Texas Feral Hog Hunting

I’ll never forget the first time I heard them. It was the dusk of a warm October day in South Texas, near Alice, and I was sitting in a tower blind overlooking four scendaros with my dad’s best friend Jeff. It scared me a bit. Those squeals and high-pitched screams will cause anxiety in a kid!

Jeff didn’t seem surprised, he just spit another stream of tobacco onto the blind’s floor and reached for his rifle. He must have seen the look of confusion, or maybe fright, on my face.   

“First time hearing wild hogs?” he asked. I only nodded. “They’ve been down here a long time,” he said. “Brought over by Columbus and the early explorers. Rooting the hell out of the Earth.”

Each scendaro had a feeder about 50 yards from the blind. Those pigs must have known exactly what time it would go off because as if on cue, the rapid clicking of corn getting slung onto the ground brought the entire pack out of the dense mesquite and into the open. There must have been 20 of all sizes and colors.

Jeff’s first bullet when through the head of one pig and killed another in its wake. The hogs vanished as quickly as they’d arrived. I was ecstatic. Not only to see such fancy shooting but to have also just witnessed a first in the wild. Pigs, to me, were a product of barnyards and nothing more.

Over the course of that trip and throughout my life I’ve had many opportunities to shoot wild pigs. While I’m not in to killing for pure joy, hogs I don’t mind so much. They’re destructive and  plentiful, with no looks of slowing the wide swath they’re quite literally cutting through the country. And they make pretty good table fare.

Some deer hunters put down their rifles and await the arrival of turkey season. Others fish. Then there’s the bunch that put their energies toward the pig population. If you’d like to fall into the latter category, but don’t have hogs in your area, the most important piece of advice we can offer is head to the state that houses half (nearly 1.5 million) of the nation’s pigs: Texas.

Find An Outfitter

Google “Texas Feral Hog Hunting” and the search engine will return dozens of outfitters all promoting “The best hog hunting in all of Texas.” Like any business you’d consider, anyone who’s going to lead you on a pig hunt needs to have a good reputation. First, they ought to have a decent website. It’s 2017 and 95 percent of the information we consume comes from the world wide web. Good outfitters have invested in this.

Next, look for positive reviews from past customers. If the website is well done but there aren’t many reviews, perhaps it’s a newer operation. However, you can bet that somebody knows this person. The hunting community is not that big. Pick up the phone and make some calls, starting with the outfitter.

The Basics

Like deer, hogs typically feed in the morning and evening and lay up during the day. Unlike deer, they leave sign that a blind man could read. They have no problem wandering way out into an open agricultural field to feed, which gives the hunter a chance to kill several in one sitting. Pigs have excellent hearing and senses of smell, yet their eyesight is poor. As long as you can spot them from a ways off and stalk into the wind, getting close enough for a rifle shot is not overly difficult.

Choosing the Right Rifle

If you have a deer rifle then you can kill pigs. Some hog hunters that use ARs have plenty of success with .223 Remington and .300 Blackout calibers, though we like to get up to at least a .243 for clean kills. A hard-hitting .308 with a RESPONSE 4-16x42 .308/7.62 helping to guide your shots gives you the ability to hone in on several pigs out of a group, whereas a bolt-action rifle will limit your shots. But, hey, cranking a bolt is better than chucking a spear.

Using a semi-automatic rifle is ideal for shooting several feral hogs in one sitting.

Splurge on Ammo

Wild hogs are some of the toughest animals on the continent. Their super-thick hides and plates of armor near their vital area create bullet-proof-vest-like effects on soft-tipped bullets. Hornady’s Full Boar ammunition is specifically designed for a hog’s armor. It’s tipped with GMX bullets that are comprised of homogenous alloy, meaning there’s no jacket or core that could hinder penetration. Federal Premium Vital Shok is another solid round and one that you may already have due to its popularity with deer hunters. Its Nosler Partition bullet is just hard enough to dive deep into the body and just soft enough for vital-wrecking expansion

Go Big

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller came up with the concept of hunting wild hogs from a helicopter several years ago and the idea has propelled itself into a multi-million dollar industry. While we don’t have experience within this method of feral hog hunting, there are countless videos online that demonstrate the radical approach. Call it cheating or unfair, but even helicopter hunting isn’t dampening the overall spirit of feral swine.  

There are several different ways to hunt pigs. In a landscape like Texas, where ranches can extend for miles and miles, you’ll likely spend a lot of time riding around in the truck. In other places you may use dogs. Regardless, hunting feral hogs in Texas is a really fun way to spend a few days in that lull between seasons.