1 Feb 2005
High Fences! I should say misunderstood management. As executive V.P. of B.H.M. I talk with hunters from all across North America about quality European Hog Hunting destinations. The Majority of Outfitters offering true Euro hunting operate within high fenced enclosures. As soon as I mention enclosure the most common response I get is, “I don’t want a canned hunt!” There is much that is misunderstood about hunting in an enclosure and the reasons land owners have them. Small canned hunt “kill pens” have given large well managed wild life enclosures a bad rap.
Recently, I had the opportunity to hunt at the Buck & Boar of S.C. with owner and B.H.M. Extreme team member, Troy Ayer. Troy has run an intensive whitetail management program for 20 years. His program has produced some of the finest Bucks harvested from S.C. genetics, harvesting 130’ to 150’ Bucks have became the norm.
Seeing the exploding interest in wild hog hunting Troy decided to make the same commitment to managing a hunt able European hog population. The first step was to remove all hogs not displaying heavy Euro characteristics from the enclosure. Hunters harvest as many of these “Management Hogs” as possible. Traps are utilized to remove the hogs that elude hunters. Removing inferior hogs is an ongoing part of the management program. The next step was to obtain some of the finest European genetics available, some of which were direct Euro imports. A considerable amount of research and financial commitment were required to obtain a display of Euros like Troy had collected when he was satisfied. “As hog hunting continues to gain respect as a major big game sport. I believe the growing majority of hunters are going to see, true Euros as the ultimate trophy. I plan on being “up for the moment!”” Troy said, justifying the investment. These Breeder hogs are the foundation to a management program that was put in place and fine tuned through trial & error. Unlike whitetail management, managing Euros has not been studied and documented to the point where you know the dos and don’ts learning from your own mistakes are the most expensive lesson there is!! I experienced first hand the results of Troy’s management program. Extreme hunting for Euros with plenty of attitude. Guaranteed great hog hunting. Canned hunting, it was not, or you would be guaranteed a kill! If they say “no kill no pay!” they mean “our hogs can’t get away!”
I asked Troy to write the following article based on his experiences managing and hunting hogs “behind the fence.” He and I both hope this will shed some light on the reasons for using a fence as a management tool and clear up some misconceptions about hunting within their boundaries.
Terry A. Palmer
Putting this article together has been a “tough row to hoe.” It’s like cooking a catfish stew. It doesn’t matter how good it is some folks are going to say it stinks! I do promise everything I write here is true based on my first hand experiences with people, hogs and enclosures, or any combination of the three. I don’t plan on writing any lies or apologies. I am going to write how I see it based on the way I saw it. .I hope you find the stew informative. The popularity of hog hunting is constantly on the rise. Many hunters are aiming to harvest pure Euros. The original wild hog of our swamps. The “Real McCoy.”
Many landowners are implementing programs that introduce European genetics to improve their wild herd. There are only a handful of breeders with pure European blood lines that are not crossed. These hogs are expensive and their availability is limited. With the control gained by enclosing your property with game proof fence, the cost of introducing genetics can be justified. Improved genetics along with proper herd, management can give your hogs the European characteristics desired. Without a fence the cost of Introducing genetics would outweigh the gain, and in many states would be illegal. Knowing your investment will remain on your acreage is only one of the many advantages gained with an enclosure. Trespassing and poaching are drastically reduced. Herd population and sex ratio are more controllable. The age structure of the herd can be manipulated. Nutritional intake can be regulated to provide maximum growth. Predator control is much more achievable. These are just some of the “Top of the List” benefits of an enclosure. There are many more I must add that without a competent dedicated manager willing to devote the labor and finances required, many of these advantages will never be realized ,the fence does not work on its own. Many enclosures are erected for the sole purpose of improving management results. Preserving fair chase while raising the management program to a level unachievable on open range.
Any person that can be open minded, and will see things as they truly are, will realize fair chase hunting can be found within many enclosures. Small kill pen’s that offer canned hunts share nothing in common with larger wildlife enclosures other than the fence. Forming an opinion on fences and fair chase based on a canned hunt you experienced is not fair or accurate. This is what makes wildlife enclosures guilty by association.
If you think a wild hog can’t elude hunters and die of old age, inside an enclosure you are wrong. Hogs can be nomadic to find improved feeding ground. Hogs don’t need or utilize an overabundance of acreage to avoid the “Zone”. Hunters shooting range is a hog’s danger zone. Hogs that have endured hunting pressure are very resourceful at avoiding the “Zone”. A wild boar that reaches maturity while enduring hunting pressure has a level of intelligence underestimated by even seasoned hunters.
Maturing under hunting pressure are the two combined factors that educate a wild hog. Hunters new to hog hunting often quiz me on hogs habits and their nature. I quickly explain that there are “hogs” and then there are mature pressured hogs. They are two totally different critters that share few likenesses. Each have their own habits and tolerance level. Young feeder hogs running in packs will let you get away with things that would turn an old Boar in to a shadow you though you saw. A wildlife enclosure of sufficient size with a diverse habitat that has an abundance of thick bottom land does not rob a hog of any its defenses. If the enclosure is under heavy hunting pressure many mature hogs will be known to exist only by the tracks they leave. Unless trapped or bayed with dogs these hogs may never share space with the “Zone.” Old hogs tend to turn totally nocturnal and learn to pattern even the lightest hunting pressure. They master utilizing their sense of smell as a main defense. Hogs don’t have the sharpest eyesight in the woods but don’t think there blind. They pick up movement well. Hogs have many “tricks” to help them avoid the “Zone”, and none require miles of acreage. All hogs need is cover. Given plenty of cover an old hog will play you like a deck of cards and leave you looking like the joker. The notion that a spooked hog runs across two counties before slowing down is what you would like to think. The truth is the hogs probably right under your nose.
I always observe tracks on road crossings going into and out of different sections of land as we stalk hogs. Doing this has taught me many hogs never leave the block of woods you jump them in. Many times older hogs hold tight while others jump letting the hunters walk by. If a hog senses your scent often times they will move slowly and quietly ahead of the hunters undetected. Eventually circling back around to where they started only to slip away in the opposite direction in which you are traveling. How much land does this take?
Please understand I’m not referring to farm raised hogs that are stocked when they reach shooting size, I’m talking about hogs born in the wild inside an enclosure. These are wild hogs that don’t know what side of the fence they’re on. Differences in shape, size, terrain, and available cover make each enclosure unique. All of these characteristics affect fair-chase. Size is not the deciding factor.
A minimum size limit would not be an accurate way to judge fair-chase. Without ample ground cover open range could not offer fair-chase. I will say that an enclosure of several hundred acres, half of which is some sort of thick cover is sure to offer a fair chase hunt.
If you’re looking for a Trophy European Boar don’t cheat yourself by overlooking wildlife enclosure hunting. To avoid “canned hunts” don’t hesitate about asking the outfitter direct questions and expecting straight answers. Always get references and check them out. Properly managed enclosures will offer you a better success ratio and superior Euro genetics. It’s not a fair chase issue. It’s all about top quality management. Why wouldn’t you try to book your hunt on the best hunting land possible? Safe hunting and God Bless!!
Troy N. Ayer
Troy Ayer and T. Palmer