Not many folks hesitate to shoot a young boar when looking to put some pork chops on the BBQ pit. A juvenile boar is great table fare and is some of the best meat in the woods. Most of these same hunters also have a burning desire to come face-to-face with that rare trophy boar that will yield stories and memories for years to come – not to mention, the photo, shoulder mount, or skull mount that allows the bragging rights to take place. To see these beasts, you have to realize that a young boar is what grows into a trophy boar…and it may not take as long as you think!
A few years back when I got heavy into raising European boars, I was able to see first hand how the animals grow and at what rate. It is true that different blood lines and hybrids grow to different maximum sizes, but the one trait that all boars have in common is the tremendous growth spurt that takes place in the 18 months between when a boar is a year and a half old and his third birthday. This is a crucial time when he transforms from a juvenile boar into a dominant boar and when visible trophy characteristics develop. During this year and a half, the boar’s front shoulders will thicken and his shield will begin to harden and become visible. His neck and shoulder muscles will become extremely strong and will enlarge causing him to have a wedge-shaped look where his front end is larger than his rear. His cutters and whetters will also go from the thickness of pencils to become close to the circumference of a grown man’s finger. During this time, he will actively seek out sows to breed and by the age of three will probably have his own sounder that he dominates. He will have battled hard to be at this position and will have the scars on his shoulders, ribs, and neck to prove it. He has transformed from a playful young pig to a serious and cautious trophy that focuses on food and mating, while fighting to secure his right to both. In 18 months, he has learned from experience that caution is paramount and now makes calculated moves allowing his brain to make decisions rather than his stomach. He will allow younger hogs to approach a feeding area, while he remains at a safe distance before determining it is clear to enter. If something smells wrong or feels out of place, he will not hesitate to evacuate the area immediately.
Why wait on shooting a young boar?...Well, for the same reason hunters pass on a young buck. In just 18 months time, that young boar can turn into the trophy that you have been after for years. If you and the folks you hunt with begin this management practice, then it won’t be long before you begin seeing trophy boars on a regular basis. It has to start with you. You must make the decision to let the young boars walk. Trust me…you will be pleased with the results.
(Published in Wild Boar USA magazine, Vol. 1, Issue 6, Sept/Oct 2007)