Spring gobbler came in with a bang and is still going strong! Lots of gobbling and strutting from the toms as they continue to flock their hens together each morning to fertilize their daily egg. In this county at least, very few hens are sitting their nests to incubate their clutch and the mornings are still quite active. However, I’ve been making plans to switch gears for a bit and try to harvest a few wild hogs. The meat is always welcome in my home and although I’m not going to give up on chasing them long-bearded toms, I am planning a few side trips to shore up the freezer content.
The wild hog (Sus scrofa), also called the wild boar or feral pig, is not a Florida native and was first introduced to North America by Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto as early as 1539. These hogs can easily reach weights of more than 150 pounds and provide super lean and healthy dining.
It’s not too difficult to find where hogs have been feeding as they can root up vast areas of forest or pasture and it’s because of that destruction, the FWC and other land managers have teamed up to offer a lot of opportunities for hunters to take advantage of this Spring and Summer. Twenty-two wildlife management areas will be opening for mostly weekend hunts, some as early as this month. And if you aren’t one of the lucky few, which have access to private lands to hunt them on, you may consider taking a road trip to one of these public hunting properties and help to fill up your own freezer.
One of my favorite places to hunt, the 58,000+ acre Richloam Wildlife Management Area, is a reasonable drive South and East of our county line. The WMA will be hosting three, three-day hunts for hog hunters who prefer to use dogs to assist with harvesting their pork. The first of these is scheduled for April 27-29, the next two will be held May 25-27 and June 22-24 respectively. Hunting will be conducted East of SR 471 and I’ve spent a lot of time on the property guiding turkey hunters recently and can testify that there is a bumper crop of wild hogs rooting up the place. I’ll be out there with a cur dog and a Bowie knife I’ve used to bring a good many hogs home over the years. I hope to see you there!
A very short drive to just north of our county line, is the nearly 46,000 acre Goethe Public Small Game Hunting Area (PSGHA). It will be hosting a pair of three-day hunts to be held May 18-20 and June 15-17 and is available for both dog and still hunting. Goethe boasts a wide variety of terrain, from ancient oak hammocks and bald cypress heads to palmetto and pine flats. During these warmer months, I’ll expect the hogs to be hanging pretty tightly to water. Look for the mud wallows and rubs on tree trunks and formulate a plan to intercept the sounders as they travel from their feeding to bedding areas.
Both of these properties will be non-permitted, walk in hunting and I’ve not seen anything published as pertains to weaponry, so I highly recommend that you contact the Florida Wildlife Commission at www.MyFWC.com and make the appropriate inquiries. And as always, if you have any questions or a story you’d like to share, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] God bless and good hunting!