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North Carolina has a long-standing tradition of wild hog hunting. Wild hogs (also known as feral pigs or wild boars) have inhabited much of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee for over 100 years. In these areas, the wild hog is considered somewhat of a nuisance because they pass on diseases to local livestock. Hunting wild hogs in North Carolina can be potentially dangerous, but is also exhilarating for the recreational hunter.
Wild hogs appear similar to domestic pigs but are not to be confused with their harmless and useful cousin. These opportunistic omnivores feed on a wide variety of plants and animals including acorns, leaves, berries, and tubers, as well as snakes, salamanders, frogs, and crayfish. The spend most of the day wallowing in mud holes and dense vegetation and prefer to feed at dawn and dusk. Biologists estimate that the U.S. is home to over 4 million wild hogs.
Guns and Bullets
Choosing an appropriate weapon is essential when hunting wild hogs in North Carolina. Standard centerfire rifles are good for close and long range hunting, but you should use a high velocity light projectile bullet or 7.6 mm cartridge if you plan to hunt in the open plains. You can use pellets at close range but they are ineffective for hunting wild hogs at long range.
Hunting Season and Limitations
All hog hunting regulations are limited to the counties of Clay, Graham, Cherokee, Swain, Jackson, and Macon. In the state's other 94 counties, the North Carolina Wildlife Commission does not regulate wild hog hunting. Hog hunting season in the aforementioned six counties begins in early September and ends in late February. The daily limit for hunting wild hogs is one and you may face heavy fines if you are caught with more than one hog in your possession. The seasonal limit is just two hogs in the six counties. It is also unlawful to take wild hogs with the use of bait (salt, salt lick, fruit, honey, animal products) under any circumstances. The use of dogs to hunt wild hogs on bear sanctuaries also is illegal.
It's important to become familiar with the wild hog's behavior and terrain before embarking on a hunting expedition. Hunt with a guide or acquaintance who has experience hunting wild hogs in North Carolina. Talk to other hunters to get a sense of where hogs are living and feeding. Hogs like to hang around watering holes and in deep brushes because they need a dependable water supply to survive. Be prepared to run because a scared hog will take off and be gone before you know it. Also, use baking soda to cover up your natural human odors so you can more easily surprise the hogs.
Hunting wild hogs can be an enjoyable pastime and a great way to spend a day with friends and family. Wild hog meat is rich in protein and fat and can be used to make sausages and other pork products. Male hogs will provide you with an attractive set of tusks to mount, and a well-stuffed hog's head makes a fine addition to any hunting trophy collection.
Charlie Higgins is journalist, editor and translator based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has written for a variety of lifestyle and niche market websites, including International Food Trader, The Olive Oil Times, microDINERO, Sounds and Colours, Connecting Worlds and The Buenos Aires Reader.