"There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot." - Aldo Leopold

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Winter Tips for Wild Hogs

The days for chasing deer are dwindling down. Alas. The bells toll for deer season throughout much of the country by late January, and the dreariness of winter hides the promise of Spring Turkey. Nothing left but football and NASCAR.

Not so fast.

Wild hogs - plentiful in many parts of the country and sneaking into others with each passing day - are a year-round hunting opportunity. And, man, do I enjoy hunting them this time of the year. Whether you are seeking a fatty for the freezer or that big boar for the wall, December, January, and February are my favorite months for popping a pig here in Florida.

So if you just can’t stand staying inside watching the playoffs in the coming weeks, here are some tips for finding some pigskin of your own.

1. Follow the food – hogs will eat anything, but by this time of year, most of the acorns are off the ground and once-lush oak hammocks are all but barren of food. It’s now when they ramp up their rooting activities, working over ditches, creek bottoms, and wet-weather ponds seeking anything edible. The reason for this is simple – these places capture moisture which in turn produces new-growth plant life and attracts insects and grubs. In addition, these spots collect berries and acorns that have been washed here by previous rains. Palmetto patches, while tougher to hunt, offer a similar buffet of groceries. Of course, if you have a magical tree that slings little yellow acorns, that much better.

2. Stay on the move – since there is no real obvious concentration of food, stay mobile. The weather is nice so you won’t sweat to death, and hogs are apt to move throughout the day for similar reasons. Next, with all the leaves off the trees, still-hunting through fall’s impenetrable swamps is much easier, and the hogs will still hole up here.

3. Avoid full moons – this is a general hog hunting rule for me anyhow. For some reason, I’ve had no luck at all this time of the month. Maybe others have, but I’d schedule a different date if I were you.

4. Hunt fronts – hogs are active all times of the day before and after a front blows through. A light rain is perfect to get them on their feet and feeding. Now, if it’s too windy, you are better off staying in camp, but a drizzle and drop in temp is a good recipe for putting one on the ground.

5. Take advantage of small game hunts – most FL WMA’s will offer small game hunts with hogs on the menu. They usually allow only shotguns or rimfires. OO Buckshot works – not my favorite, but it will – but slugs are the way to go here (check individual WMA regs.) Or if you are feeling spunky, I’ve put down more than one hog with a .22LR or .22 Mag. This is also a fine opportunity for archery hunting practice.

6. Plan for next year – The FWC and Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swift Mud) offer hog hunts throughout the year for winter hunts. Sometimes they are still hunts, other times it’s for those who run dogs. Either way, keep an eye out!

7. Hold out for that boar – my best boars have come during the winter. As mentioned above, their Eden-like swamp strongholds tend to be barren so boars will wander farther and more often for food and females. This is their most vulnerable time of the year, in my opinion - kind of a hog rut, you could say. If you’re trophy hunting, it may be worth letting the little ones work under a feeder for a while longer and wait for Mr. Grinnin’ Lips to sidle on in.

Hog hunting is a great deal of fun in the winter and they can be hunted in a variety of ways. If anyone else has some tips, please feel free to leave a few!!!


Unknown said...

Nice tips man. I got a question for you. I just move to Jax, I would like to know how do I get started in Hog hunting? I will be taking a safy hunting class soon, but don't know where to go to hunt for Hogs. Thanks Bill.

Ian Nance said...

Thanks, appreciate your checking out the site.

I've personally not hunted up in that area, but I know there's plenty of swine around. Here is a link to the FWC's map of local WMA's - you can check out the individual regs to see what's allowed and when. (http://myfwc.com/docs/RecreationActivities/HuntMap.pdf)

Also, check your newspaper from time to time; the classified typically have postings for leases and there's alot of land there and in GA that have hogs.

You can also check out the forum at this website made up of Jax-area hunters (http://outdoorsshow.com/) and dig ups some answers. I don't know any personally, but I am sure there are some outfitters up there that can give ya a bead on how to get started. May cost ya a penny or two...other than that, get a gun and some boots and hit some woods!!!

Mark said...

Your article was a good read. Im a newguy to hog hunting here in CFL, still have yet to bag one. Been down here for a few years and have seen sign and whatnot but never a hog when its season. Thanks for the tips.

Ian Nance said...

Thank you, Mark, I appreciate it. Just keep at it, there are a ton down here. Green Swamp, Upper Hillsborough, Myakka, all have some piggies. And check the websites I posted in the article....things pop up all the time from Swift Mud and the FWC. And if you don't mind parting with a couple hundred bucks, it's tough to go wrong with some of the outfitters around Okeechobee and up around Levy County and in the Big Bend area. Best of luck and keep us updated!!!

Anonymous said...

Can you recommend an outfitter?

Ian Nance said...

I haven't personally hunted with any outfitters for hogs in FL, but I know of a couple that are popular and hunters like.

Tiger Island Outfitters up by Cedar Key offers reasonable hunts

(Here's some forum talk about it - http://www.floridafishandhunt.com/fishing-hunting-forums/viewtopic.php?f=105&t=7180&sid=c7ae4107ff83d5be5c3923df9d769018)

Osceola Outdoors out of Naples is another - (http://www.osceolaoutdoors.com/HogHunts.html)

Good luck - there are a ton of other places around the state though. Just do your due diligence and you can probably find something to fit your needs. As I said, I have no personal testimonial, but these two are pretty well-known.

Neriah said...

You have many good tips, although I still have a question do you use (or could use) or know of a good form of bait to help get them in the area?

Ian Nance said...

I've only ever used corn. Now some that's a little rotten wil drag them in.

Anonymous said...

sour corn is the best way to attract hogs to your hunting area, it stinks but it works. Works very good on hog snares too!

Anonymous said...

They love yeast so try soaking your corn with it and they will come running. Also not my favorite thing to do but works really well are honey buns, I just have an issue throwing out those things because there so darn good.

Anonymous said...

Im not from florida but this artical was great to read. Im pretty sure the same rules apply to louisiana. Ive only gotten two this year. I used jello mix and kool-aid corn.

Midori said...

Awesome post, we were feeling pretty blue over the end of deer season....but now I'm ready to do some good ad take down some of the hog population in GA!!

Anonymous said...

What is to windy?

Anonymous said...

I live just west of Fort Worth Texas, and I hunt coyotes for the area farmers. One farmer asked me to hunt a hog that is ripping up his hay field. He thinks it is just one. I have been hunting this hog now for 30 days, and as of I have not even see him, but the farmer says he is still there. I have been hunting every night at different times, like 6 pm to 12 pm, 12 pm to 4 am, and a couple times all night long, and even put out a game camera to see if I could tack his times of arrival. I have put out a deer feeder, and some sweet mash but still nothing. I smoke my ghillie suit, sit in an old tractor barn in the back darkest corner, and even using a thermal scope, and still nothing. Any idea of what I could be doing wrong.

Anonymous said...

Corn and Koolaid - Works like a charm. I buy whole or scratch corn. As for the Koolaid.. I get a large tub of the powdered stuff and throw it all around my stand, on top of some of the corn that I laid out, and in little piles everywhere else. They can't resist the smell. It draws them to the feeder and once they see the corn that's all she wrote.

Steve in Micco said...

My recipe is to use several (read: many) 5 gallon buckets from Wal-Mart. Fill them half way up with cracked corn. Cover same with about 2 or 3 inches of water above the corn. Toss in one scoop of sugar and pour in a can of the cheapest beer you can find (save the good stuff for after your hunt). Cover tightly with the lid and set aside in your hot garage for at least a week (two is much better). Do not open with your wife at home, she's likely to get really pissed off at the stink (ask me how I know). I own a small oak hammock 5 minutes morth of Sebastian. Generally dump the buckets about 10 yards apart. Works for me. YMMV

William S. Guerrera said...

Smart Methods for hunting boar in the Winter
Wild hogs are a year-round sport with no limitations to the hunting season. During winter, however, they can be a bit more difficult to hunt, but there are a few smart things that can be done as well, to make the hunt easier.
1. Boars still search for food during winter, even though it may be more scarce, they will look for food in many areas where moisture is high even during winter, because this is likely where there still is some plant growth. Positioning yourself near these areas gives you a high chance of seeing boar
2. Keep moving, because they will also keep moving. It is not a good idea to stick in one spot, as the boar may be missing that fruit-filled spot
3. Check weather conditions – when it is windy, the general idea is to forget about hunting the day, but when it is raining and some drop in temperature, there may be higher chances of catching boar
4. Plan for next year – consider that you may not be lucky this time around, but fear not, there is next year to also look forward to, and taking in the lessons from this year, may be useful for next year.

Anonymous said...

We hunt hogs in northern Florida, some WMA's and some Private land. I can tell you in my experience that hogs are smart and pretty good at avoiding hunters. I often find that when the hunting pressure increases they tend to go more nocturnal and roam for food in the darkness. You may catch a few early in the morning but the best time in my opinion is just before dark. They dont call it the magic hour for nothing and i have bagged most of my hogs around this time. Sour mash is the best attractant if you're allowed to bait but watch out for the bears, they smell even better than hogs and love the mash also.

Steve in Micco said...

I second your take on this. Seems I see maybe one hog a year during the heat of the day. Sightings here are generally about an hour before sunset.

Bought a Marlin 336A Deluxe in .30-30 recently at the Vero Beach gun show. A "waffletop" from 1949. Afixed an old steel Redfield receiver sight. Hope to bloody it soon here in Micco.