Officials want deer hunters to focus on wild boars

Deer-gun season opens today in Ohio and this year an extra weekend has been added, Dec. 16-17, to increase the number of weekend days available for hunting.

Cleveland's is reporting that state wildlife officials are urging deer hunters to take aim at any wild boars they might find while hunting this season.

From the story:

    The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said the boars are destructive eating machines that destroy crops and damage wildlife by consuming bird eggs, reptiles and amphibians.

    They can also spread disease to livestock and people.

    Officials said the animals have been reported in 14 Ohio counties and are spreading.

    It's legal to hunt wild boar year-round, so the ODNR is urging hunters to keep an eye out for them when the gun deer-hunting season opens [today].

Click on 'Read More' for commentary on the challenges of hunting wild boar in Ohio from Buckeye Firearms Association volunteer and outdoor writer Larry S. Moore.

By Larry S. Moore

Ohio's Wild Boar – Belligerent beasts are difficult to hunt

Yes, there are free-ranging wild Eurasian hogs in Ohio. They have been described as the genuine item, a pure strain of the Eurasia boar. The hogs are multiplying. They are doing crop and land damage. And, as I learned on a recent night hunt, they pack an attitude.

First, meet Curt Hallstrom, of Barnesville, who is the premier hunter of the true wild boar in Ohio. Hallstrom started Ohio Boar Busters after his son was attacked in the back yard of their home. The boy was traumatized and afraid to go out at night for several years. His wife said, either kill those hogs or move to the city. Hallstrom started learning more about wild boar. His efforts to protect his family have turned into what can only be described as a true passion and mission to reduce the numbers of wild boar.

Hallstrom explains, "These hogs are not like what you will find in other states. They are pure Eurasia hogs. They are mean and will come after you. There are three groups of hogs found in the wild. The one to fear the most is the solitary boar hog. There are signs indicating a very large boar in the area. This hog will hurt you. The other to be concerned about is a family group. There are also signs of a family group, sows and young, in the area. Family groups tend to split. The only real defense you have is the dogs. If the dogs also split with the hogs, stay close to a tree for protection and be careful. The bachelor pack is the best hunting. They will be in the 200 to 250 pound range, which are pretty easy to handle. These animals are immature and will stay together".

Hallstrom hunts at night with his dogs, since the hogs are nocturnal. The dogs he uses originally came from Texas and are Cur dogs. Every dog has a different purpose. Two are find dogs whose job is to locate and track the boar. Others are bay dogs whose job is to confuse and distract the boar when it stops to fight. The rough dogs are the ones who close in on the hog. Hallstrom concluded, "When the dogs are combined in a pack we have the talent needed to hunt wild pigs.”

Hallstrom cautioned, "When the dogs get on a hog, don't get too close the first time they catch him. He will break and run. If you are between the hog and his escape route you have a problem. Get to where you can see but always keep a tree between you and the hog. You only need to be about 3 feet off the ground to be safe. The hogs are smart animals. They will only run to what their reserve strength is. They will run less distance with each break. Once he is not running very far, then we can close in.”

So how did these Eurasia hogs get to Ohio? There are many local rumors and folk tales about them. Speculation includes that they were released from a game farm or hunt club that went out of business. There once was a club in this area of Belmont County. However, that does not explain the colonies of wild hogs scattered in various locations around Ohio. Dave Swanson, wildlife biologist at the Waterloo Wildlife Research facility, noted, “The Division of Wildlife knows there are several colonies of wild boar in Ohio. We track these together with known areas of feral hogs. There is speculation but no positive answers on how they got here. There are colonies present in Belmont, Washington, Vinton, Gallia, Scioto and Butler counties.”

There was much anticipation before the hunt. Hunting at night in an unfamiliar area looking for wild boar is an adventure. Any encounter is bound to be exciting. A wild boar, which has already been attacked by the dogs, is going to be in a mean nasty mood. Given their nature to fight, it is not a good time to have poor aim. On this hunt the dogs encountered one boar. While none were taken, the sound of the boar angrily grunting and crashing through the underbrush in the dark will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up!

The night ended on a rather unfortunate and, at the same time, humorous note. The rough dog, Pooh Bear, encountered and killed a skunk. The skunk died quickly but the dog had a lingering amount of discomfort. Fortunately, I was not close to the skunk. Unfortunately, Pooh Bear wanted sympathy and to share the experience with me. When I returned to the Salt Fork Lodge, my wife immediately dispatched me to the balcony to deposit the hunting clothes outside the room. The first agenda item the next morning was to get some air freshener for my truck!

I will be returning to Belmont County for another wild boar hunting trip, hopefully without any skunk encounters. The excitement of the night hunt has me hooked. Ohio Boar Busters is a hunting club and not a traditional guided game hunt. For more information on Ohio Boar Busters, go to

Outdoor writer and hunter education instructor Larry S. Moore is a long-time volunteer leader for Buckeye Firearms Association and winner of the 2005 USSA Patriot Award.

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