September’s HOT Hunting WMA Bow Hogs
The mosquitoes may get you and you’re going to be sweating bullets, but on the right Georgia WMA the bowhunting for hogs can be HOT.
Wild pigs — love ’em or hate ’em, everyone has an opinion.
No matter how you feel, there’s a strong interest among hunters who want their chance at some juicy backstraps simmered in barbecue sauce, and WRD is making it easy for those of you who love to hunt them.
Quite a few of Georgia’s WMAs have a hunt able population of wild hogs, and most of the WRD biologists welcome the opportunity for you to go sling arrows or crossbow bolts at as many as you can this month. Here’s a look at some of the better WMAs across the state.
Northeast: Bowhunting in the mountains just got a little more interesting — at least if you’re planning on being up a tree this fall at either Coopers Creek or Chattahoochee WMAs. In both areas, it’s the first time populations of hogs have shown up along some of the drainages.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had hogs on the western side of Coopers Creek, and they’re pretty common over there,” said WRD biologist Kent Kammermeyer.
The Sea, Clements and Knight creek drainages have hunt able populations populations of hogs. These are all smaller creeks that feed into Cooper Creek, but they cover pretty much the entire western half of the WMA.
Hunters will now be allowed easier access into the Clement Creek area. There is a six-mile loop road that goes into the area, and for quite some time that area has been gated.
“The area manager said that because of the hogs, he’s going to open both gates,” said Kent. “There are two other gates way in there to protect a six-acre food plot in the middle. Those gates will remained closed, but the two open gates will really increase hunter access in the Clement Creek area.”
In the middle of the WMA, the Mulky Gap and Fish Gap areas have turned up some new hog sign, and the existing population on the eastern portion of the WMA, at Logan and Boardcamp creeks, is still prevalant.
On Chattahoochee WMA, you’ll also find a new opportunity to arrow some mountain pork, particularly in the Trail Ridge area.
“A key component to access into Trail Ridge is the Trail Ridge loop road,” said Kent. “The area manager is going to open the gate on the upper end and create a new gate half way around. That road is just too rugged on the south end, but this will help access into the Trail Ridge area.”
Also at Chattahoochee, hog sign has also been spotted in the Poplar Stump Gap area, however, it’s a 1 1/2-mile walk to get there. The Apple Orchard area also has a population of porkers, but that’ll be a two-mile scoot before you get to the hogs. However, for those of you that like to hunt alone, these places may be the ticket. A more accessible area on Chattahoochee is at Hog Pen Gap, right off Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway.
Kent said that the hogs on Chattahoochee and Coopers Creek were pretty much staying in these areas at presstime. However, hogs will move a lot looking for available food.
“They’re pretty high right now, but that will probably change when the acorns start coming down,” said Kent. “They move around a lot more than deer. The good thing about them is they leave a lot of sign. So if you find fresh sign, you can get on them pretty good.”
The great news about both of these mountain WMAs is that you don’t have to wait until September 14 to go hunt these hogs. Look at the regulations if you don’t believe it.
Starting back on August 15, you could hunt hogs during small-game dates with small-game weapons on most of the mountain areas. Your bow is considered a small-game weapon.
This early opportunity to kill a WMA hog is different than most of the more southern WMAs, where these special hog hunting opportunities with small-game weapons won’t begin until December 1.
For Chattahoochee and Coopers, once bow season begins on September 14, small-game season closes. You can still hunt hogs, but you can only do it with archery equipment.
Northwest: “Cohutta WMA is always the go-to-place for hogs,” said Chuck Waters, regional supervisor for Region I. “In fact, I saw some up there the other day. They were above Lake Conasauga, toward Three Forks.”
Chuck said that when the acorns start to fall, the hogs will be feeding on them. However, by opening day there may not be many acorns falling just yet.
“In general, when it’s warm and before the acorns fall you can count on the creek drains and hollows where ground is softer and there’s a little moisture,” said Chuck. “If there’s anything planted in sorghum, you might find them around those. The best thing to do is figure out what’s out there for a hog to eat.”
Pine Log WMA is also mentioned as an area where you would have a chance at a pig, although the odds aren’t as good as Cohutta.
East-Central: It has become common knowledge that Tuckahoe WMA in Screven County is about the best anywhere for non-quota opportunities at a hog, but overall harvest numbers have been falling the last several years.
“If you want to kill a pig, Tuckahoe is still the best bet
in the region,” said WRD biologist Haven Barnhill.
“They’re rooting throughout the river bottom, but it’s not as
much as we’ve had in past years.
“I’m guessing it’s going to be a little on the slim side,” said area manager Howard Pope. “We’re probably on pace to do what we did last year, when we killed 42 hogs.”
It’s easy to say Tuckahoe is down from more productive years. In 1996, they killed 307 pigs.
“We just haven’t been seeing them much this summer,” said Howard. “But you never know about them. In October, they could be stacked in there like cord wood.”
Haven mentioned the upper portions of Clarks Hill WMA, along the Little River, as an area for some hogs. “That would be my No. 2 pick,” said Haven. “It’s the stretch between Hwy 78 and Hwy 80. It’s very narrow, and you just about need to hunt it out of a canoe, but there are some pigs on the river bottom there.”
Oconee WMA has had a few pigs showing up, but it’s not somewhere Haven would encourage folks to spend a lot of effort. The odds just aren’t real great. In addition, Fishing Creek WMA has a few hogs right on the creek. Beaverdam WMA in Laurens County has been known for its good hog hunting for years. Apparently the area still has the hogs, and you can hunt them with a bow starting September 14.
“The dove fields are getting rooted all too pieces,” said Chris Baumann, WRD wildlife biologist. “We have hog wire fence around the corn and wheat, but they’re getting in the other fields because of the nut grass. There’s a lot of bottomland on that area.”
“On River Bend WMA we just don’t have a whole lot of water right now,” said Chris. “We’re seeing just a little bit of hog rooting along the road but not much. Hunters didn’t take very many last year.”
West-Central: B.F. Grant, Oaky Woods and Ocmulgee WMAs are your top three in this region. Harry Luke, area manager for B.F. Grant, has assured GON that the hogs are still plentiful in his area. B.F. Grant has only four days of archery-only hunting, but you can hunt hogs with bows during small game seasons starting December 1.
Harry said good concentrations of hogs are located along Bullard Bottoms, an area off the Little River, and it can be accessed from Godfrey Lane. Also, there are some private corn fields off Hwy 300 where the hogs are doing some damage. B.F. Grant backs up to that corn field, and this area is best accessed from Indian Creek Road. Area manager at Ocmulgee WMA, Randy Wood, said that the hogs are still on the area but have scattered out since almost every slough is dry.
“They seem to have branched out up the creeks a little more,” said Randy. “Your largest hog populations are going to be in Area No. 1 and Area No. 2.”
Other areas to look for some hogs on Ocmulgee are Crooked Creek in Area No. 6, Shellstone Creek in Areas No. 2 and 3 and Savage Creek in Areas No. 9, 10 and 11.
Just across the river at Oaky Woods WMA, area manager Raye Jones said he has had hogs since he came to the area in 1980, and he has still got them. The Ocmulgee River borders the WMA, and Big and Little Grocery creeks run through the area. Raye said both creeks are dry.
“I expect you could find some hogs rooting in the dried-up creek bottoms, but I think hunters should hunt the pines to be successful,” said Raye.
Raye said that he’d hunt the bigger pine plantations, find a well-beaten path, and do one of two things — follow it or hunt it. Often times that path will lead to a watering hole, and during a drought, areas like that are as good as gold. Also, Raye said that mushrooms often pop up in these pine plantations, and hogs just can’t leave them alone.
Ray said traditional successful spots at Oaky Woods have been Areas No. 4 and No. 5.
“I don’t get much hunting pressure down here during bow season,” said Raye. “We’ll have 250, maybe 300 at the most for the whole archery season.”
Southwest: This area of the state is a hotbed for hogs, and Flint River WMA is no exception.
“I think the thing people lose out on at Flint River WMA is they see all those pretty hardwoods and big tracts of timber, and it looks great, but that’s not where the hogs are going to be,” said WRD biologist Bill Cooper. “They may go down there at night and make sign, but the hogs stay up in those thick pine areas. People don’t want to go up there because it’s too thick, which I can understand.
“What I try to tell people is to find the freshest sign you can and hunt there. There are some areas on the edges you could hang a stand.”
Bill also mentioned the 20,000- acre Chickasawhatchee WMA as an opportunity to find some hogs. On an area this size, Bill recommends just getting out, walking and scouting, until you find some fresh sign. Hannahatchee WMA, which totals 5,600 acres, has a lot of hogs on it right now. You’ll find that the area has quite a bit of contour, so be careful where you kill a hog.
Southeast: Big Hammock WMA along the Altamaha River in Tattnall County has a pile of hogs, according to area manager Jim Gillis.
“Just about the whole piece of property is river swamp, and hogs move up and down that river bank,” said Jim. “Prime time to kill a hog on that area is toward the end of archery season and the start of gun season when the acorns start to fall.”
Horse Creek WMA in Telfair County has had fair hog hunting for quite some time, but recently the area got a population boost.
“Midway through turkey season, they just seemed to come in with force,” said Ed Van Otteren, area manager. “They’re all up and down the river. There are a lot of sloughs that go through the pine areas, and you’ll find laurel and willow oaks on the edges. Right now the sloughs are dry as a bone. If we get rain, you can’t even hunt the sloughs because they’ll fill up with water.”
Ed said if it stays dry the acorns will fall in the slough, and the hogs simply have to move out of the thick pines that border them to feed.
“There are some upland sites that have been thinned, and it opened up some areas making some good browse that could be fairly good,” said Ed.
Coast: WRD biologist Carmen Martin said the upper Altamaha WMA around Buffalo Creek has real good potential for hog hunting. Also, on Butler, Champney and Rhetts Islands, hunters can hunt hogs during archery season only.
Broughton Island, which sits below Rabbit Island, is also part of the WMA. There’s 2,554 acres on the north part of the island that is WMA land open for hog hunting.
“There’s a good-sized creek that runs through there, and as long as hunters stay north of that creek they’ll be O.K.,” said Carmen.
Carmen said other WMAs in that part of the state are Griffin Ridge, Little Satilla, Rayonier, Sansavilla and Paulks Pasture — they all have hogs.
“My top pick would be Altamaha WMA, and past that it would be Paulks Pasture,” said Carmen. “Paulks has a nice diversity, it has a lot of bottomland. It’s not right on the Altamaha, but you basically have Buffalo Swamp running all through it.
“Sansavilla has the northeastern boundary as the Altamaha River, but it doesn’t have as much bottomland area as Paulks does. At Little Satilla you’ve got a fair amount of bottomland.”
This list should keep you busy for a while. As always, check your 2002- 2003 Hunting Regulation booklet before hog hunting on any WMA. And if you do stick one of these public-land porkers, get it to a cooler quick.