Hogs Aren’t Built Like Deer, But Many Hunters Don’t Realize That
Many hunters take to the woods each year in pursuit of wild hogs. This is a good thing – it’s nice to stay in practice when it’s not deer season, the meat is nice in the freezer, and wild boars can be a real nuisance in many areas. Many of the folks running around the woods after hogs are primarily deer hunters, and don’t really know just where to shoot a hog to get its vitals. Where are its vitals? We’re about to answer that question.
Take a look at the image of the hog and you will notice that a hog’s lungs are well forward. If you were to place a shot as you would for a lung shot on a deer, the result would almost certainly be a gut shot.
Best Shots For Boars
Ideally, a shot on a broadside hog should be placed in the shoulder area, and lower is preferable. Just be careful not to aim so low that you shoot under the boar. If the animal is quartering towards or away, you’ll want to place the shot so the bullet or arrow will end up in the vitals between the shoulders.
Much talk has been put forth about shooting hogs in the head, and that can definitely be a killing shot, provided you hit the brain…. a hog’s brain is a small target, and is well protected by its thick skull.
Break it Down
A broken shoulder will put a hog down on the spot, just as it will with a deer or other game animal. This can be a great help, allowing for a fast follow-up shot if it’s necessary. Ideally, you don’t want to have to trail your animal – you want to kill it quickly and efficiently, and in the case of a mature hog, you don’t want it coming after you with those nasty sharp tusks.
Use Enough Gun for Hunting Pigs
How much gun is enough? That depends on the hog and bullet placement, mainly. As a rule, I would start with any cartridge in the class of the 30-30 Winchester. This offers plenty of oomph for most hogs, especially with 170-grain bullets of suitable construction. Smaller hogs can be killed with lesser cartridges, and larger boars would be best approached with something heavier. I would not hunt hogs with any rimfire cartridge, unless I were dealing with very small young pigs.
Ammo Selection For Hog Hunting
You want a bullet that’s tough enough to penetrate, with enough diameter to deliver plenty of knockdown power. I prefer heavy bullets, but not necessarily the very heaviest available for a given cartridge. For instance, in 30-06, I like 180-grain bullets. For 270 Win, which is about the smallest diameter I would be comfortable with, make it a 150. In my 45-70 I generally load 300-grain jacketed bullets moving at a respectable velocity. In 44 mag, a 240-grain jacketed bullet is the best all-around hunting slug I’ve found, but if I were hunting big ol’ boars with it I might go with something heavier.
Think of a hog as being tougher and more dangerous than a deer, because they can certainly be both, and usually are. And their differently-constructed bodies call for different approaches than deer. The fat and gristle that exists on the outside of even domesticated hogs can cause trouble.
There have also been numerous tales of soft bullets actually flattening against the tough shield of gristle and fat that lies outside the shoulders of “sure-nuff” mature wild boars. I believe this is very possible, and it should be considered when choosing your ammo. The shield can also prevent a good blood trail even when the bullet penetrates well in this area.
So what’s the overall synopsis here? Mainly, that you want to use enough gun to do the job (and hopefully allow for a margin of error, because we’re not perfect) and you want to hit the boar in the right place.
If you’re hunting from an elevated stand, then placing the shot between the shoulders might be the best choice. Always remember where the vitals are – between those shoulders – and aim accordingly. Use ammo that will penetrate with enough diameter to do the job efficiently. And enjoy the barbecue when the hunt is over!