Bow hunters face greater challenges than other boar hunters.
Hunting bows are short-range hunting weapons. The effective range of a hunting bow is somewhere between 25 and 45 yards. Sure, you can shoot and harvest a wild hog beyond that range. However, bow hunters should strive for quick and clean kills, not distance records. The longer the shot, the greater the chance to wound the animal and condemn it to a slow and painful death. That’s not what ethical hunting is all about. Only fodder on the mills of the anti-hunting forces.
Bow hunter in action (wiki)
Bow hunting in general, and bow hunting feral pigs in particular, take much technical knowledge of the weapon and practice with it. Fellow hunters and CDFW sponsored bow hunting clinics go a long way to becoming good bow hunters. Read more details in this previous article.
Hunting a feral pig is in itself a challenge because wild pigs are smart, learn quickly, and adapt easily and quickly to changing habitat conditions. They also are able to learn from a bad experience and to recognize similar events in the future and to react accordingly.
Feral pig sounder UK (wiki)
More significantly, feral pig mothers (and other members of a sounder) pass on this newly gained knowledge to their offspring. What does not kill them makes them only smarter.
For this reason, large, smart traps that can catch an entire sounder at once are the most effective.
Smart wild boar trap (Buedel Meat)
Furthermore, wild pigs have keen hearing and a superb sense of smell. Since wild boars are social animals that live in close family groups under the guidance of a dominant female, bow hunters are not only up against two ears, eyes, brains, and noses but rather against each of these senses multiplied by the number of animals in a sounder.
Feral pigs have impressive defenses
Thus, bow hunters have to overcome and deceive dozens of suspicious eyes, ears, and superbly efficient noses to get close to a foraging or moving group. Rarely ever do hunters encounter a feral pig all by itself.
And if they do, it most likely will be an old male boar. Males get expelled from a sounder at an early age to live a solitary life. Except during the rut when boars join the sounder in search of females. After the rut, males become the lone wanderers of the swine world again.
That does not make them easier to approach though. On the contrary, their solitary lifestyle forces them to be even more alert and vigilant than the members of a sounder. There is a reason why old boar have become old and grizzled. I remember the legendary old resident boar on a private ranch I hunted. He was well known, his location not a secret, and his appearances almost predictable- right after the end of legal shooting time.
He died when a club member broke the law and the club rules and shot him well after shooting hours on his favorite foraging spot.
Don’t believe YouTube videos where expert boar hunters demonstrate their skills and expertise in killing wild boar by donning a floppy hat, walking up to a solitary boar, grabbing him by the ears, and stabbing him with one stroke from their super-special boar killing knife.
Well, what do you expect? By far the majority of all boar hunting videos boar hunters publish on YouTube are there to make a quick buck by staging events featuring livestock trapped for the specific purpose of the video.
That’s like hand to hand combat with the huge male pot bellied pig on a local hunting ranch in Southern California. He would walk right up to the hunters looking for a handout. Finally, some Asian hunters decided to shoot him.
Kentucky skirmishers and YouTube boar hunting experts
On the positive side, I have to say that modern YouTube feral pig bow hunters share a long and distinguished history: They could rightfully claim to be descendants from the dreaded American skirmishers in the war against the British of 1812 that often panicked British regulars.
The treatise on “Infantry Tactics and Combat during the Napoleonic Wars” quotes some remarks of John Richardson, a British Major, about the privates of the American Kentucky Rifle Regiment. The Kentucky riflemen served most often as skirmishers and were feared because of their appearance and the accuracy of their weapons.
John Richardson wrote about them:
“Their appearance was miserable to the last degree. They had the air of men to whom cleanliness was a virtue unknown. They were covered by slouch hats, worn by constant use, beneath which their long hair fell matted and uncombed over their cheeks … thrust axes and knives of enormous length gave them an air of wilderness and savageness which in Italy would cause them to pass for the brigands of the Apennines.”
Kentucky riflemen (Pint)
I am sorry, but doesn’t that sound exactly like the average feral pig hunting expert on YouTube? Like the one in the floppy hat who rushes a wild boar knife in hand after the boar patiently waited for the shot setup to finish and the hat to stop talking.
Skirmishers Kentucky Rifle Regiment described above and their weapons after cleaning up
PS: If you are curious by nature and a history buff, go have a look at “Infantry Tactics and Combat during the Napoleonic Wars” and relevant American Army regulations. Old stuff? Not really. Ask any cadet at a military academy.
He will recognize in them the ancestors of our modern special operations forces. Richardson says about them:
“The skirmishers acted in 2s and only fired one at a time so that one was always loaded. The intervals between twos were several paces. They used terrain, trees and buildings as a cover. Their target were enemy’s skirmishers, gunners and officers. Skirmishing required energy, stamina, imagination and initiative.”
Doesn’t that sound modern special ops units and snipers?
There is not very much new under the sun except for the hog hunting experts on YouTube and their domestic, semi-tame prey.
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