I tend to hunt the mountain country in the cooler months and leave the flat western country for October to February - when it's hot. It's not that the hunting out west isn't productive in winter, it's just that the hunting is bloody brilliant in summer!
More often than not, my hog hunting at the height of summer is in north western New South Wales or south western Queensland. Over the years I've had a lot of success with feral pigs, particularly in the heat. The thing with hot weather hunting is that the pigs need to drink and wallow and with that comes plenty of opportunity for the energetic hunter to get amongst them! You just need to identify areas of concentrated activity and then focus your hunting on these hot spots.
|This outstanding boar was caught wallowing in a puddle on a dusty flat outside the sheep yards where the poly-pipe had sprung a leak; boars like this are seldom seen except for when conditions demand that they take risks to survive.|
My hunting tactics in the heat are simple. Sleep in, take it easy and have a good breakfast, then get out there around 9:00am. It'll be cooking by then, too hot to lug that rifle, too hot to stalk through the scrub and too hot to cover any amount of country; but if you want to catch a pig this is by far your best strategy. Get out there when it's too hot. In the country I love, by the time I start hunting I would expect it to be in the high thirties - that's 95 or over for our American friends!
So the mercury is about to hit 40°C and the forecast is looking like a top of 46°C - that's 115°F, fairly typical for this country. No what? Water.
Drive the waters. Park the car a couple of hundred yards short and do a lap of the water. If it's a ground tank, focus on the scrubby areas behind the embankment and weave through any bush where you can't see the dirt. You need to see the dirt. If there's a patch of scrub or a shadow, that's were your hog is going to be bedded, out of the sun.
|When there's water everywhere, the pigs could be anywhere!|
River hunting is fine, but if there's water everywhere then the pigs could be anywhere which means a lot of unproductive kilometers and at +40°C, today is not the day you need to prove yourself to anyone. If you have a creek or river that's not flowing then the remnant ponds and wallows are a great spot to find a pig and scouting the surrounding country is likely to give results.
|This pig was shot in a fairly open swamp that had started to dry up.|
|Caught at a trough in very hot and dry conditions in QLD, this boar wasn't quick enough for the .308.|
|Using the wind to blow my scent ahead of me I pushed this pig out of a thick patch of turpentine in soft red country above the flood lines. This tactic is useful when you have a shot opportunity after they bolt!|
|Another excellent boar taken in the needlewood with the .450 Ackley Magnum. Again a case of flushing the pigs with scent and a bit of noise to motivate them.|
It's not unusual for flooded plains to hold good numbers of carp and pigs are rather partial to a feed of these feral fish. As the waters recede the fish will start to get lazy and then die. When the muddy flats start to reek of rotting fish, the pigs will be out in force. I find that the late afternoon and into sunset is the best time to get out there and scope the pigs getting there fill of Omega 3.
|As floods recede in the summer heat, pigs will move in to feed on the carp.|
Lignum is always worth looking at but the stories I hear from the 1970's when smashing pigs in the lignum was very productive don't seem to translate so well in the country I hunt. I mostly encounter flooded flats with lignum swamps and deep channels; the water is too deep for me to go racing through the mud, or maybe I'm just getting old?
However you choose to hunt the lignum swamps, if it's holding water it'll surely be holding pigs. It gets very hot in that stark lignum - white and bright, sucking mud, sand flies and mosquitoes, you'll earn your pigs if you nail them in there. Skirt the edges and keep an ear out. If you hear pigs grunting or moving through the water look for dark masses through the lignum canes. If the pigs are close and the wind is in your favour move in slowly, they'll often freeze and listen and scent the air for what might be coming. You might get a split second at a shot but more than likely you'll have half that time to get a shot off as they dive deep into the the lignum.
|The green feed just outside of this lignum swamp is very attractive to big pigs in the afternoon.|
Once the water starts to dry up in those lignum swamps you can really get in there and shift the pigs. Access is easy and shot opportunities are better simply because a side step is easier when there is no threat of sinking knee deep in the stickiest mud on the face of the earth! Hunting the dry lignum will take some experience as the pigs are less concentrated so you'll need to wear out some boot leather to get a good hanle on the habits of your local porkers.
|This good boar was one of almost 30 pigs shot in two hours in this dry lignum swamp on a very hot Sunday in October.|
Enjoy the heat hunters, it's shaping up to be a good summer for pigs, at least till the inevitable Boxing Day thunder storms!