Looking for an affordable winter getaway to fuel your hunting passion? Texas is the place, and abundant feral hogs are the target.
You say the icy depths of winter have got you down? And you could really use a blood-pumping off-season hunting adventure that won’t break the bank? Head to Texas for feral hogs!
I’ve been hunting Texas hogs since way before the wild hog explosion began statewide back in the eighties. There has always been a population of wild porkers in parts of Texas but now it’s virtually impossible to find a state county without a solid population of feral hogs. Yes, we’ve certainly got the hogs, but there are a few things that traveling hunters from out of state need to know when planning a Texas hog hunt.
Currently most all of the fall hunting seasons have closed across the country yet many hunters from “up north” aren’t quite ready to hang up their rifles and bows. The good news? A winter hog hunt in Texas is the perfect outing if your goal is to cure the onset of cabin fever! Winter weather in Texas, although usually fairly mild compared to northern climes, can still be fickle, and traveling hunters should always pack clothing that will keep them warm and dry in varied conditions—whether your destination is the usually warm brush country of South Texas, or the sometimes-chilly rolling plains in the northern part of the state.
Dedicated “do-it-yourselfers” take note: If you are considering a winter hog hunt to Texas (and you should), don’t be fooled into thinking that farmers statewide are begging for hunters to come hunt their private lands. There are way too many liabilities involved for this to happen, and many farmers and ranchers have opted to lease their land to outfitters that can not only help with their hog problem, but also generate a little revenue in the process.
Since lands in Texas are 97 percent privately owned, there is very limited opportunity for public-land hunts. Without doubt, the traveling hunter’s best bets for success revolve around booking a hunt with a reputable feral hog outfitter. These hunts can vary greatly in price and amenities, but they all greatly increase one’s odds of returning home with a couple coolers full of tasty wild pork for the freezer, or an impressive boar head caped and ready for the taxidermist.
Outfitters offer a wide range of hunts, everything from stand/blind hunting with your choice of weapon, to hunts with packs of trained hog dogs or even night hunting, using the latest high-tech thermal-imaging scopes. For those with deeper pockets and the desire to take to the skies to harvest their pork, heart-pumping helicopter hunts are also an option. But the majority of hunters come to Texas opting for stand hunts, or the possibility of a spot-and-stalk and stalk adventure, or a combination of both.
Wild hogs can pick up and relocate several miles overnight, so it’s good to have “eyes on the ground” in the form of an experienced guide, before you head to the Lone Star State. Some ranches encompassing several thousand acres offer hunts for free-range hogs. That kind of acreage might sound daunting, but stands within shooting range of corn feeders slinging corn year-around give hunters pretty good odds of bagging a porker of two. Depending on your outfitter many options are available; just one example is stand hunting for the first couple hours in the morning, and again just before dark, and spending midday still-hunting near available food sources and known bedding areas.
Most hunting outfitters offer walk-in coolers to keep your pork chilled, and most provide skinning and quartering for a nominal fee.
Should you go high-fenced or low? As an outdoors writer for the past three decades with a love for hunting wild hogs, I have hunted solo and with outfitters over much of the state, and my biggest takeaway is this: A wild hog is a wild hog, regardless if it is found within the confines of a game-proof fence, or is able to range freely wherever it wishes. Some of my favorite hog hunts take place on preserves for “stocked” hogs that were either trapped and stocked, or born on the property. For hunters “skittish” about hunting inside a game-proof fence, let me assure you that wild hogs are plenty challenging, regardless of where you hunt them. After driving across the country to hunt Texas hogs, hunting a preserve will insure that the hogs you pursue are at lease somewhere on the property, rather than five miles down the creek on lands you do not have permission to hunt.
Lodging is always a consideration for the traveling hunter and most all the established hog-hunting outfitters provide comfortable cabins, rooms or bunkhouses for their hunters. I enjoy the benefit of waking to hot coffee and being on site ready to hunt, rather than staying in a motel and eating at cafes, and making what could be a long drive to a property. Another bonus of most Texas outfitters, is the option to hunt exotics in conjunction with a hog hunt.
Obviously, outfitter cost varies according to what is offered, but feral hog hunts currently remain a great bargain. Hunters can expect to pay from three to five hundred dollars for a two-day hog hunt with lodging. Some outfitters provide meals, and others might provide a camp kitchen for hunters to do their own cooking. Ask before you book. As most traveling hunters know, shipping meat can be pricey, so many out-of-state hunters prefer to drive, and pack along coolers to keep their meat chilled for the return trip. Arrangements can be made with the outfitter for skinning and caping, and shipping to your local taxidermist.
One very good thing about hunting Texas wild hogs is the fact that you can hunt them legally with most any weapon you choose, barring a 105 Howitzer! Well-placed shots kill hogs just like any other game animal, and when it comes to firearms, calibers ranging from .243 to the heavy magnums will fill the bill.
I’ve killed a lot of hogs with my compound bows shooting 55 pounds. The trick is to place the arrow in the lower one-third part of the hog’s body, very tight to the shoulder. Hogs carry their vitals closer to the shoulder and lower than deer, and most hogs that are lost are due to “behind-the-shoulder” shots that often result in a gut-shot animal.
Another bonus of hunting feral hogs with an outfitter on private lands? No hunting license is required, a recent change. Beginning this past September, if hunting feral hogs on private property with landowner authorization, it is no longer necessary to purchase a hunting license for residents or nonresidents. Learn more about Texas hunting regs HERE.
A FEW RECOMMENDED OUTFITTERS:
B&C Outfitters. Located in Groveton, Texas, owner Mark Balette offers lodging in a comfortable cabin and a high-fenced operation with lots of hogs you can learn more about here. Transportation to and from the stands is provided; skinning and quartering of game is available at a nominal fee.
Ranger Creek Ranch. Located up in the Cedar Break country of Knox County in north Texas, this huge low-fenced ranch offers hunts for free-ranging hogs and javelina. Some monster aoudads are taken here each winter as well. Lodging is available in private ranch houses or in the main lodge itself, with meals.
Dale River Ranch. Located in Palo Pinto County about one hour west of Ft. Worth, The Dale River Ranch offers economical free-range hunts for wild hogs. Stay in the comfortable lodge or nearby motels. Ranch Manager Randy Douglas will set up a hunt to suit your needs.