In my hunting career, I have harvested enough wild hogs to feed a small army. In past years, I mistakenly called some of them "Russian Boars." Others, I tagged as "Piney Woods Rooters," especially those with very long snouts, big front shoulders and smaller "hams." In truth, they were all feral hogs.
Granted, some probably did have a bit of European Boar blood because of the genetics passed along by true European Boars that had been stocked in the areas by sportsmen decades before. But it would have been impossible for any of the free-ranging hogs to be of pure European blood. There are just too many feral porkers roaming the countryside for the two species not to join bloodlines.
Until recently, I had never hunted the true European Boar. I have seen them on game ranches and, from observing them at close range, I knew they looked totally different then the ferals I was accustomed to hunting.
After spending some time hunting a 100 percent pure strain of Europeans on the "Buck 'N Boar Ranch" near Grapeland in east Texas, I can relate to you the similarities and differences in hunting the two species.
Strains Of European Boars
After doing some extensive research, I came to learn there are three or four strains of the European Boar, but there is no such animal as a "Russian Boar." I know many of my fellow hunters from the southeast and Texas will undoubtedly think this statement is pure blasphemy!
Now, there ARE wild boar in the wilds of Russia, and plenty of them, but they are all descendents of boars from Old Europe.
Chris Byrne, manager at the "Buck 'N Boar," says his ranch first imported the "European" sows and boars in 2001 and the animals have adapted well to the wilds of eastern Texas.
"We began by fencing several acres for our 'brood" hogs,'" he said. "It was important to keep them separate from the large population of feral hogs to avoid inbreeding. When the pigs wean and are eating on their own, we release them onto the ranch. We currently have a large population of true Europeans that are close to a year old now."
It was one of these hogs that I hoped to arrow on my two-day hunt!
I thought it important to try to get some good photos of these pure European hogs in the wild and I learned a long time ago that hunting and photographing wildlife are two distinctly different endeavors.
Different Than Ferals
After observing several groups of hogs that first evening, I came to the realization that these Europeans were a completely different animal than their feral cousins. They moved through the woods more like deer than hogs and seemed ever vigilant, even when eating corn under the feeders.
It seemed that at least one hog was consistently checking the wind while the rest of the sounder had their head down feeding. On several occasions, I was able to stalk within my self imposed 30-yard maximum bow range, but in the thick cover, I knew getting a good broadside or quartering away shot would be tough. I decided to hunt from one of the well-positioned treestands overlooking a corn feeder the next morning.
These Europeans have an affinity for corn and when they hear the feeders go off, they move in and scarf up the corn while the ferals watch from the shadows of the underbrush! Hopefully, I would have the opportunity to look over several of the hogs, up close and when I did make my shot, it would be at a hog standing broadside or quartering.
Fifty percent of my task was done; I had the pictures of the live hogs, now I needed one on the ground!
"Buck 'N Boar" has a very nice, very roomy lodge situated right in the middle of the ranch. Byrne and I spent the evening talking about past hog hunts and the fine points of hunting the true European versus the feral hog. Byrne had just the spot picked out for me the next morning and thanks to my afternoon scouting, I knew just how to find it in the darkness the next morning.
"Stop And Go" Sound
After settling in my stand, I soon heard that "stop and go" sound that a group of moving hogs make as they travel through the woods.
The first porkers I saw were ferals, most were black, but a couple had brown and white spots. One of them was a big, jet black boar that, before learning about the European Boar, I would have called a "Russian." He probably did have some European blood way back in his gene pool, but he looked absolutely nothing like the pure strain hogs I was in quest of.
This group of six or eight feral hogs hung up about 30 yards from the feeder and began to act a bit nervous. As it turned out, they had reason to be! Within minutes 12 Europeans were under the feeder, none anywhere close to the size of the big feral boar. I was amazed to see the ferals hanging back in the woods as they watched the newcomers to their neck of the woods feed undisturbed.
Byrne hopes to develop a strain of cross breeds that have a very strong European influence. The Europeans have long hair on the top of their back and when they sense something is not kosher, the hair stand straight up, much like the hair on a javelina's back.
As I watched the group feeding, they bristled up on several occasions, took a few steps back into the woods, only to return to the feeder.
A Tough Draw
I could see that drawing on one of these critters would be tough. I began watching the hair on the hog's back. It seemed that every time something alerted them, the hair stood straight up and they tested the wind and scanned the woods for signs of danger.
Finally, I caught a sow moving off to the side of the group. I decided to go ahead and draw the Mathews LX. I drew the bow, found my anchor point and 20-yard pin, and waited for the "perfect" shot. I waited and I waited, but the sow would not give me a broadside shot. I put the pin right in front of the sow's shoulder, at the junction of the neck, and waited until the sight picture was perfect. And then I gently nudged the trigger on my release.
The arrow impacted the hog just in front of the shoulder and drove deep into the chest cavity. She was down for keeps in a matter of feet.
Another thing I later found unique with Europeans; their meat taste more like a cross between pork and venison. When skinning and quartering my hog, I noted very little fat and absolutely no hardened, layered fat under the skin on top of the back like so many feral hogs have. The meat is as good as anything I have eaten. I do most of my own processing and the day after harvesting the hog, we enjoyed some center cut pork chops cooked on the smoker. It was, without doubt, the finest tasting meat, wild or otherwise, that I have even eaten.
If you are a veteran hunter of wild hogs like myself and would like to enjoy the challenge of hunting these "Europeans," give Chris Byrne a call at the "Buck 'N Boar" Ranch. The phone number is 936-687-2467. Check out the ranch's informative web site at www.bucknboar.com.
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