How to Spot and Stalk Wild Pigs
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You know, it seems like my whole life, people have been fussing at me for sneaking up on them. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time someone has fussed at for it, I would be very rich man! However, even though I honestly don’t mean to do it to them, it seems like even when I intentionally make noise, they still don’t hear me! Then, when they finally turn around and suddenly see me there, they inevitably accuse me of sneaking up on them and scaring them half to death! So, while this is not a particularly useful social skill, it is an extremely useful pig hunting skill and thus, the Spot & Stalk method of bow hunting for feral pigs has become my favorite method of all!!!
But, in order to be successful at this type of pig hunting, you need two things: the right gear and the knowledge of how to use it. So, first, let’s explore what I feel is the right gear. Now, while it is true that a pig’s eyesight it not very acute, their sense of hearing is and their sense of smell is nothing short of legendary! Therefore, first and foremost, both your clothing and your gear must be QUIET! Second, I find that I am almost always hunting pigs in thick forest and/or thick cover where there are deep shadows for them (and me) to hide in. Thus, I tend to prefer dark colored camouflage patterns like Mossy Oak New Break Up but, there are some other patterns I like as well. In addition, since I am so often traveling through THICK cover, I prefer a smooth, tough, fabric as opposed to a 3D suite or a Ghillie Suite. Third, both you and your gear absolutely must be scent free! To accomplish this, I start by showering with human scent eliminator soap and shampoo. Then, all of my camouflage clothing is lined with a layer of activated charcoal except for my gloves and my face mask. Therefore, I also use the human scent eliminator spray that comes in the plastic bottle to spray all of my exposed skin and every bit of my gear (including my bow, my quiver and arrows, my knife, my canteen, ect.) and I am not the least bit stingy with it. Then, once I am completely scent free, then I am ready to go pig hunting!
However, simply blundering through the woods doing your best Neanderthal Man impression is not going to lead you to pigs. Instead, they will hear you coming and fade into heavy cover long before you are even aware of their presence. Consequently, you first need to learn how to move correctly before facing this ultra-wary adversary afoot. For instance, when most humans are traveling through the woods, they are on their way from location A to location B and thus, they tend to walk with a very regular gait that does not sound like any four-legged animal in existence. Consequently, the first concept that you must master is to slow down and, I don’t mean just walk slower! In fact, you need to learn to change the entire way you walk. For instance, instead of walking with a regular cadence over a long distance, you need to learn to walk with an irregular cadence over short distances. Also, instead of walking in a straight line, walk from cover to cover or tree to tree and then, once there, become absolutely still and listen to the sounds around you for a while. If you don’t hear any pigs close by, try using your binoculars to glass the woods around you. Only then, after you are absolutely certain you don’t hear or see any signs of pigs, do you move on to the next position which should be between ten and twenty yards away (I warned you that you need to move slow!)
In addition, you can look all day long in the wrong locations and not a single sign of a single pig anywhere. Thus, unless you just want to spend the day wandering around in the woods looking at the trees, there are certain places you need to look for pigs. In fact, just like deer, pigs need three things in fairly close proximity in order for them to decide that particular area is a good place to live and those three things are shelter, water, and food. So, whenever I am scouting totally new territory, I first like to locate the water sources and then find where the animals are accessing it because they will access it somewhere. Then, I start looking for cover thick enough to makes pigs feel safe when they decide to bed down and, when it comes to pig cover, my motto is “if I can’t walk through it, then there are probably pigs bedded in it”. Thus, I then start scouting the edge of this cover in order to find the tails that lead into it. However, be aware that when you are scouting for these trails, they often spit up into numerous, less traveled, tails near the edge of the cover and only converge into one main trail as you get a little deeper in. Therefore, the main trails can be a little hard to find sometimes but, once you have done so, setting up in the maze of more lightly traveled trails near the main trail puts you in an excellent position to move in on pigs if you hear them coming.
Click here to find the best predator call for hunting.
Consequently, once I have scouted the area well enough to have located the bedding area and the water source/sources, then I start scouting the terrain around the bedding area for any pigs that might be out feeding and, I check different food sources at different times of year (see my article on “Feral Hog Food Sources” on this web site). Now, of course, the trick here is to spot the hogs before they spot you and then plan your approach accordingly. That’s where a good pair of 8 x 25mm or 10 x 25mm compact binoculars comes in handy. Then, once you have spotted either a lone pig or a Sounder then, in order to approach it/them, what you do is first note what direction the wind is blowing and plan your approach from downwind even you are supposedly scent free. Then, you move very slowly from cover to cover. Sometimes, that cover is a bush and sometimes it’s a tree but, either way, you always pause after reaching cover. Then, use that pause to plan your approach to the next piece of cover. However, once you start your stalk, it is it extremely important that you not take your eyes off of the pigs any more than absolutely necessary so that you can freeze if you think that one of them might have spotted you. The reason for this is that I have been caught out in the wide open with not a stitch of cover to be found anywhere and not been seen simply by standing absolutely still. However, be aware that this technique works much better if you can manage to stay in some sort of shadow at all times. In addition, it helps to wear boots that are well broken in and to learn to step by placing the toe of your boot to the ground first instead of the heel because you sound less like a human that way. Last, another trick that I have employed in certain situations is to get down on my hands and knees and crawl. This has the advantage of keeping your profile below any background vegetation and, it makes you look less like a human and more like a pig.
So, if you will take the time to learn and practice the skills I have mentioned above, I believe that you will find that “Spot & Stalk” pig hunting is not only extremely challenging, it is extremely rewarding as well because it provides you with the challenge of pitting your both your wits and your skill as a predator against one of the smartest creatures in the animal kingdom. Thus, when you actually get within bow range of them without them being aware of your presence and then, draw your bow and make the perfect shot, you truly do feel as if you are one of the world’s apex predators.
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