5 Proven Ways To More Public-Land Hogs

Once you use your HuntStand Hunting app to find a few suitable hunting tracts, it's time to get some 'insider' info, and consider using one or all of these deadly tactics.

by Mark Melotik

HuntStand Pro Contributor MORE FROM Mark

Once you use your HuntStand Hunting app to find a few suitable hunting tracts, it’s time to get some ‘insider’ info, and consider using one or all of these deadly tactics.

Feral hogs are somewhere between dolphins and your Labrador on the IQ scale. On average they’re much cagier than deer; they learn quicker and remember longer. They’ll go nocturnal faster than jewel thieves if they feel too much heat during the day, and they’ll gravitate to friendlier country altogether before they get totally shot out. Wild hogs are hard enough to hunt on private land; on public tracts it can be daunting. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Plenty of states have public opportunities for hogs. Here are five proven tips to get it done. PublicHogs3 900Tip 1: Consult Local Intel. Unlike deer, feral pigs are damaging to the land and so resource managers are often eager to share any info they have on the whereabouts of hogs. So the best place to start is at your state game agency’s website. Ask for the name and number of a game warden in the county you wish to hunt. To avoid sounding like a total idiot, begin by using your HuntStand app to research the various public-land tracts and WMAs, so you can speak knowledgeably when you talk to the warden. PublicHogs2 900Flat-out ask the conservation officer if there are hogs there. If he says yes, then ask for specifics. Where are they? When’s he seen them last? And if he hasn’t seen any on one tract, ask him where he’d hunt hogs if he were you. While you’ve got him on the phone, ask him of the laws pertaining to night hunting and baiting. It’ll save you some time later.HogsAcredit.jeffpuckett900Tip 2: Scouting Pays Big. The next-best source of public hog intel is boots on the ground. But you can start your search at home with the awesome new Property Lines feature in your HuntStand app that positively shows public and private land boundaries. Once you locate a promising public tract, use the app’s detailed topo maps and aerial views to zero-in on the types of land features feral hogs prefer. Pigs generally like lowland areas with water, so identify swampy areas and creek bottoms first. Find access points to park and walk in. Then strap on your boots.


Look in fields for signs of rooting. Search for tracks. Look on the banks of ponds for wallows—often if there is one there will be multiple. Around water sources look for mud-covered tree trunks. Hogs often scratch themselves on trees to rid themselves of insects. Glass open fields at dusk—but don’t expect much here. Public-land pigs don’t often make a habit of strolling out in the open while it’s still light. Finally, use your nose. Pigs have a strong odor of musk and urine. If you smell hogs, they were there within the last day. Get back in there soon with your gun or bow.HogsL 900Tip 3: Don’t Overlook Night Hunting. In most states, hog hunting at night on public land is illegal. But about half-dozen states allow it in some form, including NC, AL, OH, OK, SC, VA, WI, and possibly a few more in certain instances. Where legal, take advantage of this deadly tactic.HogsP 900Tip 4: Baiting Is Deadly. Check your local state regs to determine if baiting is legal on public land. Some areas have special rules in place for hogs, especially in months that don’t coincide with deer season. If you can bait, do so. Table scraps are great, and free. For best results, sit over the bait in a treestand or ground blind a couple days later.HogsE 900Tip 5: Hunt Hogs Like Deer. If you can’t hunt at night and can’t bait, you’ll have to hunt hogs much like you hunt deer. Find food sources like acorns, persimmons or wild onions, and set up over hot sign. The problem is, hogs often feed randomly where food is not concentrated. So to increase your odds, set up in a treestand over fresh sign, but use your ears. Hogs make significant noise while feeding in the woods. So if you hear them but can’t see them, climb down from your treestand, get downwind of them, and stalk the noise.PublicHogs 900Finally, be stealthy. Hogs are heavily persecuted and so they’re incredibly wary. Never approach a hunting area from upwind. Hogs can smell many times better than a whitetail, and if they catch a whiff of you, it’s all over. Approach quietly, which means parking the truck and walking in—not riding an atv. Hunting hogs as if you were hunting deer means you don’t cut any corners.HogsR 900When To Go: Public land is most heavily hunted during deer season, and hogs are affected by hunter activity. But hogs breed year around, so traditional fall seasons have no bearing on success. Therefore, the best time to hunt hogs is right before the deer season or a month or so after it. February and March are great months because deer hunters aren’t around to pressure them and the weather is still cool so that hogs may move sometime other than at night. Like most animals, just after dawn and just before dark are the best times to see consistent daylight hog movement. HogsI1 900Killing an old wild boar on public land is right up there with taking a mature buck or bull on public land in terms of difficulty. But it can happen. Research public lands that hold hogs, scout, and then hunt hard. Soon you’ll be dining on wild public pork…the sweet taste of success.



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