Hog Problems – Think About This Before You Start Shooting
July 6, 2015
Over the years since I started paying close attention to feral hogs, I’ve seen folks refer to “hog problems” as anything from a few transient animals to sounders upon sounders that have moved in and started wholesale devastation of a piece of ground. Likewise, I’ve seen “hog control” responses ranging from sniping individual animals with a .22 caliber rifle to aerial slaughter.
As you might expect, the success of these efforts varies as widely as the methods. What isn’t as variable, though, is the reality that shooting at hogs is seldom the most efficient or effective method of managing a “problem”. Consistent pressure can certainly move the animals away from an area… sometimes even permanently… but this generally means that they’ll become someone else’s problem.
If you talk to a lot of the folks who shoot hogs in a self-described effort to “control” the population, you’ll find that many of them are really just sport hunting. They often shoot selectively, stop when they have killed a couple of animals, and even avoid killing “wet” sows (still nursing) and piglets. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but if the real end game is control or eradication, sport hunting tactics and ethics aren’t going to get the job done.
What will work, particularly in cases where there is a real problem, is trapping. I’ve written about this a time or two in the past, but I was reading an article this weekend that really brought it home again. It’s a good piece, if you’re interested in the topic.
Here’s a snippet that sort of summarizes the piece:
For instance, Fairhead (Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Wild Hog Project Coordinator) said a property owner shouldn’t immediately rush in to shoot hogs when they’re first discovered. Instead, he said game cameras should be installed to locate the location of an entire sounder and patterns of travel routes as part of a methodical plan.
Conditioning hogs to enter a trap is recommended, he said. A trap with a remote monitored gate is critical for success and requires patience and persistence.
“Trap first, shoot second,” Fairhead said. That will also help reduce the number of trap-shy hogs on the landscape.
The idea of using a carefully planned and executed approach to pattern, condition, and then capture entire sounders is not new, of course. However, as the article points out, the approach takes time and patience, as well as a bit of skill. Fortunately, the skills and techniques are not difficult to learn.
The professionals over at JagerPro offer good information on their website, and they also speak at various conferences. Led by Rod Pinkston, the organization is made up of US Army veterans, and they leverage military training, discipline, and tactics to present a methodical and effective hog control strategy. They offer training as well, both at their site in Georgia, and at locations around the country. For anyone who is seriously interested in learning to manage feral hogs, this is a good way to go.
I’m not suggesting that there’s no place for sport hunting, by the way. While I don’t think sport hunters can kill enough hogs to seriously manage population densities, I do think that pressure from hunters can (sometimes) keep the populations from concentrating in a single area. Of course, I also feel like total eradication is neither realistic nor necessary. Overpopulation of any species, native or non-native, is a danger to the environment, but I just have a hard time believing that feral hogs represent a real environmental catastrophe (except in particularly sensitive habitats, of course).