Pattern, What Pattern? What better topic to write about in the outdoors than those beasts that captured my passion the first time I sought them out?
Hogs are a peculiar animal. They do what they want, when they want, and how they want to do it. A hunter scarcely sees another animal as difficult to pattern as a wild (feral) hog trying to pattern them generally results in a great loss of hair, dignity, and respect among hunting buddies who already understand that patterning is nearly futile.
Hogs are drifters that can travel within a half mile to 20 square miles. Some boars may travel as much as 15 miles in a day! If the habitat is desirable they tend to make themselves at home, sometimes year round. However, if the habitat is questionable, meaning if there are deficiencies in any aspect of that habitat, they may choose to wander within their territorial area that 20 square miles I just mentioned.
To the hunter this can be incredibly frustrating, but to the rancher or farmer it is a true Godsend. What this means for the typical hunter is one can witness fresh sign daily for months at a time, then overnight the hogs disappear. The good news for hunters is that when the time is right they come back.
Good scouting tools come in small packages. If you have the opportunity, invest in a game/trail camera. Given lapses in extreme weather changes, meaning spans of time/days where weather patterns are similar, hogs can be patterned to an extent. Knowing hogs are in the area, when the coolest parts of the day are, baiting an area, and using that game/trail camera to record times over two to three days can and does suggest hogs will be back in that general time-frame if the sounder has not been disturbed – same Bat Time, same Bat Channel, so to speak.
If you do not have a camera some patterning is still possible with repeated visits to the bait-site, wallows, or routing areas throughout the day to gauge when the hogs are most active. Be on top of your game to accomplish this you only have a day or so, on average, to figure this out, especially since, to do this, you are walking into your hunting grounds enough to pressure them and change their pattern.
Pay attention to moon cycles as well. Hogs do not see as well as other animals, but they see better than a lot of people give them credit for and they are incredibly aware of subtle changes to their environment (like putting up a groundblind). If the weather is cooler and there is a new moon (pitch black) hogs are more prone to move in the daylight hours or earlier in the evening conversely, during a full moon hogs are likely to be strictly nocturnal since they can see well enough to move into bait-sites or other feeding areas while still feeling the comfortable cloak of night to protect them.
As a general rule, hogs are nocturnal creatures to begin with so you might invest in a tool called a Hawglite – a colored light that mounts onto your bow, rifle or shotgun (hogs cannot see color) – if you’re serious about hunting them. Hawglite’s can be found at www.Just-Hunt.com or www.Hawglite.com. With this particular light I have no problem with putting a pin on a hog at 40 yards or crosshairs at even further distances if I am rifle-hunting.
The important thing to note is that free ranging hogs are exactly that, free ranging. This implies hogs still do what they want, when they want, and how they want. Being impressive travelers/wanderers, it is difficult to pattern hogs for more than a few days at a time. Murphy’s Law applies here, “When you think you’ve figured them out, you haven’t.”
Persistence and small patterning cycles of three to four days are optimum and key to hunting using patterning as a means of improving your success rate. If you pattern them for two consecutive days, you better be in the stand on the third day or they’ll change on you again it can be quite aggravating this is where patience is truly a virtue.
Hunt hard, hunt often.
Questions & Comments: Kevin can be reached by e-mailing Kevinr@Just-Hunt.com.
Photo courtesy of Wikivisual.com