Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Time for Hunters to Go Hog Wild; Aggressive and Tough Wild Pigs Are Tempting Target, Challenge

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Time for Hunters to Go Hog Wild; Aggressive and Tough Wild Pigs Are Tempting Target, Challenge

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob McNally

Right now is prime time for wild hog hunting throughout Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia.

Wild pigs can be hunted in both states on private land year-round and on many public hunting areas too (check specific state regulations for each area).

The few weeks following general gun deer season up to the opening of spring turkey season are arguably the best for chasing hogs. Mornings are still pleasantly cool, and insects and snakes are not too much of an annoyance in the woods, so hog hunting is choice.

For the most part, sportsmen either love wild hogs or hate them.

That varying perspective often depends on where you live and, more important, if your land is inhabited by untamed swine. Many hunters who live where there are no wild hogs get pretty excited about pursuing them. That's often the result of television shows making wild hogs out to be such a deadly massive menace (think "Hogzilla" and reality TV nonsense), that folks north of the Mason-Dixon line get fearful just thinking about hairy oinkers wandering in our underbrush. Pigs can be ornery, and anyone who has hunted them a bit has had run-ins with tusks and ill-tempered hog hide. But rogue lions they are not.

Most rural Southern landowners where hogs run wild and free loathe the non-native critters because they are remarkably destructive, extremely prolific and can be as wily and difficult to hunt, trap or corral as anything on four legs.

In recent years, suburban homeowners have had many run-ins with nuisance hogs, including plenty of places in and around Jacksonville. Hogs live where it's gnarly wild, cool and wet, and with the area's myriad river systems, feral pigs travel widely. From those dank recesses, they routinely forage at night for grubs and tubers beneath manicured lawns, much to the consternation of folks with high-dollar real estate. This is common in many parts of St. Johns, Duval, Clay, Baker and Nassau counties, and trappers are called regularly to remove such animals as best they can. Beautiful and expensive golf courses bordering picturesque rivers and streams regularly are rooted up and pillaged by pigs, who seem to have a special affinity for posh golf greens and tee boxes.

But trappers never get them all. Pigs are simply too smart, too prolific, and there are too many places for them to hide.

Wild pig populations in the U.S. might be as high as several million animals. Unlike most other big game, pigs breed year-round, and one mature sow can have as many as 20 young in a year. A pig also can grow to 100 pounds in 12 months. This ability to overpopulate can be a pain to landowners who don't keep pig populations in check.

While hogs are fun to hunt, and their meat is delicious on the dinner table, they can be extremely destructive. …

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