If you follow me on social media, you know I love hog hunting. No, I’m obsessed with hog hunting, to be exact! With that, I am constantly learning everything I can about these fascinating, invasive animals. Without deep diving into the bacon grease, please let me share some details that help explain some of the most common misconceptions about wild hogs and wild boars.
How and When did Wild Boars get to America?
Much has been written on the origins of wild hogs and wild boars in America, but the essential points are that they are all invasive and all pigs. Eurasian wild hogs were domesticated as early as 8000 BC and soon were heavily relied upon for sources of meat. Spanish explorers came to the Americas in the 1500s looking for gold and treasure and brought domesticated hogs on their journey to the New World. History reveals that Hernando de Soto brought the first 13 pigs when he landed in Florida, and many refer to him as the father of the pork industry in America. It took only a short time before the wild pig population exploded in the Southeast.
As settlements prospered, European settlers brought wild boars to America for hunting since the boars provided exciting and challenging hunts. Some domesticated hogs escape the farms and become feral. Over time, they began to look more like wild boars than domesticated hogs, making it hard to distinguish between them in the wild. Research shows that domestic pigs take on the physical characteristics of wild boars after one or two generations of living in the wild. Imagine that! In the South, we call them wild hogs or wild pigs, but generally, “wild boars” and “wild hogs” are used interchangeably.
Piggy Tails and more . . .
So, how do wild boars differ from wild hogs? Wild boars have a prominent ridge down the back and typically are darker in color, with coarser, thicker, more bristly hides. Their snouts are longer, as are their legs. Their tails are long and straight compared to hogs, which have the typical twisty piggy tail. The most significant difference is that the lower canines of wild boars protrude from their jaws and often look like tusks.
How’s the taste?
My friend, Ally, with Ally’s Kitchen, made a fantastic meal using the wild hog I harvested earlier this year. I have not read anything about differences in the flavor of the meat between a wild hog and a wild boar and figured the taste would depend more on the animals’ food sources than on anything else. Depending on their habitat, some have access to food crops, while those living in the woods depend on acorns, grubs, grasses, insects, and small animals for survival. They are both in the pig family and biologically, they’re more the same than different.
Living High on the Hog . . .
I am sure you have heard this saying before, but what does it mean? It came about with the distinction of wealthy people having the ability to purchase the best, highest-quality cuts of meat. As it turns out, the best-tasting cuts are on the upper parts of the animal, making loins, ribs, and chops of the highest demand, while the belly meat and pigs’ feet were the least desirable and the least expensive.
Most Recent Encounter: Spot and Stalk!
A few weekends ago, I was putting out bait and noticed that I had some hogs on the camera at my hog stand. Hoping to stalk them, I walked stealthily about 75 yards toward my stand, and to my surprise, the hogs were still there, pigging out on the corn and table scraps we had left about an hour before. The wind was in my favor, so they didn’t pick up my scent.
It would be too noisy to climb into my stand, so I decided to shoot standing on the ground. Knowing how quickly they would bolt at the shot, I readied my stance, raised my .270 caliber rifle, and aimed squarely at the hog’s head. I took a deep breath, exhaled, and slowly squeezed the trigger. I was thrilled it was a quick, ethical shot, and the hog dropped immediately. Spot-and-stalk hunts are my favorites—I’ve done several in the past few years. Sitting in a stand waiting for game to show up can get tedious and hot! Yep, I was happy as a pig in a puddle!
Some of my Favorite Hunts: Photos
When pigs fly . . . New “Super Pigs”!
Our neighbor to the north, Canada, apparently underestimated these hardy animals in a big way. Canadians have only recently experienced hog issues—they were first introduced to wild hogs in the 1980s, via pigs imported from Europe to be raised on farms. Farmers didn’t think these animals could survive the cold winters, so they did not worry about pigs escaping their farms. Many farmers decided to create hybrids by breeding their barnyard pigs with feral hogs, hoping they would grow larger, thereby making more profits.
Little did they know they would become “super pigs” and resilient to the harsh weather. Tunneling in snow caves, they are surviving, thriving, and growing to sizes not seen before. The havoc and damage these “super pigs” are causing far outweigh any potential profits, and the bad news is that they are coming our way, eating essential crops and just about anything they can find. Lesson: Nothing is implausible, especially when you mess with Mother Nature.
Sorry if I went the whole hog with this article, but I didn’t want to leave anything out. You can read many more interesting articles if you share my passion, so I appreciate your taking the time to read my article to the end!
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