Abundant winter rains, more boar, healthier vegetation, more rodents, more snakes
Abundant winter rains are creating happy boar, plenty of lush new vegetation, and accelerated moves of boar populations back into their old home ranges. They bring more rodents and snakes in pursuit of their food sources. Watch your step especially when still-hunting boar in the wilderness.
After the decade-long drought and the devastating wildfires in 2018, the voluminous rainfall and the high snowpack are good news for California, the environment, its wildlife, and for boar hunters. The most impressive desert bloom in years is eye candy for humans is not only a pleasant tourist attraction but also a good indicator for the reinvigorated health of the environment.
New grasses, forbs, brush, brambles, mud holes, and temporary swamps make for ideal conditions for the growth of boar populations. The heavy winter rains invigorate boar. They go into high reproductive gear to make up for losses during the drought.
On the downside, this renewal of essential natural resources also brings with it a temporary increase in native rodent populations. Natural predators of rodents will react to the abundance of living food by increasing their reproductive rates as well. This way, the elevated rodent levels will eventually drop back to levels a healthy environment can safely support.
So far, it looks like the winner California, its wilderness areas, the wildlife, and even agriculture needed so desperately.
Wild boar stand also to gain from the newfound bounty of their habitat. First, in spring feral pigs forage in the new growth of native grasses and forbs, for invertebrates living in the soft, moist soil underneath it. They use the cover of the new brush to make their farrowing nests and for general cover. And rodents are a welcome addition to the daily diet of the boar.
And so are, of course, the young of ground-nesting birds, newborn weak small mammals, birds too old to get out of danger fast, and anything else edible and available to fill the ever empty stomachs of wild boar.
During summer time and in early fall, feral pigs feed on mast and fruits, invertebrates and small wildlife associated with their summer food. Roots and tubers are on their menu throughout the year. Wild pigs need large quantities of mast to fatten up for the winter. So, hunters will find boar around mast trees later in the year and in fall.
Remember also, wild hogs are opportunistic omnivores. They do not mind eating your precious cute, little deer or the occasional venomous snake they discover hidden in high grass. The abundant winter rains blessed them all and each and every species will profit from their blessings in their very own way to the advantage of the species.
Over time and as the year progresses into the dry, hot summer months, the native residents of the Californian wildernesses will find and revert back to their home ranges. The natural balance between habitats and the wildlife it sustains will settle on a stable sustainable status.
Where does that leave wild boar hunters?
Certainly not out in the cold. Plentiful food sources bring rich life to their environment, the new cover provides lusher vegetation which offers more and better hiding places than old, matted growth.
The wild pigs will, therefore, tend to gravitate back into their old home ranges as soon as feasible where they are familiar with seasonal patterns and food sources. Guess what, eventually you will find wild hogs right where they last were at home before the fires and floods.
Boar are creatures of habit and their ranges and daily and seasonal movement patterns are well established. After a disturbance has passed, they will return to business as usual as soon as possible.
Boar hunters who understand these patterns and know where the hogs were in one year have a good chance to find them there again even after environmental catastrophes. Wild boar and feral pigs are very resilient, always able to exploit an unexpected food source and make up quickly for heavy population losses by simply outbreeding them.
This is the reason why feral pigs are so hard to control and to eliminate from areas where they are not wanted but nevertheless have taken a foothold. Once a solid breeding population of wild pigs has established itself in a habitat, it is next to impossible to get rid of them. Like it or not.
Don’t miss the best time for harvesting a boar
Wild pig harvest data show that boar harvest is better in certain months than in others. Early spring after abundant winter rains is a good time to harvest your boar. The hot summer months still produce boar but the harvest is relatively slow compared to fall and early winter. So, an avid boar hunter who knows his game, when and where to get it will head out in search of his quarry now. And then again in fall and early winter. You might as well spend the hottest summer months on your mother’s couch in front of the air conditioner. Lacking air conditioning, boar adopt a nocturnal lifestyle during the hot summer months. They rest during the day in the shade of cover, in mud holes, and under rock outcroppings to come out only after sundown.
In the off time, and assuming a hunter does not also engage in hunting other game big and small, it is an excellent idea to take care of the equipment. Clean your rifle and scope, repair all weak spots on gun slings and accessories. You may also want to take the time to research replacements for your old, worn equipment. That includes survival equipment and not just weapons and accessories.
Quiet clothing, safety boots, and light and easily carried emergency survival items are essential for sustaining life in case you get lost or cannot return to your car as planned. The manufacturers of modern, light-weight survival gear sell a plethora of highly efficient emergency items. They can make the difference between life and death. Think ahead, be prepared, survive.
By the way, wild boar hunting on public wilderness land in California is a great excuse for a weekend on horseback exploring the land and watching rare wildlife in an untouched environment. Wilderness camping is on an upswing while the number of hunters continues to decline slowly. Come on, friends, let’s join campers and hikers for those special weekends on horseback in the wilderness. They might not particularly like you because you are murdering Bambi and eat cute furry things but you can still have a rip-roaring good time as a wild man in the wilderness.
Guess what? It even works without killing so much as one boar or deer. The idea is to get a horse, dress like a special forces warrior in surplus military camouflage, shoulder your blunderbuss, and to impersonate a wild caveman. Believe me, it is fun. Just as long as you are well equipped mentally and physically for any challenges nature can throw your way.
But you came to see where you can harvest a boar, didn’t you? Well, I told you again where to look for them. Failure or success now depends on your skills.
Of course, you can also cheat a little and play it safe. Hire a guide who will then take you to some freshly trapped pigs somewhere on a private hunting ranch and tell you which one to shoot. Then mount the boar head on your wall. But do not ask me why hunters are so widely despised. None more so than trophy hunters who kill for no other reason than for their own aggrandizement. Shame on them!
Hunters will have to disassociate themselves from these despicable characters if they want their avocation to survive in the long run.
Before I go, let me tell you a secret: The boar you are pursuing is under the auto feeder under the fifth tree straight ahead. He will come out every afternoon at 16:04 when the auto-feeder dispenses food or the guide lets him go. Happy pot shooting.