Feral Pigs, a Great Gateway for Hunters

Winter hunting can be tough, summer is oppressive and spring turkey is challenging. What's the best big game gateway for young or new hunters? Feral pigs.

Feral Pigs, a Great Gateway for Hunters

Brian Murphy, CEO of HuntStand, with his daughter, Lauren, and her multi-color pig. (Photo: Brian Murphy)

My first deer hunting experiences from about 40 years ago involved sitting with my father in a shooting house made of roofing tin and lumber, watching the woods for movement.

Movement? That meant a flick of a tail or ear, the bob of a head, something horizontal like a deer's body moving through the woods. Movement. But I had to be quiet, and be still, and not rustle through the lunch I wanted to eat at 9 a.m. (just like today), and not touch my .243 rifle. We got there before sunrise and left after sunset.

I still enjoy hunting that way. But to a 12- or 13-year old, or even younger, that can be tough. I never suggest to adults what they should do with their kids in regard to hunting, other than being safe. I absolutely hate the "You don't need ..." people who try to tell you how to hunt, when to hunt, how many deer or ducks or turkeys or elk you "need" or anything else that they do and believe everyone else must do the same way.

If you want to take your 9- or 6- or 4-year-old son or daughter deer hunting, be safe and have fun. Small game, deer, ducks, whatever. Just be safe and make it fun so they'll enjoy it.

Here's another possibility, too.

Wooooo, Pigs! Kablooie!

Youngsters usually don't have the patience and ability to sit still, much less sit quietly, for hours like some adults do. I know some adults who can't sit still or shut their pieholes, either, but that's a different story.

Kids are wired a little differently because their neurons are firing a bazillion times a second and their bodies have to be in motion. They are curious, ask questions about everything and will be challenged to sit motionless in a deer stand or turkey blind.

That's why hunting feral pigs is a great gateway for young and new hunters. Here are three reasons why:

Plenty of Possibilities

There's no way of knowing exactly how many feral hogs exist in the country. They've been here since Hernando de Soto brought a few hundred over from Spain in the 1500s. They multiplied as he and his party moved through Florida's panhandle into southern Alabama, Mississippi and west.

By the time he was cutting through the bamboo-laden swamps of what would today be Mobile and Biloxi, the erstwhile explorer had more than 700 domesti-feral hogs thanks to their prolific breeding efforts.The United States had a gift from Spain that keeps on giving, 430 years later.

The feral pigs stayed largely in Florida and the swamps of the northern Gulf region. Their expansion involved natural movement, as they sought the best food sources and water during the changing seasons. As man developed the land and eventually gained more access to motor vehicles, they began being transported and released. Crazy to think about, due to the $1.5 billion annual damage done by feral pigs, but man helped with the "migration."

Now they're in probably 20 or more states, mostly in the Southeast and Southwest. You can barely swing a dead cat in Florida or Texas without hitting a hog. I've seen them on the Walt Disney World property. They're prolific and won't be eradicated unless some disease wipes them out.

If you can't find a place to hunt hogs, you're not looking hard enough. They're available on state and federal lands, private lands and through hunting outfitters.

Unique Trophy

When my brother shot his first hog about five years ago, he was ecstatic. I was, too. He doesn't hunt and this was a great chance for us to spend time together along with, hopefully, killing some hogs.

We went with Barry Estes of Alabama Hog Control. I've known Estes for years and his hog hunting (and trapping) outfitting is top-notch. My brother and I sweated our butts off, got into some chiggers and ticks, and found some hogs.

One of them, he shot through the eye. When we got to it I couldn't find a bullet hole. I finally noticed the eye was a mess. Great shot, dead boar, super memory.

The second one was an old boar Estes knew was in a low, rain-holding area. Not really a swamp but just a mucky, overgrown hardwood bottom. I smelled the boar first, then heard it snapping and popping because we were too close. We finally  got a glimpse of it but the shot wasn't good. In hindsight, having only a bolt-action .270 and .40 Glock with Hydra-Shok probably wasn't a good idea against a big, ticked-off boar.

But, yeah, memories. You get to do that when you're hog hunting. You also can do a Euro mount of the skull to sit on your desk or mantel. I have two of them and love them.

Hey, (Don't) Be Quiet

Hogs have a fantastic sense of smell and pretty good hearing, but their eyesight isn't great. If you get downwind of a hog or sounder and aren't  clomping along, you can slip in close for better shots.

Feral pigs give you a chance to teach kids about having fun, moving, looking at different things, stalking and deciding about shooting without it being "Shhhh, don't spook the deer." You might spook some hogs but if they want to be in that spot, chances are good they'll come back. Especially if it's a spincast feeder with corn (if you state allows baiting) or other attractant.

That doesn't mean your kids can be wild hellions. But they also don't have to be mute or statues for three or four hours like in a deer stand. They don't have to whisper "I need to pee, Daddy" and hope you don't sigh and act like the Hanson Buck is nearby.

They, and you, can have fun while learning about hunting, shooting and the good stuff in life — just talking, laughing and enjoying each other's company. Take your kids hog hunting.

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