Yes, there are wild pigs out in California! They can be massive, nasty things that can bite off a finger or hand if you’re not careful. One of my friends is a big-time hunter and has hunted quite a number of these things as they can grow up to over 500 pounds or bigger! The typical hog size in California is around 100-250 pounds and I decided that it was my time to hunt one of the things about 3 years ago that way I could say that hunted not just deer but also pigs as big game. The first thing that I had to do was call a guide to help me in tracking one of these suckers down. I found a reputable guide and told me to wait a few weeks because he wanted to make sure that there were decent-sized wild pigs to shoot. In the meantime, the second thing that I had to do was make sure that my rifle was zeroed in that way things go my way and hit where the bullet is supposed to go. That’s when I went to the rifle range to shoot several rounds off making sure that 3 consecutive rounds were within an inch of each other and in the center. That’s why like the previous article about going to the range is important – practice makes perfect.
Once all my gear was set and the day of the hunt came, I woke up at 2:00 AM in the morning to drive several hours in order to meet my guide at a small town near King City in California. Once I met my guide, he proceeded to take me to an area where pigs were spotted days before. After I took my gun, gear, and left my car, I got in my guide’s truck and we drove for 10 minutes while looking around and then bam! We saw pigs! Just like that. I had never seen anything like that in my hunting career where it just took 10 minutes to spot potential-shooter wild game but there they were, a group of pigs, about 10 of them. Once the vehicle stopped, I got out of the truck and immediately locked and loaded a rifle cartridge. Then I used the hood of the truck as a base to steady my shot. My guide, using his binoculars, scanned the pigs looking for the biggest one and the best potential point to shoot from. Once he got a lock on the biggest pig, I tallied the pig, the biggest one and followed him with my scope.
My biggest gripe was that these pigs wouldn’t stop moving, which would give me the best shot possible. As with most big-game animals, the best location to shoot is their heart and lungs which is right behind their front 2 legs, preferably under the shoulder, but not at the shoulder. Once I realized that these pigs wouldn’t stop moving and would probably get away, I concentrated on my breathing and slowly pulled the trigger. BANG! Right after I shot, I noticed that the pig was still moving. My guide yelled at me to get in the truck, “It’s wounded! It’s wounded! We got to follow it! It should lie down somewhere!” We immediately got in the truck and followed the pig until it stopped and lied down. “I think you gut-shot it… but it happens if you’re aiming for the heart and then they move… Go ahead and shoot it again to make sure it’s dead.”
I locked and loaded and shot again to ensure that the pig was dead for sure. We waited for a minute to make sure it was dead and drove up to where the pig was and immediately, I noticed the nasty smell that the pig had. Of course, these are not domesticated pigs but feral ones, but still, gosh the smell! Once we got up to the pig and made sure it was really dead, I got some photos to show off my prized pig trophy. A 200 pound pig!
Once we got it loaded up on the truck, we drove back to the guide’s house where the guide beheaded and gutted the pig so I could take it to the butcher where I would end up having the meat turned into ham hocks, baby back ribs (god, they are really good!), and various types of sausage. I had so much meat that I gave it away to a lot of friends and neighbors. I remember how pissed off my friend was when I told him that I took 15 minutes to hunt a pig. He immediately retorted that I was very lucky and that it generally takes 2 days to even spot a pig and hunt it. But still, I had fun doing it even if it was a very lucky thing to do so!
Unfortunately, the guide stopped doing guiding services several months after my hunt but there are plenty of other guides and outfitters that are willing to guide a wild pig hunt. It will cost $500 (probably more now) to book a hunt so be ready to commit if you really want to do this.