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Hogs are a peculiar animal. They do what they want, when they want, and how they want to do it. Hunters scarcely see another animal as difficult to pattern as a wild hog; trying to pattern them generally results in a great loss of hair, dignity, and respect among hunting buddies who already understand that patterning is almost futile… ALMOST.
Hogs are drifters traveling anywhere between a half mile to 20 square miles in a single day; in that same 24-hour period some lone boars may travel as much as 15 miles! In desirable habitat they tend to make themselves at home, sometimes year round; however, if the habitat is questionable, meaning deficiencies exist in any aspect of the habitat, they may choose to wander until reaching another, more suitable area. What this means for a typical hunter is one can witness fresh sign daily for months at a time, then overnight the hogs disappear. To a hunter this can be incredibly frustrating but to a rancher or farmer, truly a Godsend.
However great the blessing may be, it’s usually short lived; another sounder of hogs is just around the bend heading your way. In hog infested regions the question is never if, but when. Scouting becomes your best resource to answer this question. The good news for hunters (downright discouraging news for everyone else) is that when the time is right they come back. Scouting is your Great Hornblower!
Good scouting tools come in small packages. If you have the opportunity, invest in a game camera. Given lapses in extreme weather changes, meaning spans of time and days where weather patterns are similar, hogs can be patterned to an extent. Knowing hogs are in the area, understanding coolest times of day, baiting, and using a game camera to record times over two to three days can and does suggest hogs return in that general timeframe if the sounder has not been disturbed. Recording hogs coming into an active area at 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. two days in a row does suggest that if the weather pattern is the same on the third day they will return once again.
*Note: If you do not have a camera some patterning is still possible with repeated visits to an active area throughout the day to reduce gaps of time to manageable periods of hunting where possibilities for success are at their highest.
Pay attention to moon cycles. Hogs do not see as well as other animals. If the weather is cooler and there is a new moon, hogs are more prone to move during daylight hours; conversely, during a full moon hogs are likely to be nocturnal since they can see well enough to move into those active feeding areas.
Free ranging hogs are exactly that, free ranging. This implies hogs still do what they want, when they want, and how they want. Also, being impressive travelers, patterning hogs for more than a few days at a time can be incredibly frustrating. Murphy’s Law applies here, “When you think you’ve figured them out, you haven’t.” The important thing is to keep trying. Persistence and small patterning cycles of three to four days are optimum and key to hunting using patterning as a means of improving your success rate. The other, of course, is getting out there on the hunt! That ol’ state-lottery battle cry fits well here, “You can’t win if you don’t play!”
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