The shotgun is arguably the most common type of hunting firearm. The shotgun is a smooth-bore long gun capable of firing shotgun shells, projectiles which consist of either a large number of smaller pellets, known as "shot," or a single metal projectile known as a "slug." With the large number of wild boar and feral pigs now available for hunting in the Southern U.S., hunting with the shotgun has become one of the preferred means for taking this notoriously tough game.
Types of Shotguns
There are a wide variety of shotguns readily available to hunters. Primary types consist of the break-action shotgun -- single or double shot; the pump action, available in a variety of capacities ranging from three to eight rounds; and the semi-automatic. Both the pump, or slide action shotguns, and the semi-automatic shotguns give the user the advantage of high capacity and rapid follow-up shots, making them better for hog hunting than the break-action shotguns. A number of pump and semi-automatic shotguns are now available with sighted or scoped barrels specifically designed for taking medium to large game.
Recommended Shotgun Ammunition for Hog Hunting
While there are a wide variety of types of shotgun shells, only two of them are useful for shotgun hunting: buckshot and slugs. Buckshot is a devastating collection of several large pellets, often each the size of a 9 mm bullet, which spreads as it flies through the air. Most buckshot spreads at a rate of about one inch per yard, putting its maximum effective range at about 30 yards. Beyond this, slugs should be used. Slugs are a 1-oz. chunk of lead fired from a shotgun barrel. At close range, nothing is more likely to ruin a hog's day. Slugs increase the effective range of your shotgun out to 50 to 100 yards, depending on the type of slug, type of shotgun barrel and type of optics used.
Getting a Clean Kill
There are three factors that go into a clean kill: ammunition selection, caliber selection and marksmanship. Ammunition selection has already been discussed. For caliber selection, the shooter should pick a suitably large caliber of shotgun. Twelve- or 10-gauge shotguns are the only shotgun calibers considered powerful enough for hog hunting. Remember that the lower the shotgun gauge, the higher the caliber. Thus, a 12 gauge is a larger caliber than a 20 gauge. Using a caliber that is too small can prevent you from getting a clean kill and may cause unnecessary work on your part, as well as undue suffering to the animal. Finally, marksmanship consists of both knowing the effective range of your caliber and load, as well as being able to place the shots within the animal's vitals. The easiest place to shoot a hog is in the neck -- a neck shot will almost always ensure a critical hit. The head, heart and lungs are also viable targets.
Legal and Ethical Concerns
Shotguns have the added advantage of being legal for hunting in most states, even those that otherwise restrict hunting with rifles and handguns. This notwithstanding, you should always be careful to consult your state and local laws regarding the type of game, type of weapon and time of year before hunting. Additionally, you have an ethical responsibility as a hunter to make sure that you do not put the animal through any unnecessary suffering. You should always make sure that you have a good, clean shot and that you shoot the hog in the vitals to ensure a clean kill.
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