August 1st marked the opening of night hunting for feral hogs in North Carolina. Many in North Carolina have never run across a feral hog. Hogs are smart compared to other animals, they are observant, and when cornered, they fight.
Just a few years ago I was trying to set up a dog hunt for wild boar in the mountains near the Tennessee state line. After talking to several hunting clubs, guides, and groups, most said they would not go after hogs on purpose. Finally, one person who lived in Tennessee but had a guide license in North Carolina agreed to take me. I asked him why so many people were skittish about sending their canines after a pig and what he responded with was enlightening.
“The hogs can’t climb trees like bear. They turn and fight.” They are just too dangerous was how the response was parlayed to me. I asked him why he agreed and he told me that it pays well when taking someone out, and he was accustomed to providing care to his dogs. Care was later explained to me from a brief encounter his dogs had the year before. After striking a track, the dogs surrounded a 450 pound hog. The hog proceeded to gut each and every dog in the pack. The tusks tore through the flesh and left them the on the ground for dead. He quickly got back to his truck and grabbed a first aid kit. He then would push the insides back in and sew the bellies back up. The hog got away.
I ended up not being able to make the hunt do to some circumstances with the gentleman’s personal life. But I still longed to experience a hog hunt.
Last weekend I was invited to hunt a cypress swamp near South Carolina for feral hogs. I did not have much notice, but I did not need much either. This would be a hog hunt with the bow from stands. I wondered just how many I would see.
I arrived at the camp site just after 5:30pm. Feeders were set up in multiple locations to go off at 7:00pm. This land is a deer hunting club once gun season comes in, and the owners wanted the hogs gone. According to my host, the hogs would eat all the corn and leave nothing for the deer.
The night before I shot a few arrows to check my sight and make sure I was comfortable. I own a wild boar 3d archer target, so I visualized the ‘kill’ zone and started at 40 yards. I was told the average shot would run around 15 yards. After shooting 40 and feeling good, I moved up to 30 yards, then 20 yards. It was a good practice session and I felt good about the vital area. I also taped a small picture that showed where the vitals were on a hog to the lower limb of my bow. This was primarily to remind me that the vitals sit differently in a hog than a deer.
My host shot several arrows while I changed to my camo. Then around 6:00pm we headed out. It was hot and muggy with the temps in the mid 90’s. I was worried about scent control as I knew pigs had a superior sense of smell. I was given a bag that had some hog attractant to lie at my feet in the stand to use as a cover scent. I was also told the main scent I had to worry about was my boots. I was wearing rubber boots, known to not carry odors. But for pigs, they can even pick those out.
The feeder went off at 7:00 pm and I remained alert. After another 30 minutes, I noticed something to my left in the wood line. It was brown and pulsating. After studying it for a few seconds I could tell it was a hog. The pulsating was the hog taking deep sniffs of the ground where I had come into the stand. Three more followed him and they were overly cautious. As they approached the clearing where the feeder was they turned away.
They continued around the clearing and I could finally see their full bodies about 25 yards away. A larger black boar was closest and leading the group. The brown one, slightly smaller, stayed to its left and would step forward in stride with the black one. I continued to study their movement. The way they were moving side by side, I would not have a clean shot if the arrow were to make a pass-thru.
So, what if I made the shot where the pass-thru, if there was one, would hit both in the vitals. It could be done. The closer hog was slightly taller. I would need to aim at the top portion of the lungs on the black one, and then if the arrow passed through then it should hit the brown pig near the lower lungs and heart.
The opportunity presented itself.
I released the arrow with its fixed blade broadhead. I watched it fly as the fletching stopped short in the front hog. The whole group took off, much faster than you would expect from a robust round animal with short legs. I texted that one was down even though I was trying for the double shot.
After sitting for another 30 minutes I headed down the stand and to where I shot the pig. I followed a nice blood trail for about 10 yards and then it split. Two different directions. Hmmm. I followed the one on the left first. Another 10 yards and I found the brown one on the ground, heart exploded. He was the back pig. I had hit both.
I backtracked and followed the other trail. 15 yards away in a briar thick lay the black one. Blood bubbled around the location where the top of the lungs would be located.
I had taken a double with one arrow on my first hog hunt.
We went on to hunt the remainder of the weekend. I easily saw pigs out number deer 5 to 1. The land was infested with them. And up to this point I had never seen a wild hog. But I have seen summer sausage.