There are a lot of feral hogs in Texas. The abundance of free-ranging pigs offers ample hog hunting opportunities for those looking to get in some off-season outdoor action. Although wild hogs are a huge problem for Texas’s farmers and ranchers, destroying both grazing pastures and farmlands, these “tiny rhinos” make a great quarry for bow and gun hunters and often offer multi-target opportunities, in most cases. Many hunters shoot wild hogs opportunistically during the deer hunting season, but these non-native animals can be hunter year-round throughout the state.
What is a Feral Hog
A feral hog is domesticated animal gone wild. Granted, the oldest-known group of domestic hogs were brought into what is now the U.S in 1539, so they’ve definitely had time to become wild hogs. But hogs are not native to the Americas so they still have the term “feral” attached to them. Since domestic pigs are often kept in pens that are not necessarily worthy of holding such a strong animal, more and more are added to the landscape all the time. Not too mention that free-ranging boars will break into pens containing sows that are “hot.”
Depending on who you talk to, the current statewide feral hog population in Texas is estimated to be 2-4 million animals. Either way, that’s a lot of animals. And considering a sow start breeding at less than a year of age and can have a litter of 5-8 piglets twice a year, expect that number to keep on growing.
Where to Hunt Hogs
They are found everywhere, but not literally. Wild hogs cover most of the state, but they are much less numerous in the Trans-Pecos region of the state. In the pandhandle, most will be found around farmlands where adequate escape cover exists. In every part of Texas, feral hogs are found associated with drainages such as rivers, creeks and streams. During the summer they will be found loafing around all of these areas, including stock tanks and lakes. Good areas for hunting should include some type of water feature in the area. Hogs don’t sweat so they need to wallow at the edge of the water to encourage evaporative cooling during warmer weather. This is a good tip to keep in your back pocket, by the way.
You can find good hog hunting opportunities in the eastern two-thirds of Texas and all of south Texas. Wherever there is the combination of brushlands or woodlands with water there will be hogs. Add in some cultivated lands and that is a recipe for success. If there are white-tailed deer there will be hogs. Finding wild hogs is not difficult since the sign they leave and the areas they inhabit area easy to spot, so most of the work will be simply finding a property where you can hog hunt.
Places to Hog Hunt
There are two options when it comes to hunting hogs in Texas, public land and private land. There are no shortage of hunting properties that offer day and multi-day package hunts for feral hogs. And the cost will vary a lot depending on the amenities or lack there of. Most of this information is available online. It will take some time to sort through but there area numerous places offering economical pig hunts throughout the state.
There are also more traditional ways to find hunting lands, word-of-mouth and classified ads. This is what I call going “old school,” but if it ain’t broke then there really is no need to fix it. Just about every newspaper will have outdoors ads so check them out for some direction, but especially pay attention to small town, rural papers. When you’re passing through a rural area, pick up a paper or other community publication. It’s also a good idea to stop by a hardware or feed store and ask around. It never hurts, because everyone knows somebody.
If you don’t have a hunting lease or are from out of state, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department offers wild pig hunting on Texas public lands through the purchase of its $48 Annual Public Hunting Permit. Public hunting is also available through TPWD’s annual draw hunts that offer permits on a number of Wildlife Mangement Areas and other leased properties. The deadline to apply for these public hog hunts is late fall/early winter.
Hunting Hogs: Do’s and Don’ts
There are a number of ways for hunters to pursue feral hogs. The habitat that hogs use in Texas varies between ecoregions, so hunting tactics will likely vary, too. Plant communities in east Texas will be pine or pine-mixed forests, south Texas will likely be super-dense brush, and most other areas of the state can vary from farmlands to scattered woodlands. Depending on the situation, sitting in a stand, still hunting or spot-and-stalk could be the better method for hog hunting. Do try different strategies.
Hogs are smart animals with a very good nose of them. Do be cognizant of the wind and make sure to stay scent-free if bowhunting, or walk into the wind when still-hunting or attempting a spot-and-stalk. Feral hogs do not have great eyesight, so this advantage goes to the hunter. That said, you can’t stick out like a buffalo on open prairie.
Expect to find hogs where there is food. Hunt hogs in the same places you’d hunt for white-tailed deer. Feeders and food plots adjacent riparian areas are great places to start, as are areas rich in acorns or cultivated crops, depending on the time of year. Hogs are widely adaptable when it comes to the foods that they will eat, but they are also found where food is abundant. Find hog sign and the food will be there too. They will more than likely be back. Get set up and start hunting.
Texas is cursed/blessed with feral hogs. The abundance of hogs across the state, and the fact that they are not protected, makes year-round hog hunting action a reality. Many hunters to do not take advantage of their deer hunting leases during the “off period” to get out there and shoot some pigs. A lot of landowners will allow hog hunting on their property, but you’ve got to ask. If all else fails, head to the internet or classifieds and do your best to bird dog a place where you can hunt. The number of free-ranging hogs continues to increase despite every measure to stop them, so we need all the help we can get.
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