Luke Clayton

outdoors

While there is no official season for hunting wild hogs in Texas,† the period from the close of deer season to the opening of spring turkey season is when the majority of hog hunters put their pork in the freezer.

I was raised in rural Red River County, between the Red and Sulpher Rivers and, one might say, I was hunting hogs before hog hunting was cool. Back in the day, most of the hogs we harvested were byproducts of deer hunts.

While watching a corn feeder for a big buck, a hog would occasionally show up and weíd have pork to mix with venison for making sausage. Texas Parks and Wildlife estimates we have 3 million wild hogs in Texas but, given the fact that sows breed at 6 months and have young twice a year, itís easy to see how this number could be quite higher.

†Through the years, Iíve come to love hunting hogs, every bit as much as deer hunting, possibly a bit more. I was Texas editor for a wild hog hunting magazine for a couple of years and during that period, was exposed to tips and tricks that have served me well on subsequent hog hunts.

†I hunt hogs one mile from my home and keep trail cameras and feeders running year around. My buddy and I have a guided hog hunting operation on a ranch near Cedar Creek Lake. Wild porkers never cease to amaze me, theyíre smart. Animal behaviorists rank swine as number three on the intelligence scale, just below dolphins. I believe it!† Iíve come to believe that wild hogs have an excellent memory. You can fool one once but he will seldom make the same mistake twice.

†Iím amazed at, but welcome, all the questions I hear from our hog hunters.† Iíve jotted down a few of these questions and Iíll share them with you here. Hopefully, you will pick up a tip or two that might help pattern the wild hogs on your place.

When will the hogs arrive at my feeder?

We use trail cameras around feeders to determine hog movement. But, even with these helpful tools, the exact time hogs show up at a feeder is difficult to guess. They will show up for three days just before dark, then, for no apparent reason, begin coming to the feed at 7 p.m. I tell our hunters to get in the blind around 3 p.m. and stay put until at least 7.

Will I be able to see the hogs after dark?

Yes. We place Kill Lights (www.goodnightflashlights.com) under the feeders that emit a soft green glow after the sun sets. Bows set up with lighted sight pins or rifle scopes set on low power work well for shooting hogs at night. We keep bow hunters 20 yards from the feeder/light and position rifle hunts out to 35-40 yards.

I will be rifle hunting. I guess I need a large caliber for hunting hogs?

Not necessarily. The rifle you use for deer hunting will serve you well in the hog woods. Iíve killed a lot of hogs with a head or behind the shoulder shot with a little 22 Hornet. Itís shot placement that kills hogs but if a really big boar is your goal, Iíd suggest a 30 caliber of some sort, Itís tough to beat the venerable old 30/06 but anything from a .243 up to the magnums will put the biggest boar in the woods on the ground. When shots are less than 100 yards, a good old lever action 30/30 works just fine.

What about bow hunting hogs? Iíve heard about that heavy shield mature boars have over their shoulders.† Do I need an extremely heavy draw weight on my bow?

Yes, old boars do have a tough shield that protects their shoulders but NO you donít need a heavy draw weight on your bow to successfully kill hogs. Make sure shot placement is BEHIND the shoulder and not into this thick shield. A lethal bow shot is in front of the shoulder, into the neck/spine but the target is smaller than the heart/lungs region. I have my Mathews Z7 bow set at 62 pounds and it does a great job on everything from elk to big boars, assuming the arrow is placed† in the right spot. Todayís bows are much faster than those of just a decade ago.

How dangerous are wild hogs?

Normally, wild hogs are not aggressive at all, but they have the potential to be. Cutters (lower tusks)† on older boars† can cause great damage. Iíve watched trapped hogs bite completely through one inch sticks. Sows with piglets can become extremely aggressive.†

Just a few weeks ago, my buddy had a sow with pigs swim toward an island from which he was duck hunting. When she approached the hunters, she began popping her teeth and headed straight for the island. A hunter used his shotgun to kill her at a distance of a few feet. When trailing a hog in heavy grass or weeds, keep your rifle or shotgun at the ready and be ready to shoot fast if the situation arises. Wounded hogs, both sows and boars, have the potential to be very dangerous.

Do baits and attractants work well?

Yes. The hog depends heavily on its nose to avoid danger and find food. Sweet smells are especially attractive to wild hogs. Iíve used Kook Air mixed with soured corn to attract hogs.

A food attractant called Nac Attack, produced by Nacogdoches native Jody Pierce (936-679-3590) is the best Iíve used. The persimmon flavored bait will pull traveling hogs in from quite a distance.†

The bait was designed to attract deer and exotics but it works equally well on hogs. Hog scents also work extremely well in attracting both boars and sows.

Iíve had a lot of success with hog attractant scents I get from www.boarmasters.com.† I usually saturate a rag with the scent and hang it on a limb near my stand. To keep hogs around your stand a long time, dig a posthole hole and fill it with corn. Wild hogs will continue rooting until they find the last kernel.

Cabelaís King Kat Catfish Tournament coming to Lake Tawakoni - Trophy season for blue catfish normally begins in November and continues throughout the winter. Cabelaís King Kat tournament is slated for March 5 this year, prime time for some big blue catfish to be landed. To learn more about the upcoming tournament, go online to www.catfish1.com and look under tournaments.† The tournament trail also updates regularly on Facebook, use keywords ďCabelaís King Kat.Ē

Many folks enjoy curing hams, making sausages and jerky at home this time of year. If you are in need of expert advice on making these products, contact Mike Pullen at Frisco Spices (www.friscospices.com).† Frisco offers everything you need for making great tasting cured meats, sausages and jerky at home. Pullen teaches classes in sausage making, ham curing, etc. and welcomes calls. Contact Pullen via e-mail at mike@friscospices.com) or call 800-762-6689.

Listen to Outdoors with Luke Clayton at www.catfishradio.com. Email Luke with hunting and fishing news from your area via the web site or at lukeclayton@prodigy.net.