You are probably a deer hunter but you cannot hunt because the deer hunting season is over. There are several months to go before you can go hunting again. As an avid hunter, you yearn to see the sun through the trees and hear the sound of crunching leaves in the woods. There’s no need to wait for winter or fall season to go hunting; wild boar hunting is your next option. Hog hunting has no season; you can do it any time of the year. One of the places you can find pigs in plenty is California. Here is everything you need to know to go wild boar hunting in California.
California's wild pigs have a mixed heritage that includes those descended from European wild boar introduced in Monterey County in the 1920's for hunting purposes and domesticated swine imported by European settlers in the 1700's. Today, these two different types of swine have gone wild and thrive throughout the state as feral pigs that have interbred and offer some challenging and exciting hunting opportunities.
As a result of these two different origins, the physical characteristics of California wild pig differ significantly between different parts of the state. Furthermore, because the needs in different parts of California differ, the state laws have offered landowners a variety of different options to address the challenges of property damage caused by wild boar in the state. This includes hunting on their property, public lands, and you can even allow the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct a hunt on your property and they might even make improvements to facilitate the hunt. While private landowners can determine hog hunting regulations in terms of who hunts, hunting methods, where, and for how long, it is essential that anyone interested in hunting make sure to acquire the proper California hunting license and tags before starting their wild boar hunt.
Where Is The Best Wild Boar Hunting In California?
Wild boar hunting in California is an affair that goes on throughout the year; therefore, it is an activity for the off-season. Anytime is a good time to book a hog hunt in Northern California, Southern California, or the Central Coast.
Pig hunting in California is among the best in North America. Although pigs are available in Northern California and Southern California, the Central Coast boasts of being the best place for wild boar hunting in California. The area has a higher pig population than the other areas although most hunting land is privately owned.
How To Get Hog Tags for California Hunting?
When going hunting in California, you need to acquire a wild pig tag and a hunting license. You can obtain these at your nearest License agent, CDFW License Sales Office, or get it online. There is no possession or bag limit when hunting wild pigs.
When Is Boar, Hog, And Wild Pig Season In California?
Boar hunting season is on throughout the year in California; there is no off-season. However, they change their dwellings as they go searching for food as weather seasons change. From January to April, they can be found on open hillsides, draws, and canyons where they go looking for wild onions and green grass.
May to September, they head towards barley fields where the land is dry. From October to December, the animals are found in oak trees and pistachio orchards where they feed on falling acorns. During the spring season, pigs become hard to locate as there is plenty of food and water. When there is a scarcity of water and food, it is easier to track them as their movement becomes more predictable.
What Do You Need To Hunt Wild Boar?
The first thing two things that you will need for wild boar hunting in California are the proper California hunting license, and wild pig license tags. Of course, you will also need a weapon and lead-free ammunition too.
Equipment needed for hunting wild boar in California is similar to what you would need for hunting in other parts of the country. However, when it comes to weapon choice since boar and wild pig are so diverse there are tons of appropriate options to take with you from high-caliber revolvers to classic bolt-action deer rifles. However, AR-10 style hunting rifles are probably the most popular and offer plenty of options for add-ons. This includes of course adding a good AR-10 Scope as well as camouflage and modifications to the buttstock to make it more comfortable and efficient.
Equipment Checklist: Items You'll Need For Your Wild Boar Hunt:
While most of these items are fairly standard for any hunting trip, such as standard hunting and survival gear items, here is the equipment checklist provided by California's Department of Fish and Game to help make sure you are properly outfitted to hunt wild boar in California.
- Firearm or bow
- Ammunition or arrows
- Hunting license
- Wild pig license tag(s)
- Knife and sharpener
- String to attach tag to carcass
- Hunter orange hat, vest, or jacket
- Day or fanny pack
- Firearm cleaning gear
- Map of hunting area
- Canteen of water
- First aid kit
- Rubber gloves and towel
- Rope and gambrel
- Bottle of talcum powder to detect wind direction (recommended but optional)
- Pack frame for carrying carcass (recommended but optional)
- Rain gear (recommended but optional)
- Camera (recommended but optional)
- Insect repellant (recommended but optional)
Legal Methods of Take For Hunting Wild Boar In California:
In California, the following are legal methods that can be used for hunting boar and wild pigs:
- rifles and handguns using centerfire cartridges with soft point or expanding bullets
- muzzleloading rifles of at least .40 caliber
- shotguns capable of holding no more than three shells and firing single slugs
- archery equipment and crossbows (see Section 354, California Code of Regulations, for details)
While other states are more lenient on various weapons that can be used to hunt and ultimately kill wild pigs. California is fairly strict. Spears, knives and other methods not specified in Sections 353 and 354 of the hunting regulations are not allowed for hunting wild pigs in California.
Tips for a Successful Wild Boar Hunt
1. Use hog calls to lure them
Wild pigs are aggressive and don’t walk away from a fight. Although this is dangerous when hunting, it means that they will certainly respond to a hog call. Therefore, once you locate one that is perfect for hunting, make that call. Even if it is hiding among bedding nests and thickets, it will come out to greet the caller.
2. Choose an Appropriate Firearm
A mature hog can attain a weight of 400 pounds. This means that it can attack you even after you have shot it. Therefore, you have to make sure that your shot lands in the heart and a single bullet cannot bring down a hog. When going hog hunting, carry a high-powered rifle that dispenses multiple shots, to protect yourself from a tough and aggressive hog. That's why AR-10 rifles with .308 ammunition are popular for hunting wild boar despite being heavier than the more popular AR-15 which is clearly one of the most popular weapons for hunting deer.
Other people choose to hunt hogs with shotguns or even high-powered revolvers. It really is up to your style, experience, and challenge desired.
3. Pick the Right Ammunition
As stated earlier, it is not easy to kill a wild pig. In addition to a strong weapon, you need high-velocity ammunition to ensure that the hit brings down the prey instantly. For instance, while a standard AR-10 can fire both 762x51 NATO rounds as well as .308 Winchester, the later is said to be packed at a higher pressure and might be the better choice of ammo for hunting wild boar. However, that is widely debated and either choice of ammunition will do a good job at stopping your prey.
4. Take another Shot at a Distance
When you hit your prey and bring it down, do not rush to its location. Pigs sometimes play dead meaning that they can attack you when you get close. Approach noisily and add another shot at about 20 yards away even if the pig looks dead.
Do not just shoot anyhow at a wild pig, since they have a lot of fat, it inhibits ammo entry and facilitates exit wounds. These can stop or delay a blood trail; ensure you hit its vital organs that are forward and low.
5. Aim to Kill Instantly
Shooting a wild pig is not the same as killing deer. Vital organs in pigs are more forward and much lower, therefore, aim behind the ear through the shoulders. This hit will be quick and humane with a speedy collection of your prey.
6. Look out for Diseases
Wild pigs are host parasites such as roundworms and diseases that affect pets and livestock. Inspect the carcass for parasite infestation and diseases and discard it if you find any; such meat is unsafe to eat or handle.
When dressing a wild boar in the fields wear disposable rubber or plastic gloves and put on goggles to protect your eyes. Even with no signs of infestation or disease, thoroughly cook the meat as an additional safety measure.
7. Go With a Guide or Experienced Friends On Your First Wild Boar Hunt
While fundamentals might be the same for hunting wild boar instead of deer, it is still a unique and challenging hunting experience. Additionally, any time you go hunting in a new state or location there will be property law and other nuances that you will need to know to avoid trouble. On top of this, anything involving firearms in California is a challenge in itself to ensure proper operation and licensing. If you are new to the sport, the best choice will be to select a good guide who is experienced with tracking these animals and who can ensure that not only do you stay safe and legal but that you have a great time doing it.
We hope the information above will be helpful when going for your wild boar hunt in California. If you are a non-resident, you can seek the services of a guide, at a fee, to show you areas where wild boars hide. Happy hunting!