Night and Day: Hog Hunting Gear and Tactics for All Hours
It’s a common theme for many in the hog hunting world: believing you can only successfully chase feral hogs in the dark. There are certainly pros to the midnight hours but those aren’t the only time of day our porcine quarry are out and about. Hog hunting during daylight hours is not only an option, it’s something you should do. You want as many usable hunting hours as possible, right? Here’s what you need to know about hog hunting under the sun or moon.
Years ago, before I lost track of how many hogs I’ve shot, my first hog hunt took place in the daylight. When I hit the ground blind armed with my Remington R25 it was early morning but still full light. The air was crisp, the blind was strangely positioned on the side of a hill with the only shooting lanes being uphill, and I was excited.
A couple of hours passed before a boar wandered by, at which point snow had begun falling. Yes, I was shivering and cursing my lack of proper warm clothing preparation. It ended up being a straightforward, easy shot: put a Hornady Full Boar 308 Win 165 grain GMX bullet through his heart and watch him slip in the snow and slide most of the way down the hill. Over and done in a moment.
What I didn’t know then was there are diverse options available to hog hunters regardless of the time of day. Sitting in a ground blind is something best left to chasing whitetails – sometimes — and thinking one hog down is enough? That’s a thing of the distant past. There are myriad ways to hog hunt when the sun is shining and some are more awesome than others especially for those of us who may or may not admit to being adrenaline junkies.
Daytime Hog Hunting Methods
If ground blinds are your preference, more power to you. Nothing wrong with it. But if you’d like to try something different, consider a spot and stalk, long-range shots, or shooting from a vehicle if the latter is legal in your state.
Spot and Stalk
A spot and stalk is a solid way to get a jump on hogs whether you do it first thing in the morning or later in the day.
In the early morning hours or in the hours prior to dusk, when the air remains cooler, you’re most likely to find your prey moving around scavenging food. Midday, when temperatures rise enough to make things uncomfortable for them, hogs can be found resting in the shade or hanging out at their local watering hole.
The key to a successful spot-and-stalk is remembering to move silently and pay attention to the direction of the wind. Hogs may not have the keenest eyesight but they’ll hear and smell you coming. Of course, it also helps to have at least a rough idea of where they’ll be located during the day. Scouting is your friend.
Long-range shooting is a debate that can cause some interesting divides among hunters. Personally, I believe we as hunters are required to make ethical shots and one-shot kills. If you aren’t confident enough in your long-range skills to make an ethical shot on a hog, don’t do it. Simply because they’re an invasive species doesn’t mean they shouldn’t die quickly and cleanly. Make sure your skills are up to the task.
Choose a spot with a good vantage point and take the time to utilize your rangefinder to be sure of your distance at various locations in your field of view. If you’re in a state where baiting is allowed this is a good time to use said bait as your furthest shot location. You can either take a hog walking to the food or as they eat.
This also requires you to be familiar with the drift and drop of your rifle as well as knowing what it is and is not capable of handling. Making a shot on paper or steel at 500, 750, or 1,000 yards isn’t the same as shooting an animal.
Your chosen cartridge must be able to get the job done. When I’m prone waiting for a long-range shot – think 750 to 1,000 yards – .338 lapua magnum is a favorite of mine. But remember, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Make it ethical.
Shooting from a Vehicle
Hunting from a vehicle depends on the state. Here in Texas we basically do what we want when we’re gunning for feral hogs. If it’s legal where you are be sure you understand details like height over bore and moving targets. It puts a damper on the day if you accidentally blow a hole in the truck because you didn’t realize your scope height over the rifle’s bore meant the bullet would dig through the hood or take out a side mirror.
Check for muzzle clearance. If you’re shooting a moving hog from the truck or side-by-side that’s also in motion, take extreme care to be safe. Better not to shoot at all than to be reckless.
Daytime Hog Hunting Gear
Guns and gear for daylight hours tend to be more affordable than what you need for nighttime. A rifle, shotgun, or handgun – this is where I remind you to know your local laws – in a big enough caliber will suffice.
Scope, red dot, laser, or irons are up to personal preference and abilities. However, if you’re setting up for long-range hog hunting you’re going to need a quality scope (and a larger-bore rifle with a good bipod).
Acme Machine manufactures some cost-effective, reliable rifles and optics that’ll get the job done on hogs.
For a quality, affordable daytime scope, try Riton Optics X1 Primal 3-9×40. It delivers with clear glass, a generous field of view, and durability. On the higher end of the scale is Riton’s X7 Primal 1-8×28 which was designed with help from Craig Boddington. It’s 100 percent waterproof, fog-proof, shockproof, and has 6 levels of red illumination.
For RDS try the SOUSA R.A.I.D. with its 2 MOA red dot for rifles or their R.A.I.D. Pistol model for your handgun. The rifle model has 11 brightness settings while the pistol model has ten; both models include two night-vision settings.
Spare magazines are a must when after hogs as is sufficient ammunition. Extras like binoculars and rangefinders depend on the area you’re hunting and at what distance you intend to shoot. As for camo, no you’re not duty-bound to camo up head to toe. Stop and think about the area you’re hunting and dress accordingly to break up your outline and increase your odds for success. You will need better concealment during the day than at night but hogs aren’t turkeys so there’s no need to go overboard.
What do the pros say?
Long-time hunting manager Dusty Stevens said he enjoys hog hunting during daylight hours because he enjoys “…how you can spot the hogs from a greater distance and alter your movements as needed. It also gives you time to decide on distance and point of aim versus point of impact with your gun; if you’re shooting long-range you’ll have time to adjust your scope. Depends on what you as a hunter want but I like hunting both during the day and at night.”
Gear for Hog Hunting at Night
Hunting at night means worrying less about what you’re wearing. I’m not saying you should go sprinting through a field in bedazzled blaze orange while waving sparklers over your head but it’s perfectly acceptable to throw on jeans and call it good.
There are advantages to hunting at night. The cool air is friendlier to large sounders moving around. You can visualize the hogs by their heat signature before they see you. You can use the cover of darkness to your advantage for stealthy movement.
High Plains Hunts owner Jeremy Simpson night hunts exclusively. Why? Because, “Hogs are some of the smartest game that can be hunted, with their eyes and ears being comparable to humans, and their noses being some of the best in the world. I hunt at night to stack every odd I can in my favor.”
Yes, night hunting rocks. It’s an experience unlike any other and gives you the opportunity to use equipment you might not otherwise get to put into your hunting rotation.
Get Your Visual
Here’s a secret: you don’t have to invest in high-end thermal to kill hogs after dark. Thermal makes life easier and adds an element of Secret Agent Hunter to the experience but isn’t a must-have.
One way to bypass the expense of thermals and night vision using green lights. Green helps circumvent the hog’s ability to see it, but you can.
Win-win. Wildgame Innovations’ Moonshine Light is a motion-activated green light that mounts to your feeder and has an integrated solar panel to keep it charged. It has 16 LEDs, an on-off switch, and universal mounting hardware. This is a solid option if you’re using a feeder or can attach it to something else.
If you prefer mounting a light to your AR and scanning, check out Streamlight’s TLR-1 Game Spotter Night Vision Tactical Hunting Gun Light with Green LED Lighting.
I’ve had good success with Streamlight and have used this particular light on quite a few hunts (it rocks coyote calling, too). The Night Vision green light produces 150 lumens, mounts to any MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail and Glock-style rails, and runs on a pair of CR123A Lithium batteries. A remote switch is included for greater accessibility.
In the thermal world Pulsar is a stellar choice for hog hunters.
When using thermal you aren’t limited to scope-only models, either; Pulsar’s Helion 2 XP is a thermal monocular perfect for scanning fields at night. It has an NETD <40 mK sensor for clearer images, variable digital zoom up to 8x, and a built-in video recorder.
As for thermal scopes the Pulsar Trail 2 LFR is another excellent model designed to operate in rain, fog, and cold with features like high-definition imaging, a built-in laser rangefinder, and shockproof magnesium alloy housing. And like the company’s monocular, the Trail 2 LRF also has video recording built into it. Both models run on external battery packs that ship with the scopes and can be charged through a USB plug-in.
Unlike thermal, which functions by reading heat signatures, night vision works by collecting ambient light. Higher quality Gen 2 or 3 night vision offers fantastic clarity and good range.
Be aware: staring through night vision for lengthy stretches can give you a headache – been there, done that – so take frequent breaks from looking through goggles or a scope.
Night Vision Monocular
The Bushnell Z2 Night Vision 6×50 Monocular allows you to see potential targets 1,000 feet away during daylight and nighttime hours thanks to its being a digital night vision platform. It has a built-in infrared illuminator, it’s WiFi capable, and you can use it to record video. Monoculars are useful for scanning fields, scouting, you name it. They’re invaluable for night hunters.
Night Vision Scope
On the night vision scope side the Pulsar Digex N450 Digital Riflescope offers a 600-yard detection range, 4x zoom, and Stream Vision app so you can connect your riflescope to your smartphone. Technology may have its downsides but the ability to connect my thermal and night vision to my phone for remote viewing is a pretty epic advancement.
The Bottom Line
Hunt hogs whenever possible. If that means you’re hitting wheat fields at night decked out in thermal, great. If you’re proned out looking for a long-range daytime shot over bait, excellent. Do what works for you and take care not to dismiss other hunters’ methodology. Both methods work and when I sat at my laptop trying to decide whether I’ve dropped more hogs at night or during the day I couldn’t remember. It’s likely a somewhat even split.
I’ve dropped seven hogs in a neat row from one sounder during daylight hours using a 10mm handgun, burned through sounders using thermal at night, and taken advantage of “oh look, a hog” during deer hunts while toting a lever gun. My feelings on the issue fall somewhere under the “You do You” heading. Get out and hog hunt, any time of the day or night.
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Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you’ve seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master’s Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.