Wild Pig Hunting at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

Hunting basics about wild pigs...

Usually wild pigs will attempt to run away if they smell, hear, or see a hunter. Wild pigs have an excellent sense of smell, good hearing, and poor eyesight. Therefore, hunters should be most concerned about being downwind and quiet. They can be less concerned about being seen. If you are downwind and very quiet, you can often get very close to feeding or sleeping wild pigs. If the wind is faint, a puff powder bottle is very useful for detecting the direction of air currents.

Female wild pigs are generally considered social, not solitary, as they are usually found in family groups. As they approach one year of age, boars are often seen alone, though they sometimes join family groups during breeding.

When injured or cornered, wild pigs can be dangerous. A good indicator of aggressive behavior is a clacking sound, made when the wild pig snaps his jaws open and shut. If a wild pig is running toward you, it is not necessarily attacking. Because they have poor eyesight, wild pigs running toward a person usually do not recognize the human form. Making a quick movement or sound will usually cause the wild pig turn in a different direction.

Basic safety…

All persons hunting, or in a hunting party, must wear at least 144 sq inches of blaze orange on a vest or outer garment, cap, or hat. For the purpose of this instruction, an outer garment is defined as a shirt or jacket worn over other clothing. Blaze orange "Tee" shirts may be worn. Blaze orange broken up with camouflage is acceptable.

Prime hunting time…

Arrive one hour before sunset.

Prime shooting opportunity…

From sunset to 30 minutes past ("If you aren't using a flashlight to get back to your vehicle, you haven't been out late enough.")

Secondary hunting time…

Arrive one hour before sunrise. (Morning hunting can be difficult because feeding pigs can be spooked while a hunter is attempting to get into position. You can trust the webmaster on this one.)

Secondary shooting opportunity…

First hour of legal shooting time

Best season…

Late winter and springtime (But you can see them year round.)

Where to find them…

Pigs can be located just about anywhere on base. Historically, the majority have been taken from North Base within hunting areas C1 and C3. (Considering the current drought conditions, finding them may require additional hunting days in order to harvest a pig.)

Scouting…

Some good places to go scouting are firebreaks and jeep trails for pig crossings during midday hours when pig movement is inactive. Also, look for recent and active rooting patches.

Spotting them…

  • Get up on high ground.
  • Use a good pair of binoculars.
  • Systematically scan hillsides and valleys.
  • Return the same area often to get familiar with every bush out there.

Getting out there and becoming familiar with the surroundings is the best way to spot pigs. Learn how to detect something out of place. Viewing movement in brush is the quickest way to find any game type. It is possible to spot pigs in brush up to 200 yards away. Even when you go into a new area and you have memorized the image likeness in your mind, you can spot the pigs fairly quickly once you've trained your eyes what to look for. When you least expect it, something will look different.

If you see a pig that you can't get on before the end of shooting time, make a plan to get in there early the following day, and set up; chances are, that pig will be back the following few days.

Boar or sow…

Although it is legal to shoot either sex, the base's unwritten rule among most hunters is to definitely not shoot a wet sow. (A wet sow is a female pig showing her milking tits for her young piglets.) Killing a wet sow essentially kills all her piglets. In order to maintain future pig hunting opportunities, hunters are requested to take only boars or non-wet sows. Viewing pigs in tall grass makes it nearly impossible to determine the gender, so be careful and take time to really watch them. As mentioned above, boars tend to be alone. A good spotting scope will help.

Going for the kill…

Once spotted, ALWAYS approach with the wind in your face. Pigs have one of the most sensitive noses on earth. They can smell humans at least a mile away, perhaps more. It has been stated that pigs can locate truffles three feet underground. The best scent control is to STAY DOWNWIND!  Seriously, that can't be emphasized enough.

Hunters need to consider the cost of removal after the kill. A lot of the base is heavily overgrown and has to be seen to be believed. If you shoot a hog near that stuff, be prepared to crawl on hands and knees into really nasty stuff such as poison oak and brambles grown into an impenetrable wall. Proximity to that kind of stuff often dictates where hunting with a bow is not recommended.

Due to various types of terrain on base, including steep mountains, hunters need to be prepared for a strenuous removal process. Therefore, it behooves a hunter to be physically conditioned and plan accordingly. In some situations, it may be a better choice not to shoot because there is no good way to recover the animal.

Shot placement…

After the kill…

Hogs taken MUST be checked in prior to skinning and processing. You must gut pigs in the field before checking them in. 

Several hunters use a wheeled cart while others use a typical rope for dragging it out. In the case of a pig too large for a single person to transport from the kill site to a vehicle, and there is no other help available, the hunter must have prior permission from a base conservation officer before quartering it.

Relevant base hunting regulations…

30SWI32-7001 25 JANUARY 2012

10. Hunting Safety:
10.1. All persons hunting or in a hunting party (with the exception of duck hunting or archery hunters in archery only areas) on Vandenberg AFB must wear at least 144 sq inches of blaze orange on a vest or outer garment, or cap/hat. . For the purpose of this instruction, an outer garment is defined as a shirt or jacket worn over other clothing. Blaze orange "Tee" shirts may be worn.
10.2. All hunters must comply with the California Vehicle Code, AFI 31-201, Security Forces Standards and Procedures, AFI 31-204, Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision, 30 SWI 31-204, (will become AFI31-204_30SWSUP) and this instruction, concerning vehicle operations and off-road vehicle use on Vandenberg AFB
10.3. Vandenberg AFB is subject to extremes of wildland fuel flammability and fire weather. Compliance with 30th SWI 32-102, Fire Prevention, is mandatory. For fire reporting dial 911 from any telephone or cellular phone on base.
10.4. All persons while hunting must leave 30 SW Form 651, Outdoor Recreation Locator Card, in their vehicle before going to hunt. The card must be placed in a position on the vehicle dashboard or affixed to the sun visor, so it can be easily seen through the vehicle windshield from outside of the vehicle. These forms are available from 30 SFS/S3W.

13. Pig Kill Reporting Procedures:
13.1. Report all pig kills no later than 12 hours after the kill to 30 SFS/S3W at 606-6804 or the Emergency Control Center (ECC) at 606-3911. The Emergency Control Center will contact an Officer of 30SFS/S3W. Weight, sex, date, time, and location of kill will be obtained by a 30SFS/S3W Officer.
13.2. Hunters will make every attempt to keep the carcass intact so that blood samples may be taken and a general inspection of the animal may be made by a 30SFS/S3W officer.

Equipment checklist...

This checklist is provided to help you remember to take everything that you need. Some of the items are optional and are noted accordingly.

  • Firearm or bow
  • Ammunition or arrows
  • Hunting license
  • CA Wild pig license tag(s)
  • VAFB hunting fee stamp
  • Knife and sharpener
  • String to attach tag to carcass
  • Hunter orange hat, vest, or jacket
  • Boots
  • Day or fanny pack
  • Compass
  • Firearm cleaning gear
  • Matches
  • Binoculars
  • Map of hunting area
  • Canteen of water
  • First aid kit
  • Rubber gloves and towel
  • Rope for dragging carcass
  • Spotting Scope (optional)
  • Cart or Pack frame for carrying carcass (optional)
  • Bottle of talcum powder to detect wind direction (optional)
  • Rain gear (optional)
  • Camera (optional)
  • Insect repellent (optional)

Additional resources...

Jesse's Hunting & Outdoors Forum

State information...

Pig Hunting Harvest - FY 2010/2011

  • Santa Barbara County: 150 (4.2% of state total)
  • Vandenberg AFB: Over 100
  • Statewide Harvest: 3,574
  • Kern County reports the highest annual harvest.
  • 2010/11 California Report

Guide to Hunting Wild Pigs in California (PDF)

Do you have additional wild pig hunting tips for VAFB hunters?

Send your tips to the webmaster.

Boar


Wet Sow