It’s no secret that wild hogs are trying to take over Texas, and if you happen to be looking for a little hunting adventure on the wild side, try hog hunting at night – with a bow.
If that sounds a little crazy, you’re right on the money. The good news is that the hunting is done from elevated tree and tripod stands that offer you a little protection for close range encounters with wild pigs in the attack mode.
Carlos Fernandez has been hunting pigs at night since 1999 on his family ranches south of San Antonio in Atascosa County.
“We run a cattle business on our ranches, and the pigs became a problem many years ago,” says Fernandez. “They were multiplying rapidly and doing plenty of damage to our fences, plus they can spread diseases and tear up the land. I began hunting them, but quickly figured out that it was a rare thing to see a pig in broad daylight. So it was obvious I’d have to go nocturnal if I wanted to eliminate some pigs. That’s when I came up with the idea to set up corn feeders, with lights under them.”
If didn’t take long for Fernandez to begin killing pigs in big time numbers.
“The first thing I did was set up two corn feeders in areas that had a lot of pig activity,” says Fernandez. “We have lots of acorn trees on the ranches. When they are dropping acorns in the fall; that’s a true magnet for pigs. But during late winter and spring hunts they will come to corn, but only at night.”
The drill is simple – find out where the pigs are, set up a feeder and a nearby stand. Fernandez says he rigs up a solar light under each feeder. This allows better visibility for more accurate shooting at night.
“I like to be on stand just after sunset,” says Fernandez. “You never know when the pigs are going to come in. Sometimes they will come in just after it gets dark. Then there are nights when I won’t hear or see a thing until around midnight. “
In most situations Fernandez says he’ll hear the pigs squealing before they come in. But there are some big boars in the 200 to 300 pound class that come in unannounced.
“The boars that are alone can be very smart,” says Fernandez. “They will make low guttural sounds and circle the area before coming in. They can be very sneaky. It’s important to be still, and try to eliminate as much human scent as possible. I shower with hunter soaps and am very careful about placing my hunting clothing in rubberized bags to prevent scent contamination. Hogs have much better smelling ability than deer, so it is important to have a good scent control program in place on your body scent as well as equipment scent. I also like to use Scent Lok or Scent Blocker clothing to help control my scent. I use hunter’s underarm deodorant, too.Most of the pigs Fernandez has killed with his bow are from a stand within 20 to 30 yards from the feeder. But during the full moon, he’ll often stalk pigs as they are roaming around the ranch in areas that aren’t so brushy. That can be a little spooky. There are lots of rattlesnakes to contend with. And remember that when shooting a bow, you have to get within range. That’s why you must always play the wind correctly so the hogs don’t get downwind and smell you.
The equipment you use for bowhunting hogs definitely makes a difference.
“I currently use a Mathews Switchback and a Diamond Nitrous,” said Fernandez. “I use the Diamond bow, with a 60-pound draw weight, with a Hind site and True Glow site with a tritium pin. I use Beeman ICS Hunter 400 arrows with Muzzy three-blade or four-blade broadheads. I like the tough tips for breaking bone on those marginal shots. I also like to use lighted nocks, because most of the time the hogs come to eat after dark. With the lighted nock I can tell where the arrow hit so that I will know if I made a good shot or not.”
Pigs are tough critters, and to bring one down with an arrow takes a good shot in the right spot.
“I prefer to make heart shots for a quick clean kill,” says Fernandez. “However, with heart shots I have had hogs go anywhere from 5 to 120 yards. On average, they seem to go down after 40 to 60 yards. I like to make a quartering away shot and imagine where the arrow will come out to line up for the exit wound through the heart. I have tried various mechanical blades but have had problems with complete pass throughs on hogs from about 150 pounds on up. The 100 grain Muzzy’s go through nearly every time.”
One little trick that Fernandez has come up with is to bait various areas with fresh signs of hog activity. What he’ll do is fill a plastic gallon jug about 3/4 full with corn. Next he’ll pour red soda into the corn, filling it to within about 3 inches below the top. The corn will expand with the soda. Let the mixture set up for a few days and it’s good to go.
“I’ll sprinkle the soured corn along game trails or areas with fresh pig sign,” said Fernandez. “You don’t have to use very much. Also I’ll hang the jug from a tree limb around the feeders. That way I can spread some of the scented corn out any time I’m on the ranch. That keeps them coming back for more.”
The tactics that Fernandez uses will work just about anywhere you find wild pigs. The key to the whole deal is going nocturnal.
“I’ve got two young daughters and a wife at home, so I don’t usually hunt more than a few hours,” said Fernandez. “Most of the time, if I’m doing chores at the ranch, I’ll hunt ’til midnight then head back to the house in San Antonio to keep out of trouble. If I get lucky and kill a pig, I’ll skin and quarter it and place it on ice. There’s always somebody at a church or a family member that can use the meat.”