March 16, 2014
Wild pigs are a major problem in America, and they pose a significant threat to our native game species. Hogs were brought to this country by farmers and hunters over a century ago, but since that time the pigs have managed to escape captivity and have taken up residence in 45 of the 50 states.
Wild pigs damage agricultural crops, pastures, residential areas, and levees, and they pose a significant threat to native wild game populations. A variety of different methods have been employed to control hog populations, but very few have proven effective at significantly reducing the number of pigs in an area.
One method that has proven effective in many areas, however, is shooting hogs from helicopters. Unlike other methods that take only a select few hogs from a much larger population, helicopter eradication has proven to be an effective means for controlling hog populations. Each year more and more people are catching on to helicopter hogging, and once you've tried it you'll understand why.
Here are eight reasons you need to scribble "helicopter hog hunting" on to your bucket list today.
1. Protect Native Species
Hogs aren't native to this continent, so they provide competition for limited resources and place native species at risk. Deer, wild sheep, elk, and wild turkey are but a few of the species that compete with pigs for resources, and in areas where pig populations are high and where resources are highly limited, these native species can face die-offs. Reducing hog numbers preserves wild game.
2. Protect Farmers and Food Prices
Wild pigs thrive in agricultural areas, and a single large sounder (group of pigs) can wipe out an entire crop field in a single night. Farmers who raise peanuts and corn are particularly at risk, and wild hog crop damage is estimated at 1.5 billion a year. This loss, in turn, drives food prices higher as crops are limited.
3. Learn About Wildlife
Any days spent riding in a helicopter in search of hogs is like a master's course in ecology. From the air you'll see a variety of wildlife that you wouldn't otherwise see, and you'll find out where game animals spend their time. That's not to say that you are using hog hunting as a means to scout for other game, but rather the things you see will make you a better hunter. Spending time in the air will help you learn to identify likely bedding and feeding habitat and better understand where wildlife species spend their days.
4. It's Effective
Trapping and hunting pigs on the ground may put a small dent in the population, but with each sow becoming sexually mature at 6 months of age and capable of producing up to 20 piglets a year, ground techniques aren't very effective at reducing hog numbers.
Aerial eradication efforts, however, have legitimate potential to reduce the number of hogs in an area, and even though hog hunting is expensive, it actually makes a significant difference in the number of pigs in an area — and the amount of damage they cause.
5. Become a Better Shooter
To say that shooting hogs from the air is difficult would be an understatement. It's hard to hit a running target on solid ground, and when you're in a moving helicopter it's even more difficult. You'll immediately understand the value of a good, crisp trigger, and you'll learn not to squeeze your rifle too hard (tense muscles make the sights jump with the vibrations of the chopper). If you are one of the millions of Americans that now own an AR-platform rifle, then you already have the perfect gun for aerial hog eradication. Buy a good reflex or red dot sight and a few 25 round magazines and you're ready to go.
6. Boost Local Economies
Remote regions of the country that have already seen economic loss due to hogs are benefitting from aerial hog shoots. These rural areas not only benefit from reduced hog numbers, they also reap the financial benefits of having more sportsmen in town spending money on things like licenses, food and drinks, and hotel rooms.
7. Meat to Eat
Wild pigs, particularly small pigs, provide a low-fat, inexpensive alternative to farm-grown pork. After a pig is down, partners on the ground can be radioed to pick it up, or sometimes the position of the pig can be marked for retrieval later. In many cases the landowner has right to the pigs you take, so always be sure and check with them before taking any meat.
8. It's Fun
There's nothing quite like taking pigs from a moving helicopter. It's exciting and extremely challenging, and after you've done it once, you're likely going to be hooked for life. It's more fun if you are shooting well, but that comes with time, and after a few pigs you'll get the hang of shooting from the moving helicopter. Not only are aerial hog shoots a lot of fun, you're helping protect local farmers and save native wildlife.
The Essentials Gear Box.
Our editors have hand-picked these essential pieces of gear to make you a more successful hunter when you hit the game trails this season.