The purpose or objective of performing reconnaissance (recon) and gathering intelligence (intel) is to document exact feral pig populations, pattern their travel, understand their behavior and select the most strategic bait site.
Each sounder has a unique population dynamic, behavior and education level. Focusing control efforts to first identify, then eliminate entire feral pig populations (one sounder at a time) is the most effective strategy for reducing long-term damage to agriculture, natural resources and property. We must establish a baseline population of each individual sounder to effectively measure the performance standard against the control process and product selected.
The most practical intel can be provided by landowners, farmers and hunters currently having a stake in the property management. Use local maps and satellite images to help current stakeholders identify likely bedding areas, established feeders, natural food sources, travel corridors, choke points and where they have witnessed rooting, crop damage, wallows and rubs. Pay attention to property boundaries and note neighboring crops and habitat. Bait sites close to urban areas tend to create more problems with theft, vandalism and poaching. Remote areas of the property are usually more productive when feral pigs have not been educated or pressured by humans.
Past field experience demonstrates feral pig sightings during early evening, early morning or sows with very young piglets are usually quite close to their bedding area. However, pigs observed late at night could remain bedded longer to avoid local shooting pressure or only travel after temperatures drop. It is also possible late night pigs may simply be travelling from a greater distance to the bait source. If so, these nomadic pigs could easily become distracted by another food source causing them to vary their pattern or even skip travel nights. Practical judgement must still be confirmed with valid recon and intel.
Land managers and Hog Control Operators™ should have enough information to efficiently conduct a personal recon of the property using the map and verbal data collected from the stakeholders. Start with the most likely food or water sources and avoid entering probable bedding areas to prevent disturbing pigs. Walk or drive downwind and parallel to possible bedding areas looking for well used trails, rubs and wallows. Use a GPS or map to mark fresh pig sign and rate these areas on a scale of 1 to 10. This process will help you locate potential bait sites to place spin-cast feeders after your recon has ended.
Video footage produces higher quality intel in a shorter time span than photos. Position high definition video cameras along travel routes and potential bait sites to quickly determine the total number of sounders, total population of pigs within each sounder, number of adults vs. juveniles per sounder and the number of adults totally avoiding a possible bait site or feeder. Only then will land managers and Hog Control Operators™ have enough intel and data to select the most efficient process and product to accomplish the stated performance standard of “100% sounder removal using the least amount of fuel, time and labor.