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Years ago, my son, Jacob coined the phrase “hoggy.” At three years old he was merely observing the fog on his way to pre-school while to me it took on a completely different meaning (grinning). As an avid hog hunter I adopted his phrase and made it my own as a means of describing places I considered to be “Hog Heaven.”
Few animals get my blood going like big ol’ nasty Texas Grizzlies! I have hunted a good number of various game species over the years and have done so by employing every method and strategy I can think of. Many of my hunting buddies around the country don’t understand my obsession with hog hunting; however, I find that many of my local buddies see me at eye level, not only do they understand my passion, they share it; that’s great since late-night treks through the hog woods can be downright unnerving when you’re alone!
So, one might ask, “What makes a place hoggy?” Well, here is your gift-wrapped answer:
Look at the layout and attributes of the property. Can it sustain larger wildlife such as deer or hogs? Are there open pastures or cropland skirted by dense trees and underbrush? Hogs love crops; that’s no secret; however, pastures also offer a great array of tasty morsels such as grubs, other insects, roots and the grass itself. Pastures or cropland bordered with trees and thick foliage offer great places for hogs to congregate and more importantly, bed down. If ponds, creeks, rivers, lakes, or marshes are close by these pastures or cropland, especially with thick woods, I call it “hoggy!” Incidentally, if your property doesn’t fit the hog heaven I described above, that isn’t necessarily an indicator that they aren’t there; they very well could be. Heavy woods with no crops or pasture just might fit the bill for hogs choosing to root along rivers and creeks and is perfect for bedding; this may be especially true in summer-months. So, now that we’ve established that your place is ‘hoggy” (or you just haven’t conclusively decided it isn’t), it’s time to prove these unruly long-toothed beasts are there by finding what we call sign.
Sign is a scouting term used to describe any number of signs that the wildlife you are scouting for is in the area. We are looking for hog-specific sign. Rooting and wallows are at the top of the list. Look for areas around trees, telephone poles, along banks of waterways and of course in the most obvious places, croplands and pastures for rooting (land that appears to have been tilled) and wallows. Wallows are large indentations in the ground filled with water. Hogs lay and roll around in wallows as a means of cooling off. Another purpose is to coat themselves with mud as a means of protection from heat, sun and insects. Freshly rooted areas will hold loose dirt that, when touched, falls back into the rooted hole. This is an obvious sign that hogs are currently active in the area.
Hoofprints also offer good information. Identifying the hoofprint of a hog is actually pretty simple when comparing it to a deer’s track. Where deer tracks tend to form a triangle split down the middle with the front tips nearly touching, a hog’s tracks are more rounded and have a greater split; big hogs, or hogs on the run, usually open the front of their hooves even further due to weight or impact.
Mud-rubs are great sign. Often found near wallows or bodies of water, hogs rub the trunks of trees with their bodies smearing mud on the lower portion of nearby tree trunks.
Once you’ve established that your place is indeed “hoggy” it’s time to get busy filling your freezer. Feral hog meat is some of the best table fare that patience, determination and strategy can buy.
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