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Feral Swine Part 1


Land managers and owners have a love hate relationship with feral swine. Some of the land owners hate them and others love them. But it seems the ones that love them now, will soon learn to hate them. Feral swine have become a lucrative business in recent years. Plantations that used to pay trappers and hunters to come and shoot all of them they could are now charging a premium to clients who want to hunt them. Even some farmers and ranchers are subleasing their properties to ‘hog hunters’ as another method of income.

In this story and the next we will look at the feral swine and methods of hunting them. As deer season has waned and the cold weather is upon us, many leases and clubs are turning to hunting hogs exclusively. The main method is the use of bait. This bait is used to attract and hold hogs for hunters. But this bait has a side effect that many hunters and land managers did not anticipate. It does indeed draw a lot of hogs, but in many cases, these hogs do not leave, they find suitable habitat and take up residence. And in a few years, what was a ‘huntable number’ has become a plague.

Feral hogs are capable in good conditions of producing three litters per year, with two being more common. Each litter contains between six and fifteen piglets. Half of these will be females that are sexually mature at three to four months of age. These pigs can live an average of eight years in the wild. So one sow is capable of having (using an average of 10 piglets per litter) 160 offspring with half of these being female. So a single pair of hogs, can turn into thirty two hogs in one year, and in two years, these thirty two hogs can turn into an uncontrollable number is relatively short order. As one person said when discussing with someone who said they wish they had a few hogs to hunt. “Be careful what you wish for.” Feral hogs are causing multimillion dollars of damage all across the nation. Their spread has been well documented. What has been termed the “pig bomb” has exploded and where pigs were isolated in small river drainages for centuries now every county in South Carolina has feral hogs documented.

There is little doubt that hunting feral hogs is fun, it is a lot of fun. Whether you are chasing them with dogs, or still hunting, spot and stalk or stand hunting. Hunting hogs is fun and very exciting. On a personal note hunting hogs is one of my most favorite things to do.

But we must recognize that the dilemma of having enough hogs to hunt and having too many is a small thin line that has been crossed in many areas.

Hunters, land owners and managers have transported hogs from one area to another in hopes of establishing new populations to hunt. It worked! In fact it worked too well.

Next time we will look at different tactics of hunting feral hogs and how to be successful killing pigs during the dead of winter.