Top tips for killing trophy-sized hogs
The Carolinas are full of wild hogs, including some trophy-sized animals. These creatures make great harvest photos, but they also test any hunter’s outdoor skills. Professional hunter Gene “The Mailman” Wisnewski shares his tips on finding the big hogs.
Hunt fields for big hogs
Fields are the largest bait piles in any area. And a well-fertilized field brings big hogs from afar. Most of my big hog targets come from two bits of information. Number one is deep rooting. Big hogs simply dig deeper when they root.
If a landowner tells you of massive rooting in his fields, it could be a large sounder of hogs. But my guess is that it’s Mr. Big.
Many times, I’m called to an area with massive deep rooting and find it difficult to pin down the group. And often, that’s because it is simply one big hod spending a lot of time in an area.
If you get a hot prospect of massive deep rooting, get there soon. The best times are right now through March when the acorns are all gone and the deer hunters are no longer running feeders. Big hogs know where their biggest food sources are once those are depleted. And this puts them in those winter crop fields and amongst the cattle.
Cattle are rotated to the best fields or fed round bales of hay, and this makes up the preferred food sources of big hogs during these lean months. Hit these rooted areas multiple times a night and scan the area. You’ll have no doubt when your thermal scanner finds Mr. Big rooting in this area.
Check winter bedding areas
The second bit of information is from feeders with cameras near winter bedding areas. Hogs can bed anywhere in the high growth summer months. All forested land is pretty thick during warm weather. But during winter, undergrowth and leaves are dead. So hogs bed down in areas that are thick, but without vegetation.
Areas to look for now include swamps and thickets of young trees clustered close together. Place your feeders close to these thick winter areas and you will get hogs on camera. Once you find winter bedding locations, make these on your map and return each winter for continued action. Multiple groups of hogs will come together and bed in these less-available bedding areas year after year.
I’ve taken multiple 300-pounders from a 40-acre property that borders a thick swamp. Each year, I return to find big hogs bedding in the area chasing the groups of sows in that secluded bedding area. Fewer available bedding areas means more big hogs in fewer places. This offers hunters a great opportunity for big hogs.
Don’t overlook out-of-the-way areas
Most game animals that reach trophy size tend to spend their lives in out-of-the-way places. Deer, turkey, and hogs that venture close to road, even at night, are noticed. And the average hunter then targets those animals.
Big hogs, like any other game, need years to mature to get big. They tend to hang out in the back fields and hidden areas. Expending the effort to walk back to these areas to scan with a thermal is often the difference in getting the young group of hogs or the large, single lone boar that has aged.
Several of my properties are hunted by other hunters that occasionally take a big hog. I travel to areas of the property that take the most amount of work to find. And it pays off. Take that time to check those secondary fields where big hogs feel the safest.
Fields that border large, unhinged land are great out-of-the-way areas that big hogs will come to feed. Residential areas and public land tracts are great areas that allow hogs to live many years before hunters harvest them.
Move around multiple hunting spots for trophy-sized hogs
Rotating properties will allow you to move to other areas. And this allows trophy-sized hogs to move into your hot spots and feel safe. I property jump weeks at a time to allow those big hogs to come in and produce sign, allowing me to pattern them easily.
Over-hunting any property for any game produces harvests of young animals, and makes it harder to kill trophy-sized ones.
I get the easiest big hog harvest when I hunt a new property for the first time. I can recreate this on my older properties by giving the group a break, then moving back in for harvests once they feel less pressured. Following this method will allow you to perfect a rotation strategy on your properties.
I have some small tracts of land that I will hit only in certain months of the year due to scouting. Cyclical food sources produce this pattern, and I key in on this to take large hogs in the same areas year after year.
Find those patterns, determine what time of year is best for each property, and be ready each year for that movement. I compare this a lot to fishing. Fish move with the bait and have patterns that anglers key in on to catch fish based on many factors. I use this same strategy on hogs to keep producing big hog harvest. You can too.
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