The Feral Fiasco
article and photo by Dan Chason
By February, deer hunters have put their rifles in the gun safe and are either opting for rabbit hunting or pulling out the fishing rods in search of magnum bass or a mess of crappie. For years that was my cycle. That is until our governing bodies determined that the wild hog problem needed a boost.
Feral hogs can be found most anywhere in North Louisiana. They breed like rabbits and will eat anything for nutrition. Hunters who left feeders out will return to find them destroyed by bear who will share the bounty with the hogs. There are few folks that go after them with dogs during daylight hours while others opt to attempt to trap them. A feral hog is no dumb animal. They don’t see very well but they have a nose better than a bloodhound and can hear like a wild turkey. They are an eating, killing machine.
For those of you who would attempt to trap a wild hog, there are some common mistakes made that need to be avoided. The first is don’t put out a trap, bait it and expect to catch a hog. Use game cameras to locate not just one hog, but a sounder or group of hogs. Secondly, stay away from small enclosed traps. Hogs are very trap shy. They get even tougher to catch if a trip latch trap malfunctions or if a hog is witnessed being trapped. The optimum set up is a system like the Jager Pro System. It has a remote gate with a link via the camera that notifies the owner when pigs are inside the enclosure. Once the camera activates, the photo is sent to the owner where a decision is made on whether to activate the gate or wait on the entire sounder/group to enter. This system is one proven way to capture and control hogs on large acreage.
The bonus that has been thrown our way is the ability to hunt hogs at night. Feral hogs can be legally harvested on private land at night from March 1 to August. The catch is you MUST notify the Sheriff’s Office of the parish you are hunting in to report the area you intend to hunt. Failure to do so is a violation that can result in hefty fines. You can now use a silencer (suppressor) and artificial light for hog hunting. Silencers are federally regulated so check with the pros at Simmons’ Sporting Goods who can walk you through the process. Lighted optics are a plus even when hunting with artificial light. Hunting hogs can be tricky so my method is to try and stack the odds in my favor. One method that is effective is the use of game cameras to ascertain exactly what time the hogs are in your feeding area. Feed can range to corn or rice bran, spoiled soybeans or rotten bread. It doesn’t really matter to a hog as they will eat nearly anything. The secret to hunting hogs at night is to first pay close attention to the wind. Avoid windy nights and always approach your set up from the up wind side as to not cast scent towards the baited area. The second is to use good scent attractant and scent cover. I like the Buck Bomb “Sow in Heat” spray for the perimeter of my chosen area and the Buck Bomb “Sweet Corn” cover scent. Both of these are proven products that can help fool a pig’s nose. One other issue is being able to see at night.
Your choice of weapon is one item that is highly argued. Some opt for heavier rounds/calibers while the smart hog hunter goes for accuracy and shot placement. A hog is not an easy animal to take down. Never shoot a hog facing you, becaus in the front of his shoulders are his shields. This is a thick piece of cartilage the hog has to protect his vitals when fighting. I have seen arrows bounce off of the shields. The optimum shot placement is right behind the eye. For heavier calibers, behind the shoulder around rib two is the spot as you avoid the shields. My calibers of choice are pretty simple: Longer range shots call for my .308. Closer in I opt for my .444 magnum. I have never had a hog take a step with either one of these weapons. Make sure that the animal is down and remember to always approach a downed hog from the rear, not the front.
Some folks will tell you that a wild hog has a gamey taste. Not if it is properly butchered. I harvested a large boar a couple of weeks ago and had it processed for sausage. I can attest that it is the best sausage I’ve ever eaten. The trick is the get the hog hunt, dressed and cooled as quickly as possible. Remember when cleaning or handling a hog to always use non-permeable gloves. Hogs carry numerous diseases that can be contracted by humans. Once they are chilled and cooked properly, there is no risk.
Feral hogs can be butchered to the taste. Most folks opt for the sausages: link, pan and summer. I butcher a wild hog the same way that a domestic hog would be butchered. I also like to use my wild hog and mix it with venison for chili meat, hamburger meat and sausage.
I will leave you with my favorite recipe for wild hog:
1/2 pound wild hog sausage (pan sausage)
1/2 cup mushrooms
1/2 cup green onion
1/2 cup Seasons Blendings (frozen)
1 bag of Success Rice
Brown sausage with season’s blendings until meat is brown. Chop up green onion and add mushrooms….serve over rice. It’s a camp favorite. Cooks in about 10 minutes.
After eating this dish, you will see why I will be sitting on my favorite feeder waiting on Mr. Piggie to make an appearance. Great fun and the meat can’t be beat.