By Steve Sorensen
Wounded Pigs Have Been Known to Charge, and Some Say "This is Where the Fun Starts"
Wild hogs are nothing like the stuttering, pink Porky Pig of cartoon fame, nor common barnyard swine oinking at the feed trough. Pigs are a non-native, invasive species in North America. They're not wanted, so get after them. But it won't be easy - here are five reasons hunting pigs are a challenge:
Whatever you call them - feral hog, Russian boar, or barbeque - wild pigs are better protected from arrows and bullets than any species in North America. More than one hunter has bounced an arrow off, thanks to the armor-like cartilage covering the ribcage of a hog. That means shot placement, angle, and ballistic energy are critical to making clean kills.
Pigs are lean, quick, and athletic, so a hunter needs to be on the ball. The little ones are the quickest. "Pigs under 100 pounds make the best eating," says Larry LeBlanc, Executive Director of the Texas Outdoor Writers Association. "Leave the big ones lie for the coyotes to scavenge."
2.They'll Smell You
Pigs have long snouts - with an olfactory sense on par with deer, coyotes and other animals with long schnozzolas. That means lots of surface area to translate your stinky scent molecules into the fight or flight response, so getting close to pigs while hunting isn't easy.
Because hunters put lots of pressure on pigs, pigs don't stick around to find out where the bullet or arrow will be coming from. Like deer and other animals with sensitive noses, they have a low tolerance for human odor.
3.They're Hard to Find
Pigs are crepuscular - a big word that comes from the Latin word for "twilight," and it means pigs feed at dawn and dusk. So, you have no guarantee of finding them. Their daytime haunts are thick, nasty places where only thick, nasty critters go. (Despite what you think of humans, most people - even hunters - aren't nearly as nasty as pigs!)
Finding where they feed can be a challenge because they don't focus on specific foods. They're omnivorous - with the emphasis on omni. That's another 50-cent word that means they'll eat anything, animal or vegetable - and it might take a little luck to know where and what they're eating tonight.
4.They're Targets for Any Weapon
The safest and surest pig killers are on the order of a .308 rifle or a .223 semi-auto carbine, but lots of hunters use more adventuresome artillery.
A handgun for hunting pigs? Yes, Dirty Harry's .44 magnum, with a carefully placed shot, adds adrenaline to the hunt. A bow? Yes, an arrow can skewer a pig and give you solid information on the reliability of your broadheads. A crossbow? As crossbows become more popular, they're more and more aimed at pigs. (I'd love to try my new Kodabow crossbow on oinkers.) A muzzleloader? When the smoke clears, you find out if you scored. But - keep in mind that whenever you're pig hunting with a weapon that delivers a single shot, make your shot count - or count yourself in trouble.
5.They'll Get You
This is really the number one reason pigs are a challenge - they're the most accessible dangerous game in North America. They're not the killers brown bears can be, but brown bears don't live where people are common. Pigs do, and pigs aren't afraid of you. They can be very aggressive, capable of slashing muscle with razor tusks and crushing bone with powerful jaws.
Wounded pigs have been known to charge their hunters. "This is where the fun starts," as they say. Ask Barry Wensel, a friend of mine who bowhunts pigs with his recurve bow. A couple of years ago, on his annual "Pig Gig" in Texas, he fought off a wounded porker with his hands and ended up with a broken wrist and countless cactus spines embedded in his flesh. He was lucky it wasn't worse.
6. Wild Pig Hide Is Hell On Knives
Havalon's most rabid fans just might be pig hunters. If you've ever skinned a wild pig, you know how quickly that tough, hairy hide dulls knives. Yet many Havalon customers rave about these replaceable blade knives as the best pig hunting knives around. With Havalon knives, you don't need to stop and resharpen over and over again to finish the job. Once you've experienced the super sharp edges of Havalon knives, and then just popped on a new blade when you need it (which is not often, even on hogs) you'll think you died and went to hog heaven. Click here to see reviews of Havalon knives by pig hunters.
So, Courageous Enough For Hunting Pigs?
If you think you're courageous enough for hunting pigs, you'll find plenty of opportunities wherever they roam. That's because they're a dominant species that destroys habitat for other animals, and no one wants them. Only one species is more dominant, and it's the one reading these six challenges.
About Steve Sorensen
Award-winning outdoor writer and speaker Steve Sorensen loves the Havalon knife, and has been a fan of knives since he begged his dad for a hunting knife when he was six years old. His articles have been published in Deer & Deer Hunting, Sports Afield, and many other top magazines across the USA. Invite Steve to speak at your next sportsman's event, and follow his writing on his website, www.EverydayHunter.com.