Not only do I really like hog hunting, but I’ll have to admit that I’m a major gear nut too. I really like trying all kinds of new guns and gear for my passion, Hog Hunting. Being in the gun industry, opportunities abound. While I’m constantly trying new products, I’ve settled on certain guns and gear as necessary and my proven favorites.
While cool guns and optics are a blast to read about, look at pictures of, and handle, a few more mundane products are essential for hog hunting success. We’ll call these our necessary gear and they consist of:
Hunting Vehicle. I hunt a large area; 15,000 acres plus, so good off road transportation is essential. I’ve tried a lot of ATVs/UTVs and have settled on Kawasaki for the following reasons: they are quiet, comfortable, have lots of cargo space, and the local dealer is great. We run both 610 and 4010 Trans Mules. The 610 is bulletproof. The 4010, with all their bells and whistles are less so, but I often need to transport more than one person so they work for me. While on this subject, you MUST have good auxiliary lights. I use the excellent HID variety because they are reliable, don’t scare game which sees the blue light as natural daylight and have a long range. The two 4” 35 watt lights I use allow me to identify the sex of a hog out to 100 yards or so.
Good binoculars. I’ve been using the Nikon Monarch ATB 8.5×56 for quite a while with excellent results. They have the best light gathering of any binocular that I have tried to date. Downside, they are pretty big and heavy. More recently I have been using a pair of Burris Signature Select 8.5×56 which are 95% as good in low light, smaller and lighter. Since I do a lot of walking during spot and stalk hunting, the reduction in size and weight is very nice. You really can’t go wrong with either product in my opinion. Bottom line, don’t even consider a cheap bino with an objective lens of less than 40mm.
Shooting Sticks. If you do spot and stalk hunting, you simply gotta have them! I learned this in Africa where most shots are taken from shooting sticks. I use the Stoney Point Expedition model which works great from kneeling or standing and are simple and quick to use.
Wind Detection. Windicator powder for daytime use and a Bic lighter for night time use are essential. Successful hog hunting is all about working the wind. Hogs see OK, hear pretty well and have sense of smell that’s EXCEPTIONAL. You simply MUST know at all times what the wind is doing, it’s the difference between success and failure.
Weapons Mounted Light. If you don’t have a night vision weapons sight, which most people won’t, you will need a weapon mounted bright focused light to shoot after dark when most hogs are out. There are dozens of good weapons lights on the market, however, many are designed for handguns and to spread a wide beam. These will not work well for hog hunting. You need the brightest, most focused beam you can get for hog hunting. You need enough light to properly identify and place your shot out to 75 yards minimum. Personally, I use an excellent light made for Wilson Combat by Coast, it’s bright, focused, durable, and has a very long run time on common AAA batteries.
Night Vision. Assuming minimal clouds there are 12-14 nights a month when conditions are optimal for spot and stalk night vision hunting – my favorite way to hunt. I hunt primarily food plots and rolling hill ranch land spot and stalk. There are lots of objects and drainage ditches to injure yourself on, so I only hunt when I can see well enough to walk in the dark with no artificial light. During these conditions light intensifying night vision works great. I use two Night Optics PVS 14 monoculars, one standard unit for driving my Kawasaki Mule and one with a 3x Mil-Spec magnifier when I’m stalking to properly identify my suspected target. My units run on one common AA battery and battery life is exceptional, I put in a fresh battery every 6 months just because I don’t want to be out on a long stalk and my battery go dead. For the way I hunt, this is an essential piece of gear. For shooting I’ve tried three units and still like my Night Optics D740 with gen 3+ tubes the best. As with the PVS 14, the D740 runs on common AA batteries and has very good battery life, this is a major plus. Only thing I don’t like about them is the bulk and weight. I see where Night Optics is coming out with a D730 that is a lot smaller and lighter and they are supposed to send me one for T&E as soon as they are available.
Thermal. Obviously not “necessary” gear, but wanted to give my opinion on it. I thought I had to have one, so after research spent the money and got a top quality Flir unit. It works very well in total darkness, however I can’t see to walk in total darkness…………therefore I rarely use it. Only thing I have found it really useful for (except a very expensive toy) is to locate a wounded or dead hog in the dark that has run some distance.
OK, we’re finally down to GUNS! As stated above, I try new guns all the time and have many “favorites”, but my GO TO hog hunting guns are:
Custom Ruger Hawkeye model 77 .30-06. This rifle has a laminate stock which I personally prefer and has been tuned and bedded. The barrel has been cut down to 20” since I hate long rifles and rarely shoot past 200 yards anyway. It’s topped with the best riflescope on the market for low light hunting, a Trijicon 2.5-10×56 Accupoint green dot crosshair. This is the rifle I took to Turkey for trophy European boar where you only hunt by ambient moon light. Barnes 180gr TTSX is the bullet of choice.
Custom Ruger Hawkeye model 77 .358 Winchester. This is probably my favorite bolt gun for hog hunting. With its 18” PacNor barrel it’s light and handy and has been tuned and bedded so is very accurate too. As with the .30-06 is sports a laminate stock which is rigid and still looks good. It’s topped with a Trijicon 3-9×40 Accupoint green dot crosshair. Nosler 225gr Partition is the bullet of choice.
Browning BAR Short Trac .308 Win. We took a standard short trac BAR and cut the bbl down to 16” and fitted one of our Whisper suppressors. Re-tuned the gas system and worked the trigger pull over. Topped it with a Trijicon 3-9×40 Accupoint green dot crosshair scope in lightweight Talley rings and ended up with one sweet rig. Lightweight, accurate and VERY light recoil with the proven performance of the .308 Win. Cartridge. Light recoil, accurate and follow-up shot firepower, what’s not to like? It’s a LOT lighter and handier than an AR-10 platform .308. Haven’t settled on a load for this one yet, but the Federal Fusion 150gr factory ammo that the rifle likes has been putting them down just fine.
Wilson Combat Recon SBR 11” 6.8 SPC II. For a long time this was my main GO TO carbine and I’ve killed a LOT of hogs with it, especially when it was wearing a D740 NV scope. It’s suppressed with an early Wilson Combat Whisper suppressor and is pretty darn quiet. It’s topped with another excellent Trijicon 3-9×40 Accupoint green dot crosshair. Barnes 110gr TSX is the bullet of choice. I took my largest Texas hog to date (318#) DRT (Dead Right There) with this carbine wearing the D740 NV scope.
Wilson Combat Recon SBR 11” 7.62x40WT. The 7.62x40WT is a cartridge I have a personal passion for, it does what the 300 Blackout claims it can do with light supersonic bullets. We talked Barnes into making a special bullet specifically for this cartridge and hog hunting and boy does it work. Close to 200 hog kills and counting! It’s suppressed with a Wilson Combat Whisper suppressor and is almost as quiet as the 6.8 SPC. This little SBR carbine is light, handy, quiet and EFFECTIVE. It’s topped with one of the fairly new Leupold VX-R 3-9×50 illuminated scopes but has a twin that’s topped with a D740 NV scope. The new Barnes 110gr TTSX LV is the bullet of choice.
Now we get SERIOUS!!!
Lately we’ve been working on the .458 SOCOM project and plan to be building them soon. So far we have recovered five hogs shot with the 458 SOCOM that had poorly placed shots, I seriously doubt we would have recovered them if they had been shot with a lesser caliber.
Wilson Combat Recon LW 14.7” .458 SOCOM. This little carbine is short, light (8# 2oz loaded with scope) and hits like a sledgehammer. It has a permanent attached flash hider so has a legal 16.1” barrel. Lately this is my daytime every day GO TO carbine that’s always in the Mule. This carbine is VERY fast handling and gives you a lot of confidence in its stopping power and firepower when following up a wounded hog. It’s topped with a Trijicon 3-9×40 Accupoint green dot crosshair scope. Barnes 300gr TAC TX is the bullet of choice.
Wilson Combat Recon SR 14.7” .458 SOCOM with Whisper Suppressor. This rifle is very accurate and topped with a Night Optics D740 night vision scope it’s DEADLY. A little on the heavy side with suppressor and NV scope, but as a plus recoil is very mild. It, too, has a permanent attached suppressor mount so is a legal 16.1”. To date I have never tried anything that gives you as much margin for shot placement error as this set-up does. Barnes 300gr TAC TX is the bullet of choice.
Well there you have it, my favorite guns and gear, subject to change, of course!
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