When deer season ends, Robbie Cortis of Mount Pleasant just keeps on hunting, but it’s wild hogs that he targets in the post deer season, and he said they’re really on the move right now.
“This is an ideal time of the year to target pigs because they are moving and on the prowl for food,” Cortis said. “Like a lot of wild-game species, food is at a premium and will be for a few more weeks, and there’s a better chance of seeing pigs during the daytime now than during much of the year. Seeing them during daylight hours can be a problem at times, but the colder weather associated with January and into February will cause them to move during the day.”
Cortis said that by planting food plots for hogs or keeping late-season deer plots active will pull in hogs as well as continuing to use corn for bait.
“Keeping food available is one great way to keep or pull pigs into your area,” he said. “Also, just the natural rooting they do is more likely to happen during the daytime during the winter. During summer and most warm seasons, they often prefer to do much of their moving during the nocturnal hours, and often, hunters are limited to early and late hunting with traditional methods. With the laws, there are ways to hunt after dark, but I like hunting them much as I would deer from reading sign and setting up in the right area.
“During winter, hogs will still be around wet areas as a rule, and that’s often thick cover,” he said. “But with the leaves off the trees, we can see much better now than during most of the year, and we can get in those thickets where they live and be able to see at this time of year.
“Narrow your search by finding good sign such as fresh rooting, wallowing area, and I really key on the trees they rub against. They often leave mud, so you can spot the tree and check it closely to see how high up you find that mud or hairs embedded in the tree bark. You can get a good idea where big hogs are by doing this. If you bait or use food plots, it doesn’t take much to get the interest of a pig to come chow down, and that makes an area where there’s lots of sign even more productive. You can get them to come to an exact place. A situation like that is an ideal time to take a youngster with you and get them involved with hunting.”
Cortis said that while pigs are abundant in a lot of areas, especially around major river drainages, their populations seem to be expanding statewide. But he said he still employs the same effort to hunt pigs as he does deer, and that makes success much more likely.
“Wind is a big factor with pigs, just like with deer,” he said. “So be aware of the wind direction before you set up. Their eyesight is not as good as a deer, but it helps to keep movement to a minimum.”
Cortis said stalking can also work during the winter when vegetation is down.
“Stalking can be very productive in these thickets,” he said. “One advantage we have by stalking against the wind is pigs usually make a good bit of noise, and often they can be heard before you see them. That enables a hunter to plan the final approach for a good shot.”