If you want to hunt hogs on foot, leave the treestands and feeders behind and set up a baiting circuit
Wild hogs love bait. As the old saying goes, they’re “greedy as pigs.” The normal hunting plan calls for setting up a timed feeder and then waiting in a nearby treestand or blind for pigs to appear. In country with a lot of hogs, the results are predictable and effective. But it can lack a certain amount of sport.
But there’s a more exciting way to hunt pigs over bait.
My Texas buddy Steven Tisdale and I call it “circuit baiting,” and it provides an exciting spot-and-stalk challenge with plenty of opportunities to put pork chops and sausage in the freezer. It’s especially productive at night when paired with thermal-imaging optics and ARs chambered in calibers like the 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 Remington SPC, or .224 Valkyrie. Our best night of summer hog-control work ended with 28 pigs.
Prepare a Feast
© Bill Konway photo
The basic concept is to drive a loop on a large piece of hunting property that can be easily covered from a truck or ATV (the quieter the better), trickling bait all along the way, either by hand or with a receiver-hitch mounted feeder and remote switch. This is best done just before daylight for morning hunts, or during the midday hours for evening hunts.
Bait is usually just shelled corn, the universal hog magnet. Hogs seem to be able to smell corn from hundreds of yards, so roads and trails upwind of known bedding cover are prime circuit-baiting routes. If you need a little more punch, consider blending corn with attractants like Big & J Hog Wild Hog Granular Attractant, Big & J Hogs Hammer It, and Evolved Habitats Pig Out. Many sweet deer beet- or apple-based or bear-targeted products also work for extra attraction on hogs, too. Those products are obviously more expensive, so we use them only in proven travel corridors, as scent residue seems to hold hogs even after solid baits are consumed.
© Patrick Meitin photo
A baiting circuit needs to be created in the right terrain to be effective. In West Texas, where Steven and I hunt most often, this includes rolling or broken topography found off the Caprock. In South Texas we concentrate on extra-thick vegetation hogs use as daytime bedding cover. In the Deep South, creek beds, cane breaks and briar patches are appealing to hogs. Properties with regular oil-field, wind-turbine or general farm activity are generally most productive, as hogs become accustomed to truck traffic and remain calmer.
While you’re making the rounds, distribute bait more liberally at prime areas like creek crossings, brushy patches, thick draws and other places hogs are known to regularly travel. Rolling or broken topography with twisting, winding roads are best because they provide places where your ride can be stashed while you scope out dips, hidden folds and road bends for feeding hogs.
© Patrick Meitin photo
This approach to hog hunting is especially appealing because it allows you to sit in a treestand for a whitetail — or whatever else you want to do — while letting the bait trail do its work. If you’re planning to hunt after dark with thermal-imaging equipment, you can get in a much-needed catnap before pulling an all-nighter. But it’s game on once you begin running the circuit.
Drive slowly, stopping on high spots to glass ahead (or scan with thermal optics). Park just ahead of road bends and dips, and sneak ahead on foot with your rifle or bow to inspect stretches of trail that have been baited. Stop when you reach rises, dips, road bends and other disguising cover, stalking forward to inspect stretches of road, a bow or rifle slung over a shoulder. When hogs are spotted the real hunt begins.
Wind is factored into every aspect of the approach, even while riding in the vehicle. Hogs aren’t pushovers, but they’re seldom as spooky as deer. Move slowly and keep the wind in your face at all times, and they’re quite approachable, even to within bow range. At night, they seem to lose all native caution — again, provided the wind is in your favor. That allows you to slip to within close range with little effort, which is important. More affordable thermal-imaging equipment can fail to show enough detail to reveal brush, so getting close assures clean shots.
My hog-specific ARs wear Picatinny-rail-mounted weapons lights, like Streamlight’s TLR-1 Game Spotter or Cyclop’s VB250 Varmint Light; they’re powerful, green- or red-filtered lights invisible to game. This assures I don’t step into a hole or trip over spiny cactus while making my way toward hogs, or invade a rattler’s personal space during warmer spring/summer hunts. A suppressor generally results in multiple shots and is worth the added expense and hassle.