Moon Walking Hogs

Logic, plus trial and error, has caused my hog hunting methods to evolve over the years.  I have learned that hogs have incredible senses of smell by observing pigs raise their snout, sniff the air and then scram when wind changed on me while stalking in South TX.  I also watched hogs raise their heads in an alert pose and then tear off the ranch roads like a racehorse when they could hear gravel crunching under my truck or Polaris tires 400 yards away.  Walking quietly and cross-wind or into the wind greatly improves your odds. That makes sense.

Since hogs are mostly nocturnal, the next step was figuring out how to get after them when it was dark.  I walked miles with a flashlight and had some luck, but not much.  I hiked randomly until I figured out that whenever I could find fresh signs of rooting, the culprits would be back to that area the same are the next night. As I concentrated on those spots, my success moved up a notch.

I could see best when the moon was full or near full on clear nights.  At that time I can ditch the flashlight and use the faint moon illumination well enough for accurate shots.  I would sit up at dusk over fresh rooting sign with the wind in my favor and wait.  The big pale white moon would be moving up giving the landscape a soft silver hue. With binoculars, you will be surprised at the details you can observe.  I had some luck but more often than not would return home empty handed around 10:00 pm or so. 

June 2008 001

That is when I figured out another piece of the puzzle.  I have a first cousin that owns a wrecker service in Weimar.  He has fancy night vision scopes and binoculars.  The more pressure we can put on the hogs the better, so he has permission to go at any time to our ranch near Columbus to help wage our family’s war on hogs.  I would hunt until 9:30 or 10:00 then head home.  He would call me the next morning telling of killing a hog or two the same night.  He was called out to haul in wrecked or broken down vehicles along Interstate 10 at all hours of the night.  Once awake, he would travel to our ranch and find herds of pigs feeding and rooting about on the clearings.  It may be midnight or 3am.  It did not matter to my cousin since he was up and working anyway.

I started to pay attention to the timing of his kills.  It turned out most of his sightings were when the moon was at its zenith or straight up (12 o’clock high).  On a full moon, when the sun disappears in the west, the moon creeps up in the east.  The moon would be straight overhead near or slightly after midnight.  I was sleeping when the pigs were first starting to get active.

Three or four days before a full moon, the moon ascends into the sky around 3-4pm and will be directly overhead about 9-10pm.  That was when I was accidently having luck.  I could hunt at that time of the month and be home at a decent hour.

February 2009 003

Three or four days after a full moon, the moon ascends into the sky around 8-9pm and will be directly overhead around 3-4am.  To test my theory, I would set the alarm clock (among snide comments from my wife that I was crazy), travel to our ranch and snoop around and catch hogs happily feeding.  I was on to something with that moon thing.

So, watch the wind, be quiet, pay attention to the moon phase and try to be out when it is straight up.  While stumbling around in the dark, keep an eye out for snakes.  Except during cold weather, however as insurance I still wear my snake boots. Maybe my “research” will help you catch a few moon walking hogs. Good luck!

March 2009 002