It’s been my experience that feral hogs are equally creatures of pattern and very mobile. Therefore, as hunters, we can easily acquire advantage of this knowledge in two ways. For starters, feral hogs are typically both Diurnal (dawn and dusk) and Nocturnal (nighttime) feeders they usually are likely to want to bed down for the duration of the working day should the temperature is warm but, they will feed through the working day in the event the climate is cold. As a result, utilizing this information of their practices, we could elect to hunt them possibly from tree stands and floor blinds or, we can decide to make use of a approach known as Spot & Stalk.
So, initial let’s talk about looking from a tree stand or floor blind since this is the most popular process. Now, the to start with thing to know about finding a good location to place your stand or blind is that feral hogs choose to mattress in THICK cover and I do mean THICK! In fact, the most harrowing texas hog hunts experience I have ever had occurred in such cover. You see, my buddy and I were looking on the private island located off of the coast of Georgia (where I run my guided bow hunting trips) our initial year there and the honest truth of the matter was that we knew about as much about pig looking as we did about the island. As a result, Tim was a few yards ahead of me as we were wading through a Palmetto thicket from Hell that was chest high and so dense, we had to hold our bows over our heads and, when I looked down, I literally could not see my boots! Consequently, feeling a little frustrated, I stopped and identified as to Tim and informed him that we were NEVER going to find pigs in such thick cover and that I felt like we needed to look elsewhere. So, after discussing the matter for a few moments, I took one step forward and suddenly, two of the biggest pigs I have ever seen jumped up on both side of me not even two feet away and proceeded to barrel though those palmettos straight toward Tim so fast that I could not have shot one even if I had a handgun instead of a bow! Since then, I have had several other similar experiences looking them in thick cover and at one time, I even had a pig stalk me instead of the other way around! Therefore, when looking for a place to set up a tree stand or ground blind, you to start with need to locate heavy bedding cover and then locate the trails that lead into and out of it. Then, locate any food sources adjacent to or nearby to those entrances and exits and set up near the one that appears to get most heavily used. Now, normally, I would suggest that you locate and hunt near each hard and soft mast crops such White Oak acorns and Muscadines instead near the bedding areas but, feral hogs have such a varied diet (see my other article on “Feral Hog Food Sources”) and they are so hyper-mobile that they’ll not reliably return to the same food source day after working day as long as there is plenty of food for them to forage elsewhere. Another strategy is to follow those trails into the heavy cover (you sometimes have to crawl on your hands and knees) until you encounter shallow depressions (pig beds) dug into the floor or, what we call a “Striking Post” which is a tree that a large boar will use his tusks on to gouge out a large depression in the side of the tree and then rub his body against it to mark his territory and then you set up your tree stand in that area.
The other process for searching feral hogs (and my personal favorite) is to employ a way referred to as Place & Stalk. With this technique, you wait until the pigs have left their beds and entered the open woods in search of food (early in the morning, late in the evening, and all over the night during the heat months and around 10 O’clock to 6 O’clock for the duration of the winter months). Then, being familiar with the terrain, you walk very slowly with an erratic pattern to your footsteps and then, you stop, watch, and listen for a few minutes about every ten to twenty yards. In addition, always be certain that you have some sort of cover between you and the area you are scouting so that if you do see a pig or group of pigs, you will not be exposed in the open and hence, unable to move. Consequently, I try to move from tree to tree when I am searching. Plus, it is a good idea to carry a compact pair of binoculars with you such as the Steiner Predator Pro 8 x 25mm or 10 x 25mm since they enable you to scan at long ranges and are specially designed to cause game animals to stand out against the background foliage. Then, once I actually place a hog or group of hogs, I immediately fall into stealth mode. By this, I mean that my mind is suddenly focused on nothing but the pigs, the amount of and type of cover between me and them, and the direction of the wind. Then, to start with, I watch them for a while to determine if they are feeding in a relatively stationary position or are they moving and if so, in which direction. Then, based upon that information, I start planning my stalk. Now obviously, due to a pig’s phenomenal sense of smell, you initially need to approach from downwind. Second, you need to keep some sort of cover between you and the pigs at all times and where the cover is low, you need to crouch or even crawl on your hands and knees. But, where there are trees, you can walk upright as long as you walk SLOW and make your footsteps erratic. Then, once you are within range, draw your bow or aim your rifle or handgun and let ’em have it!