Readers of this column have probably come to learn that I love just about everything about hunting wild hogs. I love the adrenaline packed moments when I hear them coming through the woods at night to my hunting set up, I love transforming the meat into tasty smoked or breakfast sausage, ham or pulled pork. My love of hog hunting is the primary reason I wrote my book devoted to hunting and cooking wild porkers, “Kill to Grill, the Ultimate Guide to hunting and cooking wild hogs”. I was elated when last week the book finally was made available through Amazon. The book truly contains a great deal of information that could only been learned from years of hunting and experimenting with different methods of transforming all that wild pork into tasty meals.
With the knowledge that mine is much more than a passing interest in hunting hogs, I decided to devote this column to expressing my thoughts as to the “perfect” hog hunting rig. Keep in mind that I am a devout bow hunter and wild hogs have always been my favored animal to hunt. I hunt with archery equipment for the sheer challenge of getting close and waiting to make that one perfect shot but I’ve taken hogs with everything from big bore air rifles to muzzleloaders.
But what do I consider to be the perfect rifle/scope/bullet combination for hunting hogs. What combination would I choose if someone bet me one hundred dollars that I HAD to be successful on a hog hunt? Well, let’s consider what is needed to really stack the odds in a hog hunter’s favor.
An accurate rifle that is light enough to sling and carry out of the woods while dragging a wild hog is a prime consideration. Precise bullet placement is important. While most of my hog hunting is done in relatively heavy cover where shots at 50 yards is the norm, I sometime have the opportunity to take a 100 yard or farther shot. I want a rifle that consistently groups well, one I can depend upon. Caliber choice is also important. Granted the big magnums will most definitely do the job but I hunt hogs for sport and meat. I’ve found that lighter calibers matched with the right bullets do a fine job in cleanly killing hogs.
So, what rifle suites me perfectly for hog hunting? The bolt action Mossberg MVP Patrol in .223 caliber fills the bill nicely! Most folks today relate the .223 with an AR type rifle. I love shooting AR’s, they are just plain fun but when it comes to hunting, I favor a bolt action. At 7 pounds, sporting a barrel just over 16 inches in length, the Patrol is easy to handle in heavy cover. Granted, anything a lighter caliber will do, a big magnum will obviously do as well or better. But with heavy calibers come the price of added recoil and meat loss. The .223 is a proven caliber. It’s pleasant to shoot and absolutely deadly on game.
But regardless the caliber, well designed ammo is extremely important. Hornady’s “Full Boar GMX” in .223 is lethal on hogs. These copper alloy bullets deliver uniform, controlled expansion for maximum penetration and weight retention. With proper bullet placement, they will put the biggest boar in the woods on the meat pole!
Anyone who has hunted wild hogs in the past ten years surely has come to the realization that wild porkers, with just a little bit of pressure, become almost entirely nocturnal. I can remember back 20 years ago when it was common to shoot hogs during daylight hours. Today’s hogs are much better educated and anyone that’s hunted them knows they are about the smartest critter in the woods. Put pressure on them and they get even smarter. Some hogs are killed during the last few minutes of daylight or at first light but I’d venture a guess that seventy-five percent of hogs are killed in either very low light or no light conditions. A night vision scope is a must for any serious hog hunter that uses a rifle. Enter the Photon XT digital rifle scope by Sightmark. With a price tag of about $500, this scope is by far the best value for the money, in my opinion. One of my favorite features of the Photon is the fact that it can be used during the daylight or at night. To shoot during the day, simply shut down the amount of light entering the scope by closing a cover on the front of the scope. This cover snaps in place and has a tiny hole it its center that allows a small amount of light to enter the scope. When shooting at night, open the cover and you have instant, very clear night vision. With three levels of infra red intensity, visibility at night can be increased to shoot out to 100 yards and beyond on a pitch black night.
So, there you have it. The rig you see pictured with this column is the one I will be putting to use in the hog woods this fall/winter. My trail cameras are indicating a good population of “eater” hogs weighing between 75 and 125 pounds. The problem is they are hitting my feeders around 9 each evening. But with the warm weather we have been having, that’s really not a problem. I can do my butchering during the cooler part of the evening and I most definitely have the proper combination of tools to get the job done. It’s time to give my 60 year old meat grinder a good cleaning. I see a sausage making day coming in the very near future!
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