches each year. The law change is supposed to make it easier for landowners to eliminate the problem.

Deer feeders are often taken over by pigs. King reported that you can lose the privilege to hunt a place if you neglect to shoot pigs.

“If you see a five-point buck with a pig behind it, you’d better shoot the pig. The deer will come back, but you’d better not miss a pig,” he explained.

“There’s an effort to control pigs with a resigned sense of defeat. They want to kill them all, but they get that they’re not going to win,” said Randy.

The new language in the HB 317 eliminates the need for hunters to have a license for private-land hog hunts. The law goes into effect this September. But landowners could already claim depredation from the hogs and bypass the license. It’s unclear whether this law now makes it legal to kill hogs on public lands without a license. Public land only makes up 4% of Texas, anyway, and much of that is tied up in national parks.

Are you planning a Texas hunt? Will it include wild hogs?

Wild hog meat is quality fare and should be processed quickly, as you would with any other wild game. (Photo: Randy King)

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About the author: Levi Sim is an avid hunter, and an increasingly avid shooter. He strives to make delicious and simple recipes from the game he kills. He makes a living as a professional photographer, writer, and photography instructor. Check out his work and he’d love to connect on Instagram: @outdoorslevi

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • jerry morrill June 2, 2020, 10:53 pm

    I have come to that vary same conclusion turn hunters loose and watch the hogs vanish .having to dispose of the hogs was a big draw back . having to pay to get rid of varmints was a another hold up. good for you on getting these things taken care of. keep uo the good work.

  • Sidney Patin July 9, 2019, 11:43 am

    It’s about time. Every state should do the same and let hunters, in state and non-resident alike, hunt and kill feral hogs in any way they want, without limits, and without having to salvage the carcass. Those hogs are not “game” animals and do not need to be managed by DOW. They are just pests and destroy crops. They should not require a “license” to kill feral hogs.

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