Probably one of the most exciting animals to hunt are feral pigs. Chasing a big boar through dense
scrub can really get the adrenaline running! However it all isn't just fun and games. Feral pigs have long been enemies of the native
environment , and they cause immense damage to our natural ecosystems. They kill both native and
domestic animals; and they destroy the environment by wallowing in and eroding waterholes , and by
digging up and 'rooting' around in the soil for roots , grubs , and any other food they can find.
Pigs are also a big problem to livestock farmers as they can carry many exotic diseases , and can pass
them on to the livestock. Be careful that you check your pig thoroughly before eating any part of it. If you
find and worms in it , or if the pig just doesn't look healthy , then DON'T eat it! It is better to be safe
The rewards of of successful hunt are a locker full of pork (or you can sell the pig to the meat
chillers) , usually a good set of tusks to mount , and of course the satisfaction of knowing that you are
helping rid our environment of these huge pests!
Domestic pigs were introduced to Australia with European settlement. Pigs were used for food
and were often allowed to roam free. During the 19th Century, many domestic pigs were taken to other settlements around the country
, and due to insufficient enclosures and deliberate releases , it wasn't long before feral populations of
pigs became established.
Feral pigs damage our native environment. The pig's habit of wallowing and rooting around the
edges of watercourses and swamps can destroy the vegetation that not only prevents erosion , but
also provides food and nesting sites for native wildlife.
Feral pigs are also a serious agricultural pest in
Australia. They eat and damage crops and pasture , and damage fences. Feral pigs also kill up to 40% of
lambs born in some areas , costing the sheep industry millions of dollars each year. But the greatest threat
feral pigs pose to agriculture is their potential to carry certain diseases (such as foot and mouth disease) and
to act as hosts for the screw worm fly. So far , these have been kept out of Australia.
Feral pigs are found from western Victoria , through New South Wales into Queensland; and
across northern Australia , from Cape York in the east to the Kimberley region in the west. The main
factors affecting feral pig distribution are reliable supplies of food , water and shelter.
As feral pigs need to drink daily in hot weather , they are not found in dry inland areas where there is no
permanent water supply.
Feral pigs can breed throughout the year under favourable conditions. Usually one or two litters
are produced each year , with an average of six piglets being born. There can be high mortality
among piglets depending on food supplies and weather conditions. Sows (female pigs) will
aggressively protect their young from any threat. Piglets become sexually mature when they are about
six months old.
Feral pigs are omnivores, which means that they will eat both plant material and animals. Grass
makes up the bulk of their diet where available. Feral pigs will also eat fruit , roots , beetles , reptiles ,
crocodile eggs , young rabbits and other small animals as well as scavenge on carrion.
The choice of rifle when hunting pigs depends mainly on the terrain that you expect
to be encountering the pigs in , and the range that you expect to be shooting at. The rifle would invariably be a centrefire (I would NOT recommend using
a rimfire for the fact that you want quick clean kills , and this is hard with a rimfire). The calibre of the
centrefire would depend on the size of pigs that you expect to encounter , and the range that you expect your
shots to be taken within. Something like a .30-30 Winchester or a .44 Magnum are big hitting at close ranges ,
however once the distances start to increase , the velocity and accuracy drop rapidly and they become ineffective. A nice lever or
pump action chambered for the .30-30 or .44 Magnum is an excellent gun for hunting in dense scrub , and terrain
where shots would not exceed more than 150 metres. Such rifles as the Remington 7600 pump action , and the side by side
Chapeus rifles are also excellent because of there compactness and their quick shots. But the main advantage
is that they are made in large rifle calibres such as .270 , .280 , .308 , .30/06 , .35 Whelan , . This makes them very big
hitters at close range , and extends their effective range markedly. Their only drawback is their relatively high prices (about $1,000 for the remington , and about $5,500 for the Chapuies)
Hunting out in the open is a different story. This is where you need increased velocity , and generally lighter projectiles. Something
such as a .243 , .25/06 , .270 , .280 , .308 , .30-06 and a .300 Win Mag are all good pig killers on the open plains , and the increased
velocity and lighter aerodynamic projectiles ensure accuracy and velocity are conserved right out to your target range.
When choosing a pig rifle for use at longer ranges , you would definitely be choosing a
bolt action. You then have to find a median between a rifle that is light enough to carry in the field , but that is
also heavy enough to help with the recoil that some of the larger cartridges can dish out. Once again , this is a matter of how far
you expect to be carrying your rifle for; and ultimately it comes down to a matter of personal choice.
With the new gun laws in place , using shotguns to hunt pigs will become increasingly popular , considering that
shotguns are in catagory "A" , and the more favoured centrefire rifles are in the harder to get
catagory "B". Shotguns are probably the most versatile firearm; being able to shoot everything from quails
, right through to pigs. Hunting pigs with shotguns is invaribly done with a 12 Gauge , and takes on two forms: using shot and using slugs.
Using pellets (shot) for pig hunting is restricted to close quarters. They are the best weapon
against pigs at close ranges , however as the range starts to increase , the pellets shed their effectiveness rapidly. This is where
the rifled slugs and sabot's come into their own. Being very heavy and made out of either solid lead or copper alloy , these slug pack
one heck of a punch! The only pitfall is their accuracy , and using them in a smoothbore , accuracy can be very poor indeed. There are
bolt action shotguns which have rifled barrels (Mossberg 695 , Savage 210F , etc.), and these shotguns can group lead slugs and sabots quite well.
The style of shotgun to use has been basically restricted to either a side-by-side ,
or an under and over now that the preferred pump action and semi-automatics have been banned (I wouldn't recommend a single barrel).
Bolt action shotguns are another option offering 3 shots ; however these can be slow to load , and if rifled are not accurate with pellets.
Side-by-sides are preferable to under and overs because they have less of a gape , and are therefore
quicker and easier to load.
When shot-gunning for pigs , the best technique is to use a combination of both pellets and slugs.
The next decision is then which to put in the chamber that shoots first? This will mainly depend on what distance you expect your
first shot to be taken at. If you expect it to be taken at close range in dense scrub , then pellets should be used in the
first chamber. If you expect to have time to aim the shot , then the slug should be used to drop the pig , and the pellets used to finish it off.
This is not a problem if you have a barrel selector , then you can select which barrel shoots first. Shotgun manufacturers such as Fabarm offer
a side-by-side with one barrel rifled , and the other smooth. This is the ideal pig gun , and together with a barrel selector makes it perfect.