Where to Find, Hunt Feral Pigs in Summer

Summer isn't the most fun time to get into the woods to hunt feral pigs, especially in the Southeast. But it's a time when these nasty critters can be patterned more easily.
Where to Find, Hunt Feral Pigs in Summer

If you plan to hunt feral hogs, predators, varmints or do other work in summer, be smart about drinking enough fluids and the apparel you wear to avoid sunburn, getting overheated or other problems. (Photo: Alan Clemons)

Summer certainly isn't the most fun time to get into the woods to hunt feral pigs, expecially in the Southeast, but it's a time when these nasty critters can be patterned more easily for better hunting opportunities.

Yep, you're going to sweat your guts out unless you're going in the early morning or evening. Even then it'll still be hot. Better yet, if legal in your state, is to go at night and use thermal or night vision optics. Both are incredibly fun to hunt with and definitely can put more pigs on the ground once you figure out how and where to use them most effectively.

Here are six things I try to think about when I'm hunting hogs in summer:

It's Hot, Hot, Hot

If you're not drinking water and staying hydrated properly then you're crazier than a barn rat. Summer's hot in the Southeast and it can sap your energy reserves quickly. A cold soda or beer is good, no doubt, but the sugars and booze aren't good for your body. Nor is it good to combine booze with guns and hunting, so just don't do it.

Pack a cooler with enough ice to keep things chilled and at least a gallon of water if you're going to be out for multiple hours. I like to keep Powerade bottles filled with water in my cooler with a couple of them already frozen. The ice will melt slowly, chill the other bottles, and they're a good size to drink every hour or so. I pound the water in summer anyway, but something like hunting hogs only makes me plan for more.

Speaking of Powerade, the "sports drinks" can be beneficial to help restore electrolytes. I'll maybe have one, though, or possibly two if I'm out all day. Too many of them give me the stomach rumblies. And then in the evening after a day of hunting, I'll gladly crack a cold beer.

Welcome to the Jungle

Feral pigs love to eat just about anything they can get their nasty mouths around or on, but if given a preference just like anything else they want tasty, soft and nutritious food.

The author's brother, Randy, got his first hog with a head shot while hunting with Barry Estes of Alabama Hog Control on a sweltering summer hunt. The heat and humidity were worth it, though. (Photo: Alan Clemons)

Acorns in autumn? Darn right. Planted pines in spring or early summer? They'll mosey down a row uprooting each sprout to eat it or just eat the root. Peanuts? Some poor farmers in southwest Georgia have to declare war on pigs and still lose some of their crops. Don't even mention corn in summer to some folks because they've seen part of their investment get destroyed as if aliens had landed in a rototiller UFO.

If you can get permission to hunt these kinds of agricultural fields or pine planting areas, load up with ammo and go. If not, and you're hardcore on hunting, then you may be headed to the shady jungle woods where it's hot, humid and you'll also deal with snakes, spiders spider webs and whatever else while stalking hogs.

That said, I love it. Yeah, it's tough to see. But you're looking for specific things — see the next block below — and if you have it on the land you hunt or can find it, then you can be in good shape. Remember feral pigs move to seek shade, water and mud because they're thin-skinned and can overheat, along with searching for the best food sources available. Find those.

Water Holes, Creeks and Mud Wallows

If you're a redneck good ol' boy you don't say "wallows" like some British snoot. You say wallers, as in, "We was looking down near Eddie's swamp for those old wallers where they like to lay up and found three of 'em in there."

Hogs have to keep their bodies cool in summer. To do this they seek shade, hang around creeks where they might find some shallow pools or muddy areas, or if they're fortunate they will be near a wet forest area where they can enjoy the best of all those things.

Several years ago at Great Southern Outdoors in Bullock County, Alabama, I began walking in the creek while searching for hogs. I was trying to avoid the giant banana spiders and their webs in the woods and keep a low profile for the adjacent fields. If I heard hogs grunting in the field then I could scramble up for a peek. Then I stumbled across one of their wallows, which was in a clay bank with water immediately nearby. They could get wet, wallow, get wet, wallow and just do this until it was time to go do something else.

I ran across another great wallow hunting east of Montgomery one time, where a small creek separated two giant corn fields. The hogs had turned the tractor road through the creek into their shady wallow. At least a dozen bolted out and got away before I could get a shot. Darned ol' pigs.

Get your maps or phone apps and search for creeks, then put on your snake boots or chaps and saddle up.

Chiggers, Snakes and Ticks

This is the Summer Southeast Axis of Evil and I hate every one of them with the firey passion of 10,000 suns combined with the big Hawai'i volcano.

Contrary to popular lore, chiggers do not embed themselves in your skin and you cannot "kill them" by covering the itchy spot with fingernail polish. Argue if you wish but it's a myth. The chigger bites your skin, secretes an enzyme and that's what itches like hell for weeks. They like to get around your armpits, belt, groin, ankles and neck — anywhere there's a tight spot of clothing, boots or belt — but that's not an absolute. Chiggers love tall grass and you won't know they're on you until it's too late, much later on when you're clawing at your skin. Before hunting or working use bug dope liberally, tuck in pants legs and maybe use duct tape around the top of your boots, and shower as quickly as possible when you are done.

Ticks transmit diseases. Horrid things. They may be as as small as tiny seed ticks you miss when on a post-hunt search in front of the mirror or bigger ones that are easily noticeable. Be sure to check behind and in your ears, hair, underarms, manly areas and pretty much all over. I've been bitten a few times in the last five years and found two of the little bastages on my upper arm in clear view. Another was on my hip. Liberal bug dope and maybe GameHide ElimiTick apparel can help.

Snakes, well, you're just going to have to keep your head on a swivel and be prepared. I'd recommend carrying the Taurus Judge loaded with .410 ammo to blow off the heads of any venomous serpents. The Judge isn't a lightweight but I'd rather have it and kill a snake than bitch about it being heavy and not take it. You tote a treestand in autumn; carry the Judge in summer.

Rifle, Shotgun or Wheelgun

I've hunted hogs with all three and enjoy shotguns, rifles and wheelguns, although I'll submit that my .44 Mag revolver topped with a Burris scope is pretty damned exciting for pig hunting. Get a good monopod or your favorite shooting stick and practice.

Memories are fun for summer hog hunting but toting out a head for a skull mount definitely puts a little extra pep in your step. (Photo: Alan Clemons)

With the rifle I'd opt for something in .308 or maybe .338, although I've hunted with everything from .22 Mag to .223 and 224 Valkyrie in Texas up to .30-06. When a shot is made in the correct place, pigs will die. The .22 Mag put in the ear will topple them.

A few summers ago my brother and I hunted with Barry Estes, who traps and hunts hogs for a living, for some evening stalking before our nighttime thermal hunt. My brother killed his first feral pig with Estes's .243 rifle and hit another, which got away from us. The latter helped solidify my belief in carrying something with more thump and faster ammo cycling. I'm not a caliber snob. I like shooting anything. But if I have the chance to use an AR-style semi-auto rifle and 30-round magazine then I'm your huckleberry

As for shotguns, give me a 1-ounce slug and let's rock 'n roll. Despite the punch to the shoulder that giant 1-ounce lead can put a hurt on pigs. I'd stick with 12-gauge, too. There's a push to use 20-gauge for turkeys and such, I guess for something different or to be sporting, but when it comes to pigs I'm not sporting. I want to kill with impunity. They're bad critters.

Bow and Crossbow

OK, if you want sporting hunting then this is it. You'll get one shot and you better make it count, and also you better know where to shoot.

You can't shoot a feral pig in its ugly head because its thick skull probably will deflect the arrow. Also, it'll just get pissed off about that. You can't shoot it in the shoulder or just behind the shoulder, either, like if you're deer hunting. There's a thick plate of cartilage on each shoulder protecting the heart and lungs; the former is lower in the chest between its stubby legs and the lungs are more forward toward its ugly head.

So, shooting it in the chest like on a backyard target or with a whitetail means it's going to get pissed off, run away possibly with your arrow, not bleed much and leave you frustrated. Yes, you'll pat yourself on the back for making a great shot as Porky or Petunia scrambles off with your arrow or spurting blood. Then after you start blood trailing and finally say, "What the hell, I made a good shot on ..." you'll realize your mistake.

I know. I did that in south Florida a few years ago on a gigantinormous pig. Made a great downwind stalk, put my pin on the spot and off it went with my arrow. We found half the arrow bitten off, the blood trail stopped and I was supremely ticked off.

Whether with a bow or crossbow, have quality equipment, razor-sharp broadheads and shoot lower than normal. Or, if you get a front-quarter shot, put it just inside the shouder in the chest to try to clip the lungs or heart. Expandable broadheads or big 3- or 4-blade heads work best. Crossbows knock the crap out of them and are fun to hunt with, too. I'm looking forward to getting my Prime bow and TenPoint crossbow lined out for some summer fun.


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