Wild hogs and boars are spreading through the U.S.A. They mostly live in southeastern states, but in recent years there has been a surge in growth, and they have been spotted as far north as Michigan. Texas Boars, a private hunting guide, says as many as half of them are in Texas. Texas Boars’ website says there were 2 million in Texas in 2015, and the Texas Department of Wildlife said there were 1.5 million in 2005.
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Hogs and Boar Types
There are two types of hogs. One is the boar, which the Spanish brought in the 1500s for food. They eventually escaped and became wild. The other type is the domesticated pigs, which are called feral hogs, brought by settlers that have become wild. There is some cross-breeding, and many wild hogs are a combination of the two.
Boars have tusks, long straight hair and very thick skin, which wild domesticated pigs do not have. The further north you get, the fewer boars there are. In settler days, pigs were left to roam free and rounded up when needed. Farmers marked the ears of the pigs, and that is where the term “earmarked” comes from.
Hog Hunting Popularity
Hog hunting is growing in popularity in the U.S.A. and there are very few rules. Most states have no limit and season is open year round. Texas requires you to have a hunting license, and some states – like Georgia – require a license only on public land. In most states they may be hunted without limit and without a license. Some states, like Maryland, consider animals on private property to be the property of the landowner. Most states do not consider hogs to be game animals, so they have no protection at all.
Hogs are smart animals, have a very keen sense of smell, and are very fast. This makes them a challenge to hunt,which has contributed to their popularity among hunters. Hogs are also ferocious. They will attack any animal or human when provoked or cornered.
According to the USDA Guide to Boars, the problem with hogs is that they have no natural predator because they are not native to the United States. They also reproduce rapidly. A sow can have three or four litters per year with two to eight pigs each. Hogs are known to destroy crops and wildlife habitat and they will kill small animals at times. Hogs or boars also carry disease to other animals. Whether they carry disease to humans is a matter of debate.
Use for Hogs and Boars
Hogs and boars produce good meat for eating. Medium-sized boars are best for food. Pork of course should be cooked thoroughly. Hogs are generally around 200 pounds, but 300-pound hogs are not too uncommon. Rarely, a hog around 500 pounds has been found.
Hogs like swampy areas with lots of vegetation. For many years they were confined to the southeast and Texas, but in the last 20 years they have spread rapidly. They were introduced first by the Spanish in the 1500s, but in the early 1900s British hunters introduced them into hunting ranches – especially in Texas – for game hunting.
Hogs may be hunted on most public land where hunting is allowed. Sometimes hog hunting is restricted during gun deer season. Hogs and boars may generally be hunted on private property at any time with the owner’s permission. There are many outfitters and guides offering hog and boar hunting trips.