Helicopter hog hunting is quickly becoming a major attraction in Texas with other states eyeing its approval in an effort to control the bustling wild hog population. Wildlife experts estimate that there are upwards of 2 million hogs in Texas alone. According to recent scientific studies, at least 70-80 percent of the hog population must be killed in order to keep their numbers from spreading.
The most effective form of population control has proven to be helicopter hog hunting. There are many questions surrounding helicopter hog hunting. We’ve compiled a list of five major points that hunters should know about helicopter hog hunting.
Despite some public outcry over helicopter hog hunting, it is being heralded as a solution that offers satisfactory results for all parties involved. When helicopter hog hunting was first legalized, only farmers or private companies could take to the skies to defend their farmlands against wild hogs. This quickly proved to be far too expensive for most farmers to afford as helicopter hog hunting involves a higher cost than traditional hunting.
Hunters, pilots and farmers came together and produced an idea that would later prove to revolutionize methods used to control wild hog populations. The new, thriving system puts most of the cost burden on the individuals pulling the trigger on helicopter hog hunts—and there are plenty of folks out there willing to shell out lots of money to hunt from the skies.
Most farmers exchange hunting rights to their property for little to no cost to these outfitters which virtually provides free hog control services to local farmers while they rest assured that hunting guides will make a sizeable dent in the local pig population.
Ammo on Land vs Air
There are many stark contrasts between helicopter hog hunting and traditional hog hunting methods. Most guides with years of experience will acknowledge that using high powered rifles is often the best approach to wild hog hunting. Hogs are unusually tough animals and wounding them can sometimes prove to be dangerous.
Some guide services opt for smaller caliber rifles as an ideal gun for helicopter hog hunts, but this is often to appease novice hunters as they prefer lighter recoil and higher ammunition capacities due to less than stellar marksmanship. For aerial hunting, be ready to use weapons that offer higher rates of fire as helicopter hog hunting proves to challenge even the most skilled hunter.
For Sarah and Heath Voss, owners of Hangar 13, the best hog hunting gun is anything that will provide hunters with a high rate of fire.
“For most people, it is pretty difficult to get the hang of shooting accurately from a helicopter,” says Sarah. “For this reason, we encourage people to bring plenty of ammunition and something like an AR-15 that will allow them to have plenty of shot opportunities.”
For beginners or seasoned veteran hunters, the best approach for your first helicopter hog hunts is using a gun that allows you to take more shots.
Weather Conditions Play a Pivotal Role
Unlike traditional hog hunting, weather conditions play a major factor in helicopter hog hunting trips. Most guide services will not fly in winds over 25 miles per hour as this presents a number of safety issues. In addition to flight difficulties, high winds also have an effect on hunter success rate. If you think shooting a running hog out of a moving helicopter is hard, try doing it in dangerously high winds.
Most guide services, especially in Texas, will not fly much after April as conditions for helicopter hog hunting will worsen. Extreme heat is one factor that will ground most helicopter hog hunts while there is greater chance for high winds during the late spring and summer in the Lone Star State.
For other guides like Helicopter Pig Hunting, hunters can book helicopter hog hunts year-round.
“This is all we do, year-round, seven days a week. Our team consists of professionals that are devoted to providing the absolute best helicopter hog hunts you’ll find anywhere,” says Travis Weir, owner of Helicopter Pig Hunting. “We put a lot of work into everything here from the lodging to the guns you’ll be using. We don’t have people using $500 guns, we have $3,500 guns that give you every advantage you can get.”
The Effect on Other Hunters
As you can imagine, helicopter hog hunting is quite disruptive for deer hunters who quietly and patiently spend hours sitting in a tree stand. A helicopter screaming in and blasting off shots is certain to terrify any other wildlife in the near vicinity.
Most guide services are aware of the effect helicopter hog hunting has on the local wildlife and hunters. For this reason, outfitters plan trips outside of deer season and will only hunt lands where they have full permission from landowners for helicopter hog hunts.
Quality is Key
As is the case with any guide or outfitter, helicopter hog hunting should be viewed through the same lens for those seeking a quality guided experience. Be wary of helicopter hog hunts that have poor reviews and be selective about who you choose to go with. After all, these hunts aren’t cheap.
The guide services who employ the skills of veteran pilots are never shy about that fact. For a safe and successful hunt, look for guides like Chris Hitt of Skyhunter Outfitters who is an Army veteran and former US Army Cavalry Scout Pilot. Hitt offers plenty of safety training and even marksmanship advice before your helicopter hog hunts.
Also, be sure to check out what model helicopter each guide service offers. Some provide different advantages in the air, but there is no substitute for safety when it comes to helicopter hog hunts.
Lastly, pay attention to whether or not guides and outfitters offer lodging and other amenities. A comfortable stay in hog hunting lodges is icing on the cake in most cases. Most guides offer private lodging and will also ferry you to and from your helicopter hog hunts if you choose to stay at a nearby hotel.
Select a top of the line outfitter like G&T Outfitters to ensure a top-notch hunt experience from every aspect of your trip.
“Everything we do centers around providing the highest quality experience there is,” says Gary Beyers. “Our pilots are highly skilled military veterans who have flown in combat missions and the toughest conditions on Earth. We also fly in turbine engine machines that are meticulously maintained to the highest standards in the United States.”
According to Gary, experience and quality go hand in hand when it comes to helicopter hog hunts.
“There’s a big difference in an outfitter like ours and some guy who has enough money for a helicopter and has very little flying time,” says Gary. “We encourage people to really do their research before they book a hunt and make sure they are getting their money’s worth.”