John's Journal...

Feral Hogs – Here They Come

Hard Work for Wild Hogs

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Anyone who’s hunted wild hogs understands you have to work really hard to take them and often get filthy in the process. In the Mobile Delta around Mobile, Alabama, you work for the hogs you take and come out muddy and wet. Mike Handley of Valley, Alabama, my longtime hunting buddy and the editor of “Rackmaster” magazine in Montgomery, Ala. hunted Delta hogs with Jamie Melton of Orange Beach, Ala. on the W.L. Holland & Mobile-Tensaw Delta Wildlife Management Area in the Mobile Delta.

“We were cruising the flats in an old runabout, looking for hogs,” Handley remembers. “Often the Mobile Delta’s WMAs on their southernmost ends are just floating mats of vegetation. On low tide, you can find some ground to stClick to enlargeand on, but it’s all wet, soggy and muddy. If you don’t wear chest waders, you’ll wish you had. The region’s also covered with palmetto swamps, interspersed with scrub oak and live oak trees. On the banks next to the water is an abundance of green tubers on which the hogs seem to thrive. Many times we could see the hogs on the edges of the water, feeding. But since we couldn’t shoot from a moving boat, we wouldn’t take those shots. We mainly wanted to find where the hogs were ranging to possibly hunt them later.” Handley reported that he saw quite a few small pigs and a dozen or more shoats that would have weighted from 40- to 60-pounds each – good meat hogs but not big enough for anyone to consider them trophy hogs. Handley and his friends planned to stalk hunt that afternoon. “You have to walk really slowly when you go through the swamp, because you can step where you think there’s solid grouClick to enlargend but soon be in water up to your chin,” Handley mentions.

When the hunters arrived at a break in the woods where the woods and the undergrowth stopped, they discovered an area resembling a pasture but actually made up of floating water weeds. Melton and Handley returned to the boat and went to an island to stalk hunt.
“I’ve never seen so much hog sign as I did on that island,” Handley emphasizes. “Many of the saplings were cut and slashed where the hogs had sharpened their teeth, and there were a number of trees where the bark was rubbed off because the hogs had scratched themselves. We also found a lot of rooting and hog droppings on the island. We felt certain we could take a pig there.” Handley doesn’t advise hunting Mobile Delta-type country, like you find in coastal areas except during the cold winter months. “We were wading waist-high in palmettos, and I’m sure in the warmer months there were many snakes there,” Handley says. Handley and Melton jumped a niceClick to enlarge hog that ran in between them, got in the water and swam from the island they were on to another island. They then took a fat 200-plus-pound sow.

“I knew there was no way we could carry that sow out of the swamp because the ground was so wet, and the mud was so soft, you couldn’t get a solid footing,” Handley recalls. The hunters got back into the boat, circled the island and navigated through a narrow inlet that led them within 50 yards of where the sow lay. “We put on chest-high waders and went into the swamp to drag the hog out,” Handley remembers. “Many times we buried waist-deep in the mud, trying to pull the hog the 50-yards back to the boat. The ordeal took about 45 minutes. When we finally got the hog loaded onto the front end of the boat, both hog and hunters were covered in mud and smelly swamp slime.”

Tomorrow: Why the Big Hogs?


Check back each day this week for more about "Feral Hogs - Here They Come"

Day 1: How Bad Is the Problem?
Day 2: How to Control the Wild Hog and Protect Your Land
Day 3: Wild Hogs Are Coming to a Town Near You
Day 4: Hard Work for Wild Hogs
Day 5: Why the Big Hogs?



Entry 426, Day 4