SACRAMENTO, Calif. Pig numbers are in the rise in parts of California.
Here's a look at 10 wild pig hunting opportunities sure to put you in hog heaven with great-eating meat and memories to last a lifetime:
Southern Trinity County
Jim Schaafsma of Arrow Five Outfitters (707-923-9633) hunts private lower foothill lands in southern Trinity County and has recently seen many sows with good-sized litters of piglets and yearlings.
"The spring rains (of 2005) helped the hogs out tremendously," Schaafsma said. "I think our population is growing."
Schaafsma glasses for hogs from atop high ridges and offers spot-and-stalk opportunities from February through May. Hunters have a good opportunity at a trophy hog.
Ken Bowman of Redwood Empire Outdoor Adventures (707-943-3003) guides on a couple of private ranches southeast of Garberville on the Mendocino/Trinity county line.
Hunters spot-and-stalk hogs here in rolling to steep terrain, concentrating on the many openings between manzanita, oak and conifer stands.
Because of the tremendous acorn crop in 2004, Bowman expects there to be lots of little "eater" pigs in 2006.
John Drew of Shasta Outfitters (530-200-3278) in Cottonwood hunts on private land in Tehama County and predicts a great 2006 season.
Drew prefers the spot-and-stalk method and looks hard to find rootings, fresh tracks and other sign amongst the oak covered hillsides for his clients.
"One of my favorite times to hunt hogs is right after a prolonged storm," Drew said.
"The hogs usually come out of the brush to feed, and can usually be easily found."
Southern Mendocino County
Ken Whittaker of Wild Pig Hunting, Inc. (530-474-4959) hunts pigs over 20,000 acres in southern Mendocino and northern Sonoma counties, and offers two ways to get them.
Hunters using the spot-and-stalk method will have shots out to 200 yards, or possibly as close as a few feet when using Whittaker's pack of "grab" dogs.
Guides Dean Young and Ernie Sanders of D&E Guide Service (707-477-3797) have access to 22,000 acres of private oak-studded rolling hills, valleys, lakes and pastures in Lake County near Calistoga that have not seen hunting pressure in years.
Young and Sanders use dogs or glass for big boars, then sneak up on them.
The public Joice Island pig hunt in Solano County is held in the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area (707-425-3828).
Wetland habitat exists here. Bring your rubber boots and your slug guns; only shotguns with slugs may be used. Hunter success averages around 60 percent, but with some prehunt scouting you can even better your odds.
In 2006 the weekend-only hunts will begin March 45 and will continue until April 2223. The first weekend is reserved for junior hunters, however.
To apply, mail a postcard with a name, address, hunting license number, telephone number, and hunt date preferred to Joice Island Pig Hunt, 2548 Grizzly Island Road, Suisun, CA 94585.
Kyler Hamann of Boaring Experiences Unlimited (805-461-0294) hunts over 50,000 acres in Monterey County using the spot-and-stalk method, and he's optimistic that this year's success will be equal to or better than last year's.
During dry conditions, Hamann finds hogs in agricultural lands down in the valleys.
He hunts the nearby foothills when the rains come and the pigs usually move upslope.
Southern Monterey County
Doug Roth of Camp 5 Outfitters (831-386-0727) hunts 60,000 acres in southern Monterey County, and believes that because of the large acorn crop and previous spring rains, this year's hog hunts will be nearly 100 percent successful for his clients.
"I'm seeing more little ones than I can ever remember," said Roth.
Nessen Schmidt of King City in Monterey County (831-385-1335) has access to a 200,000-acre private ranch, and advertises a "pig population explosion."
Clients will hunt agricultural crops namely the barley fields using spot-and-stalk methods.
Los Padres National Forest
The Santa Lucia Ranger District (805-967-3481) covers 538,100 acres and is located in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. The area may have the best open-access public land wild hog hunting in the state.
Look for hogs using the spot-and-stalk method, especially in the forest lands around the town of Pozo. The farther you can get away from roads, the better your chances may be.
Your odds may also increase just after wet periods when hogs will come out of the brush to root around and feed.
"Our pig population is going gang-busters," said Don Givet of the sprawling Tejon Ranch (661-663-4288) located south of Bakersfield.
Twenty-five to 100 pigs may be seen daily here, and experienced guides know where they are.
Pig season is open year-round in California. There is no bag or annual limit, but a hog permit is required for each pig.
Check with DFG for regs on state wildlife areas.
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