Wild hogs are large, dangerous, destructive, and they’re overrunning the United States.
So when your next vacation takes you hiking, camping, or enjoying a scenic overlook a few hundred yards from the road, how do you avoid a dangerous encounter with a wild hog? What do you do if it charges towards you?
There are some key points you need to know to avoid getting charged by a wild hog – and how to survive if it’s already too late.
Where Would I Run Into Wild Hogs?
In the last five years, wild hogs have spread across the United States and may have already overrun your favorite vacation spot.
Unfortunately, this “Pig Explosion” is impacting outdoor adventures from California to North Carolina and every state in between. Although California, Texas, and the deep south are being hit the hardest.
Before planning your next trip, look into whether your destination is hog-free. Campgrounds and hiking trails have especially had sightings of wild hogs, but even joyriders in back country roads have reported roads blocked with wild hogs.
To save yourself some headache, call ahead.
Stumbling Across Wild Hogs – What To Know
First, it’s important to know why wild hogs are so threatening to humans –-especially when you’re on vacation with the kids.
Hogs are larger and heavier than most humans, weighing over 300 pounds on average and even around 500 pounds in some cases.
This size is mixed with a quick reaction and 11 mph charge speed that seems a lot faster in a thick forest.
When hogs do charge, they’ll usually use their sharp tusks to cut and stab their victims. In fact, victims of a hog attack may be mistaken as criminal stabbing victims when they occur near populated areas.
Combine all this with the ability for aggressive behavior and the tendency to travel in groups and you have a very dangerous prospect.
While wild hog attacks are rare, they do occur.
The hog rutting season is from November to January and during this time they can become very territorial. If you’re not careful, you could walk right into their home turf uninvited and unwelcome.
Hogs have an incredible sense of smell, often picking up scents miles away. Since their eyesight is very poor, they’ll usually smell and hear you long before spotting you visually. So when a hog first discovers you’re in the area, they usually won’t charge or run away at first notice.
How Wild Hogs React Around Humans
If you encounter a group of hogs, you’ll know they’ve spotted you because one hog will become noticeably more active than the rest. Usually this hog is a juvenile who will move closer to you, then back away, then move closer again in an attempt to get a closer look.
At this point, some of the others may start joining in. The senior hogs will join in last to make a final judgement on whether you’re a threat and whether running away or charging is the best option. Bear in mind that this whole process may take just a few seconds.
If they decide to leave, the mother or senior hog will let out a loud bark or grunt signaling for everyone to run away. Sometimes, they may run away quickly, then walk back just a few meters from where they just were, having shown you (the potential threat) that they are too quick to chase down.
To scare off wild hogs, stand tall and shout loudly but remain calm and confident in all your movements. Hogs can detect panic, but they may also interpret erratic behavior – such as flailing your arms or body about – as aggression and charge.
If you hear a growl from a bush or scrub where you suspect a hog is hiding her piglets, then it’s best to moving calmly away and not shout at all.
How to Handle a Charging Hog
If a hog does commit to a charge, they’ll work their way very close before charging at full speed. They only want their charge to last a few seconds.
Victims from hog attacks can expect hogs to strike their legs and thighs with sharp tusks.
The easiest way to stay safe at this point is to sharply side-step the hog. But even if you get hit, try your best to stay on your feet. Hog attack victims who have fallen over have suffered far more serious injuries.
To avoid the first, or second, charge from a hog you can attempt to climb up a tree (or car, or boulder) at least six feet above the ground. While hogs cannot climb, they can ‘walk’ up a tree with their front legs, allowing them to reach quite high.
As a last resort, you may have to fight them off with whatever weapons you have available.
This is why it’s important to keep safety in mind when packing. A hog hide is very thick, and they’re protected by a lot of muscle and fat. Wounds that would be fatal for a human may not take down a full-size hog.
Thankfully, most assaults on humans are over in just one or two minutes.
These tips could keep you from serious injury or worse if you encounter wild hogs on your next vacation.
Of course, the best way to stay safe is to avoid any encounters with threatening wildlife altogether.
When booking your next vacation destination, research whether wild hogs have moved into the national park, campground, or trail that you have in mind. Know what type of self-defense equipment your destination allows and be sure to have a first-aid kit on hand.
Your vacation should be a time to kick back and relax. By planning ahead and packing wisely, you can ensure even unplanned encounters don’t ruin your time away from home.