Hello darkness, goodbye hog? If you’re serious about nighttime feral hog success start by checking these hard-won tips.
If you were the most persecuted beast in all the land, you’d take to the night too. You’d quickly deduce that sticking your snout out in daytime can lead to losing it. You’d surmise that humans are your enemies—but you’d also learn that the thunder-clapping devils don’t come around much at night. Besides, your keen nose is your night vision, and you’d find the daytime heat stifling anyway. Darkness would become your friend.
Knowing this, we can infer the following: To hunt wild hogs most effectively in places where they’ve been heavily hunted, hunters should befriend the night as well. But night hog hunting—where legal—has advantages as well as challenges. It’s exciting. It can also be dangerous. Here are a few night time strategies to suit your property and your style—and a few tips to keep you safe. TACTIC NO. 1: HOG DOGS. There are two main reasons for hunting wild pigs at night with dogs. First, it’s probably the most effective way to eliminate big boars on properties choked with heavy cover where helicopters and spotlights are worthless. It’s effective because the pigs think they’re hidden by deep cover and darkness, but the dogs don’t need to see; A cuttin’ dog smells them before catch dogs are released. Then hunters run to the sound of the action and wade into the fray.
The second reason is: It’s damn exciting. It’s high-speed, adrenaline filled, violent, challenging and dangerous—and that’s precisely why some ole’ boys love it. Knives are often used for the kill because typically several dogs are attached to the fighting hog as the hunter maneuvers to grab its back legs to immobilize it while a partner kills it; shooting into this macabre circus is simply too risky. Hunting hogs with dogs is such a specialized sport that it requires its own article. Just know it’s not the style of hunting for the faint of heart.TACTIC NO. 2: MIDNIGHT DRIVE. On large properties with plenty of open country and cropland, a common method for shooting hogs—and perhaps the easiest—is driving around and spotlighting crop fields and bait sites. A favorite method in Texas where properties are often too large to cover on foot, it’s easy to shoot a few pigs at long distance as they feed. But it’s also easy to get lazy. Hogs are smarter than your labrador; they’ll soon learn the foreboding death growl of an approaching F250 and flee before the cavalry arrives. So don’t make the mistake of driving too much. A no-brainer tip is to use your HuntStand Hunting app to plan out your night hunt beforehand. This can be anything from checking updated weather forecasts to ensuring the smartest travel routes on or through stretches of public/private land, to keeping tabs on known bait sites. Know before you go. TACTIC NO. 3: STALK-AND-SHOOT. It’s more effective to park a quarter-mile downwind of crops or feeders—and stalk in from the upwind side. Full moons are best so you can see without using a flashlight. I often use a golf cart to get within a couple hundred yards of a deer feeder, then walk the road in the rest of the way while stopping to listen as I get close. If I hear them, I’ll stalk. Then I’ll repeat the process on several more stands. TACTIC NO. 4: AMBUSH OVER BAIT. Reality is, driving around looking for hogs is more of a social event. If you want to actually kill hogs, it’s best to hunt them like deer—but at night. That means sitting in a stand or ground blind over bait with consideration given to the wind. Deer feeders are great because pigs can’t wipe out all your feed in an hour.If you don’t have one, use post hole diggers (and the property owner’s blessing) to dig a 2- to 3-foot hole. Fill it with corn. Then pour a sugary soft drink on it and cover the hole. Set up a camera and note the time hogs tend to visit. If hogs are around, they’ll find the fermented treat in a few days, and it’ll take them a night to root it up. When they do, you should be ensconced nearby with a rifle. When you hear hogs, flick on a spotlight—or better yet a weapon-mounted flashlight—and give one the news. NIGHTTIME SAFETY TIPS. Ideally stalking hogs is done with two hunters; one to work the spotlight and one to man the rifle. If you have the means to high-tech gear, use it! Just keep in mind that you’re hunting hogs, not going to war, so don’t let adrenaline blur your sense of safety. Larger groups of hunters are not ideal, but if you must, advise everyone to only shoot in one direction. Accidents happen when hogs start running in random directions and hunters can’t see what’s behind their target. Beware that darkness complicates everything, and so I strongly recommend all participants switch on headlamps after the first shot is fired. Lastly, and anytime you hunt anything at night, clear safety glasses are advised. Perhaps the biggest danger in the nighttime woods is not guns, snakes, or tripping in a hole, but getting your eye poked out by an unseen branch. That said, as you’re reading this, hogs are raiding crops all over America. So be a devil of the darkness and give ‘em hell.To find hog hunting laws in your state, consult your state’s official regulations or simply click here.