If the only hunting you are doing as winter turns to spring is for shedded antlers of the Whitetail deer, you are most certainly missing out. The species to hunt year round and without limits in most locations is the wild Feral Hog.
According to LiveScience.com, wild hogs do approximately $1.5 Billion in damages each year. Their reproduction rates are prolific and are now known to exist in 41 of America's 50 states according to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service or aphis.usda.gov. A Sow can begin reproducing as early as six months old and can drop two litters per year. Most litters are between 3-8 hogs but can be as high as 12 or 13. It's a target rich species that once established can be difficult to get rid of.
Feral hogs are veracious eaters. What isn't on their menu is a better question than what is? They are known to eat roots, grub worms, any planted crop and even snakes. This is why size does indeed matter when hunting them for meat. Anything over about 100 pounds is typically not very tasty. Younger hogs under 100 pounds taste better than what you get at the grocery store. Mmmm good! Bacon, chops, ham, ribs...get some!
Be careful when handling hogs after the kill. Gloves are highly recommended as well as eye protection. Hogs carry diseases that can be passed to humans, so meat should be cooked properly. Save the medium rare for Outback right?
So, how do we go about hunting these critters? Glad you asked! That is next week's article. I want to point out in advance to my fellow Handicapped Outdoorsmen, that safety should be a focus when hunting hogs. Those tusks are for real and their attitude matches the dentures. On top of the teeth are their wits. They are very smart and wary and aggressive. Always hunt with a buddy and be sure to have a hand gun at the ready. More next week on baiting, setup and weapon choices.