The best place to aim when hog hunting is for the heart, but the strategy behind an effective shot depends on the hog hunting equipment you are using. The protective shield on a hog is located on the front shoulders, and can interfere with proper shot placement. A well-implemented strategy when aiming for your next wild hog can make the difference in a clean kill and a wounded pig.
During the heat of hunting season, hogs are more active at night in comparison to during the day. This is primarily due to the pressure put on them by hunters, as well as the need for them to continuously search for food. To prepare for this, ensure you’re properly outfitted with the right hog hunting equipment and hog hunting lights.
Why does proper Aim matter?
Hunters strive for clean kills
Proper aim matters because hunters strive for clean kills. Ethical concerns are top of mind for most hunters, but a clean kill is associated with better quality meat. The science behind why animals that died scared taste bad is related to the build-up of adrenaline prior to their demise. The adrenaline uses up glycogen and increases the meats pH, which can result in toughened and tasteless meat that spoils faster than unstressed meat. The lactic acid levels are higher in unstressed meat, which helps slow the spoiling process. It is estimated that the pork industry loses $275 million a year to meat that is discarded due to pre-slaughter fear and stress.
- Proper Aim = Clean kills = better tasting meat
- Adrenaline build-up increase meat pH which increases spoil rate
- Unstressed meat has high lactic acid levels, which preserves meat
- Meat industry loses estimated $275m per year to stressed meat
More efficient hunts
The better a hunters aim, the more time spent hunting and the less time spent tracking. Wounded wild hogs can run for miles after being shot with poor placement. If a hog isn’t pressured, they are more likely to stay nearby and bed down. If a hog is pressured, the adrenaline can push them long distances. Good shot placement results in clean kills and more time spent hunting.
Generally speaking, hogs are nocturnal animals and are most nocturnal during and after deer season primarily due to the pressure from hunters as well as the cold weather pushing them to continuously search for food. This time of year is a great time to night hunt for hogs, and having a quality hog hunting light and hog hunting equipment that will illuminate the pigs without spooking them can help you make cleaner kills and maximize your efficiency while hog hunting.
Where to Aim when Hog Hunting with a Bow
The best place to aim when hunting hogs with a bow is quartering away. This gives the bow hunter the best opportunity to penetrate the vitals without having to be concerned about the subcutaneous shield on their front shoulders.
The blue represents the approximate location of the subcutaneous shoulder shield, while the red represents the sweet spot for a clean kill while bow hunting hogs. If you’re not able to get a quartering away shot, then be aware that the shoulder shield on a hog is located on the upper front shoulder of the hog. I can tell you from personal experience, the shoulder shield will deflect an arrow. The vitals of a hog are centered low, so it’s best to aim behind the front shoulder towards the bottom of the pig.
The above photo shows the thickness of a shoulder shield on a mature feral hog. The upper part of the shoulder shield is thicker than the lower portion, but both parts are fully capable of stopping an arrow. The next time you skin a wild hog, you can see for yourself how thick the shoulder plate is. This is why shot placement is key when hog hunting with a bow.
The best opportunities for hog hunting with a bow often come at night, and the easiest method to bring them in is by preparing your own mix of hog bait attractants. They can be placed in areas for optimal shot placement. Once the hogs move in, take better shots by lighting up hogs without spooking them with our bow mounted lights for hog hunting.
Where to Aim when Rifle Hunting for Wild Hogs
The best place to aim when rifle hunting for feral hogs is for the heart. Unlike bow hunting, most rifles are able to penetrate through the shoulder shield so aiming for the vitals is more important than being conscious about their protective layers.
While the orientation of the hog matters less for rifle hunting than it does for bow hunting, the preferred orientation for hog hunting with a rifle is a broadside shot. This is due to there being more surface area exposed in the event the shot is a little high or a little low. Unlike bow and arrows, rifles are more likely to down a hog even if the shot isn’t perfect. That being said, it is best to hone in on your shooting capabilities for more clean kills. As we previously discussed, a clean kill is not only more ethical but it makes for better quality meat and a more efficient hunting trip.
If you’re a sharp shooter, a head shot will make skinning and processing the hog much easier. However, due to the small target, a miss could mean the hog gets away. This is why aiming for the heart with a rifle is best, because a near-miss is still likely to drop the hog.
Waiting for the perfect shot opportunity can be crucial to a clean kill, but a well-sited in rifle combined with a hunter capable of making accurate shots can bypass this rule. The photo above represents some different feral pig orientations, and the red marks on the photo indicate the ideal location for where to aim when hog hunting with a rifle.
Where to Aim when Pig Sticking with a Knife
The bay dogs have rounded up a feral hog, the catch dog was released and has the hog pinned down, now it’s up to you to finish the job. Pig sticking with a knife can be dangerous, and proper placement is key to preventing yourself or your hog hunting dogs from being hurt. The best place to aim when pig sticking with a knife is for the heart. It makes for a quick demise, and also makes skinning the hogs much easier than going for other organs. Some claim head shots will do the trick, but we strongly recommend against this. Head shots may work for rifles, but they rarely work for bows or knives.
As the hunting season progresses, hogs become more nocturnal animals. This has to do with their continued search for food as well as the pressure put on them by deer hunters. The best way to see more wild pigs late in the season is to utilize hog hunting lights that don’t spook them, as well as proper hog hunting equipment for your hunt.
There’s a lot to consider when purchasing hog hunting lights, with an understanding of how their vision works being the most valuable piece of information for starters. We’ve covered this and more in our guide to Buying the Best Hog Hunting Lights for Sale.