The south has numerous traditions from sweet tea to corn bread to barbecue. But one southern tradition has and will shape the south for generations to come; wild hog hunting. Since the colonization of the America’s, hogs have been a food staple. First brought over by the Spaniards in the 1500’s, when they settled in what is now Florida, these domesticated pigs were turned loose into the wild to help provide a stable food source for explorers. Well into the 19th century the feral hogs were localized to certain areas. With the advent of the modern industrial meat complex though, farms sprang up all over the south to raise pigs for our ever growing nation. At the same time you had Eurasian and Russian wild boars being released for sport hunting. These boars mated with established feral hogs and escapees from the factory farms and began to run rampant in the south.
By 1982 the USDA estimated that wild hogs were in every county in Florida, throughout most of Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana and Texas and had even found their way west to California. Today the population is estimated at well over 6 million and rapidly growing. Hogs can now be found in over 35 states and form a near continuous habitat from Florida up to North Carolina, west to Oklahoma and into the eastern part of New Mexico. If left unchecked the population will surely migrate north and west and cover nearly half of the country. As their range grows and the populations become denser the land and local wildlife suffer tremendously. Soil and water are degraded, scarce food resources are robbed from native game populations of deer, turkey, javelina and even non-game species like songbirds. They root up agricultural fields and cause millions of dollars in damage each year.
Due to all the destruction caused by wild hogs it has become a southern tradition to hunt wild hogs. Thanks to liberal game laws and bag limits (sometimes, depending on the state, there are neither laws nor limits to protect them) these traditions can be shared year round. So if you are thinking of doing your part for conservation, or even just to put some wild hog in the smoker, below are the top destinations and outfitters to help you plan your next southern tradition, sweet tea and all.
Florida is where it all started when Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto first released domesticated pigs into the wild. Now because of the warm climate, prime swampy habitat and lack of natural predators (except maybe the American alligator) the pig population has exploded. The typical methods for targeting hogs are to sit over bait, or chase them with dogs. The prime time for hunting hogs during the day is from January through March. However they can be hunted year round by changing tactics and finding them in their beds or waiting until they come out at dusk.
Check out these four Fin & Field Operators for your next Florida hog hunt!
Texas is the epicenter of hog hunting right now. That’s because the state is so large it holds the largest population of feral hogs in the U.S. The problem has gotten so bad that Texas is trying different methods to reduce the feral hog population, from trapping to poisoning to even allowing night hunting and helicopter hunts!
Depending on how you target these creatures in Texas it can be considered hunting or eradication. If you are looking to do some hog hunting, day or night, check out these four Texas operators for your next hog hunt.
But if you yearn to eradicate these pests your best bet is to contact Last Shadow for some awesome helicopter hog hunting. A word of caution though, this isn’t for the faint of heart!
Florida and Texas aren’t the only states with a health feral hog population just waiting for you to target. We have operators in Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma and even South Carolina, just to name a few, which can help you fill that smoker full of some of the best pork you will ever eat. Start a family tradition of your own this year!
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