As both the webmaster and a frequent hunter at Wild Things, I thought I'd make a little page to pass along some pointers for any first time hog hunters getting ready to come down on their first trip.
Usually the first question I get asked is what gear people need to bring. The gear is far less important than other things, but let's get this out of the way first. Here are the bare minimums in my opinion.
Compass It's fairly easy to get a lay of the land, and Andrew does supply maps with major landmarks and roads. That said, if you walk straight East from any point on the property you will end up on a two lane paved road. You can't get lost as long as you can shoot even a rough azimuth. I don't leave camp without a compass in my pocket. This is the Silva Polaris compass in my pocket. Anything similar is just fine.
Binoculars I prefer 6x with a very comfortable harness, but I could be tempted to go with a pocket size pair of 4x. I am often only looking 10 to 40 yards through thick cover, anything more than 6x is too powerful to be useful at close ranges. Trad Gang has some good threads in the archives if you go searching through them. Here are the Leupold Yosemite binoculars that I currently use.
I found this Cabelas harness to be a lifesaver!
Wind Checker Hogs are famous for their sense of smell, you CAN'T beat their nose. To hunt the wind you'll need a puffer bottle or a wind feather. Whichever you prefer, bring two. I prefer a wind Puffer from 3 Rivers to a wind feather.
Face Mask Just because hogs aren't known for their eyesight, the contrast of a ghost white face in the swamp will definitely cost you a stalk. Get a couple good comfortable face masks and practice shooting with them on. If you don't like face masks be sure to bring plenty of face paint or a cork to burn. I used paint during an especially warm trip and had to reapply 3-4 times a day, on my last trip I tried Carbo Mask and that was much better! I never liked shooting with a face mask until I tried the Primos with the mouth opening.
Footwear I always go with two pair of boots.
First pair is a lightweight pair of hiking style boots, if I am covering country I wear these. My Cabelas Silent Stalk boots are pretty basic, but very comfortable.
Second pair I usually wear most of the time and those are the tall rubber boots. It can get pretty wet in the swamp but there are usually ankle deep crossing points if you look for them. My Muck Fieldblazer boots aren't anything too special either, but I like them.
Some guys swear by snake boots. I've only seen a few snakes and I don't feel the need to go that route. To each their own.
Safety Harness There are many ladder stands around the property and I like to sit them. That said there are no harnesses or tree straps provided. Please pack your own safety gear and know how to use it. Also practice shooting from 12 feet. Most stands are low to create a good shot angle on close range shot opportunities. I use my normal HSS Ultra Lite harness that I use all deer season.
Bug Repellent Thermacells rule the day when it gets bad, I pack 2 and occasionally I run them both at once. Not to scare you, but if you only have one and it breaks it could ruin your day. This is a very cheap insurance policy for me to ensure I get to enjoy the entire day afield. Of course plenty of butane and pads go out with me every day. Knowing about pigs sense of smell I don't use any bug spray, but if this is your preference I suggest you bring plenty!
I also use Permethrin to treat my boots and pants a week before I go to avoid ticks and chiggers. I got pretty bit up the last trip before I started this practice. tickcounter.org is a great place to learn about ticks in general, and Permethrin from sawyer.com is the kind of stuff you are looking for. Be sure to treat your clothes about a week before you pack for camp!
Water Andrew provides water so you can always throw a few bottles in your pack. If you have a hydration system that you like, you should bring it.
Hygiene Imagine eating a nice big breakfast of sausage and eggs cooked in bacon grease with a few cups of coffee, and then you head out deep into the swamp to chase pigs. Don't forget toilet paper in a ziplock bag, hand sanitizer, or wet wipes. Whatever your preference, you won't want to be without it!
First Aid Seems like there are some blisters, cuts, bites, and general aches associated with hunting, I suggest bringing a little personal kit. Even if I don't use anything else in my kit, I usually travel with Airborne and drink one each day. Hasn't seemed to hurt, and maybe it helps avoid coming down with a bug.
Flashlight I take two light sources with me on every hunt.
First is the one I use most of the time, a cheap headlamp with a red beam. I wear this out for the morning hunts, and I use it to navigate back from evening sits. On most days this will be the only light I use.
I also carry a nice bright light. This will be the one used for finding blood at night so I don't skimp here. Here is my Fenix E35 to give you an idea of what I like for weight/brightness/price/and battery life. A little 2016 update, I changed out my light with a EagleTac D25LC2 clicky and I prefer the simple twist to either turn on to the very lowest or the very highest setting.
I keep spare sets of batteries in my camp gear, but I don't carry them around with me when hunting at Wild Things.
Knife I carry an original Leatherman in a pouch on my quiver, and I have a Tinkerer model Swiss Army knife in my front pants pocket. I almost never use them while hunting at Wild Things, but I'd never go anywhere without them. Dressing, skinning, and quartering is included at Wild Things so you don't need to bring a big pack of knives for these kinds of chores.
Now with that gear list covered, I will say that most hunters carry WAY too much gear. Think really hard about each additional piece of gear you are packing and really ask if you need it. If you do bring too much, don't be afraid to pair down and stow some gear in the bunkhouse.
Getting gear together shouldn't be expensive or take long. The biggest part of a hog hunt should be all the other preparations. Hopefully you have several weeks or a few months for working through the items below.
SHOOT! Number one thing by far is to practice shooting. Shoot standing, shoot kneeling, shoot from a 12 foot stand, shoot from a stool. Shoot at 5 yards, and shoot out to your limit. Shoot until your arm gets tired, then shoot again as soon as it's rested.
Anatomy Assuming you get on pigs and you are going to put your arrow where you are looking, next you need to know where to shoot. Study the charts on TRAD GANG. Lancaster Archery has 2D hog targets showing the vitals. You have to understand how important it is to be "low and tight" when you loose your arrow! Other than shot placement, hunters need to understand that hogs are DENSE and their skin is TOUGH. Having a 100% pass thru rate on deer won't mean a thing when shooting the same arrow into a hog even half the weight. Learn about the shield and unique bone structure of hogs, it will be comforting when you are trying to decide if you want to take a quartering away shot or not.
Tackle I suggest people hunt with the heaviest bow that they can shoot very well. Then the arrow should be tuned to perfection to overcome wet conditions or extremely close shot distances. Finally the broadheads should be sharpened to a hair popping edge.
These three points about preparation can't be stressed enough! Andrew and I did a review on all shots reported in the 2014 - 2015 season and found some startling results. There were only 3 pass thru shots going through the vitals, it's not surprising that these animals were 100% recovered. Several other hogs recovered had arrows either still in them or broken off, tackle upgrades or better shooting angles could have made these quicker/shorter recoveries. A handful of animals were mortally shot but not recovered due to shot placement or tackle failures. Every bit of preparation is to reduce the risk of ending up in this group, and I will admit one of these heartbreaking stories was my own. Finally, just over half of all reported shots taken were clean misses. We all need to do whatever we can to improve this statistic!
UPDATE! We just compiled the numbers from the 2015 - 2016 season and here they are: 26 hogs shot, killed, and recovered. 12 other hogs were shot and trailed, but were not recovered. Additionally there were 20 clean misses reported.
Good luck to you on your hunt!!!