Hunting Hogs at Night

image of a running wild hog from GeorgiaWell, hogs can be a challenging foe for the hunter.  The main reason for this is that hogs are one of the most intelligent game animals.  Since they are more intelligent than dogs or horses, wild pigs/hogs can evade predators, find food, and find mates to breed with much more readily than other animals.  Hogs sense of smell is very acute and is comparable to that of a blood hound.  This is the reason that hogs are used to locate the underground mushrooms called truffles in many parts of Europe.  While hogs' eyesight is not as good as some other animals, it is roughly equivalent to that of a human except that hogs can see much better at night than humans can. Wild pigs can apparently see white light much better than colored lights and therefore many hog hunters use colored lights on feeders.

Where did wild hogs come from?

There are reports in historical records as early as the 1500s that the Spanish conquistadors and priests brought domesticated pigs with them to their colonies in in northern Florida and Southeastern Georgia.  Their Georgia colonies were lost, colonists and priests were killed, and forts were uninhabited when the Spanish returned a few months later.  We can only assume that these first pigs in Georgia interbred and spread out across the territory. 

In 1733, when British colonists were setting up the 13th colony of Georgia, they reported finding wild pigs in Georgia's forests along the coast around Savannah.  The new Georgians also brought pigs with them from England and the colonies in Virginia and Carolina to Georgia.  Overtime, some of these pigs escaped from farms and mixed with the existing wild hog population. 

In the 1800s, wild pigs were nearly brought to extinction due to excessive hunting and trapping. But, since the 1950s, feral pig populations have exploded until they have reached today's epidemic proportions.  In fact, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia may have the highest feral hog population in the South, second only to Texas. 

Wild Hog's Typical Appearance

Feral hogs may vary considerably in coloring, coat color, and appearance.  Since feral hogs are mainly the descendants of various breeds of domestic pigs, some variations in color and appearance are common.  However, in some areas wild hogs may appear much hairier and darker in color.  This may indicate, as some wildlife biologist have suggested, that some European wild boar may have mixed with feral hogs in Georgia.  This may have been deliberately done in recent decades by certain landowners for sport hunting purposes or these hogs could be descendants of the much earlier Spanish pig stock.  No definite answers are yet known. 

There have been reports around several parts of South Georgia that giant feral hogs exist such as the much renowned "hogzilla." But, there is much controversy about whether these hogs are legitimate wild hogs or hogs that folks have trapped and fed in order to try to break records. 

What do they eat?

Hogs are omnivores meaning that they can eat both meat and vegetation.  Hogs forage for pretty much anything that they can reach that is edible.  One clear mark that feral pigs are in the area are hogs rooting around in fieldrooting marks on the ground where groups of hogs have rooted around in the soil trying to find edible roots, insects, and small ground animals to eat. In the video below, you can see the damage that domestic hogs have done to this farmer's pasture having just been placed in the field for 14 days.  You can imagine the damage that wild hogs could do since they are more aggressive.