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Hog
Top-3 Hunts For Wild Hogs In Alabama
Hogs are a nuisance, but they’re fun to hunt and great eatin’.
 
By Mike Bolton
Originally published in the August 2013 issue of AON
 
Before being attacked by rooting wild hogs, this was a food plot on the Lowndes Wildlife Management Area west of Montgomery. Incredible numbers of wild hogs can be found on the WMA, and it’s open to public hunting during hunting season.
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There was a day not too many years ago that Alabamians would pay good money for the opportunity to travel to states like Tennessee, Florida and South Carolina for the opportunity to hunt a wild hog.

Hunting preserves in those states did a brisk business guiding Alabama hunters in search of the ornery, tusked creatures. Alabama had plenty of white-tailed deer, but wild boars were an exotic creature that hunters had to travel to tangle with.

Many a den wall in Alabama has an aged wild boar mount hanging on it. More often than not, those mounts serve as a memory of days when Alabamians would gather a few buddies and travel to another state just for the opportunity to see what a wild hog looked like.

Those days traveling out of state to hunt a wild hog are no longer necessary. Wild hogs have spread across the state, and there are pockets that are absolutely inundated by wild hogs. Excellent hog hunting can be found on many public hunting tracts in the state, so paying a large guide fee to hunt isn’t necessary.

You say you can’t wait until hunting season? Why wait? It’s possible to hunt wild hogs right now on several public-hunting lands. The good news is that not only is it a great opportunity to fill your freezer with pork, you also have the opportunity to play a role in ridding public-hunting lands of a menace that is doing incredible damage to the natural habitat.

Here are some of your best opportunities of taking a wild hog in Alabama these days.

Fort Rucker

Nowhere in Alabama is the infestation of feral hogs more severe than they are at the U.S. Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker. The Army base located primarily in Dale County is overrun with wild hogs, and they are causing unbelievable damage.

Hunting on the base is open to the general public, and things have gotten so bad that officials there have waived permit fees for those wanting to hunt hogs.

“Hogs are everywhere on the base,” said Conservation Officer Steve Stokes. “They have put traps out and caught 60 or 70 in the last month or so, but that hasn’t really put a dent in them.

“If you hunt hogs on the base, I’d say you have a pretty good chance of getting one.”

Danny Spillers, Fort Rucker’s wildlife biologist, says the number of feral swine running wild on the base is staggering. So is the damage that they are doing.

“They are doing a lot of damage to our training facility here,” he said. “We have a lot matting down for erosion control, and they are ripping that to shreds.

“They are also directly competing for the same food as our game animals. We already have a deer population that is being hurt by depredation from coyotes attacking fawns, and the hogs are just making it worse.”

The feral-swine population on the base continues to increase despite intense efforts to decrease their population, Spiller said.

“We have volunteers here on a daily basis helping with the hogs,” he said. “They’ve caught and trapped more than 500 in recent years, and we’ve had trappers take 167 since Jan. 1.”

Hunters wanting to hunt hogs on the Army base should do a little homework before embarking on the journey, Spiller says. The base is located primarily in Dale County but spills into Coffee County. While 35,000 acres on the base are open to public hunting, certain areas are not.

Hunters are welcome to hunt hogs almost year-round, but there are stipulations. Only archery hunting is allowed during bow season, and hog hunting is closed during the spring turkey season.

During the gun deer season that begins in late November and runs through Jan. 31, hogs may be hunted with center-fire rifles and pistols, shotguns, muzzleloaders and archery equipment.

Hog hunting with dogs is no longer allowed during the gun deer season.

From the end of turkey season until the beginning of bow deer season in mid-October, hogs may be hunted with center-fire rifles and pistols as well as shotguns, muzzleloaders and archery equipment. Stalk and dog hunting are permitted during this time.

Hunters are allowed to bait hogs May 1 through Sept. 1.

Only shotguns with buckshot can be used during wild-hog drives. Slugs are not allowed.

A permit to hunt on the base is required, but those are available free to those wanting to hunt hogs. A state hunting license is required as is having passed a hunter-safety course.

Maps outlining what areas of the base are open for hunting are available, Spiller says. Hunters typically find the most success in the many creek bottoms found on the fort.

Personnel at the Fort Rucker Outdoor Recreation Service Center (334) 255-4305 will assist anyone needing information on where on the base to hunt hogs.

Lowndes WMA

Lowndes WMA, located west of Montgomery in Lowndes County near the community of White Hall, is another location where hog hunters will find the welcome mat rolled out for them. There, not only are WMA personnel glad to see hog hunters, local farmers in the area are tickled to see hunters taking hogs as well.

The incredible numbers of wild hogs on the WMA are doing substantial damage to native vegetation and wildlife habitat. Their populations have expanded to area farmlands.

“It’s pretty bad,” says state wildlife biologist Chris Jaworowski, whose district includes Lowndes WMA. “Neighboring farmers are screaming about losing corn, wheat, soybeans and grain sorghum.

“We can no longer plant chufa for turkeys on the WMA because of the hogs. It’s taking a toll on the native wildlife population because there are so many hogs eating the acorns.”

If you are looking for a trophy boar rather than meat, Lowndes WMA is likely where you want to look. Boars weighing 300 pounds or more are taken each year, and four weighing more than 500 pounds have been recorded, Jaworowski says.

The WMA located in Alabama’s Black Belt has the perfect habitat for feral swine to thrive. The 15,000-acre management area is dissected by streams and creeks that flow through hardwood bottoms, swamps and palmetto thickets.

Hog hunters on the WMA typically hunt using two methods: hunting from treestands and stalking. In the hot months, stalking is the preferred method. Hunters can quietly walk into the wind during the middle of the day and catch bedding hogs that are enjoying the cool shade on the banks of creeks and streams.

Hogs on the WMA can be hunted from treestands any time when a season is open. A treestand can be set up next to a food plot, and hunters may get lucky and catch a hog coming to that plot during the day, but that is rare. The best method is to locate a heavily used area and set up a treestand a distance away and with the wind in the right direction. Those bedding areas will produce better results during the day.

Lowndes WMA does not allow hog hunting year-round, and there are designated hog seasons. Hogs must be taken with only weapons that are legal for that season. During deer archery deer season, hogs may be taken only with archery equipment. During the gun deer season, hogs may be taken with any weapon that is legal for deer. During the small-game season, hogs may be taken with small-game weapons.

Where for years most of the hogs on the WMA were located south of Lowndes County 40, they can now be found anywhere on the 15,000 acres, Chris said. Lowndes County WMA maps are available for that area and pinpoint the creeks and streams feral swine are apt to use.

Be sure to consult your Alabama Hunting or Fishing Digest for specific hog-hunting seasons on the WMA. You may also call the Lowndes County WMA office at (334) 242-3469 for additional information.

Mobile Delta

When it comes to hog hunting, there’s probably nowhere in Alabama that’s more complicated to hunt logistics-wise and rules-wise than the WMAs in the Mobile Delta. Plenty of hunters figure it out, however, and they find a challenging adventure in a wild portion of Alabama that is vast and unlike anywhere else in the state.

While wild hogs are relatively new to much of Alabama, hogs have inhabited the Delta dating back to the first settlers. Placing livestock on islands was a common practice in those days, and swine escapees have roamed these bayous and marshes every since, says Chris Nix, manager of the Upper Delta WMA.

In the Delta, feral swine seem to travel greater distances than in other portions of the state. The one constant is that when fall arrives, the wild hogs will be zeroed in on the falling mast crop. Locating them becomes much easier when acorns are on the ground in the fall.

“Some hunters will place stands near the mast trees just as if they were hunting deer,” said wildlife biologist Keith Gauldin. “And then there are those who utilize boats to get to them.”

Floating the Delta in a boat in search of wild hogs is an extremely popular method, Keith says.

“What they’ll do is use a trolling motor or use a paddle to scull along,” he said. “They just float along and listen. A group of hogs eating together make a lot of noise. They bump into one another a lot and grunt.

“It’s not that difficult to stalk them by following the noise. You can almost walk right up on them if you have the wind in your face. If you aren’t heading into the wind, though, you might as well to stay home and watch TV. They have an incredible sense of smell.”

While it is legal to hunt hogs year-round in the daytime on privately owned land in the Delta, hog hunting is allowed only on the W.L Holland, Mobile-Tensaw Delta and Upper Delta WMAs only during designated hunting seasons for other species.

If you are a hog hunter heading to the Delta for the first time, you had better take time to do your homework beforehand. The laws vary greatly from one WMA to the next, and some laws are also different above and below I-65.

What constitutes a legal firearm for hunting hogs also varies from area to area, with centerfire rifles being legal at all times in some areas. In other areas, only firearms that are legal for the species that is in season are legal for hunting hogs.

Checking the hunting regulations is simple, so don’t let them deter you from the unique and very productive hog-hunting opportunity in the Mobile Delta.
 
 
 
 
 
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