In the past, Haynes says, the DIY issue has been released mid-summer. However, this year the folks at North American Whitetail are taking the lid off a little early in order to get information into the hands of hunters sooner so they can start planning now for their hunting adventures for this fall. "It can take a whitetail hunter some time to research hotspots and zero in on his or her best opportunities. Especially with COVID-19 having led to so much uncertainty on the travel front, we wanted to provide this detailed info to our readers as early as we could," North American Whitetail Editor-in-Chief, Gordon Whittington said. So for those that read the DIY articles in North American Whitetail and are inspired to take it upon themselves to try a public land hunt, Haynes says that they are getting this issue out to readers sooner to help with those kinds of upcoming hunts.
Hayes says he is prepping for the fall hunting season with some work in his food plots. He talks about his perennial plots as well as how he is tackling the grass competition. He also talks briefly about gear and setting up blinds for the upcoming fall hunting season. It's often said that there are more baits to catch fisherman than fish, and the same could be said of hunters. There are a lot of different hunting blinds out there, but is the bale blind in particular an effective or practical blind for hunting? Haynes says he's a fan of hunting out of bale blinds and even set one up on his farm recently. As with any blind, you'll generally have more success when you get it out early enough for deer to get used to it being a part of the natural landscape, especially if they aren't particularly used to seeing big round bales in the country you hunt. If you happen to hunt in an area where deer are accustomed to seeing round bales littering the landscape, he says it takes a very limited amount of time for them to accept your blind as part of the agricultural landscape. Hunting out of bale blinds all across the country, Haynes says he has had a great deal of success and he highlights his experiences with both close encounters and tag filling shots from them. Because of their size, Haynes says they are spacious inside with room to maneuver whether you're hunting with archery equipment or a firearm and the large windows make shooting easy.
While deer season isn't open yet, it's open season on feral hogs year round. Haynes is the Editor of Hog Hunting Magazine, a special interest publication from North American Whitetail. The magazine covers a lot of different hog related subjects like epic hog hunting opportunities across the country, how-to articles from leading biologists and eradication specialists, in-depth hog hunting gear coverage and more. Like whitetails, feral hogs can be found in a good portion of the country in sizable populations. However, unlike whitetails, feral hogs don't attract the same number of hunters to pursue them. Why don't more people hunt hogs for both food and/or sport since they are so readily accessible? Haynes says it's likely because of misconceptions that persist about feral hogs, including those about eating them. Many people think they are unfit or unsafe to eat and that likely decreases the interest in hunting them. However, as it relates to consuming hogs, those misconceptions aren't true - feral hogs are safe and delicious to eat. Haynes says there are a lot of hunters out there that are very passionate about wild hog hunting and it's a continuously growing segment of the hunting industry. It's a positive thing that more people are becoming interested in hunting, Haynes says. Feral hog hunting regulations are generally very lax and that creates an opportunity for hunters to pursue them in a lot of different ways with a variety of different weapons, day or night. When it comes to hunting for sport, for food, or for both, feral hogs provide a lot of opportunity.
The tremendous amount of opportunity that comes from having large hog populations also creates big challenges. Feral hogs are incredibly invasive and destructive pests that have been, and continue to be, a very real problem in the United States. Their population range is ever expanding across the country adding to the deep and destructive foothold they already have in the southern United States. Every county in Texas has a feral hog population, Haynes says, and they continue to spread. Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri now have hog problems that didn't exist 10 years ago and hogs are even present as far north as Canada, he notes. This kind of proliferation highlights their ability to adapt. They are very hardy creatures, he says, adaptable in ways that make them well suited to survive and thrive in a lot of different places. Haynes talks about the growing problem and highlights how illegal trapping and transporting are accelerating the problem. Hunting is a good way to take out a few hogs at a time, but Haynes says traditional hunting methods alone cannot effectively control wild hog populations. They reproduce at such prolific rates that unless you are killing 70 to 80 percent of the whole population each year, you won't even make a dent. If you have 100 feral hogs, Haynes says, and you kill 80 of them, you'll still end up with 100 next year. That is how quickly they can reproduce and repopulate, it's unbelievable. With those kinds of statistics in mind, Haynes says it makes a person wonder how we will be able take care of this problem in a long term way in the future.
Be sure to pick up a copy of Hog Hunting Magazine on newsstands for an in-depth look at feral hog hunting across the country. Plus, be sure to get the North American Whitetail Annual DIY Special issue available now. Watch North American Whitetail TV on Sportsman Channel, Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET or anytime with MyOutdoorTV.