More hogs are killed in Texas than whitetail deer.
We documented that last year when we rain the Texas Agrilife stats that reveal some 750,000 hogs killed in the Lone Star State annually versus 600,000 whitetails.
Much of that hunting comes in late winter as the deer season winds down and the hog opportunities are available. Pursuing hogs with bows and crossbows is super fun and can be a challenging and effective way of taking out some wild pork.
Here are a few tips you won’t find elsewhere.
Shoot when they exhale—Hogs are heavy breathers and the bigger the hog the more it gasps for air. If you think about it, the same is true of people so just envision a big person you know running through the woods and suddenly stopping to eat. They would be winded for sure. I have trained myself over the years to release the arrow when the hog exhales if it is possible to discern its breathing patterns. The less oxygen the hog has in its lungs when you plunge your arrow into them the quicker the animal will die.
Lube your arrows—Herb York, former owner of York’s Archery in Buna, TX gave me a great tip on hunting hard to penetrate animals like hogs. Just before I went on a bison hunt in 1996, he told me to take a small dab of oil and rub it down the length of the arrow. He was careful to say not to put more than would fit on the end of a q-tip. The idea is that as the arrow penetrates, the lubricant will help the shaft slide through the body more easily. I used it on the bison and after taking a quartering shot blew through the heart, broke through the opposite shoulder and the arrow stuck out about an inch, which was seriously impressive.
Scout frequently—When hunting hogs you want to scout frequently as hogs are very mobile and will move in and out of an area at the drop of a hat. This is especially true if you are hunting public land where baiting is prohibited. It is crucial to locate food sources the hogs have fed on in the last 24 hours, which is admittedly very hard to gauge but remember to focus on fresh sign and hit areas that are not too far out in the open.
Tusk marks—Boars will often rub trees to sharpen their tusks and mark territory. This is a great way to tell how big the hogs are that are in your given hunting area since the bigger the hog the higher the tusk mark will be. Some hunters like to target big boars by searching out these hog rubs. The best way to find them is to focus your efforts on aromatic trees like cedars for example since hogs much like whitetail deer prefer rubbing on them. It is not an exact science but it is a great guide for beginning your trophy hog scouting.
Natural ground blinds—I have taken many animals from ground blinds but have found that in some areas hogs will avoid commercially produced ground blinds like the plague. I think it has something to do with them looking too “boxy”. If you use these blinds, dress them out with brush to give it a more natural look. For hogs, if I am forced to hunt from the ground, I prefer hunting from natural ground blinds, made from cutting brush and making a natural concealment from the hog’s native environment. It works great and best of all costs absolutely nothing. These types of blinds are perfect places to use crossbows because you won’t get busted drawing back and get squeeze the trigger on a hog before it knows what happened.
Blood Trailing—Hogs can be very difficult to blood trail since their thick hide and fat can plug up an arrow hole quickly letting the blood drain into the body and not on the ground where you can find it. If at all possible and legal in the area you hunt, use a trailing dog to help find your animal. If not, make a 100-yard circle from your area and slowly move in 10-yard increments so you cover all of the ground within this range. If you wait at least 30 minutes to pick up the trail the hog will die if the hit is solid and it will very likely fall within 100 yards without you spooking it.
Stalk Low—If you have intentions of stalking hogs, then discipline yourself to stalk low. That means crouch down as low as you can get and hold your bow out in front of you to break up your outline. Stalking into the wind and keeping a low profile will allow you to get surprisingly close to hogs if the wind is in your favor, as you will appear more like one of them than a human predator. Make sure and position yourself close to some brush so you can draw back the bow slowly without the hog busting you.
Game cameras—The use of game cameras has revolutionized hunting in many circles by allowing hunters to figure out what time animals are moving and feeding. Most hunters use these devices on their feeder, which is fine but if possible set up one on trails used by hogs especially if you are looking for big ones.
Stand height—Many hunters set up too low for hogs. I believe that hogs are slowly learning that we are shooting them from stands in pressured areas so do yourself a favor and put yourself 15 feet in the air when using a stand. Not all hogs look up but those that do will rarely bust you if you are this high.
Let them eat—Small to medium size hogs will usually run right in and start eating. Mature boars and sows will be more cautious. A bowhunter should not get over eager to take a shot and let the hogs start feeding before drawing back to take a shot. If they are comfortable eating and are focused on gobbling up whatever is on the ground they will be less focused on any sounds or movements you make, allowing you to make an easy, clean shot that translates to wild pork in the freezer.
Chester Moore, Jr.