“I was walking by a creek the other weekend when all of a sudden I started noticing all the fresh sign around me.  I was just thinking to myself there has to be some hogs close by.  It wasn’t two seconds later when two huge boars I estimated at 300 pounds apiece jumped up about ten feet in front of me.  I never even saw them coming.  Talk about tactical hog hunting,” said Jason Pope of Madison, MS.

“I was amazed how something that big and ugly could hide like that, and that was even before the spring foliage had popped out”, exclaimed Jason Pope, an accomplished deer and wild turkey hunter.  To that I replied, “Well, welcome to hog hunting in the Magnolia State.” It’s something that is just catching on here, but I expect the interest in hog hunting to explode in the next decade.

Rationale for Pig Sticking

The wild pig situation in Mississippi is reaching critical mass, with emphasis on mass.  That’s lots of pork loins and roasts, perfect for the charcoal smoker.  This certainly makes for excellent hunting opportunities which are growing by leaps and bounds in terms of hunter interest by resident and non-resident hunters alike.  If you have read anything recently about the white-tailed deer population explosion in Mississippi, then you should see what the wild hogs are doing.  Tactical hog hunters should take note.

What they are doing is the bad part.  “Wild pigs are ruining crops all over the state”, says Bronson Strickland, assistant Extension professor of wildlife at Mississippi State University.  “They can get on a farm and root up entire crop rows in just one night.  They can dig up almost every single seed in a field.  They aren’t picky; they get into soybeans, corn, and most recently, peanut farms.”

“What made pigs so ideal for domestication is what makes them a problem in the wild.  They are opportunistic omnivores, so they can survive on just about anything such as acorns, roots, fawns, rabbits, and reptiles”, Strickland said.

Further are the hog damage assessment comments by Kris Godwin, Mississippi Wildlife Services Director for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.  “They are not only ruining row crops, but they are also causing major environmental damage.  They are competing with deer and other wildlife for resources, and causing erosion in creeks”, said Godwin.

Trapping hogs has been the traditional mode for attempts at trying to control the pig population. Mississippi State University and federal experts also are now recommending hunting wild pigs as an additional means of population control.

MDWFPHogs are classified as nuisance animals.  They are not a good thing to have.  If you have ever been to a property with hogs, you know this.  The MDWFP encourages the taking of wild hogs following all legal methods”, says Delta Regional Biologist, Roger Tankesly.

Hence the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks position on listing wild hogs as nuisance wildlife.  Defined as such nuisance animals are ones that regularly cause conflicts through their interactions with humans.  Wild pigs fit that definition to a tee in all respects, especially in farming communities.

Accordingly the state has set very liberal hunting rules and regulations when it comes to hunting hogs.  A complete review of these can be seen on the state wildlife web site at www.mdwfp.com.  Look under the hunting section and click on nuisance animals.  Basically the season is open from March 1 until the day prior to the opening of deer archery season, which has traditionally been the first of October.  There are no restrictions on private lands, but some rules may be specific to individual public lands such as state managed wildlife management areas.  A state hunting license is required.  All of this rolls together into the makings of a perfect storm for hunting wild pigs in Mississippi.

Tips for Pig Penetration

Magnolia State wild pigs can tip the scales over 300 pounds.  They are tough, smart, sport heavy armor, possess keen noses and better hearing.  Their weakness is precise eyesight, but movement is easily detected so don’t rely on that fault.  They can be terribly hard to bring down in one shot.  Or two.

I started hog hunting a few years ago with Delta landowners Charles and Josh Ezelle of Madison and followed their lead on what armament to use.  Much of our quest for hogs was initially by trial and trying.  We hunted hogs with bows and 12 gauge shotguns when we walked grown up CRP land.  I recommend the shotgun and buckshot seems to turn the tide”, advised Jason Pope.

“As a secondary consequence to deer hunting from tree stands on this same property, when a hog would happen to wander into range we would dispatch them with our deer rifles either chambered for the .270 or .308 Winchester”, Pope continued.  “Both worked well.”

I am not sure if there is a “best” hog rifle or chambering ideal for knocking pigs down in round one, because so many options exist and so many are found being used in the field.  I do know that interest in using the AR platform is exploding among hog hunters.  I have seen the damage a .223 can do with DRT 79-grain ammo, as well as the Smith and Wesson AR in 300 Whisper.  I have a Rock River Arms LAR-308 in hand now with plans to hog hunt with it.  This rifle has already soundly downed white-tailed deer so I expect it to do well on big pigs.

For tactical hunters, the keen interest is in fast paced hunting with close quarters confrontations.  Be careful what you ask for though.  This means having a magazine loaded up with 10 or 20 or even 30 rounds.  Shots have to come quick, often in spurts and on target.  This is decidedly not “spray and pray” hunting.

As to the tool of application, the gate is wide open.  Count among good hog rifles quick handling lever actions, and semi-autos before bolt guns, but it depends on the type of hunt, whether from a stand, stalking, with dogs, or on horseback.  If scoped, use a low power for a full field of view at close ranges.  Handguns are best kept in a crossdraw or forward cant holster for quick access.  The nod for shotguns went to semi-auto first with pumps coming close.  As is usually the case, the best gun for any type of hunting is the one you can shoot best…under pressure.  Archery equipment works well, too and crossbows are gaining popularity on hogs. These weapons approaches are of course more traditional than tactical.

Tac hunters will be sporting all types of ARs.  This is the most popular weapon of choice now for SHWAT type hunting.  Hunters will have trouble deciding which brand weapon and which features best fit their needs.  The AR marketplace is like a smorgasbord.  Plenty to pick from but nobody can do it all.  Buy a good reputable brand and outfit the way you want with rail accessories and good optics.  Then run plenty of ammo through it.

Magnolia Pig Tactics

Hunting hogs seems to be pretty much a freelance affair.  It amounts to confronting them on their own turf and reacting accordingly.  In hog country the critters can literally pop up anywhere, anytime as attested to earlier by Jason Pope.  This has been my own experience as well on the occasions I have encountered hogs usually when deer hunting in the fall.

Hog down“When we go out to specifically hunt hogs, we walk the roads and trails listening for them squealing, or grunting up in the woods or out on CRP land.  When we hear hogs or get a sighting we put a slow stalk on them from downwind”, notes Pope.  “Sometimes we might see one from a deer stand.  Then we get down stalking them close enough for a solid shot.”

“When I hunt with Charles Ezelle and his brother Josh, we walk, crawl, stalk and listen.  We basically go into stealth mode.  We do a lot of quiet, slow stalking so as not to spook the hogs before we can get on them”, says Pope.

The Delta WMA biologist, Jackie Fleeman indicated, “If you want to use horses and dogs, then I would try a hog hunt on the Sunflower WMA.  If it is a still hunt you want, then Mahannah is a good choice.  Be sure to double check all the WMA regulations on hog hunting.”

Mississippi has been growing its reputation for exceptional white-tailed deer and wild turkey hunting over the past twenty plus years.  But, those species are hardly the whole story when it comes to hunting opportunities in the Magnolia State including our wild pig hunts.  Between a huge variety of public hunting lands available, liberal seasons, good weather, and top notch hospitality toward hunters, Mississippi is the place to be.  Pack up your hog AR and tactical gear and get over here.

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