Be vewwwy quiet...
September 19, 2012 1:30 PM   Subscribe

I would like to hunt wild pigs. Only problem? I'm a liberal Democrat, I live in San Francisco, and I've never been hunting before.

I love the outdoors and I love eating meat. I'm also an environmentalist and a foodie. And really, what could be more free-range and environmentally-sound than eating a delicious invasive species that spent its life roaming the great outdoors? Sadly, in the US, hunting has this big Republican association, and as a result, I've never known any hunters.

I'd like to learn how to hunt and find people to go hunting with. I don't really care if they're politically aligned with me or not, although it would be nice if they shared my environmentalist streak.

According to the Slate article, "wild pigs are found widely along most of the West Coast". Any groups, organizations, or resources in the area that could help put me on track for my first hunting expedition?
posted by Afroblanco to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (29 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The email of the author of that Slate article is given in the byline. He might be able to help you out...
posted by bardophile at 1:35 PM on September 19, 2012

Doesn't answer your question directly but one of my old bosses (conservative hunter type) would talk to the owners of golf courses next to a riverbed here (southern California) that had problems with wild pigs. They practically paid him to hunt them on the golf courses with his crossbow just to thin the population.
posted by mikesch at 1:35 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Start with the California Department of Fish and Game Wild Pig Management Program page. There's a bunch of info there, including a PDF of licensed big game guides.
posted by cog_nate at 1:39 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I'd recommend starting with California's Hunter Education Program. It's run by the Department of Fish and Game and is required of first time hunters anyway. It's is likely to give you a lot of the information you need to know.

Then head over to the DFG's page for the Wild Pig Management Program, which has a lot of good information, including a link to a DFG-produced "Guide to Hunting Wild Pig in California," which seems pretty much on the nose.

I think that a lot of the hunters you're likely to meek have, not so much an "environmentalist" streak as a "conservationist" streak. I'm kind of making those terms up, but I think they get at an important distinction that's going to be in play here. They all love nature--they wouldn't spend hours on their asses at o'dark-thirty in the rain if they didn't--but to the extent that "hunting" and "being politically conservative" go together, they may be skeptical about the large-E Environmentalist movement for a variety of reasons. "Environmentalist" suggests interest in all sorts of environmental regulations, from logging to pesticides to gaseous emissions. "Conservationist" suggests a more limited view, specifically directed at preserving particular landscapes and habitats and less at the overall regulatory "environment," as it were. There are actually hunt clubs that set up and manage almost pristine sections of wilderness specifically to hunt on, and they'd be pretty annoyed if anything happened to them.
posted by valkyryn at 1:40 PM on September 19, 2012 [10 favorites]

Maybe a local conservation or gun club would have a group gun safety or hunter safety course that you could attend. It would be a good way to meet hunters or get an idea of what is available in the area.
posted by greasy_skillet at 1:40 PM on September 19, 2012

You'd be surprised how many Democrats belong to gun clubs, at least here in the Midwest. Your local shooting range / gun club is probably a good place to start (a) learning to shoot (b) learning to shoot moving targets and (c) make some contacts with people who hunt away from the range. PRGC seems to be universally respected - they might be a fun field trip!

And at least where I'm from, hunters are often the most passionate environmentalists. They have a vested interest in protecting the health of local ecosystems.
posted by muirne81 at 1:41 PM on September 19, 2012

Do you know how to shoot a gun? (I am asking sincerely.)

You'll need a hunting license. California requires that you take a class first. Start there.

Hunters are shy about talking about hunting, especially in the Bay Area. But they exist. The ones I have met are great environmentalists. And once you prove you're inquiring about their hobby in good faith, they're often swell folks.
posted by purpleclover at 1:41 PM on September 19, 2012

For a first time pig hunt, I'd recommend you go on a guided hunt. This is not a Cheney-esque "drive the SUV up and shoot the just-released, hand-raised birds your friend in the face" type hunt, but a hunt with an experienced paid guide who will scout for the pigs, take you to where the pigs will likely be the next morning and almost as important as all the preceding, have a truck that he will wrestle the (big heavy dead) body into to haul out of what typically is rather challenging terrain.

My lefty SO hunts waterfowl and has gone on one (guided) pig hunt. Memail me if you'd to be introduced, we're somewhat close by you. He loves to talk hunting and could go into a ton more detail than I could as a non-hunter.
posted by jamaro at 1:50 PM on September 19, 2012 [6 favorites]

If you haven't read the chapter of The Omnivore's Dilemma in which Michael Pollan talks about hunting wild pigs (I think in your area?) for the first time, you should. It will give you a sense for one lefty non-hunter's person's experience (which was generally favorable). It won't give you a how-to, but getting a sense for it might be helpful.
posted by ldthomps at 1:56 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yeah, take a class. You might find it less appealing than it seems. Plenty of Democrat hunters...wanting them to identify as environmentalists might be asking too much, though.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:57 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have friends who do wild pig hunting. Memail me if you have specific questions.

That said: do you know how to shoot already, and just need to learn the finer points of hunting? Or are you starting from scratch?
posted by corb at 2:02 PM on September 19, 2012

I can't help on the wild pig side of things, but I will say that at least here in Alaska hunting isn't even vaguely associated with political affiliation.

You might try fishing first, because that gives you a feel for what it's really like to kill and gut a living creature. I was surprised at how little a problem I had with it, really-- I'm not a vegetarian, it was done humanely, and it put food on the table. Helped that spawning salmon are inches from death anyway, sure, but it was still a bloody, gutty experience.
posted by charmcityblues at 2:04 PM on September 19, 2012

I can't directly answer your question, but hunting as a hobby is a lot less politicized than you think.

While access to guns and the conservationist side of things have their political aspects, when you're in a duck blind or deer stand or whatever pig hunters use at 5 in the morning huddled under a blanket to keep warm, you'll find a lot of other stuff to talk about before you get to politics. Most likely, as long as you don't preach politics to anyone else on your hunt, it won't even come up.
posted by Sara C. at 2:15 PM on September 19, 2012

Best answer: Take the required hunting classes at the Pacific Rod and Gun Club. Easy to get there on the M and the 18 toward Legion of Honor.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:21 PM on September 19, 2012

A related previously.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:22 PM on September 19, 2012

PS: every gun I have ever fired was owned by Bay Area liberals. You'll find a mix of all points of view at the gun club.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:23 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you aren't comfortable around firearms, you can still enjoy hunting by taking a camera along instead. It'll give you a feel for tracking, stalking and spotting. I refuse to handle firearms, period, but my hunter buddies welcome me on trips because I'm happy to help them lug out the dead beastie and dress and butcher it. And that way I don't have to fire a weapon to fill my freezer with tasty game.

Never been boar hunting, though. Only deer and turkey. (Squirrel doesn't count.) Sounds like it'd be fun.

One thing to keep in mind is that hunting can get REALLY expensive REALLY quickly. Do you own camo? Binoculars? Boots? Safety orange hat and vest? And that's not counting all the ancillary gadgets and geegaws that will catch your eye at the hunting supply store.

I would go to your local store and ask around. They'll know where to direct you.

And be aware that there are myriad types of hunters: bow hunters, black powder hunters who use flintlocks, lazy slobs who sit in treestands and wait for their prey to saunter through a baited field....

So you might not find a group you enjoy hunting with the first time out. But I imagine that if you keep trying you'll find some simpatico folks.

But again: it ain't cheap.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:16 PM on September 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you haven't read the chapter of The Omnivore's Dilemma in which Michael Pollan talks about hunting wild pigs (I think in your area?) for the first time, you should.

Yeah, Pollan was hunting in the Berkeley hills, pigs are apparently a "scourge" over there.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 3:19 PM on September 19, 2012

Best answer: You might find this article interesting, from yesterday's Woodland Daily Democrat (Yolo County).
posted by mudpuppie at 3:28 PM on September 19, 2012

Oh my god, if you have unlimited resources to devote to this, this is what you want. At least, that's what I want.
At least three guided or semi-guided hunts. Our guides are patient, friendly and on our staff because they bring a certain skill to the table: they all believe that eating game is the goal, not killing.
Instruction on hunting, selection of harvestable animals, renewable game management, and shooting.
Comfortable lodging for two nights and three days in houses on the ranch.
All meals (eight meals), prepared with local ingredients prepared and served by Dai Due Sous Chef Tabatha Stephens and Camp Chef Morgan Angelone. Expect bison from the ranch and lots of wild game, along with Farmers’ Market vegetables and apples from the orchards down the road. Dry-cured sausages from feral hogs taken this Summer are now curing, just for these meals.
Instruction on field dressing of animals.
A complete game butchering and cooking class covering two different animals with recipe book, sources, and suggested reading.
The Guide’s Dinner, served at a communal table with the hunting guests, ranch hosts, and guides on Saturday evening.
Packaging of animals harvested for transportation back home, where your new skills can be used on your own animal.
A signed copy of Afield: a chef’s guide to preparing and cooking wild game and fish.
posted by fiercecupcake at 4:40 PM on September 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Amazing story from the Monterey County Weekly. an amazing guide you can hire in Salinas, Matt Murray.
posted by hortense at 10:04 PM on September 19, 2012

Do break it down into steps. Learn to shoot first. You will probably meet hunters while learning, and I imagine that being a good shot is the most important aspect of keeping the hunt humane as well.
posted by Vaike at 12:07 AM on September 20, 2012

Best answer: Hunting is not a casual thing. If you already are good in the woods, then you have a lot going for you. But killing things like pigs asks more of you than simple woodcraft. I wouldn't worry overly much about rationalizing the kill. Field dressing is part of the kill. Let a pro do the butchering, though.

I would worry about wounding an animal and having to take a flashlight into dense brush to find it. The alternative is to let a wounded boar rise up out of the brush on some unseuspecting hunter later on.

I used to hunt. I also used to pack for back country deer hunters. I've hunted pigs in the coastal range, and I once shot a large pig on my property when I lived in the hills near Grants Grove, at about the 4000 foot level. As it happened, I shot this pig with a .223, dropped him with one shot to the heart. He dressed out at 400 lbs. A .223 will kill most any animal in North America, but I wouldn't use one for Brown Bear, Moose, or Elk.

My usual firearm was a .30-06, but I grew to really like my wife's .243. I've never hunted with dogs, and I've never trophy hunted. No principle involved, it's just that I've been a meat hunter since I was about 12, and never thought about the racks or heads. My wife once nailed a huge deer, got an award for the best rack in Oregon taken by a woman. We have that rack up in her workshop (here in Oregon). Anyhow we gave it up a few years ago, for various reasons.

Pigs are among the more difficult animals to hunt. They are smart and crafty. They are hard to kill from certain angles. I once bounced a .30-06 round off one's forehead. He was coming toward me. It drove him to his knees, but then he got up and started looking around. It took me three more shots to kill him, and I tore up a lot of good meat doing it.

Once grown, they have no natural enemies--even lions leave them alone. You must find their range, and wander about long enough to figure out where they run, then work out an ambush scheme. They aren't particularly vicious, but they are pretty curious, and have not so good eyesight, so when you catch one's attention, he may decide to come over and see what's up. It's easy to stumble across them when they are sleeping. Up close, they are very dangerous.

Most likely the pigs will hear you or smell you, and fade off into thick brush and lay quiet. You usually have to crawl to follow them....this is not a good idea. Once they decide to boogie, they can travel a lot more quickly through the brush than you can, so chasing them is not a real good strategy. If you are following a sow, she will feed you to her kids. Okay, that was a little exaggerated, but a sow is likely to be vicious around her young, and she is easily capable of killing you. Boars, in my experience, seem a little more mellow, but up close they get excited, and will hurt you, because it may not occur to them to run away. This isn't rocket science, but unless you just get lucky, you will work hard for the pig. The meat is beyond wonderful.

I suggest you go to a gun club and find out about the types of firearms you'll use for pigs, and learn to shoot one accurately. At some point be prepared to spend in the neighborhood of $300-500 dollars, perhaps more, for a good rifle. The two that I mentioned above have very different characteristics regarding the path of the bullet, and it's vital to know the difference. I don't like rifles as heavy as the 7mm magnums. Too expensive to shoot, for one thing. The .243 is perfect. I like the semi-auto Browings. If you get a bolt action, you might also consider a pistol for backup. A .44 magnum is good insurance against a wounded pig. You must be calm, and know your weapon.

For deer I like scopes. For pigs I like open sights. The reason is that I shoot pigs more often in brushy places than out on open ground. At close range, scopes have certain issues. Open sights never fail.

You should take lessons at first, so you'll know how to sight your rifle in, and so on. During this learning period you can use the club to seek out hunting contacts. Please don't be in a hurry to take a rifle into the woods until you are properly grounded in its use. Almost nothing about gun safety is intuitive, except the part where you jump when you hear the bang.

Here's a good tip: you buy your expensive rifle, and spend a lot of time and money at the range learning to use it. This is necessary. You also buy a .22 caliber rifle and take that to the range now and then, and put up a bunch of small bullseye targets at at various ranges out to about 100 meters. Practice from the bench rest with the .22 to learn breathing a concentration. You'll put thousands of rounds downrange with a lot less expense this way, and you get more out of it than you might think. Lean to shoot the big gun at various ranges, starting at about 50 meters, and out to about 250 meters. You rifle is likely to be accurate a lot farther than that, but what you want to do is train your eye.
posted by mule98J at 12:30 AM on September 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

I think Lake, or Mendocino County is probably your best bet. A few hours drive, there is still a good population of feral pigs, It is a really amazing time of year to be up in the hills, also our rednecks are all at least half hippie.

Probably a guided tour would be your best intro, If you have some money to spend I have heard these guys are good.

Also, I am headed back into the area in a week or so, I have a few friends who hunt in the area, and could ask around to see what they suggest, so if you want to mail me I can maybe give you some more specifics.
posted by St. Sorryass at 12:53 AM on September 20, 2012

Best answer: For my fellow left-leaning, pro-hunting Mefites, please let me introduce you to the Isaak Walton League.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:18 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another pro-environment, pro-hunting group that may have some contacts in your area, Hunting with Non-Lead Ammunition.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:22 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't worry about your party affiliation. Very few wild pigs are registered Democrats.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:08 PM on September 20, 2012 [7 favorites]

A friend (from sustainable biz school) just started a dining club that hunts for its own food. It sounds like they are right up your alley.

In their marketing, they focus mostly on the eating side of the equation, but I'm pretty sure they organize group hunts aimed at the liberal, foodie SF crowd. Stag Dining Group

You should reach out to them!
posted by paddingtonb at 2:46 PM on September 20, 2012

Response by poster: Hey all! Thanks for the info! Sounds like I'm not so alone in this as I thought!

However, it sounds like a hunting trip is quite the undertaking, and there's quite a bit of preparation I'd need to do before I'm ready. I have shot rifles before, but never a hunting rifle, and it's been a long time. It sounds like a good first step would be locating a good firing range, hopefully one where I can rent a hunting rifle. I get the idea a good one is expensive, and I probably don't want to buy one until I get the hang of it a bit. Perhaps that'll be the subject of another AskMe?

Thanks again!
posted by Afroblanco at 12:20 AM on September 24, 2012

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