Hunting Tips, Questions, Stories & Discussion

Focusing on managing Texas wildlife habitat and natural resources for native and exotic wild game species, for this and future generation of hunters and outdoor enthusiasts.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Hunting the Nocturnal Feral Hog

It was Friday night on November 13th, 2009. I arrived at Escondido Ranch earlier that afternoon with a mission to help eradicate spikes, hogs and other genetically inferior whitetails off of the ranch. Needless to say, I was ready for the challenge. Over dinner, Kurt, Tony and I spoke about the brazen numbers of hogs captured on trail cams during the wee hours of the morning (1-3 am). I volunteered to get everyone up at the right hour to increase our chances of success…to which I received unenthusiastic responses. I guess those guys needed their beauty sleep. Oh well… Therefore, since the dirty deed still needed to be done, shortly after dinner, around 9 pm, we jumped into Escondido’s vintage military jeep modified with elevated back row seats and a cross-bar shooting support, and went out on an evening of spotlighting. Kurt was at the helm, Tony was operating the spotlight and I was the designated shooter; perched along with Tony on the back row.

We ran into a technical problems a few moments after the departure. The spotlight kept flickering on and off. After fidgeting with it for a few moments, we determined that the problem was with the broken wiring inside the casing. Nonetheless, Tony managed to keep the spotlight “on”, while Kurt took a path “less traveled” along one of the back roads crisscrossing Escondido's terrain.

As the powerful beam skirted past the brush line, it illuminated multiple pairs of eyes staring back. With the unusually high amounts of rainfall this year, there was an abundance of natural vegetation throughout South Central Texas. All the native and exotic animals on the ranch, from axis to whitetail deer, sika and fallow, along with elk, aoudad and feral hogs gorged on the natural buffet during the night and stayed hidden during daylight hunting hours. So, it was refreshing to see so many animals glaring back at us from beneath the shadows of the underbrush.

Kurt took a hard left and we found ourselves on a road leading to Betty’s blind. As the vehicle swung around, on the fringes of the light, we caught a glimpse of a backside of a large, feeding animal standing just a few yards ahead us. “It’s a hog!”, I exclaimed, as the animal heard our approaching jeep and jolted forward. Someone started to say something about a sika deer, but then Tony zeroed in on the moving animal and we could all see the corkscrew tail of a hog. The shadowy figure dashed from left to right as it tried to stay ahead of the trailing beam of light.

Kurt brought the vehicle to an immediate stop. I lifted the rifle and locked the bolt into place. Quickly resting the .270 across the shooting bar, I looked over the top of the scope trying to anticipate the hog’s next move. As I swung the rifle along the path of the fleeing animal, I spotted its backside in the scope as the hog quartered away from me. In a split moment, I decided to try to stop the animal before it reached the safety of the brush and squeezed the trigger. Shot rang out…and then everything went black…

Apparently, the faulty floodlight turned "off" when Tony, in an attempt to preserve his hearing, stuck his fingers into his ears. Kurt was barely able to do the same before I pulled the trigger.

Then, before anyone had a chance to ask THE question, we heard the not too distant squealing of a mortaly wounded animal. By then, Tony was able to re-engage the contacts and point the revived beam in the direction of the hog. As the light cut through the veil of darkness, a large, black boar came into focus.

The animal was feverishly digging its front hooves into the ground while frantically swinging its head from side-to-side in a feeble attempt to jolt its backside forward. It quickly became apparent that the first shot broke the hog’s back. But before we could safely approach it, the hog needed to be put-down. Since the head of the hog was swaying from side to side, I took aim at the heart and pulled the trigger. The boar first dropped to the ground, but then surprisingly, reared back up on its front legs. The final, head shot, put it down for good.

A few moments later we backed up the jeep to the boar and had a clear look at the expired animal. This was certainly not the largest feral hog taken on Escondido Ranch and most likely not the biggest one currently residing there, but at just under 200 pounds this was an impressive specimen, nonetheless.

We loaded the animal into the jeep and cruised down to the cleaning station in the valley below, along the way recounting the pure excitement of the hunt. The smooth execution by the Hog Tag Team made this hunt exciting and productive!

The meat from the hog was donated to the Wild Game Charity Dinner, while the skull will most likely grace one of the walls at Escondido Ranch.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009


What is the season for Texas trophy boar hunting?

Texas trophy boar hunting goes year round for both feral hogs as well as Russian boars. Since these animals reproduce at a terrific rate and are almost free from any type of natural predator there is no need to worry about managing the size of the herd other than by harvesting too many older sows during any one year. Typically all litters are born about 1 to 1 ratio of males to females, leaving a lot of options for Texas trophy boar hunting without impacting the breeding population.

Regular harvesting of the older and younger boars on the Escondido Ranch keeps all the hogs in better shape since there is less competition between boars during the breeding season.

Can Texas trophy boar hunting animals be used for meat?

Yes, feral hogs, especially the younger hogs, provide great meat that is almost the same as domestic pork. There are many different recipes for wild hogs including making sausages and ground pork, roasts, stews and of course great pork ribs for the barbeque.

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Is it possible tell how old the hog you shoot is when Texas trophy boar hunting?

Looking at the Russian boar or feral hogs jaw can help you come very close to deciding how old the hog or boar is. You can also tell if the hog has any European boar heritage by examining the area of the jaw between the tusk and the regular molar teeth. If there is a small isolated tooth in the middle, there is some European breed in the background of the hog. This is not at all uncommon in Texas where Russian boars and even domestic European swine breeds have bred with the wild hog populations.

A feral hog that is under 2 years of age will have three adjacent teeth at the back of the lower jaw. There will be two smaller teeth in front and a molar looking tooth at the back. After two years of age there will be an additional molar that pops up at the back of the lower jaw, giving a total of four teeth. Despite common theories that you can use tusks to age a Texas trophy boar that is not a accurate means to age an animal.

Until the age of three the two smaller teeth in this group of four will gradually be replaced by thicker, heavier, molar like teeth, very different than the previous teeth that looked a bit like canine teeth. At years three and four additional molars appear, so at the end of the wild hog's fourth year he will have six teeth at the back of the jaw.

At the fifth year the final tooth will be fully showing and the teeth will start to show wear and grinding down. After the fifth year is possible to tell the approximate age based on the amount of wear of all the teeth, but this is really just an educated estimate.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009


What is the best method to ensure a kill shot while hunting feral hogs?

Wild hogs are much more difficult to hit with a kill shot than many of the other species of animals found on Escondido Ranch. Hunters have to have a good understanding of the area of the hog that is most likely to result in a clean kill rather than having to track the animal. Feral hogs are extremely tough and it is very difficult to catch them if they are not serious injured with the first shot.

Wild hogs have a very small lungs and a small heart cavity, so shooting accurately is essential. The best place to aim for a clean kill shot is into the middle of the upper shoulder area or slightly to the front into the base of the neck area in a line from the shoulder, another good area to shoot for is behind and below the ear. Shooting behind the elbow or shoulder may not result in a kill since all the vital organs are well protected by the heavy front shoulder muscles and bones, and thick skin.

Are feral hogs only found in the central Texas areas around Escondido Ranch?

Wild hogs are a serious nuisance problem in most areas of Texas. They can actually be found in very suburban settings however they tend to avoid the large cities that are found throughout the state. Almost any community with rural areas or acreages is going to have some type of feral hog population. In general the hogs will tend to keep out of sight during the daylight hours when people are around, however they will come out at night to root and get into garbage, causing a real problem in some areas.

There are feral swine reported in 39 states in the United States and four provinces in Canada. The wild hog range extends well down in to Mexico where they have mated with the domestic hog population, producing a hybrid. It is estimated by a recent A&M Texas study that there are over 2 million wild hogs in the state of Texas and at least another 2 million scattered throughout the other 38 states with populations.

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