On the Hunt: Wild Boar
Wild hogs, or boars, are feral pigs, and they probably one of the most exhilarating and challenging animals to hunt. There are many benefits to boar hunting; a freezer full of pork, trophy tusks, and incredible stories. The days of hunting for a single wild boar in his natural habitat are long over, and with the rise in boar hunters, finding a large trophy boar can be more challenging than ever before.
Boar hunters must keep in mind the terrain they will be hunting in as well as their range to the pigs when choosing rifle and ammunition. Many successful hunts use center fire rifles, but the caliber will depend on the size of hog desired and how close the hunters expect to get. For close range, no more than 150 yards, in dense scrub, a .30 Winchester rifle, or .44 Magnum will do nicely. As will the Remington 7600 pump action and the side-by-side Chapeus because they are compact and can get off rapid shots; above all other advantages, though, is that all of these firearms are available in large calibers, increasing their effectiveness at close range as well as their effective range overall. The drawback on these choices is that they are all relatively high-priced; the Remington can run at least $1,000 and the Chapeus starts at $5,500 stock.
For hunts out in the open, higher velocity and lighter projectiles is the key….30-06 or 7.6mm are good choices as they are capable of higher speeds and lighter, aerodynamic profiles increase accuracy while conserving that velocity. Hunters going after wild pig out in the open should also consider a bolt action, which is better at long range. Look for one that is light enough to carry easily but heavy enough to take the recoil of a larger cartridge. The biggest consideration when choosing a weapon is comfort; how long do you expect to have to carry it before finding a spot, and are you physically able and willing to haul it around to the ends of the earth if need be? Many successful boar hunters use shotguns. These weapons are versatile; they can handle everything from small birds all the way up to hogs. Use a 12 gauge, but the decision as whether to use shot or slugs is an important one, dependent on circumstance.
Reserve pellets for boar hunting in close proximity, as they are of no use at greater distances. They are worthwhile at distances closer than 150 yards or so. For longer ranges, rifled slugs and sabots are better choices. They are heavier, as they are normally lead or copper alloy, and are incredibly powerful. The major drawback of these types of ammunition is their accuracy, especially in a smoothbore. Bolt-action shotguns with rifled barrels are available—the Mossberg 695 or the Savage 210F are examples—and these create accurate groupings. Beware of single shot though, as they take too long to reload and could put the shooter in a compromising position at worse, or lose a perfect shot at best.
The other end of this is hunters who seek out boar in surroundings that are more delicate; in pastures with cattle at night, for example. In such situations, small-bore calibers are more appropriate because they reduce the likelihood of ricochet or stray bullets that can hit undesired targets. Two suggestions best for this type of situation are the 220 swift and the 22-250. This combination allows light bullets and incredible speed with less danger to unintended targets. Using a 55grn F.M.J. boat tail load delivers incredible speed while guaranteeing that even a full metal jacket will dislocate and break-up on impact, further reducing the risk of stray bullets, and is able to penetrate the shoulder and lungs of large hogs in less-than-ideal situations where a clean-kill neck shot is not reasonable. Hunters should use these types of combinations solely in conditions similar to those described here, as these setups will not work effectively in close-quarters, bad weather, or in situations where there are obstacles present close to the target hog.
Hunting wild pig is an adventure; through wide open pasture land and down into damp thicket. When on the trail of an elusive boar, having the right kind combination of ammunition and weapon is essential to coming home with a winter’s worth of meat and a set of hefty trophy husks.