Since feral hogs are so intelligent and are such prolific breeders, it's tough to get rid of them once they get established, but here are four ways to eradicate the hogs on your land.
It is a pretty well-known fact that feral hogs can be extremely destructive to the environment: they root up fields, spread disease, and will eat nearly anything that they encounter and can catch, including newborn fawns. Many landowners across the United States wish that they could wash their hands of the feral hogs on their property and all of the problems that come along with them.
Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done. Feral hogs are some of the most intelligent animals on the planet and will quickly learn to adapt to human activity in a particular area.
Normal hog hunting methods may result in shooting a few hogs, but the rest will become much more difficult to hunt. Additionally, they are extremely prolific breeders: a sow becomes sexually mature at six months and can produce two litters of six to eight piglets each year.
They reproduce so quickly that some studies suggest as many as 70 percent of the hogs in a given population must be removed each year just to prevent their numbers from increasing. That's right: you must remove seven out of ten hogs just to keep their numbers stable, never mind decreasing their population.
Something's got to give
There is a saying that there are two types of land in the United States: places that have hogs and places that are going to have hogs. We'll probably never completely eradicate all of the feral hogs in the United States, but if you do it right, it is absolutely possible to eradicate the hogs on your land (at least temporarily). Doing so will probably require a very focused and dedicated effort for a significant period of time and potentially a good investment of money, but nothing worthwhile was ever achieved without a little effort, right?
1. Hunt the Hogs at Night
Hunting hogs at night is probably the first logical step that most landowners take when trying to eradicate the hogs on their land. It makes sense: especially when it is hot, hogs aren't normally inclined to be very active during the daytime anyway. If you add some hunting pressure to the equation, they will quickly become 100 percent nocturnal.
In many states, it is legal to hunt hogs at night and there are lots of (relatively) reasonably priced night vision and/or thermal optics devices available on the market these days. You can either pay a professional hunter to do the dirty work, or do some night hog hunting yourself.
Either way, you will probably kill many more hogs at night than you would during the day. You may even convince the hogs that your land isn't nearly as great of a place to live as they originally thought, and drive them off into greener pastures. However, night hog hunting by itself is probably not enough to solve your hog problem. You've got to apply pressure to the hog population in other ways as well
2. Shoot Them from a Helicopter
In addition to hunting them at night, it is also legal in some states (such as Texas) to hunt hogs from a helicopter. This can be an extremely effective method of really mowing the grass really short on a hog populations. For example, I hunted on a game ranch in South Texas many years ago that was having a really bad problem with feral hogs. During the two days we were there, the four of us shot 14 hogs. The next week, a professional hunter came out in a helicopter and shot 97 hogs in eight hours.
Obviously, the big disadvantage of trying to eradicate hogs using a helicopter is that it can be extremely expensive. However, using a helicopter can be especially effective if you have a very large piece of property, as it allows you to rapidly check out a number of likely locations that hogs could be hanging out in. Since helicopter hog hunting is best done during the day, this can be a great way to complement night hog hunting by keeping them under pressure 24 hours a day.
Their numbers will quickly wither under a sustained assault like that and the remaining hogs will probably leave your property for the sanctuary of other properties where they aren't constantly harassed.
3. Hunt the Hogs with Dogs
Though using a helicopter is a really great way to trim down your hog population, it is expensive and it will not result in the eradication of 100% of the hogs on your property. On the other hand, using hounds can result in almost total eradication of the hog population if used skillfully and in consistent and constant attack on the hog population.
The last few hogs on a large piece of property can be the most difficult ones to catch. However, if there is even one single hog remaining, a good dog pack run by an experienced dog handler can find it. It may take a while, but if you given them enough time, that remaining hog is as good as dead.
The downside of hunting hogs with dogs is that of all the methods mentioned here, eradicating hogs with dogs is probably the slowest, the most work, and potentially the most dangerous. That being said, if used in conjunction with one or more of the other methods described here, this can be an extremely successful way to eradicate the hogs on your land.
4. Trap Them
If done correctly, trapping hogs can result in 100% eradication of your hog population. If done incorrectly, trapping can turn out to be a phenomenal waste of time and can actually make the hogs more difficult to remove down the road.
In order to be successful, hog trapping must be conducted using traps that are sturdy and designed well enough that no hogs escape and that all of the hogs in a group are captured at once. Remember: hogs are really, really smart. If a hog escapes a trap, or witnesses fellow hogs being caught in a trap, there is a good chance that hog will become "trap shy" and it may actually never be possible to trap that particular hog again for the rest of its life.
There are a number of traps on the market that are designed to these specifications and in conjunction with a trail camera, can send photos to a computer or cell phone to let you know when all the hogs in a group are in the trap. The trap is then designed to be remote triggered by a human once the trap is full. This will result in all of the hogs being trapped in one fell swoop. There have been several documented cases of 30-40 hogs being caught at once in a trap like this.
Though this can also get expensive, trapping hogs is not usually as labor intensive as hunting them with hounds, and can be nearly as successful.
As I stated several times, these methods for eradicating a hog population work best when applied over a sustained period of time. They may not kill every single hog on your property, but there is a really good chance that the hogs will leave your property after a period of time in reaction to the pressure you are putting on them. Like I said, they are smart and will quickly learn what they need to do to keep from getting killed, to include leaving town. In the end, it doesn't really matter what happens to them: if they are all killed or if they all leave the end result for you is the same.
What do you think about these ways to eradicate the hogs on your land? Are there any other methods that I missed?
Like what you see here? You can read more great hunting articles by John McAdams at The Big Game Hunting Blog. Follow him on Twitter @TheBigGameHunt.