Wild boars have inhabited North America since the mid-16th century. Brought as domestic stock by early settlers, America’s earliest farm hogs escaped their enclosures and became feral within a short time. Invasive and ecologically destructive species were further strengthened with the introduction of Eurasian wild boars for recreational hunting in the early 20th century. Since then, hog populations have multiplied rapidly over a wide swath of territory stretching from the Deep South, through parts of the lower Midwest, and into California.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, feral hogs now occupy about 35 states with an estimated population of over 6 million individuals. This population is expanding rapidly, and feral pigs cause an estimated $2 billion worth of damage each year.
All coordinated efforts—from trapping and bounty hunting programs to aerial gun hunting and legalized night hunting—are being used by wildlife management agencies in an effort to reduce this population. But wild boars are no means when it comes to putting their hooves in the air. That said, if downing a hog is a challenge you’re up for and you’re looking for a fun hunt, there are a handful of states where you’ll want to focus your efforts. Here are five of the best hog hunting states in America.
The Golden State is well known for its excellent waterfowl, great blacktail, and its abundant herds of Rio Grande swallows. But those with a penchant for all things pork will find that California has plenty to offer here too, including some of the heaviest hogs in the country. The state’s hog population is estimated to be around 400,000. In an effort to beat back the invasion, California just passed new legislation that removes bag limits, lowers hunting license fees and opens the door to legalizing night hunting for hogs.
Public land hog hunting opportunities exist in California, many of which are draw or limited entry hunts. According to statistics provided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the top three hog counties with some degree of public access include Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Kern counties. But the Golden State’s best opportunity for hog hunting is on private land. Fortunately, there are plenty of guides and gear to choose from, and you can still knock on doors and get access for a DIY hunt—especially if you’re after hogs.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) estimates the state’s current feral hog population at roughly half a million animals, second only to Texas. But most farmers and ranchers would put the number much higher.
Florida offers a long list of WMAs that—unfortunately for area managers—support healthy, if not thriving, hog populations. Additionally, the FWC does a great job of profiling these hog hunter-friendly public lands on their website, including area-by-area harvest reports as recent as the 2021-22 season. Specific WMA rules apply in some areas, but most allow hog hunting year-round except for spring turkey season.
According to the University of Georgia Extension Service, more than 600,000 wild hogs call the Peach State home. The service also estimates that those pigs do about $150 million worth of damage to private and public property each year. Georgia hog hunting regulations are relatively relaxed and include a year-round season, no bag limit, night hunting and use of bait. Additionally, a separate Feral Hog and Coyote season is held in the spring on all WMAs unless otherwise noted.
Currently, the state boasts over 1 million acres of public hunting land. And like most states with wild hog populations, Georgia supports an impressive roster of guides and outfitters, many of whom specialize in hog hunting.
According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, feral hogs are present in all 67 counties of the state, where they are causing about $55 million worth of agricultural damage each year. Hog hunters will find more than 750,000 acres of public land in Alabama, most of which welcomes hog chasers with open arms. Only a hunting license and WMA permit are required to participate in the state’s year-round season with no bag limits. Hunting hogs over bait is now legal in Alabama, but those who do so must purchase and have a Bait Privilege License, available wherever hunting licenses and permits are sold. A DIY hog hunt on a WMA is a great option, and there are many great outfitters in the state that specialize in hog hunting.
Of the estimated 6 million feral hogs that now roam the southern half of the country, roughly half of them reside in Texas. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, hoofed invaders invade every county in the Lone Star State minus El Paso, which is located at the far western tip of the state.
Texas has about 1 million acres of public land, with most WMAs offering hog hunting in one form or another. Some are for archery only or special permits. Others, like White Oak Creek WMA in Titus and Morris counties, offer essentially unlimited, no-bag-limit opportunities.
Read further: Everything you need to know about hog hunting
Although most of the state’s 3 million hogs are on private land, it’s not that difficult to find a private landowner who will (for a fee) allow DIY hunters to hunt hogs. And dozens upon dozens of licensed rigs offer guided and semi-guided hunts at reasonable prices, including after-dark shooting with thermal optics. Or, if you’ve got about $5k to spare, you could always climb into the seat of a nimble little chopper, sit behind a belt-fed M60, and put a lot of pork chops and bacon on the ground.