If you’re wild hog in eastern Alabama, you should most definitely fear the night, especially any night that AJ Niette is out hunting. Niette prowls the agricultural fields near his home in Smiths Station, Alabama, night vision equipment at the ready, looking for the nocturnal pigs. Farmers here are hard hit by the destructive hogs, which root up their fields and destroy their crops. They routinely ask Niette if he can trim back the rampant hog populations.
“It’s a huge problem here, the damage these pigs do,” says Niette, 64, a retired engineer who now guides hog hunts as well as hunts the porkers on his own. “A farmer here recently called me. He had hogs ripping up his winter wheat and eating the roots. Acres of damage. So I went out to his place a few nights back, and killed eight of them. That’s what I call hog control!”
His hog control’s pretty darned effective, too. Last year, from August through October, on night hunts he guided and did on his own, Niette helped put 140 hogs down on the ground!
Niette’s equipment starts with a .223 AR-15 rifle custom-made by DoubleStar Corporation of Winchester, Kentucky. It’s topped with a D-760 Gen 3 Standard 6x Night Vision Scope, made by Night Optics USA, of Huntington Beach, California, a Bushnell company. For a night spotting optic, Niette actually uses a camera, a Flir 307 H Series thermal imaging camera, produced by ThermalVideo.com. The camera’s a favorite on Law Enforcement, for reasons Niette understands very well.
“You can do video with it, still photos, and use it as a spotter,” he says. “Gives you such a clear image, you can tell whether you’ve got a hog or a deer at 500, 600, even 700 yards. With some of the regular night vision scopes I’ve used, out past 300 yards or so everything kind of blends in, and you can’t make it out too well. This way, I have a great spotter and a camera, all in one.”
Niette’s preferred night hunt method is to drive to a area, and then use an electric cart to travel quietly from field to field, scoping out the darkened landscape with his Flir 307 H camera. When he finds a pig or group of pigs out in a field, he puts a stalk on them, trying to get as close as he can. The wind is an important factor in stalking, as pigs have super-sensitive noses. A good whiff of human and they get skittish, and may run off. So Niette always tries to approach as down-wind as he can.
“I like to get between the pigs and the woods, whenever possible,” he notes. When the shooting starts, the pigs naturally head for the cover of the treeline. If Niette’s positioned himself in their way, he can take out an extra pig or two as they run at him.
Often, he’ll spot a big sow surrounded by her most recent brood. “I get on ‘em and kill the first one dead, usually the sow,” Niette says. “The other pigs’ll run off. But those 60 to 80 pounders are her offspring—they’ll usually head right back to momma. Gives you a good chance to put down a few more of them.”
Interestingly, Niette uses ammunition many of the “experts” will tell you is too small to take down a big pig: a Fiocchi Extrema .223 Remington loaded with a 40 Grain Hornady V-Max bullet. But, isn’t that too light a bullet, in too small a caliber, for a 200-plus pound wild hog?
“Listen, I kill hogs with those rounds all day long, big hogs and little hogs” says Niette. “Kill ‘em all night, too!”
Interested in a night hunt with AJ Niette? He guides hog hunters in both Alabama and Georgia. His service is called, “Predator Control, Hogs and Coyote.” Call Niette at 706-573-2345 for prices and availability.
On the Web:
Double Star Corporation: http://star15.com/
Fiocchi Ammunition: www.fiocchiusa.com/
Night Optics USA: http://www.nightoptics.com/