© 2009-2012 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
$g&m f9bd 45kd q!?5.
Image Credit: ZedaxisI had been scouting for hogs that morning. As usual, my route took me right up the railroad tracks going through the local ranches. The track maintenance crews use a mechanical, one-armed, articulated monster with a three-foot diameter circular saw on the working end to hack back the encroaching trees and brush. Among the shredded remains of the plant life are an innumerable number of branches that are left jagged and splintered, Punji stake like, waiting for an unwary idiot like me to impale himself. Which is exactly how I was now to be found.
At that particular point, I could have cared less if Britney Spears was prancing by me nude, naked, or disrobed. I was on the job, scouting for hogs, and now I was out of commission. Well, I might be curious why Britney was there and what brand of mosquito spray she used, or if she put on enough sunscreen and maybe needed some help making sure she had enough on, but that’s about it.
Scouting for hogs, or any animal for that matter, requires a bit of thought. When you are out their looking for hogs, you have to start by taking a broad view. I mean that both metaphorically and physically. Step back a moment and considering the hogs needs first. Then making calculated decisions based on your observations.
Image Credit: Stile di Pallanti
A great tool for pre-scouting or familiarizing yourself with an area is Google Earth. Back in the day we had to buy topographic or aerial photographs of the area in question. Now you can get all sorts of whizbang satellite imagery! My biggest issue is that I can’t seem to figure out how to save a screen shot or print it out. So I’ve used shrink-wrap and fine tipped markers to trace the terrain and landmarks directly on the plastic while on the screen and then transferred it to paper. Maybe someone will take pity on me and explain to me how I can do it on the computer.
Image Credit: Retro Traveler
There’s a lot you can learn from an aerial or topographic map. The overall lay of the land is better understood from the vantage point of a satellite or airplane. You can see how land, vegetation, and features make natural corridors and lanes, which will guide any kind of traffic including air movements. You can see where thick vegetation may be, and how it might be accessed. It gives you a starting point for your scouting and helps you visualize the context of what your feet are standing on when you are there. Now you can see the forest and the trees!
Image Credit: Lucycat
Now that you have a broad view of the property, let’s look for the specific needs of wild hogs. Is there a food source for them right now; if so what is it. Food sources that are constantly replenishing themselves will have the hogs visiting regularly while the food is available. For instance, when nut trees ripen and drop their mast, it is over a period of time. Hogs will visit for the time that the trees are dropping their bounty. Once the nuts stop dropping, the hogs stop visiting, except by happenstance if they happen by to see if they can glean a few more nuts out of the ground. Old orchards will also be attractive to hogs for the same reason. Grain crops have a narrower window depending on the amount of grain and the size of the predation. Once millet or corn is ripe, it’s all ripe and that’s it. A hungry boar can chew up and destroy a substantial amount of acreage in a night, but when the food is gone, it is gone. Wild pigs will also graze and root for vegetative matter. In the spring time hogs will graze new growth and in the fall they will use those bulldozer noses to rip out tubers and roots.
I hadn’t seen any sign like rooting, but I knew that there were plenty of hogs in the area. I thought I would scout out what looked from the ground to be a promising area, after crossing the overgrown right-of-way. Now I was sitting there like a dummy. I screwed up my courage, let go of the arm, and took a look at the carnage. It looked bad, but it wasn’t like I was bleeding all over the place and in danger of imminent death. So I took the water bottle, poured some over the holes and poked at it with my dirty fingers. The pale jagged edges of the punctures looked like I had tried to use a drill on my arm, and where the splinter had run me through, the flesh was bruising and full of dark blood. I washed it with more water, pulled the now famous do-rag off my head, and proceeded to wrap up my arm.
Image Credit: BamaWester
Image Credit: Paul Voskamp
My preferred method is to find the wild boars’ travel corridors, and lie in ambush. Usually it is either from a bedding area to a feeding location, and these can vary according to season, or from the watering holes to the bedding areas. In Florida, during the wet season, food sources are the easiest areas to locate and prepare for. Water can be everywhere down here! But during droughts and the dry season it is very much like those pictures you see from the Serengeti plains. All animals go to the limited water.
What I had seen from the railroad tracks was what looked like an open corridor through the scrub and palmetto. It was hard to tell from the roadbed, which is why I had jumped into the right of way in the first place. I picked my .308 Mauser up out of the dirt where I had dropped it and climbed back out of the ditch. I could feel my forearm starting to swell, and I had to force my hand to make a fist. I knew I was in for an uncomfortable night.
Narrow or wide corridors create edge avenues that animals exploit for movement or even feeding. Animals will use the edges to move adjacent to the corridor, and then possibly feed in the open areas if they are grazing, or cross at certain points to access other routes or feed locations. Hogs in particular will move along the overgrown right of way, adjacent to fence lines, and on the edges of wooded areas, before stepping out or crossing into an area where they might feed. Look for a depression under the wire where hogs have scooted under, and also check out low spots on stone walls for places they have gone over.
Most importantly, go out there and enjoy what you are doing!
As for me, by the time I got home, I could no longer close my fist. I mean it hurt! I stuck the arm under the kitchen faucet, turned on the hot water, and proceeded to scrub the wound with dish detergent and a wash cloth. I grabbed my first aid kit and jeweler’s loupe and went to the table where the light was better. After a thorough examination, it looked like it was debris free, so I pushed some anti-biotic cream into the holes, stuck a couple of band aids over the holes, and poured some Bourbon over ice.
A few days later it opened up and left me with an angry, nasty, open gash, but it started healing right away and after a couple of weeks I could finally use that hand again.
Albert A Rasch
Member: Shindand Tent Club
Member: Hunting Sportsmen of the United States HSUS (Let 'em sue me.)