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orchidhunter
February 19, 2009, 02:43 PM
There are actually five different types of wild hogs; the original Piney Woods Rooter, the Russian, the hybrids between these two, the Chinese feral hogs, and hybrids between all four. All the varieties of hogs mentioned interbreed quite easily with the Russian traits appearing dominant and appear to be the most numerous in the feral hog population. The hogs carrying a lot of piney woods rooter characteristics would stand, fight and end up in the smokehouse. The hogs with a lot of Russian characteristics would run. Thus the ones doing most of the procreating carry Russian characteristics. Also when people introduce hogs into an area they usually choose the Russian type boars.

One way to group the different varieties would be by the number of chromosomes. The pure Piney Woods Rooter, Russian, and their hybrids have thirty-six chromosomes, the Chinese type feral hogs have thirty-eight chromosomes and the Russian/Piney Woods Rooter/Chinese hybrids have the possibility of thirty-six, thirty-seven, or thirty-eight chromosomes.

In general, a feral hog’s head is massive with smaller, pointed and heavily furred ears. Wild hogs have a mane that grows along the spine composed of split guard hairs called bristles that can be five inches in length and run from the head along the center line of the back, and can be raised two to four inches up from the body when the hog is excited or agitated. What really keeps the wild hogs warm in winter though is the thick woolen under coat.

The coat coloration is a wide selection of colors and types depending on the genetic background. It can vary from solid black, brown, dark gray, tan, red, white, or a combination of any two or more colors in patterns of belted, mottled, pointed or spotted. A belted hog is usually a solid dark color and has a white band around the hog’s torso near the shoulder area.


Normally the Russian type are heavier in the shoulders and slope down to the small hips, giving the wild hog an outline similar to an American bison.

A feral hog will usually take up to five years to gain his full adult size in the wild. Most hogs taken are in the 150 to 250 pound size. Most wild hogs are long legged (3 ½ to 5 feet long & 2 to 3 feet tall) and run like deer.

Wild boars have very long and thin snouts. I’ve heard one old hunter describe a wild hog’s snout as "being suitable for extracting bugs from the bottom of a discarded beer bottle". The snout is used for digging up soil so it can eat bugs, roots, and plant bulbs growing in the under story growth of the beech and swamp trees. The rooting action of the hog causes the most direct damage to the forest or a farmer’s field. Hogs destroy many bulbs, rare flowers, and threatened animals like the Indigo snake or birds like the red-cocked woodpecker. A hog can root down below three feet in softer soils. The round nose at the end of a healthy hog’s snout is cold, wet, and covered in pig snot. In fall, hogs don’t root as much probably because of the abundance of mast from oaks, beech and hickory trees. But during the winter and very early spring, a hog is very busy filling his stomach by rooting. A hog only has one stomach and cannot chew his cud. Thus, like a human it cannot digest cellulose material like brown, dry leaves but must have tender sprouts, roots, bulbs, worms, grubs, and anything with a dense nutrition value.

Feral hogs have forty-four teeth, which includes a group of four continuously growing canine teeth called tusks. The upper tusks or whitters curls up and out and constantly rubs against the lower tusks putting a knifelike edge to the lower tusks. An adult male can have tusks up to five inches in length with an impressive curl before they are broken or worn from use. The largest on record is eight inches. Females have slightly smaller tusks but are just as deadly. Both sexes use their tusks for defense and in addition the males use theirs to establish dominance during breeding. The adult males normally use their large tusks to stab in an upward or sideways movement but the females and young males are more likely to slice or bite. Sometimes when you’ve got a big old boar bayed up you can hear him popping his tusks for miles away. This intimidates some dogs but by the time you take your dogs into the woods you should already have culled a dog that would be scared by that noise. Whatever sex, when a wild hog, over two hundred pounds of intense rage comes charging at you, mouth wide open, it’s extremely "stimulating". It is also the best time to get an accurate estimate of the hog’s age. Just take a really good look at his molars. LOL.

An old time saying is a rooter is finished growing when you can pick them up by the ears, the head and the body are equal in size. If the head tips down you have to let ‘em grow a little more. Present day myths estimate a hog’s age according to how big they are, or by how big the tusks are, neither is correct. The hogs genetics and nutrition plays the most significant role is the rate of their growth. Like horses and cows the age of a wild hog are best guestimated by the number and wear of the molars.

Under the skin on the front part of the body is a layer of cartilage and scar tissue, called a shield. It continually develops like a callus as the hog ages and from fighting. It can be one to two inches thick and protects his ribs and shoulder from the tusks of other boars during fights for territory or the favors of the female hogs. It has even been known to stop small caliber bullets.

The last physical part that’s different from a tame pig is the tail. A wild hog’s tail is usually straight and tufted at the tip. A domestic pig or a wild hog with Chinese genes has a curly tail. A pure wild boar runs with their tail in an upright manner similar to the way African wart hog’s tail is carried when they trot while a feral and hybrid hogs will vary in how they carry their tail.

Remember though this is a general description and when blended with domestic feral stock, any combination of color, size, or shape is possible.

Wild boars do not like the company of other boars at all. In fact they're so solitary by nature that a group of two or more adult males is called a singularity of boars. In the early days, settlers used to neuter some of the males at a young age so the sounders would have the protection of a male hog from predators like bears, panthers, and wolves. It also removed the rank taste of an intact male from the meat

A group of hogs traveling together, called a sounder, is usually the sows and their offspring. A feral sow will normally have two to six piglets in a litter twice a year at any time. Of course this depends on the amount of available food and the genetic background of the sow. A well-fed sow that has recently escaped or has retained most of the domestic genes will have large litters. Gestation is normally one hundred and fifteen days. Wild piglets, called watermelons, weigh almost two pounds at birth, are light brown in color, and have six brown stripes and five black stripes the length of their body (marked like a chipmunk) until the age of four months. Sows raise their piglets communally allowing any piglet to nurse if she has milk available. This practice of one sow watching and feeding three or four sows’ litters while the others are out feeding has probably caused many inexperienced hunters and "bunny huggers" to think hogs have bigger litters than they really do. At three to four months, the piglets are no longer dependent on their mother for nourishment but stay in the sounder until they reach puberty, which for the females can be six to seven months and for the males, nine months. Adolescent males form into small groups of their own but when mature will lead a solitary life except when joining the sounder during rut.

Piglets usually have a high mortality rate due more to food resources and weather than predation. Sows are very aggressive in defense of their young and if one pig squeals, they'll all come running to help. Hogs have several adaptations that help them to survive in the wild. One is that during times when the mast is really scarce, reproduction, which depends on the amount of food consumed, ceases. But if there is an abundance of food, wild hogs have larger litters.

The area a hog covers on a daily basis is greatly influenced by the amount of food available at that time and season. With abundant food, water and no disturbances, feral hogs appear to follow a daily routine. The first action a hog will normally take after waking up is head for water to fill up. A wild hog will repeat this action at midday and before retiring for the night.

Hogs can easily adapt to almost any environment because they are omnivorous, meaning they can and will eat anything that is or was alive. A hog can eat grass and other plant food but they are also opportunistic hunters. If a hog comes across a baby animal like a fawn, rabbits, etc. they will take advantage of the opportunity to increase their protein intake. In a normal day a hog can cover from five to fifty miles in the search for adequate food.

If a wild hog has a weakness it is their inability to regulate their temperature by sweating. But as long as they have a reliable source of water they can wallow in the mud to cool off. After coating themselves liberally with mud they start rubbing it off on trees, posts, rocks, whatever is handy. This is supposed to help them rid their hide of surplus fleas, lice, and ticks. This is one of the signs a hog hunter looks for when scouting for hog in an area. From looking at the mud rubs on different objects an experienced hog hunter can give you quite an educated and accurate guess of the hog’s size and how long ago the hog rubbed mud on the object.

During late spring and summer, hogs will graze on farmer’s fields. The types of field crops damaged by hogs include, corn, grass, hay, milo, peanuts, rice, rye, soybeans, turf, vegetables, wheat and other grains.

The damage by hogs is not limited to just what they eat, it also includes the collateral damage from pulling plants out of the ground exposing the roots, rooting around looking for any bugs below the ground level, devastating a field and causing mud holes to be developed in the fields which allows misquotes to breed and multiply. Normally the heaviest damage occurs towards the end of the growing season just before the field is ready for harvesting. Like rats and other vermin, a hog will waste nine times as much as they actually eat. Eating high quality food like this does wonders for the quality of hog meat but really ruins a farmer’s benevolent disposition towards wild critters in general.

A hog’s sense of smell is phenomenal, rivaling any other wild animal living in the woods. They were used in France instead of dogs to smell out truffles, a special type of mushroom that grows underground sometimes three feet down. A long time ago in England, sportsmen had bred a special type of hog for bird retrieving called a slut. They were known to be so friendly towards their owner, that anyone being overly affectionate was also called a slut.

Hogs are the hardest game to catch. An adult wild hog is the smartest animal in the woods, even smarter than some people. They’re wary of any strange noise and their hearing is extremely good. Their field of vision is poor since their head is located so close to the ground and they can’t raise it as high as some other animals. This decreases their ability to see over brush or briars but since a hog will usually head for thick underbrush or dense forest when frightened, this is hardly a hindrance. Their shield is really useful when going through some of the jungles we have around here composed of sawtooth palmetto, green briar, etc. We have two kinds of vines we call "wait-a-minute vine". When you’re moving in the brush and they catch you at neck level, you call out to the guy following you to "wait a minute". The small thorned variety will get in you skin and is almost impossible to dig out until it festers while the big thorned variety have thorns that are about a half inch to one inch long and will rip your skin like a wood saw. It is highly recommended that you wear a heavy denim jacket and canvas material pants to keep your skin from being torn up.

The vegetation grows so close and tight a dog going in doesn't have much room to maneuver, especially in the Titi thickets. For that reason we like the two-dog team. More than two and they get in each other's way and will get cut up. It takes a good dog with a lot of grit to go into one of those tangles. It takes a great dog to go in, stop the hog and come out with only a few scratches. This is one of the places that training pays off. We prefer a dog to tease a hog into chasing them out into the open where there’s more space to work on him. Some of those old rooters become extremely canny after being hunted a while and refuse to come out. Then we have to go in after him. Your adrenaline gets very high crawling into those tunnels that make up a hog bed. The brush is so thick two feet above the ground you can’t stand up. Sometimes there’s water instead of ground and in addition to hogs you have to watch out for ‘gators. In a situation like this you have to have dogs you can trust to do their job because if a hog breaks loose from the dog there’s no jumping out of their way.

No matter whether a hog comes from a long line of Rooters, Russians, Chinese, or is an admixture of any or all of them, when they are served on a table to family and friends, they all taste good. orchidhuter

Buzzcook
February 19, 2009, 03:06 PM
Thanks for the info on hogs. We don't have a big population here in Washington state. There aren't even regulations on the books about hunting them. But still it's nice to know.

orchidhunter
February 19, 2009, 03:21 PM
Buzzcook, Your welcome, orchidhunter

pilothunter
February 19, 2009, 03:35 PM
Orchidhunter, An excellent posting! I've only been hunting wild hogs a few years but enjoy it as much as any deer hunting I've ever done. I don't hunt them with dogs but enjoyed all the information you provided along with the dog expertise as well.
Thanks

orchidhunter
February 19, 2009, 03:57 PM
pilothunter, Thanks, Some of the best hog dogs this world has known came from Tn. orchidhunter

bswiv
February 19, 2009, 06:24 PM
Great post. Should get folks started real good.

The two pictures show a hog ( The brown one ) shot Tuesday night and one taken earlier in the season. The brown one came form a lease along the Suwannee River and shows what would be considered domestic characteristics. Not to mention that the was FAT because there are peanut fields on the lease. The hogs we have taken off that piece of property, which is in a farm area with significant opportunity for escaped hogs to get into the gene pool all look more like this one.

The second hog came from a area about 100 miles away, not to far from St. Augustine. The area he came from has few domestic hogs being raised close by so he displays more of a "natural" look to him, Russian if you like. Most of the hogs we take of this area are black and built like this guy.

They both eat good!

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y64/bswiv/Snapper006.jpg
http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y64/bswiv/Piggy001.jpg

bswiv
February 19, 2009, 06:42 PM
Knew I had this picture just took a minute to find it.

The big hog is bar, been cut. If you look careful you can tell how fat he is. Notice how small his feet are in comparison to his overall size. He was guest of honor at a friends Christmas party................sort of like the Angus of the hog world.

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y64/bswiv/041.jpg

orchidhunter
February 19, 2009, 07:07 PM
bswiv, Thanks, No dog has had hold of them fine looking hogs, ever how your doing it you are doing it right. orchidhunter

hogdogs
February 19, 2009, 07:30 PM
If any inaccuracy is found in my info... I apologize in advance....

The teeth info is a bit scarce. The way to age a hog is opposite of a deer. As a deer ages he loses teeth or something like that...
For hogs the molars are slower growing so you are able to look for the number of molars... a slew of them is an older hog.
Another thing worthy of note is the "hybrid incisor" that we hunters use to rule out the possibility of having killed a possible thotoughbred russian. I have not seen a hog yet that was lacking this little tooth which sits right behind the lower tusks.

As for head shape etc... hogs adapt to their surroundings faster than about any animal alive and better too...

Within just a couple generations of being released a group of barnyard swine, they will start to change without genetic influence from outsider pigs. The head of a barn pig, out of necessity, has a short snout and wide skull. This allows him to cover more of the feed trough for more feed. On a woods pig he has a narrower skull for faster running in briars and less resistance while rooting (think single blade plow).

The typical "piney woods rooter" of the south east is actually mostly just the "spanish hogs" that started showing up as early as when Ponce deLeon explored the area if not earlier. They carried pigs aboard and made make shift pens when they set up forts...
Brent

orchidhunter
February 19, 2009, 08:38 PM
A little more info as to where wild hogs came from.
Feral hogs have been in Georgia since the 1520’s. They first were brought into Georgia by the early Spanish expeditions (Quejos 1521 / Ayllon 1526 / Soto 1540 / Luna 1560) as walking commissaries for the large parties of men looking for gold. They provided an important source of food and lard while reproducing rapidly. Unfortunately there are no accurate records on the exact number of hogs that entered Georgia, escaped, or were traded to the Native Americans for corn, beans and other staples to vary the Spanish explorers diet. Later, the Spanish reentered Georgia to jealously defend "their land" from other European encroachment. Even the Okeefenokee Swamp was explored around 1597 by Fray Pedro Ruiz looking for French or English trespassers.

While I’d like to think that some of the feral hogs could trace their lineage back to these hardy ancestors it is unlikely that these first immigrants were able to survive this drastic environmental change.

The most likely first viable colony of breeding hogs came from the missions where the Spanish hogs were given the opportunity to acclimate themselves to the dangers of the new environment. The Santiago de Oconi mission was established near the Okeefenokee swamp in 1620 for the native tribes, the Ibihica and the Oconi, but was destroyed in 1656. Also around this time, European diseases wiped out most of the native tribes of Georgia, leaving large areas of land and large groups of animals without owners. In the seventeenth century, the domestic Spanish hogs and the European wild hogs resembled each other very closely. Various domesticated animals could have escaped into the swamp and survived including the Spanish hogs and became feral.

The area of Florida and Georgia proved ideal breeding ground for the new immigrants. Hogs can multiply rapidly given the right conditions with plenty of food and to an omnivorous feral hog, anything is edible; acorns, roots, baby and wounded animals if they can find them, even poisonous snakes. You never find snakes in a hog pen. If a snake bites a hog, due to their protective shield, the bite doesn't bother the hog (unless the hog is very small) and the snake usually ends up becoming a source of protein for the hog. The domestic Spanish hog of the 1500s was one of the sources for the genetic material of the piney woods rooter hogs.

Another genetic source for the rooter came from the English settlers to the North. Around 1607, the English established the Virginia colony at Jamestown. In 1733, James Oglethorpe established an English colony in Georgia with one hundred and fourteen people from England. By 1736 there were roughly two thousand Georgia citizens. The first colonists were mostly tradesmen and farmers who were used to the old usufruct rights of letting their cattle and hogs run loose and used English style earmarks (cuts in the ear/s) to identify animal ownership. Most hog owners would check on their hogs by every so often feeding a few ears of corn to the sounder each night. This allowed them to see if a pig was missing and alert the neighbors to the possibility of a four or two-legged predator in the area. Hogs that couldn’t be enticed by an ear of corn to the crib would be the first sought when the farmer wanted fresh meat. The colonist’s diet consisted largely of salt pork, usually fried with corn bread, sweet potatoes, and molasses. Fresh meat was rare with the exception of wild game. The economy of the colony were based on barter, trading surplus goods for needed goods or skills, such as hogs for cloth, a side of bacon for shoeing a horse, a sow for an ox, or bacon for furs which could be traded for a gun.

Swine were the most common livestock although cattle, cats, chickens, and dogs were also found on the farms. Although cattle were present in large numbers, there wasn’t a market for cow meat. Cattle were raised principally for muscle power (oxen) or for their hides. A farm manager in Virginia in the seventeenth century was fired for letting the cattle get too healthy. It was felt that a skinny cow gave better leather than a fat cow as you had to render all the tallow out of the hide before you could use it for shoes, harness, etc.

Normally hens were left alone to lay eggs but roosters better watch the foxes, possums, raccoons, and the farmer when it was his turn to feed the parson on a Sunday evening. An old adage was "When a poor man eats a chicken, one of them is sick!".

Fences were put up to keep cattle and hogs out of gardens and grain fields not keep an animal in a pen. In those days, forests of oak, hickory, and beech covered vast areas and hogs were allowed to forage through them during the day gleaning any available food they could find.

Under these conditions the Spanish feral and English domesticated hogs freely intermingled their genes and multiplied, developing into what were termed "razorbacks" or "piney woods rooters". "Razorbacks" because when a male hog is excited, his mane of stiff hair bristles stick up so far and thin. The piney wood rooters because a hog will "root" around in the leaf decay looking for roots and bugs to feed on and since their location was the "Piney Woods"…

The piney woods hogs are shorter and stockier than the Eurasian wild boars. Also they tend to be more territorial than most present day feral hogs and do not tend to migrate until they deplete all available food or had water supply problems. So all a man needed to do was let his hogs forage for themselves, mark them once a year, and harvest the surplus as needed. Neighbors cooperated in rounding up and marking the cattle and hogs using baits of corn that the stock would follow or would use cur dogs to herd the gather into catch pens. After capture, the adult animals were separated according to brands, marks or types (color, shape or markings) and, with their young, allocated to the proper owners. The more crafty and cunning hogs were never captured and remained free roaming as feral hogs without mark or brand.

During the nineteen twenties and thirties small farm families moved from the country into the city where higher paying jobs were available abandoning livestock to forage for themselves. City people noticed the peculiar habits of their country cousins and jokes, movies, and books depicting their lifestyle in a humorous light became common. Very little of the stories had any basis in fact.

Free roaming domestic hogs ran loose on open range as late as the 1950’s. In the fifties after WWII, large groups of people broke their connection to the land and moved to the city working at factory jobs where money was more plentiful. Families now had more spending money to buy items they normally couldn’t have afforded. An old fashion cur dog was no longer "good nuff", they started buying registered dogs like Fox terriers (like Asta), collies (Lassie), or German Shepherd Dogs (Rin Tin Tin). Family cars became more common. Changes in eating habits also occurred because people had more money; they no longer wanted whole grain bread but desired white bread, molasses went out of favor and was replaced with refined white sugar, and "soft fat" was not as desirable as "hard fat". If you notice, we switched to a less healthy diet. The "hard fat" can only be obtained from the Chinese or Chinese hybrid breeds of hogs that are feed a high grain diet and hormone supplements.

The Chinese breeds first came to England in the 1770s and were used to "upgrade" the European hog breeds by increasing the amount of fat in the muscle, giving the meat a nice marbling. These improved breeds spread to America and the hog breeds that could "root out" a living in the woods were no longer the preferred breed of choice. The Choctaw is an example of what a common, original European hog breed was like.

The first "true wild hogs" were brought into the western part of New Hampshire in 1888 and released into a 26,000-acre enclosure named the Blue Mountain Forest in Sullivan County by the late Austin Corbin for hunting purposes. But the importation that really established the European Wild Boar in the South occurred after the turn of the twentieth century. In 1908, the Whiting Manufacturing Company of England bought a large tract of land on Hooper’s Bald Mountain in Graham County, North Carolina. Around 1909 Mr. George Gordon Moore established a game preserve. On April 1912 a shipment of 14 young European wild hogs were released onto a 500-acre hog lot with a split rail fence nine rails high. They included 11 sows and 3 boars weighing from sixty to seventy pounds. The hogs were purchased from an agent in Germany who claimed they originally came from the Ural Mountains of Russia. The hogs arrived in Murphy on a train and were transported to the lot by ox cart with a sow dying enroute. From the beginning, the lot was not hog tight and some escaped by rooting out and returned at will. Most of the hogs remained in the lot steadily increasing their number for eight to ten years. In the early nineteen twenties a hunt with dogs was conducted. Of the sixty to one hundred hogs in the pen at that time, only two were killed but several escaped during the hunt scattering into the surrounding mountains where they met up with some piney wood rooters and freely mingled their genes with the already well blended feral domestic hog mixture common in the South.

Over time this new mixture became known as "Russians", a term used to describe the type of hog similar to the ones that came from the Ural Mountains of Russia. Pure Russian boars generally have longer legs and snouts and their head to body ratio is much greater than a feral hog. They also tend to have shorter, straighter tails.

Domestic hogs still escape from pens and other enclosures and "head for the hills" to go wild. The modern domesticated hog is much larger than the earlier hogs that went feral with some reaching weights over half a ton. A cross between these two divergent stocks can create a wild hog of gigantic proportions. orchidhunter

Buzzcook
February 20, 2009, 01:12 PM
The practice of ear making and releasing hogs into the woods was common well into the 20th century. At least that's what the Tarheels I've met here have told me.
Supposedly it was that practice that is responsible for the feral hogs we do have.

Scorch
February 20, 2009, 01:44 PM
Interesting factoids about pigs. As far as One way to group the different varieties would be by the number of chromosomes. The pure Piney Woods Rooter, Russian, and their hybrids have thirty-six chromosomes, the Chinese type feral hogs have thirty-eight chromosomes and the Russian/Piney Woods Rooter/Chinese hybrids have the possibility of thirty-six, thirty-seven, or thirty-eight chromosomes. ALL wild pigs are of the genus Sus, species scrofa. They all originated from the Eurasian wild pigs that roamed over much of Europe and Asia. The different breeds are just that, animals that were bred by people for specific characteristics displayed in the parents. Once returned to the wild, some of those characteristics become a disadvantage and they disappear from the gene pool over time.

Hogs were free-ranged (as we now call it) for centuries, well into the 20th Century. A very good friend of my father's was raised in East Texas where he ran a truck farm, hauled his own corn to the grist mill, and rounded up feral pigs, sorted them for market, castrated the young males that would be returned to the forest, and slaughtered and processed the older animals for their own food. This was an annual cycle: farm, harvest, round up animals, process the harvest, prepare for the next year. After WWII, this became increasingly economically unfeasible due to the emergence of the "factory farm" concept where animals were bred, raised, and fed for the increasingly urban population.

A little more info
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boar

orchidhunter
February 20, 2009, 02:24 PM
Scorch, From your more info wiki page," Spanish and French boar specimens have 36 chromosomes, as opposed to wild boar in the rest of Europe which possess 38, the same number as domestic pigs. Boars with 36 chromosomes have successfully mated with animals possessing 38, resulting in fertile offspring with 37 chromosomes.[10]" orchidhunter

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boar

orchidhunter
February 20, 2009, 03:34 PM
Now I have told you what they are and where they came from, this is how we use our Blackmouth Cur and Mt. Cur to catch them. We like a dog with a medium-cold nose, silent on trail, a loud mouth that is easily located, a dog that is fast enough to out run any woods rooter, strong and quick enough to bay up a hog at his head until the catch team arrives, and with enough strength of character he doesn’t have to resort to hamming. Weak dogs ham a hog because they don’t have the speed, power, or Heart to face off a big boar. But when a dog hamstrings a hog you can’t turn the hog loose and expect him to survive in the wild again. And my family practices catch and release with small hogs or if we catch them too far to carry to the truck. If we can't eat it, we won't waste it. A hunter who harvests wantonly is soon left to hunt nothing at all and wonders why the hogs aren’t as plentiful as they used to be. You have to be a conservationist. Your actions today affect the future of hunting. If you don’t manage the herd responsibly, no one else will and there goes the game.

We want a dog that can find a hog by himself. If he finds it by tracking on the ground, trailing air currents, using sight or listening for hogs, it doesn't matter. Results are what matter. We prefer a medium-cold nosed dog. A cold tracking dog usually moves too slow to catch a hog unless the hog just stands still for the dog to walk up to him. A medium tracking dog can track decently enough to get close enough to where the air current will bring the hog scent to the dog and the dog needs to have the smarts to shift from tracking to trailing by air scent. But it doesn’t matter how he finds them; we want a dog that can find and keep a hog bayed up until we arrive to catch the hog.

Our personal preference is a silent tracking or trailing dog because we didn't go hunting to hear the dog barking we came to the woods to catch hogs. When a hog hears a dog open on trail he starts heading for the thickest, densest briar patch with the longest, sharpest thorns growing in the smelliest, slimiest section of swamp he knows. And you have to go in there because your dogs are following that boar. We have briars growing in the swamp called cat briars that will rip clothes to shreds. When you come out of one of those patches it looks like you have literally been in a wrestling match with a mountain lion. By hunting with a silent running dog the hog doesn't have the opportunity to run for cover but must make a stand where the dog found it.

When a dog sees the boar, he has to have demon speed to be fast enough to out run the hog. Once a hog knows a dog/hunter is on his trail, the hog already had a head start so a dog has to be able to run faster than any hog he’s trying to catch.

In the past, the hogs around here had a lot of piney woods rooter in their bloodlines and would stand and fight, man or beast. They were afraid of nothing. They’d fight a bear if a bear was dumb enough to bother them. But as time went on the rooters that stood and fought were killed and eaten. The ones that multiplied were the ones that had a lot of Russian Runner blood in them and they would run with reckless abandon, crashing through anything in their head long flight from danger to their area of safety when they thought something was interested in pork for dinner. So you want a tall, long legged dog that can cover ground rapidly and run completely silent while hog hunting.

Now even if your dog can run circles around a boar unless he has the power to stop a hog from running he’s just giving the boar some company in a long foot race further into the swamp. We expect our dogs to bay up a hog by himself or with company. We also expect our dogs to work together. A quarrelsome dog can get the whole dog pack killed by distracting another dog when a boar is cornered. The boar is not playing around. He’s in survival mode and will kill any dog facing him given the slightest chance. Your dog also needs extremely quick reflexes at this time. A wild boar doesn’t grow to adulthood by being slow or stupid. A dog has to be properly schooled so that they are responding, not thinking. The dog in a bay up has to know what to do, there's no time to think. They also have to be kept in shape with regular exercise and a good performance brand of dog food. Some people skimp on one or more of these requirements and the dogs and their owners pay a lot more in repair bills at the veterinarian’s office than any money that's been saved.

At the bay up is the only time you really want your dog making noise. His bark should be loud, deep and long for easy locating. The hog may have been bayed up a few yards to miles away from where you're located. Now we come to the most important trait we look for in a dog, HEART. If a dog isn’t born with it, you can’t put it in them. Heart is something that not all dogs have. Even dogs from a long line of find and strike dogs don’t always have the Heart to be a good hog dog. But you have the most productive results testing dogs of a good lineage for a find and strike dog. And the find and strike dog is the one that puts meat in the smokehouse and food on the table. This is the dog you’re going to have to spend the most money to purchase. Your dog must keep the hog from leaving by whatever means necessary. Our dogs work the head. If he catches, you can't locate the dog as he can't bark with a mouth full of pork to let you know where he is. He has to have good judgment. Too close, the hog will attack the dog or the hog will break and start running again. Too far, the dog can't react fast enough to get in front to stop the hog and then the race is on again. We usually hunt with two find and strike dogs. They work as a team and actually cause less damage than if there's only one dog working the hog.

Now comes the time when you enter the picture. The hog is stopped, you’ve run up with the catch dog on leash, you release him, he charges in, jumps and locks on like a vice grip. In regards to catching dogs, we want a dog that locks on, closes his eyes and waits for you. The catch dog is like the line backer that starts the catch and the bay dogs are expected to back his play. Once the dogs are caught they should stay caught until made to release. A dog that bites and barks, or one that chews when he’s caught hold of the hog, is not wanted at our place. The first, because he isn’t really caught and the second, because he’s damaging the hog. We probably could, but don't train our dog to release on command because there's no telling what someone will say when wrestling a wild hog at the bay. People get excited and you'd be surprised at what you hear. So our dogs are trained to hold on until we use a breaking stick. It doesn't hurt them and it prevents any misunderstanding about when to let go of the hog.

Hogs should be caught as humanly and with as little damage as possible. We use Ladner, an old stock, fifty-pound Black Mouth Cur for our catch dog. You point to any hog or bull no matter how big and tell him to catch, he’ll catch, solid. If you’re wondering how a fifty-pound dog can catch a two hundred -pound boar, it’s simple. When he runs in the other dogs all catch at the same time. Usually we run two BMCs to find and strike and use one more for catching. After the dogs have immobilized the hog we come up and snap the cuffs on the larger hogs or we use cotton rope about the size of a number two pencil on the smaller hogs. Nylon isn't used as it will stretch and allow a hog to recover the use of his hind legs at the most inconvenient time. We then proceed to tie the front legs. At this point we use a breaking stick to release the catch dog and check out the hog. If it's a small young boar we let it go to continue its growth, if it's a good size hog we harvest it unless it's too far to the truck in which case we'd release him with all of us gaining a little more experience. I hope you have found this info of some use. Good Hunting, orchidhunter

hoji
February 20, 2009, 06:19 PM
Good read.

Inspector3711
February 21, 2009, 12:46 AM
You guys have all the fun.

Double Naught Spy
February 21, 2009, 07:34 AM
DISTINGUISHING FERAL HOGS FROM INTRODUCED WILD BOAR AND THEIR HYBRIDS:A REVIEW OF PAST AND PRESENT EFFORTS

http://texnat.tamu.edu/symposia/feral/feral-7.htm

orchidhunter
February 21, 2009, 08:13 AM
Double Naught Spy, Thanks for the Link, orchidhunter