Globetrotting For Hogs

Finding A Silk Purse Across Four Continents
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The giant forest hog is shy and elusive, making them challenging to hunt.
Mark took this big hog in Central African Republic with his Freedom Arms .44
Mag and Buffalo Bore 305-grain L.B.T.-L.F.N. ammo.

A Ruger Super Blackhawk customized by Mag-na-port and
fitted with a Leupold scope makes for a dandy hog gun.

There’s no doubt whitetail deer is the most popular big game animal here in the U.S. Their existence is widespread over much of the country and numbers have proliferated in recent times. However, in the past few years there is another animal creeping up on the popularity of whitetail deer — the wild pig. Their numbers have not only increased exponentially but their range has expanded greatly.

Like many others, I enjoy hunting hogs and have taken them in North America, South America, Australia and Africa. While different species of hogs vary depending on location, the end result is always the same — pure unadulterated exuberance!

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Hornady’s Jayden Quinlan took this warthog in South Africa with a Benelli Lupo
in .30-06. Jason was using Hornady’s Outfitter ammo with a 165-grain GMX.

Mark’s luggage was lost in Cameroon and he was forced to use a camp rifle
with lots of “character.” This Blaser in .375 H&H has seen better days but
it’s accounted for a lot of game!

Numbers Don’t Lie

Pig population numbers flourish largely in part to mathematics. Their gestation period is 114 days so it doesn’t take long for a sow to have several litters of pigs over a relatively short period of time. Hogs are now prevalent in places they have never been in the past and are considered an invasive species by many. Opinions on their presence vary but at any rate, wild hogs are probably here to stay and provide hunting opportunities galore.

In many states wild hog can be hunted year-round with no closed season. The opportunity to hunt hogs with a variety of methods and firearms is most welcome. In Texas for example, it’s common to hunt them over corn feeders. Some regions find running them with dogs popular, providing pure heart-pounding excitement and close range encounters. Occasionally sounders — “herds” of hogs — are often spotted in open fields providing extended-range shooting prospects. Circumstances or personal preference may dictate the ideal firearm but hog hunting is fun regardless where you find them, method employed or particular choice of shooting iron.

Over the years I’ve encountered hogs in both common and unique places. The various hogs I’ve taken in the past have been with a variety of rifle and handguns in a multitude of calibers. Painting with somewhat of a broad brush, most any caliber suitable for whitetail deer will generally suffice for wild boar — it doesn’t take a super magnum. Proper shot placement is far more important than launching a .50 caliber slug.

There are many efficient rifle cartridges to choose for hunting hogs — far too many to mention. Handgun hunters who prefer revolvers are well equipped with .41, .44 Mag., .45 Colt, 454 Casull, or 460 S&W Mag. Semi-autos in 10mm Auto have also performed satisfactorily. Single-shot aficionados have a plethora of cartridges to choose from including 30-30 Win., 7mm-08, 308 Win. and 45-70 to name just a few very capable rounds. Distance wise, the majority of hogs I’ve taken have been inside 100 yards so optics choice is subjective and remains a personal preference.

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Mark’s wife Karen took this big, mean-looking wild boar with a Remington
Model 700 in 7mm-08 shooting Hornady 139-grain GMX ammo.

This bushpig was taken in Mozambique with an Encore chambered in
.338 Federal, a great cartridge for any hog-hunting action.

The Family Album

There are several other species besides wild boar providing unique and challenging hunting opportunities. The javelina or collared peccary is the smallest species of peccary. These pig-like animals can be found in southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and south Texas. Like all the other hogs, these little guys are fun and challenging to pursue. I’ve taken a couple of javelina in Texas with custom XP-100s in 6.5 WSM and .308 Win. — certainly more than enough gun for these pigs.

Their range extends down to South America where I took a really nice boar with a T/C Encore in .308 Win. while hunting in Argentina. My luck ran out however on a recent hunt in Arizona. After spotting a group of pigs feeding on an adjacent hillside, I snuck over and got within 75 yards or so. I was shooting an Encore in .41 Mag. The pigs were partially hidden in the tall grass but when I caught one in the open, the hammer fell. Pigs took off everywhere and disappeared quickly – along with my confidence. I totally missed! Plans are being fleshed out for a return trip to redeem myself. This time I’ll be packing a Freedom Arms Model 83 in .357 Mag. Hunting these small pigs does not require cannon.

Considerably larger than the javelina, the white-lipped peccary may reach up to 85 lbs. When hunting in Argentina, we pursued them behind dogs that became quite an adrenaline rush. It was more like a rodeo than a hunt as we were on horses. You know what they say — “When in Rome …”

These pigs have a change in disposition when the dogs get after them. The vegetation was so thick you couldn’t make out top-notch from toenails. At the time I yielded a Ruger Redhawk in .44 Mag. and took the vicious porker from close range before he hurt the dog or worse — me.

Back in 1983 during my first African safari in Zimbabwe, several bushpigs were encountered. I would later find this not to be normal as they are mainly nocturnal, resting in dense vegetation during the day. My first animal sent to the salt was an ugly bushpig taken with a T/C in 358 JDJ. Later on that hunt my wife, Karen, also took one with a Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Mag. customized by Mag-na-port. Both shots were inside 50 yards. Several years and 20 safaris later, I hadn’t seen a bushpig since! I then realized how lucky we were. Many years following while hunting buffalo in Mozambique, we bumped in to a herd of these hogs feeding in the early morning. After a short sneak job, I rested an Encore in 338 Federal — a most-worthy hog-hammer — on a low hanging limb. The shot was close, 45 yards perhaps, as the 180-grain AccuBond punched through his shoulders. I appreciated the opportunity to finally see another bushpig.

Africa is a special place with a tremendous variety of game, including hogs. You don’t go to the Dark Continent just to hunt warthog but if you hunt long enough, you will eventually run across them. They are an ugly pig to say the least, preferring the savannah and open forest. Oddly enough they are good to eat and also make excellent leopard bait. Those long tusks on old, mature boars are quite impressive. I’ve taken several with a mixture of handguns. On a recent hunt in South Africa, I was hunting with Hornady’s Jayden Quinlan who was packing a new Benelli Lupo in 30-06. One afternoon we bumped in to a lone boar with nice tusks. Jayden is an excellent shot and it didn’t take him long to send a Hornady 165-grain GMX though the warthog’s shoulder.

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This red river hog was taken in Cameroon with a borrowed camp rifle —
a Blaser in .375 H&H topped with a Zeiss scope.

A steady rest like this BOG tripod enhances shot placement on big hogs.

River Hog

While hunting a remote region in the Central African Republic (CAR), I blew a prime opportunity on red river hog. It was the end of a long, grueling hunt in wild Africa and to make matters worse, I really wanted a red river hog — the smallest African pig, one that prefers thick cover.

Late in the afternoon we bumped into a group of these hogs. As they were feeding along a thick riverbed, we crept within 40 yards. I rested the Encore in 375 JDJ on a branch. When the largest boar appeared, I thought I’d better hurry up and shoot even though a tree had much of his vitals hidden. Of course, I could place a bullet in his shoulder by just barely missing the tree — well, that’s what I get for thinking!

The bullet shattered the tree and the red river hogs immediately disappeared. It would have been too logical to wait for a moment and get the proper shot! This is what happens when you get in a hurry.

Fortunately I redeemed myself in Cameroon. Unfortunately, my luggage got lost and I had to borrow a camp rifle. This Blaser in 375 H&H looked like it had been beaten severely or dragged behind a truck, but it had character. As one of the trackers and I were walking along a dry creek bed one evening, a group of red river hogs exploded out of the thick bush. Two of them busted out of the thicket, racing in the open where we were standing. The Zeiss scope picked out one of the hogs and the working-class Blaser performed like a champ — as it probably had many times in the past. Naturally the one I missed in CAR was much bigger!

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To each his own — there are countless successful hog handguns.
This S&W Model 629 Performance Center makes for an ideal hunting revolver.

For those who prefer big-bores for big boars, this S&W 460 Mag. will cleanly
handle any hogs encountered. The revolver is topped with a 2.5-8x Leupold scope.

This Ruger Super Blackhawk Bisley Hunter in .44 Mag works well in hog-hunting endeavors.

Big Daddy

The giant forest hog is a most-interesting looking creature and the largest living pig species — they’re huge! They are also one of the most challenging hogs to hunt as they are shy, wary and mainly nocturnal and seldom seen. I was hunting in the middle of nowhere in CAR and giant forest hog was a priority. While quietly strolling along a drainage ditch one afternoon, my wife actually spotted this big male partially hidden in tall grass.

A Freedom Arms Model 83 in .44 Mag. became quickly rested in a BOG tripod rest. The shot was approximately 90 yards when the unique-looking monster turned broadside and offered a shot. The Freedom Arms carried a cylinder full of Buffalo Bore 305-grain hardcast ammo. At the shot, the hog didn’t appear to be hit and took off. We quickly followed, trying our best to get in position for another shot. I watched the hog stumble briefly and could tell he was hit. When the opportunity presented itself, I put two more rounds in him as quickly as possible. Boy was I glad to see him down! What an incredible, unique animal. There have been very few taken with a handgun and I was thankful the .44 Mag. finished the job.

Whether you’re hunting hogs in Australia or Arkansas, Africa or Argentina, it’s going to be an epic adventure. Hog hunting is just plain exhilarating. Rifles or handguns, take your pick — it’s all good! So, what’s the best caliber for hog hunting? I’m not sure but if I can hunt them for another 40 years, I might come up with something!

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