May 28, 2019
I did not realize how far I’d wandered from the truck. All of God’s animals were creeping around that cool May morning, and I couldn’t help but investigate what was around the next bend. The bend I was looking for finally came as I spotted a black dot lumbering across the horizon. I sprinted toward the trail where he’d crossed, fairly certain the hog had kept on trotting. I stopped within 50 yards and glassed the boar rooting in a ditch. A carefully placed shot with my .30-30 Winchester 94 put him down. He weighed 175 pounds with 3-inch cutters. He ate mighty fine, too, but I’d covered nearly 4 miles by the time I returned to my Dodge.
Not all of my hog hunts have been as rigorous, but one truth binds them — keep the breeze in your face if you desire any chance of successfully stalking wild hogs. A whitetail is downright forgiving when it comes to reading the wind in comparison to hogs. The where-to, how-to and when-to is completely meaningless if you fudge this simple precept. You can, and I have, slipped barefoot within 20 yards of feeding hogs, so long as the wind is correct.
So, let’s get to that. Say you’ve spotted a sounder of hogs meandering along the edge of a field. Perhaps a trophy boar rooting up an oak hammock. While their noses are powerful, their eyesight and hearing leave a lot to be desired. This does not mean they’re flying blind, though. Chart a course to get within a reasonable shot of whatever your firearm or archery gear is capable. Identify a line of trees and/or vegetation behind which to advance.
Move decidedly. Hogs are highly mobile and do not hang out long. On the other hand, if you catch one eyeballs deep in a rooting, tossing dirt over its head, take your time. You could just about trip and fall in plain view and it won’t notice.
To find them, focus on where and what they’re eating. This depends on the time of year. During autumn, hogs will concentrate on mast foods such as acorns, the same as other game animals. Snooping along agriculture operations from cut corn and soybean fields to cow pastures provides excellent action. With winter, hogs ramp up their rooting activity, feeding on various roots, grubs and other subterranean treats. Search for fresh rooting in the ground, evidence where the pigs have been feeding.
As spring arrives, hogs will shift their attention to new-growth grasses and vegetation. Creek bottoms and marshes with emergent vegetation are prime locations. Summer can be difficult on hog hunters since they will move during the cooler temperatures of the evening. Still, they are found out and about at first daylight and last light. Hogs also love the period after a summer storm rolls through, resulting in a temporary break in the heat.
As for gear, wear comfortable waterproof footwear and dress for the season. Don’t forget your binoculars at home, either. A quality set of optics is essential for stalking hogs. They tend to squirt around a bit in tall grasses and surrounding bushes when feeding. It’s easy to lose sight of them when creeping close.
Binoculars are invaluable for planning your stalk too. When talking guns or bows, your standard deer caliber works just fine. I’d suggest a bit heavier bullet or broadhead for thick-skinned boars. For me, stalking hogs is near-synonymous with toting a lever action such as the Marlin Guide Gun or the aforementioned Winchester 94. Handguns are about perfect for this kind of work. Above all, though, keep that wind favorable.