BY JOHN SIMEONE
I got everyone on their stands just before daylight, with no intentions of seriously hunting myself. The last hunter on the stand was Dave Miller and I had taken him to a good spot for wild hogs. But no sooner had I left him, I was looking at two large wild boars at point blank range. The year before my partner Bob Baldwin experienced an unprovoked attack by a wild boar while putting up a deer stand, I was cautious to get in the woods until I could see clearly. But there they were almost in the same place as last year’s incident. I eased away hoping they would go to the top of the hill where Dave was waiting.
Entering the dark woods from an old dim road in the area of Ft Polk’s WMA Whiskey Chitto I could hear them milling about, not far away. But in this close thicket, visibility was about 40 yards even from the climbing tree stand. Most hunters would not consider this type of close proximity hunting, and further, most hunters don’t go in there because of the hogs themselves. Louisiana wild boars are dangerous game.
I climbed about 15 feet up a pine tree and just got settled in when the smaller of the two hogs came into view. As far as eating goes, smaller is better with wild hogs, as big wild boars can be down right rank. This one wasn’t all that small and it looked like he was looking for me, they could have easily run away. He turned broadside at about 15 yards and I took him tight behind the shoulder with the 30-06 barrel of the CZ combination gun. He was gone in an instant, but I could hear him running through the brush. I thought to myself, I had better wait for a while he was bigger than I thought.
There is a silent dread that accompanies following dangerous game in thick cover. This wasn’t the first time for me, as I remembered several moose and the one grizzly in Alaska. I checked the over and under to ensure both barrels were loaded, a 30-06 round and a load of 000 buckshot. I turned the scope down to its lowest power. This is the ritual you go through if you know what you’re doing and having survived the charge of big game before, it is something you don’t readily forget. The blood trail, at least, was easy to follow. I expected to find him piled up in the creek which was down hill about 50 yards, but the boar crossed the creek and went up the hill in a thick tangle of briars and scrub brush. These are intelligent animals and his strategy was to charge from above down hill. Mine was to meet him with a load of buckshot, for a moment the odds were even. He made it to the top of the hill another 50 yards and turned around facing in my direction prepared to charge, but expired to the first shot apparently moments before I arrived. It pays to wait a bit.
The great White Hunter, Peter Hathaway Capstick, had the same thing happen to him with a leopard in Africa; I know now exactly what it feels like. Not much in the tusk department, but at 150 pounds he could put a hurt on you. His buddy went about 300 pounds and he is still out there awaiting the next Pilgrim that aspires to play this deadly game. The next time I go in there I will most certainly carry the 444. From the view of the eggheads, officially they are considered feral hogs, tame hogs gone wild, but these have been wild for almost 200 years, reverting back to the characteristics and attitude of the European wild boar, introduced to Louisiana by the Arcadians. But a European boar only gets to about 200 pounds, maybe 250, where an American wild boar is just getting started.
All pigs are the same genus and species (sus scroffa) which means they readily interbreed. This they will do two or three times a year insuring once you get them started you will never get rid of them. You can thank the Chinese for domesticating pigs over six thousand years ago. Pigs are not indigenous to North or South America, but they inhabit all these places which makes them feral in the wild. I wonder if my egg headed buddies ever considered the fact that humans are not indigenous to America either. So allowing them a bit more dignity, I’ll just give them the title of American Wild Boars, and feral be damned.
Although predominately Black, our wild hogs come in all colors. I have taken Red, Black, Cream, Gray, Brindle and Blue wild hogs. They are of mixed bloodlines, but the longer they stay in the wild the generations take on the look and tenacity of their original European brothers, except for one important factor; our American boars are much bigger. No longer resembling a domestic pig, he grows a menacing long snout and tusks up to six inches long, with a lean narrow rear end and massive shoulders underlined with a gristle shield that is almost bullet proof. An inland Grizzly bear can weigh about 800 pounds and so can a wild boar.
The largest I have personally seen taken by a hunter was 700 pounds. There is a 900-pound boar mounted in Ville Platte, at a sporting goods store that allegedly killed 50 dogs before it was brought down. There is no doubt why the writers of Hannibal used the wild boar in the horror scene. They will kill you and eat you. Although I found some discrepancies in the story of “Hogzilla” by both the hunter and the scientists that dug him up, all a hog needs to get that big is a good food source. That we have in Louisiana, with the rice fields and other agriculture, and all the deer feeders left on all year long.
Louisiana’s legendary wild boar hunter is the now retired Bruce Hall. I took my first Louisiana boar with him as guide and prefer no one else, unless it is his wife Sissy, who is one bad boar hunter in her own right. Bruce once related to me a hair raising story about attempting to live capture a 400 pounder. The dogs bayed the animal and then the pit-bull went in and grabbed him. Bruce, who does this and I don’t, then went in with a pair of handcuffs to secure the beast. Now I’ve seen him do this several times, but not with a 400 pounder. The boar was not too pleased with this and somehow knocked Bruce to the ground and got on top of him. As all of this happened in milliseconds, one moment the boar was blowing snot in Bruce’s face, and then changed ends abruptly when a dog attacked from the rear. This afforded a very lucky Bruce Hall time to draw his old Ruger Black Hawk .357 magnum and shoot his way out from under the hog.
Boar hunting is a right of passage among my highly respected brother boar hunters of Hawaii. These guys catch a wild hog with dogs, and all they use as a weapon is a long knife. This takes stones. Notably the best Hawaiian boar dogs were raised right here in Louisiana and many were sent over by Bruce Hall. I have taken wild hogs with everything from a Bowie Knife, a bow and arrow, a 22 long rifle to a 300 Weatherby Magnum. Therefore I can tell you this, “Nothing works every time.” I once saw Robin Fletcher of Leesville kill a huge boar with a longbow instantly with one arrow. I saw another take 7 arrows in a group the size of your hand right behind the shoulder and stand and fight the dogs for several minutes before going down. I have both taken good sized hogs with .22 magnums, while my partner Dave Miller shot one perfect in the shoulder with a 44 magnum rifle and the hog healed up completely and was taken by another hunter a month later. Dave’s largest boar at 400 pounds took 3 good hits from a 45-70 with 405 grain bullets before going down.
In New Mexico, I once shot a hog of about 300 pounds at long range with a 300 Winchester Magnum, the animal dropped in its tracks and I was very pleased with the 300 as a boar gun. But the next time around I tried a 300 Weatherby Magnum, at only 50 yards. I made the same shot and the hog ran 60 yards, “You just never know what will happen when you pull the trigger or release a bowstring.”
As it stands just about any bow, crossbow, muzzle loader, handgun or rifle adequate for deer hunting will kill a wild boar. Now a days, I carry a 444 Marlin with 270 grain bullets. For me that’s just about right. But if Marlin comes out with a 555 I’m going to get me one. The 45-70 and 450 Marlin lever action rifles are super boar guns, but I never sell short the good old 30-06. The new .500 Smith and Wesson handgun is about right. This year my partner Dave shot a small boar with a Thompson Omega .50 cal muzzle loader with a magnum charge that could very well drop an elephant in its tracks. But the little 70 pounder actually ran about 50 yards with a perfect hit. You just never know.
The perfect kill shot on a hog is the base of the ear. That puts them right down. But beware a hog can be dead for ten minutes and still generate a reflex action that will stand up the biggest of hogs, spin them around vertically on their nose with there hooves thrashing about dangerously, any old hog hunter will tell you this. I’ve seen it once in the field and several times in a packing house. Not like a deer, the heart and lung area of a hog is very low and forward.
It is possible to encounter wild hogs in any wooded area in Louisiana; there is no way you can get rid of them. Hunting is the best way to control them on wild life management areas. Of course I know of Two WMAs that disallow wild hog hunting. They are blessed with so many hogs that planted pines, turkey nests and all other ground dwellers fall victim to these critters. Incidental hog hunting by deer hunters is needed to control the hog population. They have hunted hogs at Fort Polk WMA for years, never really putting a dent in the population.
Being about as smart as a Labrador Retriever and vindictive as an Ex-Wife, chances are you won’t see one of the big ones around any more than you will see a 14 point buck wandering around in the open, but you can bet they are there just by properly reading the sign. When you look at a hog track that will go about the size of the mouth of a coffee cup, you are looking at the track of a 500 pound animal.The area will be rooted up like a small bulldozer had worked on the ground, and you will find rubs that come up to your belt line. You will smell a nasty odor, as you grip the rifle and wonder why you didn’t clean it last night. About that time you will hear a loud snort in the bush where your eyes can’t see, and the hair stands up on the back of your neck. You look for a tree to climb, but there is no time. Then you have to ask yourself a question, Pilgrim; “Do you feel lucky?” Pass it on.