Looking to escape the doldrums of winter? Plan a hog hunt!
By Jace Bauserman
Old Man Winter is relinquishing his grasp. Thank God! One can only take so much snow, wind and ice. Sure, daydreaming about spring hunt vigils gets me by, but only for so long. By mid-March, most of us ready for a stick-and-string adventure. I know many of you are as well.
Our options? A Floridian Osceola sojourn or a Texas exotic excursion will be in the cards for some. If this is you, great! Enjoy your winter-time escape. If not, it’s time to poke some pork boys and girls.
A wild hog hunt makes a great March getaway, and because populations are on the rise in states like Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, California and Louisiana, to name a few, planning your date with a wild hog couldn’t be easier.
Of course, you can go the public-land route. Just be sure, before you burn up the blacktop, to check state game and fish regulations in the locale you plan to hunt. Baiting, which is often a key-ingredient to hog hunting is often legal on private land but prohibited on public land. Oklahoma is a shining example of this. Drop all the corn and here-piggy-piggy attractants you want on private ground, but on public land, this practice is strictly taboo.
Another consideration of the public-land hog-goer should be access. Many hog-rich states offer limited public-land dirt. Know before you go. Others, like Alabama, have multiple wildlife management areas (WMAs) that support hog hunting. Alabama is also home to the always-open-to-hog hunters Bankhead National Forest. Though certain WMAs inside the forest have boundary restrictions, plenty of to-be-had swine action can be found. Visit outdooralabama.com and search Feral Hog Hunting in Alabama for more specific info.
Georgia also has a rising hog population and multiple WMAs like: Hannahatchee Creek, Richmond Hill, Oaky Woods, Flint River, Tuckahoe and Ossabaw Island that offer open acres and solid feral hog populations.
If you’re wanting to stay the DIY route, but are hoping to gain access to private land, get social. I’ve lined up more than one hog adventure by trolling my list of social media friends, doing some research and simply reaching out. Remember, if you go this route, have something to offer you’re new found friend in return. These types of hunts are take-and-give hunts. Through social media I’ve gained access to a pair of Lone Star State leases. In return, my Texas buddies travel north each year and hunt Merriam turkeys.
The benefit of private land hog-hunting is, of course, private access. Most private-land hog locales have running feeders and the guys and gals hunting these tracts have the inside scoop on the haunts and habits of resident swine.
Shell Out Some Coin
The thought of a guided hunt scares a lot of bowhunters. The worries of cost, success rates and the like run rampant in the brain. And while many of today’s guided hunts require the taking out of a second mortgage, hog hunts are different.
Typically, for less than 10 Benjamin Franklins, you can set up a great hog hunt with a reputable outfitter. The key to finding a five-star hog outfitter is research. There are throngs of fly-by-night operations out there. Be on alert. Many of these so-called outfitters run small 100-acre or less high-fence leases, and often don’t share this information until you arrive. Others simply run too many hunters, and hog sightings at feeders are few and far between. Then there are those that cater specifically to the rifle crowd. This is fine, I like to run a Barnes TSX through a pig if given the chance, but if you’re mission is to bowhunt, you need to make sure the outfitter can accommodate your needs.
Beware of adds on Craigslist and Facebook. A solid hog outfitter will have a working website, answer his/her phone or return your call if they’re in the field with clients. A hog outfitter worth his or her salt will also be able to provide you with a list of references and have some reviews posted on their website. Do yourself a favor and ask lots of questions. I used to worry about being a pest, but not anymore. Remember, it’s your hard-earned cash you’re dropping, and if they want your business and want you to become a return customer, they will go above-and-beyond in the “provide answers” department.
Though I travel to hunt a lot, it still gives me anxiety. It’s just the way I’m wired. I worry about vehicle breakdowns and the list goes on. The one thing I don’t worry about is that my bow and accessories will arrive, whether I drive or fly, safely intact.
Lakewood’s Double 45-inch Single Bow Case has been my go-to travel partner for the past few years, and it has yet to disappoint. The case has accompanied me across the United States and to Canada. I love its Drop-In design and quick zippered access. I also love the cases spacious nature. I can easily fit hunting clothes and the like in the case along with my bow, arrows and other needed accessories. The included nylon handle and shoulder strap makes toting the 16-pound 18-ounce case a breeze. Another option, if you happen to be traveling with a partner or simply want to bring a back-up bow (I do this a lot) is Lakewood’s new-for-2019 46-inch Double Bow Case. The same can be said for the Single and Double Scoped Rifle cases if you’re taking up travel with slightly louder firepower. Each are available at retailers nationwide or online at lakewoodproducts.com