What Makes a Wild Boar a Trophy?

Antlers, horns and skulls are scorable and earn places in recognized record books. What makes a wild boar a trophy?

What Makes a Wild Boar a Trophy?

Tusks get the attention of hunters, but what makes a wild boar a trophy? (Photo: Alan Clemons)

What makes a wild boar a trophy?

Any game animal, or non-game and nusiance animal as wild pigs often are classified, can be a trophy depending on the hunter. It's subjective, of course, for myriad reasons.

I recently had a friend whip out his phone to show me a photo of a deer one of his relatives had killed. I never know what to expect with these photos. But I often hear what he said when the image popped up.

"It's not a trophy, but ..."

Arrahhhgggghhh. I can't stand that. I know it happens but it chaps my chops.

"Man, that doesn't matter. That's a great buck. Very nice!"

"It's his biggest buck yet, so ..."

I just offered congratulations again and said it was a fine buck. It was. That it was the guy's biggest should've been enough to not degrade it with "it's not a trophy, but ...". For some hunters, the fact it was a successful, ethical kill would be enough. But we all know that antlers, horns and skulls — for some animals such as bears and cougars — scoring on the Boone and Crocket, Pope and Young or Buckmasters systems will come into play.

So be it. I have no problem with that. Scoring is cool and fun. Sometimes it gets controversial, like with the Mitch Rompola and Johnny King whitetails. Some get into scoring far deeper than other hunters. Others ignore it completely. Variety is the spice of life.

But in those three organizations' scoring systems there are no entries for feral boars. One of the most invasive and pursued animals in the nation isn't included. I don't have an issue with that, either, since coming up with a minimum scoring system might be challenging. Maybe it wouldn't, though. I don't know.

Feral hogs have what we commonly call tusks, which are oversized and long canine teeth. Sows and boars have them, and young pigs start growing them within a year of birth. Boars grow bigger tusks although occasionally a sow will have some nice ones that make a hunter take notice. But primarily the boars have the sharp, triangular tusks they use for rooting and fighting.

The tusks grow deeper into the lower jaw. What we see above the gumline is just a portion of the entire tooth. As they grow older, the tusks grow and are filed away by gnashing against each other. This keeps them sharp. Unless injured or broken, it also ensures they have them their entire life.

A hunter's first boar is a trophy, no doubt. I was as happy as could be when my brother shot his first one in 2015. It wasn't gigantic and didn't have monster tusks. But it was his first and he dropped it like a sack of bricks. Definitely a big celebration moment. And a couple of years ago in west Texas I was hunting with Brooks Hansen of Camp Chef when he dropped his first with a Savage Predator rifle and Federal ammo. Times like those make lifetime memories.

If you've hunted long enough or have seen taxidermy work of big boars, no doubt you've run across a few that make you say, "Whoa!" Some taxidermists will pull the tusks out a bit to make them look longer, ensuring a happier customer. Sometimes that's unnecessary, though, because they're already in that "Whoa!" category.

But what does it take to get into that category? Four or five inches above the gumline? More than that? A curl?

I'd argue the latter definitely would be in the trophy category. Over the years I've seen only a few boars, mounted in hunting lodges, with a bit of curl on them. They were head-turners. Others talked about in camps are like unicorns, the smart old boar that hides in the thickest, nastiest swamp and comes out only at night or high-tails it when anyone is around.

Whether it's a first one or a giant, maybe a trophy category isn't needed at all.


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