Every hunter knows feral hogs are scourge on the landscapes of Texas, even if you live nowhere near the Lone Star state. Because Texas gets so much attention for wild hogs and hog hunting, many people overlook the problems in many other southern states caused by these pests. Often overlooked in the conversation is Georgia. The Peach State is home to an estimated 200,000 to 600,000 wild pigs according to the University of Georgia. And it's likely those numbers are quickly growing. This means hunters need to do their part to help keep the populations in check. That's both to protect the livelihoods of farmers, but also to protect native game species. Hogs have a bad habit of killing fawns and raiding the nests of ground nesting birds like turkey and quail for their eggs.
Nearly everyone has some sort of stake in the problems wild hogs pose. That means it's up to hunters to do their part to help with the problem. The good news is, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has very open regulations that make taking down these pests quick and easy. Today we'll go over what you need to know about wild hog hunting in Georgia in detail.
Where are Wild Hogs in Georgia? And Where Can I Hunt Them?
According to the Georgia Association of Conservation Districts, feral hogs are present in all 159 counties of the state. Although the greatest concentrations seem to be in the central and southeastern parts of the state. That isn't too surprising when you consider Florida was likely ground zero for the entire North American invasion. The animals were first introduced there by European explorers back in the 1500 and 1600s. There wasn't much to keep them from crossing the border over into Georgia. Feral hogs take well to the bevy of food sources available in coastal areas, which is probably why these counties of Georgia seem to hold more than others. Feral hogs will probably continue to spread too. Mostly because they have no natural predators in Georgia. One might get killed by an alligator every so often, but it's not enough to make a dent in a population that reproduces as quickly as hogs.
As for areas to consider, Georgia does allow the take of feral hogs on public lands. This includes National Forests and Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs). Consider areas like the 866,000+ acre Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, Ocmulgee WMA, the Pine Island and Cuddo Units of the Santee National Wildlife Refuge, and the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge as just a few options. Georgia may be one of the best public land hunting opportunities for hogs out there simply because there is a good deal of public hunt land in the state as opposed to somewhere like Texas.
Georgia's Hog Hunting Regulations
The great thing about Georgia is they have rather liberal regulations when it comes to hogs. This state is not quite the "anything goes" wild west style like Texas is right now, but they're getting there slowly as regulations continue to loosen. There are no limits, and technically, no closed seasons. Hog hunters do need to be careful when hunting public land, as the legalities of hunting hogs can vary in these areas based on weapons and the seasons. Hunters are allowed to take feral hogs during small game and big game hunting seasons using weapons lawful at the time. For instance, if you're hunting a National Forest during archery deer season, that means only archery equipment is legal for harvesting hogs. If you're hunting squirrel season, only firearms used for that purpose can be used, and so on for the rest of the seasons. There are too many individual regulations for us to list them all here. Simply make sure you check the regulations for the National Forest or WMA you are planning to hunt ahead of time for additional restrictions. WMAs also restrict the use of bait for hogs, and they do not allow night hunting.
Hunters planning on utilizing private land have less restrictions to worry about. They have the option of hunting hogs at night with artificial lights, and the ability to hunt with bait. One big difference from Texas is that Georgia does not allow hunting from a vehicle. We also need to note Georgia's hunting license requirements regarding wild hogs. If you are hunting on public land or are a nonresident, you will need to get one if you are over the age of 16. Resident landowners do get a nice perk here. They are allowed to hunt hogs on their land without a license, as are their immediate family that reside in the same household.
One last thing of note. You can hunt feral hogs with hunting dogs, but only on private lands. Most WMAs will not allow it. Check the fine print in the rules to see if the WMA you are considering is one of them. Another option is to give a call to a local conservation officer to confirm. The rules can change season by season in these areas, so don't get complacent in thinking nothing's changed. That's how people get tickets.
How Big Do Hogs Get in Georgia?
According to the Georgia DNR, the hogs found in Georgia include the smaller variety that have a domestic appearance and Eurasian wild boars. There are also some hybrids between the two running around in some areas. The prime example was a huge boar killed in 2004 called "Hogzilla." The huge hog weighed an estimated 800 pounds and was between seven and eight feet long. It was later revealed to be a hybrid animal. This pig was so famous, it was the subject of a National Geographic documentary and was one of the first real viral hunting images to spread far and wide on the Internet. This hog wasn't alone either. Georgia Outdoor News reported a nine-foot, 1,100-pound monster killed just three years later in 2007. So, there's the possibility for some real giants in the Peach State! Although we should note that most hogs never grow that large. In truth, most adult hogs are in the 100 to 200-pound range at most. When an especially large hog is shot, they are usually shown to be hybrids. It really all depends on the hog's age and nutrition.
Georgia's hog population may not get as much attention as Florida or Texas, but opportunities to bring home the bacon abound in this beautiful state. It's worth considering if you're looking for an easily accessible place to pursue hogs on public land.
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