by Larry Weishuhn
Deer and most big game seasons may be over for the current season throughout much of North America, but not everywhere! Some seasons such at our MLDP properties in Texas can hunt whitetails through the end of February. But if you are not able to hunt such exceptions…fear not! Wild hogs populate many states. Hog hunting possibilities are ever increasing, especially during the cooler times of the year. In other words, the time to hunt wild hogs is “NOW”!
Growing up in the country many years ago when cooler weather arrived during the fall and winter, it was hog butchering time. Hogs which had been fattened starting in the spring were finally of a size to be turned into sausage, ham, bacon and lard. We did all our own curing, smoking and rendering. As a youngster once the hog was “down” my job was to help with the scraping, the removal of hair from the hog. This was accomplished by pouring scalding hot water on the extant hog, then scraping off all the hair with a knife. The skin remained intact to be the “rind” on what would become bacon and ham.
Back then, we often butchered hogs that weighed as much as 800 pounds. These were dispatched by a carefully placed brain shot using .22 Short ammo at very close range. That said, I often get tickled when asked about what magnum rounds I used to take some of my biggest or heaviest hogs. Of course, there is a lot of difference between putting down farm/pen fattened pork and wild hogs.
Over the past many years I have taken and weighed a lot wild hogs, many which reputedly weighed over 300-pounds. Interestingly, when most of those “300-pounders” were put on scales, they weighed 185 pounds. A few years ago I did shoot a legitimate 300-pound boar while hunting in the Red River bottoms on the Texas side. It was late evening, legal whitetail shooting time was almost over when I walked into a cut grain field. Two-hundred yards away I could see a big wild boar, running right toward me. I quickly again loaded my .270 Win with a Hornady 130-grain Soft Point, propped the Ruger on shooting sticks. At the time Trijicon’s AccuPoint was not available. It surely would have been nice to have such a quality light-gathering scope with its “point of light” reticle. Now many years later that .270 along with several of my other serious hunting rifles wear Trijicon AccuPoints!
For follow up shots, I sat down to essentially be on the same level as the big boar, waited until he was about a hundred yards distant, centered the scope on the oncoming hog’s chest, then pulled the trigger. The big hog shuddered, but kept coming. I quickly bolted in another round and sent another Hornady bullet into the now faster coming boar. He slowed a bit and I shot him a third time. He went down thirty yards away.
I refreshed the three rounds in the bolt action’s magazine, chambered another Hornady, then started walking toward the downed boar.
The huge bodies boar appeared to be down and out! When I got to within ten steps from the boar in one quick move he was on his feet and charging directly at me. I raised rifle to shoulder, pointed it at the fast approaching boar, holding in front of him and fired. At the shot the boar staggered, slowed a bit, giving me time to bolt in a fresh round. As I did so he recovered and was coming fast and close! The boar was only four feet from the end of the muzzle when I pulled the trigger! The bullet struck the huge boar between and just above his eyes. His lower chin fell on the toe of my left foot.
Exciting! I pulled my foot out from under his chin, stepped to my right and put another round into him, this time into his left ear.
Later that night at a local deer camp we weighed my boar, 327-pounds. One of the biggest and obviously most tenacious boars I have ever taken. As big as he was, complete with 3-inches of lower tusks showing, a thick cartilaginous shield protecting his shoulders and rib cage, he had no strong boar odor. His meat was tender and succulent!
Not all wild hogs provide quite that kind of adventure, but the potential is always there, enough so that my long-time friend J. Wayne Fears and I used to refer to wild hog boars as “The Poor Man’s Grizzly”!
I am a firm believer in “using enough gun”. I mentioned “putting down” huge bodied hogs with .22 rimfires, but these were unusual circumstances. That said, I know a lot of hunters who use .223s, .300 Blackouts and the like. I have shot hogs with those rounds as well and certainly with Hornady ammo, they will dispatch wild hogs! But, given a choice particularly when I am hunting spot and stalk wild boar, my favorite way of hunting, I like larger calibers rifles topped Trijicon AccuPoint or Huron scopes. One of my favorites is my .275 Rigby Ruger No. 1, topped with a Trijicon AccuPoint, shooting Hornady 140-grain Soft Points. Another is a Ruger M77 Guide Rifle in .375 Ruger, topped with a Trijicon 2.5×12.5×42 scope and shooting Hornady’s Outfitter 250-grain GMX. I have used this latter combination not only here in North America for wild hogs and other big game species, but also in Africa and Europe.
Hunting hogs can provide great adventure, but also comes at a time when there is little else to hunt other than possibly predators. Wild hogs, too can often be hunted in conjunction with other hunts. Beyond adventure, wild hogs are extremely good to eat, especially the younger ones!
Winter temperatures are here. I think it is “hoggin’ time”! Don’t you!