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Focusing on Hogs

Another dead pig


Feral hogs are becoming a dominant force across the country and especially across the southeast. The population has exploded in the past decade, while the reason for this is in dispute. Many believe that it is largely due to the illegal transplant of hogs by hunters. Hunters wanting another species to pursue captured and relocated hogs to their property with no or little understanding of the impact they have on the environment.

Dr. Greg Yarrow, Wildlife biologist and professor of wildlife at Clemson University has been quoted as saying that “other than human beings, no other species has manipulated that natural landscape more than hogs.” There is little question that feral hogs do a tremendous amount of damage. However in this love/hate relationship there are some up sides to having feral hogs on your property. First they provide more hunting opportunities. For those who like to hunt hogs this is a tremendous benefit. Here in South Carolina, there is no season for feral hogs and no limits on private lands. Landowners and their designees may hunt feral hogs year around with very few limitations. This includes hunting them at night with lights, night vision or thermal imaging. Secondly, feral hogs provide excellent table fare. And contrary to common myths, hogs of all sizes are excellent to eat. I have heard on many occasions that ‘big ole boars aren’t worth throwing away’. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if indeed truth be told, the reason people believe big boars are not good table fare is because they can be very difficult to clean and they simply do not want the hassle of dealing with them. I have cleaned and eaten many hogs in excess of 300 pounds and their meat was just as delectable as hogs half their weight.

Many property managers, who have been fighting the infestation with hogs for years, have instituted bounties on hogs to encourage hunters to take them when the opportunity presents itself. Others have fines for not shooting hogs. Still others have turned the opportunity into a lucrative business. Sub-renting the property for hog hunters exclusively after deer season has closed. In fact a hunt club that I belonged to a few years ago has recently added a “hog only’ membership that will be open to hunting day or night from January 2 until August 1. The membership is exclusive to hogs and does not include turkeys or deer. This sub-renting has allowed many property managers to pad their bottom line while controlling the pig population.

There is little doubt the easiest method to kill hogs is by using some sort of bait to entice them to a specific location. However there are plenty of other methods of killing hogs to maintain control. Spot and stalk is one of the most exciting tactics for hogs. For many the use of specialized dogs for hunting hogs is the best method. Each of these are effective and each need to decide for themselves which method they prefer. Regardless, there is little doubt that hunting hogs is quickly catching on, and for my money, it’s as exciting as any hunting we have in the southeast.