Stalking wild hogs
I set up several stands last year with deer and hogs in mind. The deer stands didn’t turn out as productive as I would have liked and the hog stands turned into bird-watching stations. One stand was set up because it looked like a barnyard there was so much hog sign around it. I don’t know if all the human activity from setting the stand up and cutting shooting lanes ran them off or they left for a better food source, but as soon as I set the stand up, the hogs disappeared.
I spent many hours during January, February and March scouting for turkeys and learning my way around unfamiliar parts of the club I joined last year. Scouting for turkeys was priority one, but I was looking for new places to hang stands as well. One spot I found looked promising for hogs, so I signed out the area and hung a stand. I wasn’t planning on hunting it until after turkey season, but I wanted to get as much of the hard labor as I could out of the way while the weather was still cool. My son, Wesley, helped me put up the ladder stand and while we were there, commented several times on being able to smell hogs any time the wind blew from the direction of a nearby cutover.
Turkey season came and went and I was ready to start hog hunting. Club rules don’t allow any type of baiting for hogs in the month before and the month of turkey season so we don’t get a ticket for turkey hunting over bait. The first Saturday after turkey season was over however, I was there bright and early with everything I could think of that a hog might like to eat.
I have shot two small hogs in my life, both while turkey hunting, so I am in the early learning stages of this new hobby. Everything I know about hunting hogs is from reading on the Internet and talking to people who have killed more than two pigs so anything I try is as much of an experiment as it is anything.
I had a feeder already at the stand as I wanted all the wildlife to get used to both the feeder and the ladder stand being there before I started using either. That Saturday I filled the feeder, put the battery in and set the timers for the feeder to go off two hours after daybreak and two hours before sunset. Using a set of posthole diggers I dug down until water started filling the hole and poured corn in the hole which I then covered back up with dirt. I added a homemade gravity feeder filled with shelled corn as well. A salt block and a fifty pound bag of corn on the cob scattered around the feeding area and I was ready to feed some pigs.
Two days later the Wateree river flooded the entire swamp and my stand was under water. That is one of the dangers of belonging to a club that consists entirely of flood plains. The first day I rode to the club to see how much water there was, you could ride about half way to the river, a distance of roughly three quarters of a mile. When I came back two days later, the water was still rising and was within sight of the main gate at the highway. It is about two miles from the highway to the river at that point and there were great blue herons wading in the main road at the highway so I turned around and went home.
Two weeks later the river was back inside its banks and I could get to my stand to check on the damage. I was expecting the feeder to be ruined and all the corn to be gone so it was a pleasant surprise to find the feeder to be working and hog tracks everywhere. They dug up the corn I had buried and turned that spot into a big wallow. The only thing gone was the cob corn and the salt block. I assume the salt block melted as I can’t imagine the current being strong enough to wash away a 50-pound block of minerals, and I don’t guess it would have floated off. I added a little bit of corn to the gravity feeder, threw a bag of cob corn into the wallow and snuck back out, visions of herds of pork chops filling my freezer.
My daughter, Rachel, had such a good time turkey hunting that she wanted to try her hand at hogs as well so I gave her a call to let her know that the water had finally receded and that the hogs were using the stand only to find out she was sick. I hated to do it to her, but I learned from last year that just because the hogs were there today didn’t mean they were going to stick around so I made plans to hunt the next afternoon by myself.
I don’t have any game cameras, so I didn’t know if the hogs were coming during daylight hours or after dark, but it didn’t really matter as I was going when I had the chance and hope for the best. I got there about three hours before dark going on the assumption that hogs are like deer in that they move the most in the low light hours of daybreak and sunset. Ten minutes after I got in the stand I heard what I am pretty sure were several hogs squealing somewhere off in the distance. Man, talk about getting my hopes up.
Three hours later it was dark. I heard a deer blow several times. I heard a wood duck and quail calling. I saw doves, squirrels and cardinals in the corn piles. I got a glimpse of either a hawk or an owl flitting thru the trees. I watched a pileated woodpecker hammer a nearby dead tree but other than the squeals when I first got there, I never saw or heard the first thing to make me believe there was a pig within 10 miles of where I was.
When it got dark enough that I was sure nothing was coming, I climbed down and walked over to the feeders to look for a sign. The gravity feeder was empty and there was a 20-foot circle around it where the ground had been rooted up. The cob corn hadn’t been touched but the shelled corn from the mechanical feeder was eaten as well. They had been there in the last 24 hours and fed well, so as soon as I can get another day off either me alone or with Rachel will be back waiting to see if we can’t catch them there in the daylight.
Wes Murphy can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org