Game know-how

Wild boar


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The wild boar is basically found all over the world, with many different subspecies. It thrives in Sweden and Germany, where it causes significant damage to crops, gardens and parks – and now it is heading back to Denmark from the south.

Sus scrofa, the Latin name for wild boar, falls into the category of European large game. The little striped ‘frischling’ (young wild boar) grows to become a large and dangerous animal. The head of a fully-grown wild boar is huge, and accounts for approximately one third of its total body length. It is designed for rooting in the ground after plants, small animals and insects.

The wild boar eats both plants and animals (omnivore), just like we humans.

Large pigs

Wild boar vary in size from continent to continent – and they are larger the further east you go. On average, a wild boar measures approx. 150 cm in length and about 80 cm in height.

In Europe there are two basic weight categories:

  • 75-100 kg: A mature male boar, or ‘keiler’
  • 60-80 kg: A fully grown sow
  • In Poland, a keiler can weigh up to 130 kg, and is approx. 10 cm higher and longer.
  • Some wild boar in Central and West Europe can weigh as much as 200 kg.
  • In Manchuria, you can be lucky enough to down a keiler weighing 350 kg, and which measures 125 cm across the shoulders – in other words, the size of a brown bear!

The coat on the wild boar consists of a thick brown undercoat with long, wiry hairs sticking up.

Wild boar

A ‘sounder’

Wild boar are social animals that form smaller or larger groups which are often called a ‘sounder’. A sounder consists almost exclusively of females, and is led by an old matriarch.

The male/boar leaves the sounder when it is about a year old, and lives in loosely knit groups of sub-adult males. However, the old keilers roam around alone.

Boars become sexually mature at 3-4 years of age, while the sow is reproductive as early as 1-2 years. The older the sow, the longer the gestation period. Pregnancy can last from 114 to 140 days, with the piglets generally being born between March and May in litters of 4-12.

Wild boar

The sow makes a kind of nest from leaves, grass and branches where the piglets are whelped. If the sow dies, the piglets are adopted by another female in the sounder.

A suckling pig weighs about 500-1,000 g at birth, but grows quickly. After only two weeks, the piglets follow their mother and begin to eat solid food. The lactation period lasts about 2-3 months. The piglets retain their striped coat until about three months of age, and by the time they are about eight months, the coat is completely uniform.

A wild boar usually lives for 5-6 years in the wild, while a few can live for as many as 15 years.

The wild boar has few enemies

A study carried out in Italy and Poland shows that the wolf is the wild boar’s biggest enemy – after humans. It is estimated that a single wolf can kill as many as 50-80 wild boar during a year – however mostly young/immature boars. Wolves stay clear of old keilers, as they are too dangerous. Adult sows are only taken in exceptional cases.

A dangerous animal

It is a well-known fact that wild boar are dangerous. Both Roman and Ancient Greek Stone Age cave paintings depict attacks by wild boar.

The wild boar’s long lower canines are a formidable weapon, and on a keiler are usually 10-12 cm in length. They are kept razor sharp by being constantly ground against the shorter upper canines.

Wild boar problems

The wild boar is becoming more widespread throughout Europe, and this is posing ever greater challenges. Berlin in particular has been hit hard, as the city has many parks and green areas which attract the animals. Today, it is estimated that there are as many as 10,000 wild boar in the city, which cause major problems through their destructive behaviour and the danger they pose to the local population.

There have been wild boar in Denmark for thousands of years, but they were eradicated at the beginning of the 19th century. Today, many wild boar from the large wild boar populations in northern Germany regularly come to Denmark (southern Jutland) to the delight of hunters and nature enthusiasts. However, there is considerable concern that the Danish pig herds will be infected with disease, which would will be catastrophic for agriculture and the country’s billion-kroner pork exports.

Wild boar

In Denmark, there are often discussions about various measures which could be implemented to eradicate or clear the small population of wild boar that has immigrated to Denmark.

Suggestions such as being able to hunt wild boar throughout the year are intended to minimise the risk of infection in Denmark.

Wild boar hunting

Wild boar hunting usually takes the form of blind hunting or driven hunts. The hunter sits waiting in a tower for the wild boar to come past. Wild boar are intelligent animals, and they learn quickly that it is dangerous to be exposed during the daytime. Therefore, a lot of wild boar hunting takes place in the moonlight and the snow – which places special demands on sight alignment.

When a sounding of boars comes rushing past at 40 km/hour during a driven hunt, an Aimpoint red dot sight is a good choice. The telescopic sight must be very light sensitive, and ideally have a variably illuminated aiming point which can be adjusted according to the light conditions.

The skin of the wild boar is extremely thick and tough, and much of its shoulder area is covered by a thick layer of cartilage and fat, so a calibre 308WIN or, even better, a calibre 9.3x62 with heavy bullets are preferable (these bullets perforate the target). It is highly dangerous to search for a wounded keiler on a dark night – therefore a powerful calibre with a good bonded core bullet is essential.

And REMEMBER – it cannot be said often enough – practise shooting moving game before engaging in driven or blind hunting. It’s harder than it looks!

Wild boar

Hunting season in Denmark:
Wild boar – boars: 1 September – 31 January
Wild boar – sows and pigs of the sounder: 1 October – 31 January

In section 7 of the Statutory order on damages caused by game species (Bekendtgørelse om vildtskader), it states that wild boar may be culled throughout the year. From 1 July 2018, permission is given to regulate wild boar at night, while at the same time introducing a free trichinosis test of downed wild boar in Denmark. (The result of restrictions in connection with the risk of African swine fever.)

Please note that the rules for culling at the present time (April 2018) state that a hunting host is only allowed to control game following special agreement with the owner or user of the property. The owner or user may not sign away the right to regulate wild game. And culling may only be carried out by persons who are 18 years old or more.

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