Here are our tips for hog hunting during the long winter months.
Deer season is still going this time of the year, but it is also starting to wind down in many parts of the country. We can already hear some of you sighing that your best chances at that big whitetail buck are probably gone.
Or maybe you already tagged out for the year like I did. But you feel like you still didn't get your full hunting season fix.
Well, there are still a ton of wild pigs out there and in most places the season is open year-round. So, why not take advantage of this additional hunting opportunity? Here are our best tips for success once that cold weather starts to set in.
Don't just focus on the night
In most places in the United States, you can hunt feral hogs into the late hours of the night using thermal or night scopes and that's how many hunters pursue wild hogs. There is no denying it is a proven method of harvest, but most veteran hog hunters agree, late winter is a time to be looking at midday too.
Look for feral pigs to begin moving into feeding areas in daylight more often in the winter months. Some of them get desperate for nutrition this time of year and will break daylight hours when they normally would not. Most seasoned hunters will agree winter is a good time to pursue a trophy-sized wild boar as they are more likely to throw caution to the wind in search of food, giving you a better chance at bagging a big one.
Focus on those food sources
It is true that most big hog hunting states like Texas and Oklahoma don't get much snow, but the premise of hog hunting in winter is much the same as going after whitetails in a state with heavy snow cover, focus on the food.
Remember that hogs are true eating machines and not much is going to stop them from rooting out their next meal. Even snow, if you live in a rare area where feral hog populations encounter it. While they will root out natural food items like acorns that are buried if they must, many hogs are also very lazy.
Again, regarding states like Texas and Oklahoma, where deer baiting is common. Those walking slabs of bacon are going to be much more vulnerable to bait the later in the year it is. Especially if your neighbors quit filling up their deer feeders once the season ends. If that's the case, it makes it easy to hunt hogs, as they will start concentrating on the feeders that are still being filled. Just make sure it's legal to bait for them in your state before you do it.
Pattern them on your game camera
Sometimes, hogs will range over a huge area in the winter months and they'll be a little bit harder to find than normal. The good news is their movements are usually predictable. This means you can use a trail camera to figure out the pattern and set up a perfect ambush for that big boar or a sow and her piglets.
Just remember to watch your scent when checking the cameras. Hogs have a sense of smell that may be greater than that of a whitetail. That means you must be extra careful not to overly-contaminate the area before your hunt. We recommend wearing gloves and spraying a little bit of cover scent to mask your presence.
Go in after them (Spot and stalk)
Wild hogs love to hang out in dense, brushy areas. Going into these areas in the warmer spring and summer months can be tricky and potentially dangerous because the vegetation hides the hogs from prying eyes. This is especially true in states like Florida or Louisiana where hogs often have dense, swampy areas to hide from prying eyes.
But in the winter, most of the leaves are off the trees and it makes it harder for any swine to hide from you. This means it's easier to do a spot and stalk or to even sneak a shot through into heavy cover.
Also, sometimes the hogs are just ranging over a huge area in search of food in the winter months and the only way to find them is to start walking and look for them. A lack of leaves is going to make that a lot easier. Alternatively, you could use a quad or UTV to ride around and glass for them. Either way works. Sometimes in the winter, you've just got to go in and get the hogs instead of waiting for them to come to you.
Watch for changing weather conditions
There are many parallels between deer hunting and hog hunting and this is another one of them. A sudden shift in the weather conditions can cause a sudden surge in hog activity at any time of year, not just winter. But if you've got an incoming snowstorm, rain or cold front, you'd best be hitting the woods, because they're likely up and active right now.
Keep a close eye on the weather forecast all winter and time your hunts to coincide with these shifts and you'll likely be putting some meat in the freezer near every time you head out.