California is a great state for hunting wild boar.

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 California style is your next option. Hog hunting here has no specific season, so you can do it any time of the all year round. 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 hunters some challenging and exciting hunting opportunities.

General Physical Differences Between Wild and Domestic Pigs

Physical CharacteristicWild PigsDomestic Pigs
Hair Abundantly covered with coarse, long hair Sparsely covered with short hair
Ears Relatively small, erect, and hairy; tufted at the tips Relatively large, floppy, and hairless
Tail Covered with hair; tasseled at the end with long, course hairs; and straight Sparsely haired and curly
Body Lean, shoulders higher and wider than hindquarters; razor-backed Back flat, body wide and uniformly thick
Tusks Long and sharp (if unbroken) Relatively short
Head Longer snout, flat profile Shorter snout, concave profile
Color Predominantly black or pied, sometimes russet Usually uniformly white, or pink
Young Often dark with horizontal stripes Same uniform color as parents

As a result of these two different origins, the physical characteristics of the animals 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 boars in the state. This includes various regulations regarding pig hunts 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 those hunts can have access to their lands, 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.

Wild Pig Harvest Per Decade in California

DecadeAverage Annual HarvestAverage Annual Hunter Numbers
1960-1969 8,940 13,820
1970-1979 22,710 27,260
1980-1989 40,120 40,100
1990-1999 30,222 34,558

Where Is The Best Wild Boar Hunting In California?

Hunting boars in California is an affair that goes on throughout the whole year round therefore, it is an activity for the off-season that appeals to hunters who might be stuck in the snows of the North Eastern United States looking for a challenging escape to warmer climates. Anytime is a good time to book a hog hunt in Northern California, Southern California, or the Central Coast.

Pig hunting in Central 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 and pig hunting in California. The area has a higher pig population than the other areas although most pig hunting land is privately owned.

How To Get Hog Tags for California Hunting?

When going wild pig hunting in California, you need to acquire a wild pig tag and a wild pig 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. As a result, unlike the first day of deer season, these hunts lack that state-wide excitement that you find in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio each fall.

However, the animals will change their behavior patterns seasonally as they search for food when the weather changes. From January to April, they can be found on open hillsides, private ranches,, 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, California's Department of Fish and Game provides an equipment checklist to help make sure you are properly outfitted to hunt wild boar in California. 

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:

  1. rifles and handguns using centerfire cartridges with soft point or expanding bullets
  2. muzzleloading rifles of at least .40 caliber
  3. shotguns capable of holding no more than three shells and firing single slugs
  4. 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 Successful Wild Pig Hunts

The normal hunting rules apply here just as they would for a deer hunt. You must have a plan, proper safety training, do the research, and train properly both in terms of physical fitness as well as your ability to manage the proper firearm for the hunt.

Here are some special considerations though to make your wild pig hunts in California the best it possibly can be.

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 that one pig 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.

Choose The Right Firearm and Ammunition For Boar Hunting

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.

Calibers and Minimum Bullet Weight Weight Recommendations For Hunting Wild Pigs

CaliberBullet Weight (grains)Recommended for wild pigs of:under 90 lbsover 90 lbs
All 22 calibers all no no
243 Winchester or 6mm Remington 100 yes no
25-20 Winchester 86 no no
25-35 Winchester 117 yes no
250 Savage 100 yes yes
257 Roberts + P 100 yes yes
25-06 Remington 120 yes yes
264 Winchester Magnum 140 yes yes
270 Winchester 130 yes yes
444 Marlin 240 yes yes
45-70 Government 300 yes yes
458 Winchester 500 yes yes

Other people choose to hunt hogs with shotguns or even high-powered revolvers. It really is up to your style, experience, and challenge desired.

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 be prepared to add another shot at about 20 yards away even if the pig looks dead.

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.

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.

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.

california public lands available for hog hunting

Know Where In California To Hunt For Wild Pigs

Recent data from returned wild pig hunting license tags reveals interesting trends that may indicate shifts in wild pig distribution and population. The reported wild pig harvest from July 1, 1997, through June 30, 1998, has surpassed all previous years, with a total of 5,494 wild pigs taken during that period. This figure represents an 18% increase compared to the previous year's reported harvest of 4,633 wild pigs.

It is essential to note that only a portion (approximately 15%) of the wild pig harvest is reported in the DFG's Game Take Survey each year. However, analyzing the trend from year to year suggests that there is a likelihood of a higher occurrence of wild pigs in the northern and Sierra Nevada regions.

The most significant percentage increase is observed in the Sierra Nevada area, particularly in counties like Colusa, Glenn, Sutter, Fresno, and Kern. In the northern region, notable increases in wild pig harvests occur in counties such as Shasta, Tehama, and Siskiyou.

Conversely, the central coastal area has experienced a record-low reported take, accounting for only 65% of the total reported wild pig harvest. These numbers were gathered by California Fish and Wildlife based on the returns of a valid California pig tag from licensed hunters. However, they may not include the full numbers from wild pig hunts conducted on private ranches or hunters that choose to access other private lands on their own.

wild pig harvest numbers california wild pig tags report

It is essential to monitor these trends closely to gain a better understanding of the changing dynamics of wild pig populations across various regions.

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!