Of course, there are more reasons to go "hog wild" than just bucks in velvet. Like, for instance, real hogs.
The opportunity to take a buck and a hog on the same hunt is probably never better than in the first month of the season, before either species gets wise to the ramblings of hunters in their woods, fields and swamps.
At least that's the opinion of three hunters who take care of landholdings that are full of deer and porkers.
"August and September are the best times to kill hogs," said Troy Sullivan, who manages the 1,800-acre Patriot's Plantation in Williamsburg County. "Hogs don't like pressure. As deer season progresses and you're killing a lot of deer and hogs, the hogs will move out of an area."
Sullivan, Don Houck and Heath Rayfield all oversee big pieces of property across the state that are loaded with deer and hogs. Houck, a real-estate developer, manages the hunting on a 16,000-acre lease made up of the Creek and Belfast plantations in Allendale County. Rayfield manages the Buchanan Shoals Sportsman's Preserve, which has around 6,000 acres on the Pee Dee River - 1,000 in Chesterfield County and 5,000 across the border in North Carolina.
In approximately half of the Palmetto State, hunters can start targeting deer on Aug. 15. In the 12 Lowcountry counties of Game Zone 6 and the three counties in Game Zone 3 - Aiken, Lexington and Richland - it's buck-only gun season. In the six counties in Game Zone 5, archery season runs Aug. 15-31, with gun season opening Sept. 1. In the seven northeastern counties that make up Game Zone 4, archery season opens Sept. 1 for two weeks, followed by gun season. Archery season runs Sept. 15-30 in Game Zone 2, which includes much of the Upstate. Only in the extreme northwestern mountains of Game Zone 1 do deer hunters have to wait until Oct. 1.
South Carolina does not have a closed season on wild hogs.
Houck said that he's got a number of club members "who'd just as soon shoot a hog as a deer," and early in the season, he said that's a fairly easy deal to set up. He simply heads into the 6,000 acres of Savannah River swamp his club controls and looks for sign.
"Hogs are moving all the time, but basically, you can find areas they're using," Houck said. "You scout and find rubs and wallows, maybe a peanut field they're using. If you find a place they're using, you feed corn, and the hogs will find it and use it like crazy. If you put out enough corn, you can keep them there, but when I say enough corn, I mean four or five sacks. If you put out one sack, it will be gone in a day."
Houck will set a hunter up in an area where he's feeding corn, and he'll almost guarantee a shot at a hog within a day or two - and possibly a shot at a deer, too.
"Hogs like the same type of bedding cover that deer do - the thicker the better," he said. "You'll have more opportunities for deer if you hunt up on the hill, out of the swamp. The hogs might come up on the hill; they'll move from hardwood patch to hardwood patch, but you'll have more opportunities for hogs in the swamp, if that's your preference.
"If you've got a feeder out, and the hogs find the corn, the smaller pigs especially may bed down right next to it and get up when they hear the feeder go off."
Rayfield puts his hog hunters as close to water as he can, either in the swamps along the Pee Dee River or along creek runs and areas he says "stay wet all the time.
Download the rest of this article, which first appeared in the August 2010 issue of North Carolina Sportsman, for more tips on connecting with a hog while preparing for the upcoming deer season.
And don't forget to subscribe to ensure you don't miss a single information-packed issue of North Carolina Sportsman magazine.