As hog hunting gains popularity across much of the U.S. more and more hunters are asking where they should go to find the biggest hogs and trophies. I recently read an interesting article in "Boar Hunter Magazine", perhaps the preeminent hog hunting journal out there now. This very informative article was penned by Mr Jim Smith, a very accomplished hunter over a very wide range of areas and game. I am simply providing some information that should interest serious hog hunters among us. Mr Smith deserves all the credit.
Well, the first bit of information that jumps out at you in this article is the fact that records show that a hunter is three times more apt to shoot a big hog on fenced or strictly private lands than on public hunting grounds. That makes perfect sense to me as I don't believe many hunters spend the time, money and energy to feed hogs on public lands and to grow really big hogs a lot of food is needed. Certainly hogs living in very close proximity to lush farm fields will have a very significant food source, but not all hogs live there (obviously).
Here are some numbers compiled from records kept by SCI (Safari Club Intl). They reflect the input to their records on the largest hogs taken on hunting preserves or strictly private hunting grounds. In descending order here they are:
1. Missouri 34
2. Texas 11
3. Ohio 6
4. NY/Pa 4 ea
6. Ok/Mi 3 ea
7. NC, Tn, Ms, Nova Scotia 2 ea
Perhaps some surprises there! It certainly looks like Missouri is a hot bed for big hogs however!
When it comes to free roaming hogs (be aware that a hunter can still expect to pay some significant fees to hunt these free roaming areas) The list looks a bit different:
1. California 33
2. Hawaii 31
3. Texas 10
4. Florida 8
5. Georgia 6
6. Washington 3
7. Alberta, Ca 2
8. Mexico, New Mexico, Arkansas, S.C., Vermont, Nevada 1 ea
For the record, the highest populations of wild hogs within the lower 48 are as follows:
Note, of course, that all three are pretty big sized states as well. Makes sense they hold some of the highest numbers of hogs and big hogs. Also their weather is pretty moderate as well.
Now, a couple of observations from me and my point of view. Some hunters have mixed feelings about whether or not to hunt on fenced preserves, ranches or plantations. It's my experience that hunters that chose a quality fenced operation had excellent hunting experiences and great success. Bluntly, they were very satisfied with their trips, trophies and experiences. I have, on the flip side, seen hunters who paid a fee and hunted hard for free ranging hogs in excellent areas that due to any number of different circumstances did not harvest a "trophy" and were disappointed.
The fees paid to hunt these quite different circumstances are not as different as you might guess, in some cases. Also, if a hunter is wanting to harvest a really big hog two other things should be addressed: 1.) Are they also wanting to fill their freezer with fresh pork? and 2.) Are they interested in perhaps harvesting more than one animal i.e. a meat hog plus a possible trophy.
Many hunters believe that the largest male hogs (those over say 250 pounds) are not always suitable for meat. Perhaps grinding the best cuts for sausage works for many, but from my experience, they are simply NOT the best meat hogs.
It is also my experience that most people will assume you killed a big boar on a fenced preserve, since these type wild boar hunts have been around for many years. The average hunter and certainly the average non-hunter will simply figure your free ranging hog was shot in an enclosure. Perhaps that's not a huge concern for most, but my comments are meant to warn some who may have chosen to hunt non fenced hogs that the perception that they "hunted" those trophies might not be held by all. Enough said.
If you think you might enjoy the new experience of a hog hunt, my opinion is that you absolutely will. It's up to the individual hunter as to whether you want a preserve hunt for a trophy hog, or maybe prefer to try some free-ranging hunts for a meat hog or possible trophy. There are hogs there to fit both those bills, both fenced and non fenced out there, so good luck with whichever you choose!
This picture shows that there are certainly still some big boars to be found free roaming.