34 WMAs To Fill That Hog-Hunting Hunger
Here is a pile of public-land places to go hog hunting in Georgia.
For most folks with Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division (WRD), wild hogs are nothing more than a nuisance. They destroy food plots, roads and forest land while competing with game species like deer and turkey.
For many hunters, there’s nothing else they’d rather do than hunt a wild hog. Many claim they like the fear factor that comes with walking up on a critter with a pair of long tusks that could make for a bad day. Others say the mystique of hunting something different is appealing to them.
Even though hog populations are spreading across Georgia, pigs aren’t everywhere. Hunters must resort to finding these critters elsewhere if their private hunting land doesn’t have any. Some have turned to WMAs to fill their hog-hunting hunger.
Last month, we talked with biologists from all seven WRD Game Management regions. We wanted the scoop on where our readers could go for chances at killing WMA hogs. As a result, we compiled a list of 34 WMAs.
Most of the WRD folks we spoke with said that hunters could call their offices or talk with an area manager or wildlife technician in the field to find out the lastest information. They enjoy seeing folks leave WMAs with dead hogs in the pickup.
Our phone calls were made just last month. Below is the latest information on where you can go hog hunting. Before you go, check the hunting regulations and make sure the WMA you want to hunt is open.
Here’s what the folks from Game Management had to say.
Region 1: “The WMAs that come to mind are Cohutta, Rich Mountain, Pine Log and probably to a lesser degree, John’s Mountain,” said Adam Hammond, WRD biologist. “Those four areas are basically the only areas up here that have hogs on them.”
Although there are huntable populations on these mountain WMAs, Adam warns hunters that these areas don’t compare to the swamps and sloughs of south Georgia.
“There’s no comparison,” said Adam. “You go down south and walk around Chickasawhatchee swamp, and it looks like they took a tiller in the woods. You don’t see that up here. We don’t have that kind of density of pigs.”
However, a hunter willing to work hard can be rewarded with fresh pork.
“You can find pigs if you do some scouting,” said Adam. “If you’re wanting your best bet up here, especially right now, go to Cohutta and find some acorns. You will stand a very good chance of seeing a bear or a hog.
“I was talking to the area manager (of Cohutta) yesterday, and he was commenting on how many acorns there were in this one area, and there were just bears and hog out the ying-yang.”
Adam said the year’s late frost did hurt white-oak trees at lower elevations. However, WRD’s annual-mast report shows that white oaks at higher elevations did great.
“The red oaks did alright overall, but they’re real spotty,” said Adam. “I’d say that’s true for white oaks, too. It’s going to take a little more effort to get out and find the acorns, but at high elevations it’s going to be a lot easier. You’ll find some white oaks and red oaks.”
Adam said that lower elevations with food will be great places to find hogs.
“A combination of a creek with some rolling terrain where the ground is not so steep, and there’s a good chance there will be pigs there,” said Adam. “But, there’s pigs all over Cohutta. There’s hardly a place you won’t go you won’t find a pig.”
Adam said if you’re looking for pigs on Rich Mountain, concentrate on the north end.
“I have never seen pig sign around the Cartecay River or Owltown,” said Adam. “That doesn’t mean they’re not there; I just hadn’t seen it first-hand. The north part of the WMA is best.
“In the past on Rich, we used to have a lot of hog sign around The Rock Crusher. Up on the forest-service land at Rich, which is mountain country, it’s like Cohutta. If you can find some white oaks right now, you have a pretty good chance at killing a pig or a deer.”
Hogs have been on Pine Log WMA for a few years.
“There’s not a whole lot of pigs there, but there are some,” said Adam. “It’s not like Cohutta. There’s a lot of cutting that’s been done at Pine Log, so it’s got a lot more cutover land that probably makes the hunting a little more difficult. They would certainly lay up in those cutovers when they’re not out feeding.”
Of the four Region 1 WMAs that have hogs on them, John’s Mountain may be the toughest to find hogs.
“I haven’t heard tell of hogs up there lately, but historically they’ve always had hogs, especially around Hidden Creek on the south end of the WMA,” said Adam. “I’m sure there’s still some around. On John’s it’s definitely different than these other areas. On most of Johns, I wouldn’t expect to see a pig, but if you find some sign they are certainly there.”
Region 2: “Coopers Creek, Chattahoochee, Warwoman and Lake Burton are all hot spots,” said Ken Riddleberger, WRD Game-Management region supervisor. “At Lake Burton especially, we’ve had a lot of activity around the sorghum fields. There’s one down by the check station that has been hit. There’s been some hogs on that area, but it seems like we’ve seen a lot more activity this year. I don’t know if the drought has done it, but there’s been a lot more damage than before.”
Ken said the most active area he knew about on Chattahoochee WMA was around the Apple Orchard. This area is a short distance west of the check station.
“On Coopers, they’re just scattered here and there,” said Ken. “Any place he’s got sorghum planted, we’ve had them getting in there.”
At presstime, hogs were in the Hale Ridge area on Warwoman WMA.
“Every year they get in that area and tear it all to pieces,” said Ken. “The hogs up here kind of drift in and out. It’s kind of different than hunting hogs in south Georgia where they kind of stay around. They move so much up here.”
On all four WMAs, Ken said to look high for hogs when the acorns start to fall.
“If you get above 2,500 feet about anywhere in the mountains, white oaks are absolutely loaded,” said Ken. “Below that you’ll find a few trees here and there that have some acorns on them. We thought this frost was going to ruin us, but up high the trees hadn’t bloomed yet. The frost caught everything down low. Everything up high did great; hogs will be up high.”
Ken said don’t rule out the possibility of finding a few hogs down low.
“If you get down low and find a white oak, you probably have found a honey hole,” he said.
Since the start of small-game season on Aug. 15, there has been very little hog-hunting pressure on these four Region 2 WMAs.
“Across the board we’ve hardly had any pressure,” said Ken. “Everyone right now has their eyeballs on putting an arrow in a bear.
“All of my guys (WMA area managers) are chomping at the bit to try to get hogs killed on all those areas. Hopefully the hunters can come in and do it.”
With little hunter pressure, these mountain WMAs may actually be good places to find groups of undisturbed hogs. For whatever reason, hunters aren’t putting a whole lot of heat on mountain hogs. Warwoman and Lake Burton had firearms hunts in February; fewer than 15 hunters showed for each hunt. They were canceled for this year. Small-game season will still be open and produce opportunity to those looking for pork.
Region 3: Historically, Tuckahoe is the most notorious Region 3 WMA for good concentrations of pigs.
“I talked with (Area Manager) Howard (Pope) last week, and he hadn’t seen a hog all summer,” said I.B. Parnell, WRD wildlife biologist. “He’s been there 16 years — I think — and he says it varies. You’ll see a bunch of hogs, and then you won’t see them for a while.”
Last year 60 hogs were checked out on Tuckahoe check-in hunts. There is no sign-out required for small-game hunts. At Tuckahoe, hunters may shoot hogs with small-game weapons during small-game dates only after Oct. 31. This is different from most WMAs, which allow hog hunting with small-game weapons beginning Aug. 15.
“There are pigs somewhere on Tuckahoe at all times, but this year we’re not seeing a bunch of them,” said I.B. “We were down there last week on the Spring Lake piece, and we did see some rooting that was a week or two old, so they are there, just not in high numbers right now.”
Tuckahoe pigs may be taken from Oct. 7-30 on the archery hunt.
Redlands WMA is another area that periodically has hogs.
“I talked to a hunter who had seen some hog sign back in the spring on the Oconee River drain,” said I.B. “We talked to (Area Manager) Carl (Della Torre) last week, and he saw no sign in the Oconee drain, so he suggested going to the Apalachee drain if you were going to look for them.”
Hogs can be found on Clark Hill WMA.
“I think they killed 10 last year,” said I.B. “We don’t track the ones killed in small-game season. If you’re going to Clarks Hill, look for them up and down the Little River drain. That’s where we typically see them.”
Region 4: Oaky Woods and Ocmuglee WMAs continue to be the best Region 4 areas to chase WMA pigs.
“With the river at Oaky Woods and Ocmulgee, the hogs are still there,” said Bobby Bond, WRD biologist. “They’ll move with any kind of pressure, but there’s still good numbers on those areas. They’re pretty much anywhere at Oaky Woods.
“At Ocmulgee you can start in the river swamp and work your way up. If you can bump into the area manager or Tech. 1 we have, they could probably steer you in the right direction. They’ve seen the most sign. They’ve been mowing roads for deer season.”
B.F. Grant and Clybel WMAs have a few, more scattered hogs. Some hunters have been hog hunting at B.F. Grant since Aug. 15, when the small-game season opened.
“Since we’ve opened hog hunting pretty much anytime the season is open, they’ve worn them down on B.F. Grant a little,” said Bobby. “You can hunt up the edge of Little River, and there’s a swampy place along the powerline that I know some hunters have had luck in the past. B.F. Grant only has two bow weekends, so it doesn’t get as much pressure.”
Clybel, which has some hogs, gets an incredible amount of pressure in September and October. They have a five-week-long, sign-in archery deer hunt.
“A ton of people go bowhunting there,” said Bobby. “It’s covered up.”
With all the hunter pressure, and the hogs’ ability to quickly get the heck out of Dodge, Bobby was hesitant to tell folks specifically where to find hogs at Clybel.
“Anytime I tell people to go somewhere, it seems like the hogs have already moved from that area,” said Bobby. “I’d probably concentrate on the drains that go through Clybel, especially if they butt up against any sort of food plot or any crop we have out there. It seems like the drains along the edges of fields will get a lot of traffic.”
Region 5: WRD Biologist Julie Robbins said the best two WMAs in southwest Georgia are Hannahatchee and Chickasawhatchee WMAs.
“I would say hog populations on both those areas would be in the fair-to-good range,” said Julie. “Hannahatchee is very hilly. It’s got a lot of ravines on it from old erosion; it has a lot of creek drains on it, Hannahatchee Creek, Bussey Branch, Broach Creek. When you follow those hardwood fingers down into those wet areas, it tends to be good areas to hunt pigs.”
Julie, who enjoys turkey hunting, said she sees a tremendous amount of hog sign on Hannahatchee in the spring.
“Chickasawhatchee still has pigs on it,” said Julie. “I about ran over a 150-lb. boar the other day.”
Hog-hunting pressure is fairly high on Chickasawhatchee. Hunters on the WMA push them, as do adjacent landowners. Expect to do lots of walking to find fresh hog sign.
“They use the real deep swamps as refuges,” said Julie. “You have to be willing to walk down in the swamps at Chickasawhatchee. We do have food plots where they’ll come out, but once they get pressured they leave and go for the thick brush. In fact, a lot of times you’ll find them in the thick pine stands out there.”
Flint River WMA still has a few hogs on it.
“It doesn’t have very many,” said Julie. “The plantations adjacent to Flint River have started to make an impact on the pig population, so we’re not seeing as many there.
“When I talked to the area manager, he said about most of the sign has been down in the river bottom. He’s had a few up on his dove field but not lately.”
Elmodel WMA and Montezuma Bluffs Natural Area are two bowhunting-only places where folks can hunt hogs.
“Elmodel has hogs all scattered around,” said Julie. “The Ichauway, Notchaway and Chickasawhatchee creeks meet together on Elmodel. That riparian corridor is a good area.
“It also has some agricultural fields. If you get out on the management area, there are a lot of wood lots. You can sometimes find hogs in those wood lots in thick brush adjacent to those ag. fields.”
The most recent hogs Julie has seen at Elmodel were at a corn field that had been burned for a dove field.
“Montezuma Bluff is open from Nov. 1 to Jan. 15,” said Julie. “Pigs are starting to move in there, but there’s not great numbers.”
Julie added that she’s been seeing the majority of her hogs at odd times.
“I’ve been out on the management area at noon and run into them,” said Julie. “Hunters may want to change up the times they’re hunting pigs.”
Region 6: “Last year our No. 1 WMA was Big Hammock,” said Chris Baumann, WRD biologist. “If it doesn’t flood, it’s a good area for a lot of wildlife.”
This WMA is in Tattnall County along the Altamaha River swamp.
“It’s got lots of mature hardwoods. When you get a good mast crop, everything is going to be there, but when it floods, you can’t hunt it,” said Chris. “Three-quarters of the area gets under water. That whole area is a bunch of river sloughs. Anytime the river gets up a little bit, they’ll be river sloughs all over it. Big Hammock is all river bottom, every square inch of it, except for the Natural Area.”
On Region 6 WMAs, small-game hunters can’t shoot hogs with small-game weapons until after Oct. 31. Archery hunters may take hogs during archery hunts.
“At Big Hammock, we have a primitive-weapons hunt coming up the end of September,” said Chris. “They can kill hogs and deer and get a jump start on everywhere else.”
At presstime, Big Hammock was dry.
“The standby WMAs are River Bend and Beaverdam,” said Chris. “But it’s so dry, I really haven’t seen much sign up there in the fields like usual this year. It’s been so dry, there’s zero water on the hill. That may be our only saving grace this year keeping them off the hill.
“At River Bend, the hogs are typically pretty thick. Someone signed one out this weekend.”
River Bend has two tracts, a northern tract and a southern tract. Both are adjacent to the Oconee River, which usually holds most of the hogs.
“Both tracts are equally riddled with hogs at different times of the year,” said Chris. “A lot of it is cutover riverbottom. Along some of the old sloughs there’s some mature oaks, and that’s typically where folks find the hogs. We close off the roads going back to the riverbottom, so they can hunt the roads back in there where it’s closed.”
The thicker cover makes it tougher to kill hogs, but Chris assures hunters that they frequent the WMA.
“We’ve done some timber thinnings this year, and I’ve ridden in there checking on the timber operations and run hogs out right behind the timber equipment. They’re there. Finding the sign is a little harder when it’s so dry. If you can find water, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet.
“We kill the snot out of hogs and deer at River Bend, because it’s thick and provides lots of cover. If you’re willing to hunt it, you can kill them.”
Just north of River Bend, Beaverdam WMA holds some hogs.
“On Beaverdam, they tend to be all over,” said Chris. “There’s a pretty good crop of crabapples up on the hill this year. Hogs will be up there. We’ve got a fair crop of water-oak acorns from what I’ve seen on a couple of areas. A lot of other oaks were hurt pretty bad by the frost.
“Every year they kind of get pressured back down into the swamp from the hunting.”
Contrary to River Bend, Beaverdam’s river swamp is full of mature timber. It makes for a scenic hunting trip for those more interested in seeing pretty country.
“Horse Creek WMA has a few hogs, but they seem to come and go on there from year to year,” said Chris. “It’s not as steady as the other three areas.”
Chris said not to hesitate if you see an area manager or WRD employee. Ask them if they’ve seen any recent hog sign.
Region 7: Georgia’s coastal WMAs offer the most opportunity for public-land hog hunting. However, these WMAs can be very difficult to access and hunt.
“A lot of these swamps have been cut or thinned back, so it makes it a little more challenging for access in terms of walking through it,” said David Mixon, WRD Game-Management region supervisor.
“Paulks Pasture has a pretty decent population of hogs. They just had a muzzleloader hunt last weekend, and there were several hogs killed. There’s always a fair amount of hogs killed during any of the firearms hunts. Some of those swampy areas aren’t easy hunting because they’ve been recently clearcut. It’s some rough, jungle-thick stuff out there. Hogs just love that kind of habitat.”
David doesn’t recommend one particular area on Paulks as being better than others. With so much swamp on the WMA, hogs can be anywhere.
“Clayhole Swamp is pretty fair,” said David. “It’s a lot of hardwood clearcut. There’s plenty of wet habitat out there that’s thick as can be. There’s plenty of hogs in it. Hunters catch them up in the pines or crossing the (foot-travel-only) roads. There’s several roads that go out in that stuff.”
Clayhole will also have a special firearms hog hunt March 1-9.
Altamaha WMA will also host a March 1-9 firearms hog hunt on lands west of Butler and Champney islands.
“I came through Altamaha this morning, and there was a large one and a small one standing beside the road feeding,” said David. “Those marshy areas down around the impoundments aren’t really explored very much by many people.”
David saw five hogs the other evening on one of the dikes.
WMA hunters can access the north end of Altamaha WMA by only one road.
“That one road carries you in amongst a bunch of food plots,” said David. “The entire road is 6 miles long, but it’s gated at about 3 miles. You have about a 3-mile walk to get to the very back food plot. Because of that, people hunt up close. It’s for the dedicated hunter; that’s for sure.”
At almost 30,000 acres, expect to cover some ground at Altamaha.
“Sansavilla is another big area,” said David. “It’s got hogs. I saw seven on the powerline the other day. Sansavilla is very similar to Paulks except it’s got the Altamaha River bottom. Anywhere along that river bottom you could find hogs.”
Griffin Ridge WMA has some hogs, but it doesn’t compare to the above-mentioned WMAs.
“There is opportunity there, but that’s not where I’d go if I wanted to be sure to kill one,” said David. “For whatever reason, there’s just not a tremendous population on Griffin Ridge.
“Penholoway is along the line of Griffin Ridge; it wouldn’t be my destination to kill a hog. Penholoway has a lot of sand ridge. We don’t see a whole log of hog activity on those sand ridges. Less than one-third of the WMA, maybe 800 to 1,000 acres, is river bottom. We see some hog activity in there.
“Richmond Hill has a few hogs, but I haven’t seen a tremendous amount of activity. You’ll probably see a few more over by the marshes where the live oaks are. It’s kind of hit or miss. I’ve seen some roads torn up over there, but not on a regular basis. I’d put it down toward the bottom of the list.”
Townsend WMA (see page 146) could see some activity if the Altamaha River gets up.
“It’s the first sand ridge out of the swamp,” said David. “If the river got high, I would expect to see hogs.”
If you like to hog hunt, you’ve got plenty of places to go. We’ve just given you 34 different WMAs where you can try and kill a hog.
Before you go, check the hunting regulations and make sure the WMA you want to hunt is open.
Glen Solomon of Hazlehurst, a WMA hog-hunting expert, said be prepared to hunt WMA hogs on the fly. He and his wife, Cindy, spent the middle of August on Griffin Ridge WMA. Even though they killed five hogs, they said the hunting was really tough.
“I think we killed all that were there,” said Glen. “There actually weren’t many hogs on the area. We put 22 miles on our boots in those three days.”
Hunting hogs is a blast. Finding them can be tough. Make plans to spend a few days sleeping in a WMA campground. Hunt hard and expect to walk lots looking for the freshest sign you can find.
When you finally get a bullet, or arrow, in a hog you’ll certainly have some of the tastiest meat you can find in the woods.