Hog Hunting Etiquette The Unspoken Rules

By: Krystal Rohan

There are always places to find information about training dogs, catching hogs, and other such related topics. However, there is nothing in writing about “people training”. Nobody mentions proper behaviors for humans. It has always been a guessing game for the new comers unless they are fortunate enough to get hooked-up with someone to teach them “the ropes” before they foul up and get the boot. Some people are lucky enough to be second-generation hunters that have inherited good behaviors. Otherwise, you may just find yourself learning the hard way – losing friends, hunting partners, and places to hunt along the way until you either figure it out or quit. I will call this Hog Hunting Etiquette 101.
I am sure there are some of you out there that know just where I am coming from. Others may want to make a Xerox copy and secretly stick it under another hunter’s windshield wiper while they are away – kind of a secret message, but not so subtle. I am talking about the Do’s & Don’ts when it comes to hunting with hog dogs. Sometimes it is just plain manners or whatever you want to call it, but you need to be on the same thought pattern as those that invited or allowed you to hunt with them in the first place. Treat each invitation to hunt with respect, understanding that it is a privilege to be invited. Also treat each hunt with the same respect as your first. Your host may be hunting several different individual’s land, and each individual property may have a different set of rules. What may be acceptable to one land owner may not be okay with the next. Everyone should be treated with respect. I have hunted a lot of different places over the years and have learned never to by surprised about what a land owner may ask or expect of you when hunting their land. Sometimes the word “ridiculous” does come to mind. However, you must abide by the landowner’s rules or don’t hunt there. It is better to pass something up if it doesn’t seem right, no matter how bad the itch is to turn the dogs out.
I know that as the Hog Dog Hunting sport gains popularity, there are more and more folks trying to get started, which can be rather difficult. It is important that the experienced folks pass on some lessons to beginners as it is for beginners to learn from someone with experience. A certain fact of the matter is that all hog hunters out there with a lot of experience have been burned more than a few times by the “newbies” wanting to get started. So to all the “newbies” out there, if getting invited doesn’t come easy, you better believe there is a good reason why. You will have to pay your dues to earn a regular spot at hunting with the experienced folks. Ask a lot of questions and make sure you pay attention when you get an answer. Don’t assume anything.

1. When you are invited on a hunt, never ask the landowner if you can come hunt the property, or suggest that you would be available to hunt, or return to that property without the one who set up the hunt. It is not yours, and you did not earn it.

2. Do not bring other guests along on the hunt without having permission from the one who invited you. Some people do not consider hunting to be a party.

3. When you are allowed to bring a guest, you are responsible for your guest’s behavior. They must understand the etiquette as well, or you will suffer the consequences for your guest.

4. When you are invited, that means “YOU” and not your whole pack of dogs. The person setting up the hunt decides how many dogs, people, and how you will be hunting. Always respect that. The proper question is, “What would you like me to bring?”

5. When you do bring dogs on a hunt that you are invited on, the animal’s behavior is also your responsibility. Know your dogs, and know what to expect on the property such as deer, cattle, exotics, etc. If your dog injures another animal, you are responsible for making amends. If you can’t be sure your dog will not harm another animal, then the dog does not belong on that hunt. That goes for aggressive dogs as well.

6. When you catch hogs on a property, it should be known beforehand what will be done with the hogs that are caught. Will they be killed or tied? If they will be killed, what will be done with the carcasses and who will keep the meat? Simple planning ahead of time will keep things civil without disagreements among the hunters. After the dogs are turned out and the hunting begins, the animals are then in charge of what happens. So make sure everything has been discussed prior to turning them out.

7. The majority of hog hunters that use dogs also use knives. However, there are those that prefer to shoot over the dogs. Again don’t assume anything—always request permission before bringing a firearm.

8. Alcohol is not to be brought along on a hunt without prior permission.

9. Language and cussing should always be under control, especially around landowners.

10. Handling another person’s dogs can cause a brawl. Each individual has their own method of how they handle their own dogs. Whipping another person’s dog can be much the same as whipping their child. Unless the owner requests you to whip their dog, then don’t do it. If you have taken control of a situation and are not sure, leash their dog until you are able to ask them how to handle the situation if for some reason the owner is out of earshot. This should also be understood among the dog handlers before turning out.

11. Sometimes landowners will have other hunting parties come in to hunt the same property. If you happen to get invited along, have an open discussion with the person who originally invited you to avoid conflicts or feelings of “being stabbed in the back”. Or simply avoid going. This will show respect and keep conflicts at a minimum.

12. Do not leave behind trash of any kind (including cigarette butts). If you come across trash that someone else may have dropped, pick it up.

13. If you open a gate, close it.

14. When invited to go hunting, don’t be late. It is better to be early.

15. If you can’t make a hunt, be sure to make it known in advance. Don’t let someone down that is counting on your help or that of your dogs. You may not get the opportunity to make the same mistake twice.

Taking a little time to know who you are hunting with and how they want to hunt a place will make for a much more pleasurable hunt. Your friendships and hunting partnerships can be made lasting ones, if you are willing to treat others the way you would want to be treated.

First published in Wild Boar USA magazine Mar./April, 2007 issue.