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Hog Hunting

Hog Hunting

Hog Hunting Help

The optics you choose for hog hunting have a great deal to do with the style of hog hunting you are interested in from an elevated stand, a ground blind, driven animals or hunting with dogs, to crop depredation at night.

Feral hogs can be quite a pest and the size can vary widely based on the local food supply. If your rifle is a low to moderate recoiling rifle, minimum eye relief of three inches or so is adequate, but with harsher shooting rifle 3.5 inches or more minimum eye relief might well save you from the unpleasantness of scope eye.

For close range work or for running hogs 1x sighting systems are excellent, while the 1.5 x 6 platform offers a good compromise. In some areas, 200 – 350 yard shooting is not at all uncommon so the popular general purpose power ranges of 3-9, 3-10, and 3-12 make good sense, especially if you need to pick a hog out of the stubble at 350 yards. The same goes for smaller game like javalina.

There are several states that have a severe crop depredation problem with feral hogs right now, where freshly planted seed is immediately rooted up by hogs and an entire field can be decimated overnight. Night vision sighting systems can get pricey in a hurry and are invariably heavy and bulky compared to standard optics. If your expectations are reasonable, you may well find value with an entry level Yukon NVRS Titanium 2.5x50 out to 50 yards or so in wooded areas. For perhaps 100 yard shooting use depending on conditions, the Pulsar Digisight N550 or Pulsar Digisight N750 4.5x Day/Night rifle scope that runs in the $1400 area is a reasonable place to start. For those that take night hunting extremely seriously or as a way of life, you might want to pony up $4000 and look at a clip-on system, like the “ATN PS22-3 3rd Generation Night Vision” that mounts in front of your conventional scope to quickly convert it to night use.

One of the most impressive recently released scopes is the Burris 1.5-6 MTAC. Unlike many of the amusing, confusing, cluttered looking hold-over reticles, the Burris "Ballistic CQ 5.56/7.62" reticle just makes good sense. The center dot is 2.4 inches in diameter (at 100 yards) and as you go down the tier, the dots are 1.2, .9, and .72 inches in diameter. There isn't much opportunity for hesitation; after a small amount of use it becomes second nature.
Burris M-TCA 1-5x
Reticle: Ballistic Plex CQ
Finish: Matte
Field of View @ 100 yds (in): 33 - 13
Exit Pupil (mm): 13 - 5
Click Value (in): .25
Max Adjustment (in): 80
Eye Relief (in): 3.1 - 3.8
Length (in): 12.2
Weight (oz): 14.1

Burris notes this reticle was "developed for competitive shooters, law enforcement, and military applications." It also is extremely useful as a hog hunting scope, particularly if .308 is your cartridge of choice, or you are using a chambering with similar exterior ballistics. As you might imagine, this scope has the usual popular features inclusive of metal on metal click adjustments, quick diopter focus, and a power ring as on the more recent Burris product, rather than turning the eyebox itself. Its primary distinguishing feature remains the reticle which really is fast to use.

An extremely clear scope as well, it is a natural for the Ruger Mini-14, the FN SCAR, and a wide variety of AR-15 and AR-10 rifles. The reticle is so very easy to pick up that this scope is a natural for hog hunting. The 1.5x end is ideal for moving targets (or shooting at moderate ranges) while at 6x the reticle's dot array will quickly get you out to 300 yards or so.

Hog Vitals

The kill zone of a medium-sized feral hog is about 8 inches, but that area shrinks commensurate with body size. Note that the heart resides lower than in in deer family game, and that the head is almost always moving, the chest usually being the “most” stationary part of the animal that almost never is. Using a “Five inch Maximum Point Blank Range” kill zone with a Hornady .308 150 grain GMX Superformance load, your rifle has a maximum point blank range of about 267 yards. Your trajectory will never be more than two and half inches above or below the line of sight to 267 yards.

It is a fast, hassle-free way to hunt. All you have to do is center your cross-hairs (or dot, etc.) on the kill zone to 265 yards or so and it is go pick him up. With the better fully multi-coated riflescopes, often you'll run out of visible reticle long before you run out of image in low-light conditions. Rather than be left with an empty-looking scope in dim light, you can use a relatively thick German 4A style reticle, or a simple illuminated cross wire or dot and you have no complications, no impediment to fast target acquisition or adjustments. I think it is a great way to take hogs, and medium to large size game that you are going to eat in general.

All of these comments can only be generalizations and reasonable starting points, for your exact style of hunting, hunting terrain, ambient conditions, and so forth is unknowable. They are good starting points, though. Most hog hunting does not require more than 6x magnification and close-range or running targets may require none at all. The simplest sighting system is often the fastest and the most usable. Bright scopes and easy to find reticles at low or moderate magnifications are easier to use in more conditions for me than excessive magnification and busy reticles full of very thin lines and markers that tend to disappear when the sun sets. The best thing any sighting system can do is hold its zero, for if it doesn't do that it is worthless. Beyond that, a reticle that you can easily see and always see is far more valuable than one you can only see most of the time. If you go with the “keep it simple, stupid” approach as simple fellows like myself try to do, you'll be on your way to hog heaven a lot faster than going with the low field of view (high magnification), busy reticle approach. And, you'll have a lot more fun.


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