"Just to the right of the corn pile," whispered Houck, "it's a big black 'bo hog. See if you can slip around there and get a shot at him."
A little maneuvering, a little slipping, and the big hog was centered in the crosshairs, soon to receive a healthy dose of ballistic-tipped lead.
Houck, a founding member of the 17,000-acre Belfast Hunt Club in Allendale County, has been hunting the land for the past 25 years. With 12 miles of frontage along the Savannah River, Belfast is dead center of hog central in a state where, according to biologists, wild hogs are well accounted-for in all 46 counties.
"Most of our members have quit putting corn out for deer," Houck said as the calendar flipped to the last week of the deer season. "The figure all they are doing now is feeding hogs."
Still hunting for wild hogs – or feral pigs if you prefer – is accomplished no differently than still hunting for deer. Hunters use popular deer rifles or archery equipment. They hunt from pre-constructed elevated stands over planted food plots, and in Game Zone 6 and others where it's legal, they pile up corn.
"I put five bags of whole corn on this spot day before yesterday," Houck said. "As you can see, there's hardly any of it left."
Surprisingly, all of the stands that are placed for deer are not as attractive to hogs as might be believed, even the ones that are baited with corn. Houck advises that the stands adjacent to the river are better for hogs, but even then, certain stands are better than others.
"It's not hard to tell where the hogs have been," said Houck. "They root up the ground, they rub on the trees and even wear paths out in the undergrowth."
The upside is that while deer season ends at the end of the hunting day on Jan. 1, the season for hogs never ends. The SCDNR places no restrictions on private-land hunting during the day and even allows night hunting with the use of artificial lights carried by or attached to the hunter. Hog hunting on WMAs is permitted during any open season for game unless otherwise restricted.