Wild hogs are one of the most destructive environmental pests in the world, competing with a lot of other animal’s ecological niches while being clever enough to avoid most threats. They’re perfectly legal to hunt, for this reason, and also happen to provide you with ample game meat for your troubles. Hogs use their intelligence to survive, and you’ll need practice and care if you want to hunt your fair share of the beasts.
Hog hunting in the day is more doable in cooler climates, and their schedules will depend on nearby human activity. Their most destructive behaviors – rooting, bark stripping, and wallowing – also give their presence away, being easy to trace. Bait them into complacency and you’ll have wild hogs readily accessible whenever you please.
Hog hunting isn’t really something tied to specific times or locations, but some aspects are within your control. Make the most of what you have while minimizing your presence.
Cooler Climates Work Best (Most of the Time)
Wild hogs actually have a lot in common with humans, and as far as animals go prove to be very clever – to the point of being underestimated quite often. One of the main points of overlap is their rugged adaptability seen with their schedules.
In warmer regions, hogs will be liable for more activity during the night time periods. Hogs have poor internal temperature regulation and are susceptible to heat stress. In these times they can be found in nests, burrows, or other shaded regions waiting for the heat to die out.
Cooler climates equate to a better window of activity during the day. Daylight hunting is far easier in these temperatures and might be more comfortable for hunters as well. Rainfall also flushes wild hogs out due to the temperature decrease, also making it easier for them to root and wallow thanks to the softened soil.
A region being too cold is also great for hunting – less heat strain coupled with food scarcity will lead to more wild hog scavenging forays. Swine are known to withstand the cold well, and their body’s dark hues will stand out sharply against the white snow.
All that said, warm areas do have certain tracking advantages. If you know of any watering holes near wild hog hunting grounds, a few will likely be meandering there. The same logic applies to regions with generous quantities of damp mud.
While cold regions encourage more general activity from feral hogs, warmer ones reduce their wandering area to smaller, more manageable, and easy to observe spots. Both have their own sets of advantages, but either way works well during the day regardless.
Schedules Depend on Human Activity in the Area
The presence of human activity has a distinct effect on wild hog schedules. More people operating in closer proximities renders wild hog communities nocturnal out of necessity. The opposite is the case in areas devoid or limited in humans, such as in off grid homes or hideaway homesteads.
Wild hogs are capable of tracking schedules – despite their bulk, tusks, and bites that can crush bone, the most effective tool swine have for survival are their sharp minds. If you or other potential predators get spotted often, they will adjust their behavior accordingly to avoid that.
Be discrete while observing them, and leverage your advantages against their shortcomings. Wild hogs have very acute hearing, and a snapping twig, skidding rock, or crunching leaf will spook them and give you away. Look for a safe perch and wait to minimize movement needed.
They also have an amazing sense of smell, proving superior to deer. Human traps are ineffective most of the time because they can smell our scent on the traps. Outside of the direst living conditions, hogs will leave food on traps untouched due to the distinct odor.
This can be somewhat mitigated by odorless soaps and shampoos before a hunt. These help remove the presence of the bacteria responsible for our distinct musk. This could be followed up by introducing more natural scents like dirt and leaves to your body and clothing. Hunting hogs in the day will likely have you sweating more, further incentivizing static observation in cool areas.
Splurging on trail cameras could make for a nice choice as well. Their positions keep them far away from most animal communities, and nothing about them is threatening enough to warrant changes in their behavior pattern. Trail cameras can easily map out animal movement patterns without compromising them, and you can manage the feeds safely from the comfort of your home.
Rooting Marks in Greenery
Wild hogs are infamous for their rooting behavior, which can best be thought of as systematic digging for food. Rooting channels can sometimes go as deep as three feet, causing haphazard soil erosion issues few other animals can replicate.
Rooting is known to cause sedimentation as well. Paired with erosion, this greatly adds to an area’s flood vulnerability. Another cause for concern is the encouragement of algae blooms, which detrimentally affect nearby plants and animals dependent on certain bodies of water.
Rooting is also used by wild hogs to cool down using the dislodged soil and foliage. It also provides them with key materials to build their nests. These endeavors take some time, but most hogs will still be alert enough to respond to potential stimuli in their environment.
Wallowing Ditches in Shallows
Wild hogs, like other swine, have poor thermoregulation. They can’t sweat and can barely pant, necessitating measures like rooting and wallowing. It’s usually done in damp mud, and in some instances, urine is involved – presumably as a scent marking measure.
This type of behavior is also quite damaging to the environment. Wallowing is often not only to cool down but to remove parasites and bacteria from their bodies. These pollutants get reintroduced to that area and may make their way into toxifying nearby channels of water, causing similar damages that their practice of rooting would.
Tracking hog wallow areas should be straightforward. Wild hogs can easily reach over a hundred kilograms in weight, with three hundred kilo hogs and above being rare but very much possible. The indents they’d leave in the mud will be very obvious, and their rotund shape is very distinct when compared to other animals in the area.
Fresh Tracks, Droppings, and Tree Markings
Hog tracks are notably different from deer tracks, being wider and rounder. They’re also heavier than deer, which leads to a somewhat negligible difference in the depth of their tracks. This is more apparent in snow than in greenery.
Their droppings are also distinct. Wild hog droppings are tubular and irregularly shaped, with a soft texture and consistency. Deer droppings are pellet-like and dense.
Hogs also use trees in their daily lives, either to sharpen their tusks or rub their backs. The latter is usually done after a wallowing session. Mud smears at rawer bark give away that occurrence and hint at hogs in the clearing. The former can be noted by a sharp gradient in bark color or gouged pieces at lower elevations of a tree.
Feed Them (And Don’t Bother with Traps)
One of the few times swine don’t leverage their intellect as well is during feeding times. In fact, hogs return to areas with regular feeding even if one of their own has died recently, providing the fare is good enough to warrant that.
Hog trapping takes a different process than most examples – they can simply smell the human off the trap, no matter how much you wash or prepare. Wild hogs are slow to trust and very difficult to bait out, needing to be cajoled with actual food and no danger over a good amount of time.
Setting a feeding trough out in a clear area would be a good start. Hogs will be drawn to the open food, but may not touch it for the first few hours or days. The issue with exposed feeders is the need to refill them manually. While wild hogs won’t associate feeders with danger, the regular introduction of human scent on it may dissuade them from going back for a while.
Automatic feeders can bypass this restriction and provides a way to corral hogs to work with your own preferred schedule. It doesn’t trip any danger indicators for them, and a few days or weeks’ worths of regular feeding is liable to introduce some level of expectation or even dependence from them.
These feeders are also far more effective in the winter months than in summer. The cold temperature enables greater distances covered by the hogs, drawing them in from a greater expanse. The scarcity of food also doubles down on the dependence aspect of the feeder and can prove very effective at keeping the hog population monitored and controlled.
On top of that, traps may end up tripped by other animals. Snare hunting lies on a very thin line, and you can’t control what wanders into your trap. Tripwires will be activated by a lot of animals, and even pressure or weight sensitive ones are subject to random chance.
It’s simply more effective to bait them into predictable schedules rather than traps and snares that take away agency and have the potential to backfire spectacularly.
Keeping The Feeder Hog Exclusive
A common problem encountered here is that other animals being just as drawn to the bait. The most effective bait for hogs is corn, the preference of which is shared by a lot of other forest animals. This remains the same in winter conditions, with corn being an energy efficient and high-starch food.
One of the best ways to keep other animals away is by introducing other products to the corn. Soaking it for a day in the water will produce soured corn. It’s a pungent product that deters most animals but wild hogs and can serve as exclusively targeted bait for them. There have been reports of deer and other animals still going for the soured corn, so your mileage may vary.
A more generalizable example is adding diesel to your corn. You might even have some stocked for keeping your generator or fridge up to snuff. Other animals in nature are deterred by diesel and some petroleum products, but not wild hogs. This applies for any type of feed preferred.
Wild hogs expend a lot of energy and are drawn to corn because of its extreme starch and sugar content. You can turn this to your advantage by spiking it with other additions. Raw sugar or other cheap sweeteners can turn your bait irresistible for hogs that get a taste for it, and that number is liable to grow the longer you keep the feeder running uninterrupted.
Do NOT poison the feed. It’s very much illegal in all fifty states, on top of being cruel. But there are other factors that make this an even worse consideration. Hogs are an environmental pest because they permeate water and vegetation with their contaminants as is. A poisoned hog could do a lot of environmental damage that’d be difficult to backtrace, let alone salvage.
In summary, wild hogs are hungry creatures of habit you can coax out with time and patience. They are not stupid and need to grow complacent for you to have an easier time hunting them. Once you get the hogs in a comfortable cycle, even deaths won’t dissuade them for long.
It’s actually encouraged to leave your kills for a short while before collecting! Another hog could potentially double back for the feed despite the nearby dead hog, and they won’t do that with a human sniffing around their feeder. Just don’t overdo it, because eventually, the population will adapt as it always does.
Eyes On Nearby Water Sources
Finally, keep an eye out for nearby water channels. While it’s been brought up a few times, this segment will go into more depth as to why this is critical for hog hunting during the day.
Hogs may cool down with rooting or wallowing, but they can’t hydrate from these sources. Wild hogs are drawn into bodies of water to meet all of those needs, and when they combine their wallowing behavior with drinking water the local ecology gets badly damaged. New parasites and bacteria are introduced, displacing other animals and harming local biodiversity.
Because these spots are so useful to hogs, their behavior ends up more predictable to manage. Simply keep nearby streams and rivers under tight observation, then lie in wait for potential hogs to drop in for their usual routines. Follow the usual rules of minimizing your presence and noise profile and you should be golden.
Wild hogs can be hunted in the day very manageable, but a lot of factors can affect your experience. Make sure to leverage your advantages and keep them from predicting your behavior. Try to nudge them into working with your schedule, then act decisively.