How to Stay Plugged in to the Outdoors in the Off Season

What happens when deer season ends? For the majority of hunters out there, most of their hunting activity kicks off around the Summer months of July and August and rolls most often straight through January.

For those avid outdoorsmen (and women) that aren’t ready for hunting season to be over, the end of deer season often offers more opportunities to chase wild game such as wild hogs, predators, and exotics without the intense hunting pressure from the masses.

Deer Season

Turkey, Suirrel and Bear seasons

And let’s not overlook the Spring turkey, squirrel, and for those further North Spring bear seasons. These early seasons tend to draw less attention as most deer hunters have started the transformation back into golfers, soft ball players, motorcycle enthusiasts, fishermen, etc… Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against anyone who spends any quality time outside doing what they enjoy, we just try to focus primarily on the hunting options we have available to those of us looking to extend our hunting season.

Turkey

Hog hunt

One of our favorite off season hunting activities is our attempt to do our part controlling the feral hog population with a D.I.Y. hog hunt. The wild pig population is growing at an alarming rate and the Texas Dept of Parks and Wildlife is doing more to enlist the help of today’s hunters to try and slow down the damage caused by these piny woods rooters.

A hog

Most of us that have land or access to hunting property have seen wild hogs or at the very least the signs of destruction, the hogs leave behind. Understanding their behavioral tendencies goes a long way when in pursuit of these fury bulldozers.

First and foremost hogs rely heavily on their senses of smell and hearing over their relatively weak eyesight, which makes for good spot and stalk opportunities with favorable wind direction. They rarely travel very far from a water source and prefer wet areas such as river bottoms with plenty of thick cover. Hogs also have a natural tendency to be nocturnal but can be coerced to stir during daylight hours with a simply baiting regiment using corn feeders close to sunrise.

Track their movement

We used bushnell trail cams

We used trail cameras to pattern the swine after baiting with corn for 3-4 weeks straight at our family deer lease near Apple Springs,TX in the Davy Crockett National Forest. I would put out corn every Thursday morning and check the cameras for activity and I started to notice how long it would take the pigs to find the corn and how often they would return to clean up every kernel.

We baited several different spots and tracked the hogs movement using the trail cameras to get a good idea of what direction they were coming from and what blind they were hitting next based on the time stamp features on the trail cameras.

Time to hunt!

After weeks of patterning their movements, we found a nice cool morning to get after them and settled into our pop-up ground blind. After getting situated and comfortable we sat and waited, listening very carefully for the gluttons to show up for their daily meal routine.

Sitting in a pop up blind

As standard protocol in the Parker household, Somer is first to shoot (which I wouldn’t have it any other way) and after an hour or so waiting patiently in the blind the hogs start to roll in. Right away you can see Somer’s excitement as she tries to get comfortable where she can get her Mathews to full draw.

After taking a few minutes to let the pigs begin to feed and let their guard down, she picked out the one she wanted and I ranged him at 21 yards. Moments later she squeezed the trigger on her release, and her zebra-striped arrow buried in the hog’s vitals.

A quick squeal and the majority of the pack scattered into the brush. But lucky for me, they all didn’t spook. It took only a few seconds for me to adjust the camera and zoom in on one of the few that stuck around to finish eating. I ranged him at 32 yards and let my Easton Axis fly.

A succesful hunting trip!

As usual, we were excited about how our plan had come together and we decided to sit and give the animals time to expire. For us, sitting 30-45 minutes after shooting an animal seems like a lifetime, and it is all we can do to not climb out of the blind and get on the blood trail. But experience bow hunting will teach you that patience is always the best approach. After a short tracking job and a little dragging, we had taken down two wild hogs with our Mathews and the work was about to begin.

Control the wild hog population

Hog

Somer and I try to do our part to help control the wild hog population and rarely miss an opportunity to chase wild pigs. The feeling that I get from taking wild animals with my bow is only multiplied when I get the chance to hunt with Somer and be a part of her success. I can’t wait to teach our girls how to bow hunt and be there in the blind with them to share in their excitement.

A simple D.I.Y. hog hunt takes a little prep work, a few game cameras, and a few bags of deer corn but I will recommend that if a husband or father is wanting to really increase the odds of success and keep his wife, son, or daughter interested, a paid hog hunt is the way to go.

We have been on several paid archery hog hunts and for less than a few hundred dollars per person, the outfitters can provide a nice lodge to relax, great food, and plenty of wild animals to choose from. Our favorite so far has been Dos Plumas Hunting Ranch, and we are planning a repeat visit in the near future.

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