A rapidly growing problem in America is the geometrically increasing population of wild boars, themselves an invasive species, and also wild boar hybrids resulting from mating with formerly domestic feral pigs.
Colloquially called hogs, boars or razorbacks, these tusked nuisances are now running wild across much of the U.S. and North America. No matter what specific species or generation they are, these beasts are a hugely expensive, and increasingly dangerous, menace.
If all you have ever experienced of pigs and boars is a pink, comparatively friendly farm-raised pig, you’d be forgiven for thinking these critters were harmless.
You’ll come away with a new point of view quick if you ever have a close encounter with one of these porcine marauders: feral pigs multiply explosively, and their destructive rooting through plants and crops can disrupt ecosystems and the rest of the natural food chain, to say nothing of wipe out your subsistence farming endeavor.
Worse yet, these animals retain their omnivorous appetites once they “go wild” and will eat smaller prey animals like young deer, birds, reptiles and all kinds of eggs.
Boars and feral pigs are also known and notorious vectors of nasty germs that can infect humans and other animals. The best way to deal with a pig infestation in your area is to wipe them out.
If you are going hunting to protect what’s yours, you’ll stand a better than average chance of being attacked by a tusker. It’s best to learn now how to deal with them so you aren’t gored up one side and down the other.
The Nature of the Beast
The wild boar is a native species hailing from Eurasia and North Africa. From there it spread, or was introduced, to much of the rest of the world, including North America. Once here, arriving first around the 19th century, they promptly mated with existing populations of escaped domestic pigs producing hybrids that plague us to this very day.
These boars are chunky and strong, covered with long, coarse, bristly hair lined by an undercoat of fur for warmth in the winter. This hair is longer near the spine, and grows shorter on the flanks, limbs and head.
The longer hairs on the spine bristle when adults are fearful or angry, lending them their colloquial name of razorback. Color varies from light brown to dark charcoal, with younger creatures being lighter in color than adults.
Wild boars show the characteristics, bulky neck and short, spindly legs of most pigs. The head is very large and wide, making these animals formidable diggers, and ends in a prominent snout above a mouth lined with teeth suited for eating flesh or vegetable matter.
Of greatest concern are their powerful jaws and the four sharp canines, or tusks, two on either side and very prominent on males, that the boar can use offensively to good effect on the charge and then with follow on goring. These tusks are very durable, and the external portion can reach over 4 inches in length, more than capable of inflicting severe wounds.
Adult boars can weigh anywhere from 100lbs to more than 350lbs, size and stature being largely dependent on food intake. Males are larger, all things equal. “Monster” boars weighing upwards of 500lbs are possible, but are thankfully rare.
Their mass alone is a formidable weapon when charging, as you are likely to be knocked off your feet from the impact, bringing your head, neck and abdomen within reach of their sharp tusks.
Males will also grow a layer of subdermal armor in the form of thick tissue during breeding season that serves to protect their vitals from the tusks of competing males.
This can make a male boar on the rampage even harder to take down. While not particularly nimble, boars are heavily muscled and can turn and jump with some swiftness. Boars can sprint for short distances at 25mph, and leap nearly five feet.
Boars have strongly developed senses of smell and sharp hearing, both of which will often send them skittering away when they detect potential threats, but their eyesight is poor.
Boars are nearsighted, and lack color vision. When hunting boars, if you are more than 50 feet away or so and stand still you will be effectively invisible to them.
Of greatest concern to our ecology and growing concern to people and domestic animals is the positively explosive rate of reproduction of these animals: there are over six million wild boars and boar hybrids loose in the U.S. all across territory from the mountains of California to the panhandle of Florida, and from the swamps of Louisiana to as far into New England as New York.
Even Hawaii has a major problem with wild boars and hybrids. All total, more than 40 states have wild populations of these animals.
A female boar can produce a litter of piglets (boarlets?) numbering from four to twelve, in as little as 14 weeks, and will bear multiple litters over the course of her life.
Combine this massive reproductive capability with too few natural predators and you have the makings of a wave of swine destroying ecosystems from coast to coast.
An adult boar weighing just 100lbs requires anywhere from 4,000-4,500 calories a day, and when you multiply that figure by the number of adults in country you will start to get some figment of an idea of just how much these critters eat, and how much they have to destroy to get it. Boars cause over $2 billion dollars in damage, predominately lost agriculture, per year in the U.S.
The Threat from Boars
Boars range far and wide in their search for food, carving great and destructive furrows in natural and human cultivated tracts to get it. Boars eat roots, tubers, bulbs, nuts and berries of all kinds. They will eat bugs, reptiles, amphibians, eggs and small mammals
They even eat such seeming incomestibles as tree bark and garbage! The results of their forays are badly mauled crops or small farm animals, and the disruption of food chains for native animals in the locale where boars have set up residence.
Worse yet, boars are known to carry and prolifically spread all kinds of parasitic, bacterial and viral diseases to humans and other animals. Even incidental contact with an infected boar can see you contract illness
Trichinella spiralis, Balantidium coli, Metastrongylus, Toxoplasma gondi, foot and mouth disease and all manner of lice and ticks are just a few of the joys that boars carry. More rarely, they may carry truly severe bugs like anthrax and tularemia.
It goes without saying, but any water source frequented by boars and feral pigs will be savagely contaminated by their feces, since boars regularly bathe and dip in water stay cool and evade pests.
Boars can be aggressive toward humans and domestic animals, typically becoming enraged over territorial trespass, interruption during mating season and surprising a mother with piglets.
A surprising number of hikers and other folks out of doors report completely unprovoked attacks in increasing number since the early 2000s. Florida, Texas and South Carolina lead the nation in violent run-ins with these animals.
Even suburbia is not safe from the porky punks: boars and their hybrid offspring are fairly intelligent, and quickly lose their fretfulness around humans if they figure out human habitation equals food in any form.
You stand a greater chance of encountering and being attacked by boars if you are in areas that they prefer to inhabit: dense forested areas with heavy brush and undergrowth and plentiful water with little snowfall are their favorites by a mile.
This type of terrain also means sightlines will be limited and encounters close, and boar are commonly said to “erupt” from bushes and thickets seemingly out of nowhere.
Also, seemingly placid or grazing boars have been caught on film turning hostile in a heartbeat, so you should keep your distance as you would with any wild animal you don’t want to tangle with.
You can see several examples of these violent encounters between boar and man on this YouTube clip. Note that this video is graphic:
Defending Against Boar Attack
The best defense against a potential boar attack is to gain higher ground. Boars can jump, but are terrible at and averse to climbing, so mantling on top of a car, boulder or similar obstruction if you have time will help you stay safe. Climbing a tree is a decent option if you have time, but the speed and typical closeness of a surprise charge will make this dicey or impossible.
Boars are surprisingly speedy and accelerate quickly, but they are not particularly nimble; their cornering ability is limited, and further hampered by their lack of head mobility. A well-timed sidestep can see you evade a goring form a charging pig.
No matter what happens on the attack, keep your footing! Most boar attacks result in injuries ranging from significant to serious to the lower body. This is because the average boar is of shorter stature.
Should you fall, the boar can easily reach and slice your head, neck and torso with potentially life-threatening results. If you are attacked and entangled with a boar, fight back using all available means, while avoiding the business end.
Boars are strong but their short limbs and lack of flexibility makes them susceptible to toppling and trapping if you are able. A boar on its back is more easily controlled prior to a coup de grace, and the aforementioned lack of head and neck mobility means you can maneuver out of their danger zone.
Putting Porky Down
A wound to the heart and lungs will quickly subdue them, though boars are notorious for dying “last gasp” bursts of strength, so caution should be used whenever you think you have a porker down for the count.
If you rely on a firearm for hunting or self-defense, most intermediate caliber rifle cartridges will work fine, as will larger sizes of buckshot or slugs from a shotgun. For rifles, mid-range .22 caliber and any .30 caliber round will be more than adequate, and plenty of skillful hunters have claimed hogsheads with rounds as small as the .22 Hornet and .22 WMR.
Many hunters in the U.S. use 5.56mm, .308 Winchester, .30-30 Winchester and 7.62x39mm with good results, though some load for moose and use larger calibers for more decisive effects.
In handguns, most rounds will work on boar, but one should use caution to ensure good shot placement with a proper bullet for good effect. Many common self-defense rounds may not penetrate deeply enough on a large hog. .357 and .44 Magnum loads are popular in revolvers, and 10mm Auto is a mainstay and increasingly ideal load for pig in a semi-auto.
But if you were to be attacked by a boar from nowhere armed with your 9mm or .38 Special I would not feel undergunned unless facing a very large specimen. Not my first choice, but adequate in a pinch.
Your aiming point on a hog broadside to you is immediately above and so slightly behind the front leg knee where it touches the chest, right where the bottom of the trunk begins.
This is the location of the heart. Immediately above the heart and occupying much of the second third of the boar’s torso are the lungs. Aiming immediately above the eye will render a brain shot and a most certainly dead boar.
From the front things are a little trickier. Aim at the base of the brow just above the line between the eyes for a brain shot, or midway between the base of the ear and the base of the shoulder for a chance at breaking the spine, which will drop the boar immediately.
While not as tough as often thought, boars, especially male boars in mating season, are known to have fat and other tissue seal entry and exit wounds, slowing blood loss.
It is best to count only on high-effect hits making headway on bringing a hog down, so take the time to study anatomical diagrams and targets of boars to ensure you are doing damage where it will be most effective.
Aftermath of a Boar Attack
If you are injured by a boar, you must assume the wound will become infected. Seek medical attention if at all possible and as a quickly as you can. Aside from standard gribblies you can contract from any puncture wound, especially one inflicted by a an animal’s mouth, you run the risk of all the other more exotic bugs listed earlier in this article.
This caution should extend to preparing and cleaning a wild boar for its meat: wear impermeable gloves if available, and shielding your eyes against a possible splash of blood is a good idea.
Discard any animal whose flesh appears odd, or if you notice strange lesions, discoloration or boils. You must be sure to thoroughly, and I mean thoroughly cook any meat taken from wild boars and their feral pig cousins to kill any lurking parasites.
Despite their troublesome ways and harm they cause man, beast and the environment, boars of all kinds can make for plentiful and nutritious meat if you are skilled at hunting them. Their immense populations means preppers in certain areas will have no shortage of food in long term emergencies if they have the skill to bring it home.
Wild boars are invasive, destructive, aggressive and dangerous. Knowing how to deal with boar attack is important, and growing more important all the time as they spread and their populations increase.
Since even the most prolific and intensive eradication efforts to date have done little to curb boar populations, it may only be a matter of time before you run into one of these rooting, squealing terrors.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.