Loved by many hunters and hated by landowners and farmers, the feral hogs that populate Georgia’s woodlands can provide another hunting option for those who are seeking a new source of adventure.
Feral hogs can also provide a fine addition to your supper plate and is considered a delicacy in many areas of our state and around the country.
The southern states probably have the largest populations of these tasty critters and the hunting laws in Georgia are very liberal due to the fact that feral hogs can be highly destructive to crops and land.
In our state there is no closed season and no limit on feral hogs and they can be hunted during daylight or at night. If hunting at night, lights are permissible as long as it is carried or affixed to a helmet or belt system.
It is illegal, however, to hunt from a vehicle. A resident hunting license is required. Non-residents must meet the normal non-resident license requirements.
There are regulations that cover specific Wildlife Management Areas (see regulations at www.gohuntgeorgia.com) as well as some rules that apply to national forests and Corp of Engineers land that is not located in a WMA.
For these areas, hogs may be hunted with archery equipment during archery season for deer, with firearms during firearms season for deer, with weapons used for turkey hunting during turkey hunting season and with small arms during small game seasons. Hunting with dogs in these areas is prohibited although the use of dogs on private land is legal.
Feral hogs in Georgia are typically domesticated hogs that have escaped, adapted to the wild and evolved as a wild breed. There are also those that have descended from European stock and Russian stock that were imported to the United States several decades ago for sporting purposes. Their average length is about 35-80 inches, average height runs from around 22-43 inches, and average weight of adults from 110-200 pounds although the size of boars can vary widely depending on the geographical region where they are located.
Boars have reached more than 300 pounds in Italy, more than 400 pounds in Germany and more than 600 pounds in Russia and Romania. Boars have protruding tusks that usually run around two-and-half inches but can be as long as nearly five inches.
Farmers especially dislike feral hogs because of their propensity to heavily damage crops. These animals like to locate in low lying areas where there is dense vegetation, water and a good food source.
The diet of feral hogs is varied and they adapt their diet based on the available food sources. They will feed voraciously on cereal grains like soybeans, corn, wheat, oats, and barley and can destroy a wide area of these crops in a matter of days. They will also eat grass, fruits, acorns and several kinds of roots if there is nothing else available. Once they have located in a particular area they typically don’t range very far (especially the sows and piglets) and until they are destroyed they will continue to do damage to land and crops.
They are also prolific breeders and the female will usually produce two litters a year of anywhere from four to 10 piglets and therefore they can become a nuisance very quickly.
Boars, which are usually the trophy that hunters are looking for, are mostly solitary except during breeding season and like male deer will usually be the last to show themselves during feeding periods, often not coming into a field until last light.
The sows and piglets come out earlier and are usually easier targets for hunters. Sows make the best meat for the supper table as their flesh is not as tough as that of boars.
Hunting methods vary but usually wild hogs are hunted from a tree stand or a ground blind. The best places to set up these ambush points are in the very obvious areas that are being used as feeding grounds. Many hunters favor the trails that lead from bedding areas to these feeding places.
Best times to hunt are first and last light although depending on how much food is available these feral hogs will feed during the middle of the day as well. The hot days of summer are probably the worst times as the hogs tend to be less active.
Feral hogs have a tough hide and hunters must make a good shot that will penetrate that tough skin and find the vital organs. One of the most effective shots is one that is quartering away. The shot should enter just ahead of the hindquarter and penetrate toward the chest area.
Another popular way hogs are hunted is with dogs. Hunters who favor this method usually use one of two different kinds of dog: “Bayers,” which trap the hog until hunters can arrive to dispatch it or “Catchers,” which are trained to latch on to the ears and hang on until the hunters arrive.
There’s lots of information on the web about this sport. Brutal Boar Creations has a scoring system and Boar Hunter Magazine is a publication that has a record book system.
These animals provide sport for the hunter year round and in the process helps control a population that can quickly spiral out of control in certain areas. If you are looking for a new and exciting sport hog hunting might just be for you.
Articles and columns by Alvin Richardson about hunting, fishing and other outdoor sports appear weekly in the Statesboro Herald. Richardson can be reached at dar8589@bellsouth.