Bow Hunting Bedding Areas for Feral Hogs
For most Eastern bow hunters, the Whitetail deer is the king of the woods. However, rapidly expanding populations of feral pigs are wreaking havoc all across the South. In part, this is due to the fact that this animal originated in Asia and thus, is not endemic to North America. The fact that this animal does not originally come from America means that it is not compatible with the North American environment, which has lead many state governments to declare the feral pig to be an invasive species and thus, many of them have opened the hunting season for these animals year around. Consequently, bow hunters who live within the overlap of these two regions are starting to turn their attention to this worthy adversary because feral pigs are not only plentiful, they make excellent table fare.
Bow hunting a smart pig?
Hunting these wary game animals with a bow and arrow is not a feat that is easily accomplished since, according to biologists, the pig is one of the smartest animals in the Animal Kingdom.
Most bow hunters choose to hunt feral pigs exactly as they would hunt whitetail deer by first locating a food source and a source of fresh water and then locating an adjacent bedding area. Then, they attempt to identify the trails leading to and from the bedding area to these other areas and use that information to choose a place to set up a tree stand in hopes of ambushing their prey as it either leaves from or returns to the bedding area (which is actually a very sound strategy).
hunting feral hog with a bow: Strategy and gear
In this article we have explored the activity of bow hunting feral hog in the words of bow hunters with a track record of hunting this smart animal, covering the best strategies, gear recommendations and other tips. Find below the most useful tips that we have collected!
“Spot and stalk” bow hunting
Not everyone has the patience required to sit in a tree stand for hours on end staring at the same old scenery while hoping that they have chosen the right spot and a pig will just happen to wander by within bow range. Fortunately, Feral pigs are the perfect prey for “spot & stalk” bow hunting which provides the hunter with considerably more freedom of movement.
With this type of bow hunting, the hunter first finds an area that contains feral pigs and then adopts the mindset of a predator as he proceeds to stealthily creep through the woods while paying close attention to both the wind and the surrounding cover and stopping often to listen and visually scan the woods in an attempt to spot his prey before it spots him. Then, once the prey is located, the hunter proceeds to stalk the chosen animal in order to close the gap to within bow range before making the shot.
But it doesn’t take a population of pigs long to figure out that there is a Boogey Man in the woods and thus, after a couple of days of hunting, the entire population will often become nocturnal seemingly overnight. Consequently, at that point, you are either reduced to hunting them from a tree stand or, you can choose to enter the bedding areas after them.
Now, I am well that some hunters would consider this to be the height of insanity (some would say stupidity) but, the only bow hunting thrill that I have ever experienced that is more intense than spotting a pig 60 or 70 yards out and then playing cat and mouse with it to close the gap to less than twenty yards is the one I get when I take up my short bow and go in after them!
However, it should be noted that this type of bow hunting is not for everyone and in fact, if you don’t have nerves of steel, then it is best that you not try it at all. On the other hand, if you have the nerve for it, then there is nothing like it! Having said that, you need to be aware that feral pigs like to bed in REALLY thick cover; and I do mean THICK!
Therefore, when looking for pig warrens, look for tangles of Palmetto Palms, Crepe Myrtles, Scrub Oaks, and other such plant species that are accustomed to growing in close proximity to other plants and wherever you find such tangles, you will also find a refuge for Feral Pigs. Next, explore along the edges of these tangles while looking for trails that provide access to the interior and then enter at your own risk.
Now, at this point, I would like to point out that I have been doing this for a lot of years and thus, I have discovered that not only is this type of bow hunting unlike anything else I have ever experienced, it also requires some specialized gear. For instance, I normally hunt with a Mathews LX which has an axle-to-axle length of 35 5/8 inches but, when hunting in thick cover, I switch to my Mathews SQ2 which has an axle-to-axle length of 31 inches because it’s far more maneuverable in tight quarters.
In addition, I also reduce the draw weight of my SQ2 to 60 lbs. so that I can draw it a little more quickly and easily. However, while I found that carrying a shorter bow was the perfect solution for maneuvering those meandering pig trails, carrying it with a quiver attached to it was not such a good idea because it made the bow feel bulky, added extra weight, and caused me to occasionally lose a $10.00 arrow/broadhead as the shaft was inadvertently caught by the brush and stripped from the quiver; not to be discovered until much later when it was far too late to go back and look for it. Thus, as a matter of self defense, I tried a couple of different options with less than satisfactory results until I discovered CAT Quivers which are very similar to a back pack and in fact, some models do have day packs of various sizes attached to them.
Thus, with my CAT Quiver, I can now carry my arrows centered down the middle of my back where they are completely protected by my body and yet, I still have easy access to then when I need them. Another thing that I found very annoying was trying to keep my arrow centered in my arrow rest as I moved through the brush and thus I tried a couple of different gadgets but, nothing really worked as well as I wanted it to.
Then, one day I laid eyes on a Whisker Biscuit arrow rest and I immediately knew that I had found the perfect rest for bow hunting in thick cover! Then, adding aggravation to annoyance, I found that while having a wrist release constantly attached to my arm was all well and good when hunting from a tree stand, it is actually very annoying when you are trying to sneak along a pig trail in thick cover because you often need your hand to move the brush out of the way.
So, I once again set out to find the perfect tool for the job and that is when I discovered the Scott Caliper Hand Release. With this release aid, I can place it in the waist band of my pants when I need my hand free but, after nocking an arrow, I can easily retrieve it and, due to its highly ergonomic shape, I get a very comfortable and secure grip which results in an accurate shot. However, because I like to wear a military surplus utility belt on which I carry two canteens, a Bowie Knife, and other accessories, I don’t have room to carry a handgun and thus, I have always felt just a bit under armed when entering a pig warren with nothing but a few arrows in my quiver.
After all, there have been times when I have shot pigs at less than five yards in cover like that. But, even when you make the perfect shot, they do not die quickly and if one just happens to decide to take out is last act of aggression on you, then you had best be prepared to fight or flee. But, I recently found the solution to this little dilemma as well when I was looking through a popular outdoor outfitter’s catalog one day and there I saw displayed the ultimate, magic, hog slaying, bullet for bow hunters! In fact, with this handy little device attached to the end of your arrow, not even the biggest, meanest, hog stands a chance!!!
So, what the heck is it called already? Well, it is called a Bow-Mag Arrow Head and it consists of a plastic canister with a round nose that is designed to contain either a .38 Special or a .357 Magnum revolver cartridge which is fired upon the arrow’s impact with the target. Consequently, bow hunters who choose to pursue dangerous game at close ranges finally have an option that provides them with the firepower of a handgun when shooting a bow.
However, it should be noted that because a loaded Bow-Mag arrow head weighs something on the order of 450 grains, the sight pin placement that you use with your standard arrow/broadhead combination will not work and thus, I personally have one bow set up for shooting standard arrow/broadhead combinations and one set up specifically for shooting Bow-Mag arrowheads. That way, I can have the best of both worlds without having to switch sights and re-zero.
To wrap up…
Next time you are sitting in your treestand daydreaming while waiting for your prey to pass by, you might want to contemplate the possibility of learning to spot & salk Feral Pigs because, not only will it provide you with constantly changing scenery, it will keep all of your senses at maximum alert as you move stealthily through the woods looking for your prey. But, if you are one of those adrenaline junkies who is looking for the ultimate hunting fix, then try pursuing them into thick cover where the action is up close and personal and happens very, very, fast!
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