Wild pigs are taking over the south. My home state of Mississippi is well positioned within their home range land grab. All up and down the traverse of the Mississippi River bordering the farm rich lands of the Delta the hogs are rooting up everything in their pathway. This includes destruction of valuable croplands along with the planted crops of corn, soybeans, cotton, sunflowers, and other cash crops.
Aside from agricultural destruction, wild pigs are moving ever more concentrated into residential and industrial areas where people are. They roam into people’s well groomed yards and rip out shrubs, flower beds, and anything else they deem available to eat, which is about anything. Citizens are growing more fearful of their presence with every passing season.
Hogs are also ripping up valuable wildlife habitat used by white-tailed deer, wild turkey, small game, and upland birds. Now they are messing with Mississippi’s Holy Grail. Even the state wildlife agency has responded with provisions allowing the harvest of wild hogs on private property by any means, at any time day or night, and with no bag limits. Hog hunting can also be done on public lands during other regulated hunting seasons. Check out the legal details on www.mdwfp.com.
Now the historic flood waters last spring pushed hogs into new regions of the state laying further groundwork for even more challenges for landowners, farmers, wildlife managers, and hunters. On the bright side there looks to be plenty of hog hunting opportunities into the foreseeable future in Mississippi. Come join us.
Big Medicine for Big Pigs
The Rock River Arms LAR-8 Elite Operator is an AR-15 platform rifle on steroids. Fresh from the factory this 7.62 semi-auto hunting tool is ready to take on any game that the traditional .308 Winchester can handle. The .308 is highly popular for deer hunting here and is the big stick for wild hogs. We’re not discussing ballistics here, but trust me, as any experienced game hunter or military sniper knows the .308 can assuredly handle pigs with prejudice. And the format is the perfect weapon for tactical hog hunters and SHWAT hunters.
The RRA-LAR comes in several different model configurations, but I opted for the Elite Operator for a variety of reasons. This model offers a 16-inch chrome moly barrel with a 1:10 twist. The muzzle is capped with a Smith Vortex flash hider.
The buttstock is their Operator CAR collapsible stock with six positions, integral ribbed rubber buttpad, watertight battery storage and multiple sling mounts. The top of the action and barrel is a flat ladder rail from stem to stern forward to the flip front sight gas block. The handguard section is RRA’s half quad with three ladder rail covers. This model does not come with a rear BUIS (back up iron sight), but RRA offers them as an accessory. The grip is a good feeling soft Hogue pistol grip.
The rifle is 38 inches in length and weighs 9.1 pounds with a 1.5 MOA at 100 yards accuracy rating. It comes from the factory with a hard plastic case and one 20-round magazine. Five and ten round factory mags are also available to comply with hunting regulations in various states. In Mississippi the 20-rounder is OK for hog hunting, but a 10-round is easier to handle.
Practical Range Work
Now if you study the RRA catalog or their www.rockriverarms.com web site, the factory recommendations for use of the Elite Operator LAR-8 model is for law enforcement and home defense, not hunting or target work. However, obviously that does not mean that the rifle configuration cannot be used for hunting. I suspect it is more in the personal preferences and choices hunters make in the type of firearm they want to use.
In every way, I see no reason the Elite Operator should not be used for hunting. To me, for an AR type format in .308, this Rock River rifle is perfect for wild pig hunting, but would be equally effective on big deer. In fact this past deer season I took my first buck with this rig with an added Trijicon scope.
Given that this rifle was selected for pig hunting the ammo choices needed to match the task at hand as well. With hunting ammo on sale after the deer season was over, I picked up boxes of both Remington and Winchester basic .308 hunting rounds with 150 grain soft point bullets.
My local commercial 50-yard indoor range can handle heavy rifle calibers, so out of pure convenience I elected to sight in the RRA-LAR there instead of driving over an hour to a 100-yard outdoor range. I mounted a Trijicon AccuPoint 1x4x24mm scope with a German #4 crosshair and green dot with factory tactical type rail ring-mounts. This is a 30mm tube scope so illumination is exceptional in this ambient light powered scope. I anticipate that hogs will be encountered at relatively close ranges, so this scope should prove perfect.
I ran a scope collimator on this set up to get the rifle dialed in on target paper. The first three round trial was several inches low and wide, but the group was ¾ inch. Yeah, I was impressed. Subsequent groups were just as good with the Remington ammo slightly outperforming the Winchester loads. Basically it was a toss up. Glad I bought plenty of both.
Proof in the Pudding?
Well, I’d love to say I could report this rig has proven successful afield, but alas my first trip to hunt hogs came up a donut hole. I was hunting a friend’s private land in the southeast section of the state and the property was bone dry and seemingly devoid of the critters. But we knew better.
Charlie had baited areas with corn chops the weekend before and all that was gone. A second baiting disappeared too. We sat in deer stands over the baited areas, cruised the trails on foot, but alas, found no hogs. All the water holes had dried up. We found one wallow along side a farm pond on the property, baited it, too, but nothing touched it. So, to date, no hog kill. We have scheduled another hunt this year.
I feel certain my Rock River Arms Elite Operator 308 will get its day in court as it were. I have no doubt it is up to the task and will perform as designed so long as I do not panic at the sight of black bodies in the shadows. If you are looking for a different approach to a firearm for hunting, then consider the AR platform format. Rock River Arms will have what you need.