You’ll find more than 5 million feral hogs tearing up most of the United States. Ready to put a dent in this destructive population? Here are five of the most productive regions to consider for your next hog hunt.
I’m an obsessed hog hunter, so it might come as a surprise to learn that I live in Wisconsin—a generally hog-free state. So, you’ll find me on the road when it’s time to fill the freezer with organic pork. If you’re thinking about heading out to track down your own wild swine, give these locales some consideration.
You want hogs, including bruiser boars capable of tilting the scales at 350-plus-pounds? West Texas is the place to be, especially west and north of Abilene. With long stretches of rolling hills covered in mesquite, prickly pear cactus, weathered rock and red sand, this part of the world is often referred to as “The Big Empty.” There aren’t a lot of people, but it’s filled with hogs.
West-Texas is one of the author’s favorite haunts for hunting hogs because of the high density and high odds of killing a fatty.
There’s very little public land here, so most of the opportunities lie in paying a fee to hunt large ranches. However, hog hunting tends to be a relative bargain compared to, say, deer hunting. For a couple of hundred dollars a day, you can secure a guided hog hunt plus food and lodging.
Anytime I’m in West Texas, you’ll find me hunting hogs at the Spike Box Ranch in Benjamin. It’s a 90,000-acre cattle ranch with great hunting accommodations, knowledgeable guides, and no limit on the number of hogs you can bag in a day … or night, as the Spike Box guides are big into hog hunting after dark.
It’s hasn’t received much attention (yet), but the area in and around Alabama’s William B. Bankhead National Forest, near Double Springs, is big and wild and fairly overrun with hogs. Managers at the Bankhead National Forest don’t mince words: Hogs are a significant problem for native wildlife here, and the only good wild porker is a dead wild porker.
It’s legal to hunt feral hogs here all year. Creek bottoms are favorite haunts, as are the large areas of jungle-thick vegetation. The Sipsey Wilderness Area is especially noted for high hog activity.
All you need is a state hunting license of some sort. And some time. The Bankhead encompass approximately 180,000 acres of pretty wild land, and while the hogs are many, they also have a big landscape in which to hide. Plan on doing some scouting beforehand. Property managers can also give you some tips on recent hog activity.
Many people who travel to Orlando, Florida, are there for the Disney experience. But hog hunters in the know use Orlando as a jumping off point. South of Orlando, the cattle country of Florida is a hog-hunting mecca, with a nice variety of public land and for-fee hunting opportunities. The pigs generally aren’t as big as their West-Texas cousins, but they make up for their smaller stature by the sheer numbers of them roaming the cypress swamps, the jungles of cabbage trees and live oaks, and the open cattle pastures.
The average Florida hog isn’t huge, but there are thousands ready to be exterminated.
A top public hog-hunting area here is the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area near Kenansville, offering 51,000 acres of public hunting land just an hour south of Disney World. There, you’ll find large expanses of dry prairie bordered by cypress swamps, slash pine, freshwater marshes, and lots of Sunshine State piggies.
Many local outfitters offer guided hog hunts, too. Osceola Outdoors in Lakeport, for example, is known for providing prime hog hunts on thousands of acres of private land, featuring dozens of feeders and hunting stands, and legions of hogs populating the swampy wilds of this awesome landscape.
While there’s always been a handful of hogs lurking in the swamps and thickets of the Mississippi Delta, wild swine populations here really took off in the last decade, thanks in part to Mississippi River floods that pushed large numbers of the porkers east into the Delta. Things are so bad here in places, some crop farmers report hogs following their tractors—as the farmers are planting corn!
If you can find a local property owner who’s willing to let you hunt his or her land, great. But the Delta has abundant public hunting ground, both federal- and state-managed. Properties include the 9,700-acre Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge, home to the largest bottomland hardwood habitat in northwestern Mississippi, plenty of wetlands, and ever-increasing numbers of hogs.
This Mississippi Delta hog tipped the scales at more than 200 pounds.
South of Dahomey, there’s the Sunflower Wildlife Management Area near Rolling Fork. it’s 60,000 acres of state-run public land located within Delta National Forest. Like most public land in the Delta, much of the property is thickly vegetated, with many streams and sloughs, and it typically takes some good scouting to line up a hog.
Most of these public lands in the Delta allow hog hunting as part of an “incidental take.” You can, for example, take a hog while deer hunting on these properties, as long as you have a deer-hunting license and are using a deer-season-appropriate hunting tool. Spring turkey hunters have been known to go afield here with a compound bow or crossbow, with hopes of bagging some bacon to accompany their turkey breasts.
CALIFORNIA’S CENTRAL COAST
California has an anti-gun and anti-hunting reputation, and its politicians have rightly earned both. But there’s actually much fine hunting in Cali, including some excellent hog hunting along the state’s Central Coast region of Monterey, San Benito, and San Luis Obispo Counties, located midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Central Coast is a series of low, tree-covered mountain ranges interspersed with agricultural fields, vineyards and deep, vegetation-choked ravines.
While many of the hogs here are typical ferals, there’s also a strong lineage of the Russian boar—introduced for hunting decades ago. Spotting and stalking along the ridges and openings is the most exciting way to hunt these hogs. Setting up near agricultural fields, especially wheat fields, can be very productive as well.
The Central Coast region of California has plentiful public land, and many of its hogs are clearly descendants of the Russian boar.
There are numerous hog-hunting outfitters in the area, with a good deal of public land at your disposal. True, it’s harder for DIY hunters to find hogs on the Los Padres National Forest and its 1.75 million acres or the 280,000 acres of BLM Lands administered by the Hollister Field Office, but the hogs are there.
Cali being Cali, though, it has the distinction of being the most expensive state for non-res hunters from a license perspective. A general nonresident hunting license is a steep $163 (though 1- and 2-day licenses are less expensive), and a non-res hog tag is $77—each. Yes, you need a separate tag for each pig you take, purchased before you take said pig.