There is nothing better than a Christmas ham, and in my opinion there is no ham better than that made from wild hogs. I killed a 200-pounder back in 1995, and we had a ham cured out of it for Christmas. We were blown away with the taste, and we love to have wild ham when we can.
Sometimes collecting that ham is seriously challenging so hunters have to go hardcore and get high tech.
That means going out at night and using the many technical devices that are illegal for hunting deer and other game animals in the state. Since wildlife officials want to take out as many hogs as possible, it is by all means necessary. That includes tools of the trade that are as much special ops as they are hook and bullet.
Red filtered lights are an invaluable tool in nighttime hog hunting. In most cases hogs do not mind a red light shining on them, so this allows a hunter several options for hunting them.
I said the hogs do not mind red lights “in most cases,” because I had an experience in the Pineywoods of East Texas where five big hogs were hitting bait. As soon as I turned on the red light they scattered. The wind was in my face and there is no way they could have heard the light being turned on from that range, but somehow the light spooked them.
The first time I used red lights was back in 1991. My father, Chester Moore, Sr., made them by cutting a clear red plastic clipboard the diameter of our flashlight and mounting it with clips. Now, many commercial red filters are made that fit on headlights and even mount on scopes, and they are all extremely effective.
Night vision is becoming increasingly popular with hog hunters and for good reason. It gives you a really cool (albeit green) look at the nighttime world.
Night vision equipment comes in generation 1, 2, 3, and 3-plus levels and in the form of rifle scopes, monoculars or binoculars. Generation 1 offers a rather dim view of the night world and are only effective if used in conjunction with an infrared light.
These lights can only be seen using night vision equipment and animals cannot see it or at least it does not bother them. Generation 2 is not much better, but it is an upgrade. I own a pair of generation 3 and have used 3-plus. Despite being much more expensive, they are worth the investment if you really feel you need them. In most instances you can use them without infrared light although in thickets or on really dark nights it might be necessary.
Night vision scopes are easy to use and operate pretty much on the same principle as standard scopes, only the price tag is way higher. Hunters wanting to use night vision monoculars or binoculars have two options—use them to spot game and then shine them, or use a laser sight.
I have done both and have had limited success with the laser sight method. The light shows up great. It is no problem to view, but your view is obscured. Objects tend to appear much smaller than they really are, which can cause some unique problems.
The first time I used my night vision goggles in unison with a laser sight was on some private property near my home. I had a feeder set up and had to walk about a half-mile through the woods to this particular stand. I told myself I would only shoot a 50 to 75 pound hog since I did not feel like dragging a big one through the woods.
When a group of hogs came in, I paid careful attention to pick out the smallest. I put the red dot behind its ear, squeezed the trigger on my rifle and watched it fall while the others scattered in all directions through the darkened woods.
The term “ground shrinkage” is often used in hunting circles to describe the sensation of shooting an animal thinking it was large on the hoof or sported a large rack and realizing it was much smaller in reality. Well, this was exactly the opposite of that. It was ground growage!
What I thought was a 75-pound hog weighed 125 pounds give or take a few and was a real pain to drag back to my truck. I felt like I had run the triathlon after that ordeal.
If night vision is the Cadillac of hog hunting gear, then thermal imaging is the Ferrari. Thermal imaging picks up heat signatures, and in modern devices it can give incredible target clarity. It is on the rise in Texas and is starting to become affordable
I recently had an opportunity to use the Sig Sauer Echo 1 Thermal Reflex Sight and was blown away with how easy it was to use and the clarity of the image. Night vision has some limitations in dimly lit areas. Thermal imaging does not. It takes hog hunting to an entirely new level.
The latest trend in hog hunting is the use of feeder lights, which are lights that typically mount on a solar panel or are battery operated on a timer. They come on automatically after dark or at pre set times. After a few nights the hogs become accustomed to feeding around the lights. This allows hunters to shoot with regular rifle scopes from distances as far as 100 yards and even do some highly productive nighttime bowhunting.
Some of these lights are green like the ones used by fishermen to lure in crappie, speckled trout and other species. Others offer a standard white light.
If you decid to undertake hog hunting at night, make sure you have permission to be on the property and make a courtesy call to the local game warden to let them know you are in the area. That way, if they get a call from someone saying they saw lights on a certain piece of property they will not have to waste their time and efforts checking you out. Plus, you might just get some good hunting tips as wardens cover lots of ground and come across many hogs in the process.
Now, go collect that Christmas ham and use whatever means necessary (and legal)!
—story by Chester Moore