Riccardo Tamburini, Jón Rúnar Guðjónsson
Wild boar is perhaps the most popular game to hunt in Europe, but, as with every species, there are many nuances and secrets to know. If you wish to know the most important of them, you’ve come to the right place, as today, our ambassadors – Riccardo Tamburini from Italy and Jón Rúnar Guðjónsson from Denmark – share everything you need to know about wild boar hunting.
Riccardo: I started hunting wild boar after getting the hunting license in the place where I live. It was not easy at the beginning because animals were fewer than today, and also, technology didn’t help as it does now. For example, now, with a GPS collar, it’s possible to recover dogs easier than in the past. 30 years ago, you could spend days looking for them!
I remember my first boar very well – I still have a picture of it! It was a weird situation because that day, we were only 12 instead of 40-50 hunters, but by closing smaller areas, we were still able to get some animals.
The biggest challenge? It depends: during driven hunts, you have to be a good shooter: animals come to you running fast and often hiding behind the trees. You have to stay calm and quiet. But you must also have the knowledge because it’s very difficult to understand if the animal you are aiming at is a male or a big female. When I hunt from the stand, the problem is the boar’s habits: it is a nighttime animal, and it’s not always easy to attract it to a feeding point within the allowed time.
Jón Rúnar: I started wild boar hunting just a few years ago. It actually began with a neighbor of mine who bought a small piece of land in Sweden and invited me for a hunt. The hunt was not successful at all, and we did not have any night equipment. I only had a flashlight with a red filter on it. But there weren’t any wild boars around in the beginning. My neighbor only got lucky after many unsuccessful hunts.
Then, I got to taste the meat for the first time. I love all game, but wild boar tastes very, very good. After that, we started hunting more on those grounds, and we began to see and understand the animals better. In the beginning, there were many sick foxes. As we removed the sick and dying animals, there came more healthy animals. More roe deer, moose, and wild boar, even occasional fallow deer. Then, we had a few years with lynx in the area. Then there was no more roe. To hunt lynx, you need a special license, and we did not have that.
During that time, more wild boar came. After 4-5 years, the lynx was gone. No more tracks, and suddenly roe and wild boar exploded in population. Then we harvested many small and weak roes. But after a few years, everything finally normalized on those grounds. Now, harvesting 5-6 roes and 10-20 wild boars fits that area. All animals are healthy and of good size. There are 3-5 different groups of wild boar visiting the feeders.
The biggest challenge, in the beginning, was that we could not see anything in the darkness. We listened when the boar came and had settled in, or we saw a shadowy figure in the field sometimes, but it was very hard to choose the right wild boar to harvest. The flashlight was there to pursue the animal after the shoot. The dayscope needs light from the moon, stars, or there has to be snow for it to function at night.
Riccardo: I love boar because it is a clever animal, much more than other ungulates. I respect it because, for example, the females are the only ungulates able to defend their piglets, risking their life. People think that boar is stupid, with poor sight, but I could tell you tons of stories that deny these weird beliefs.
Jón Rúnar: That’s easy! The meat.
Jón Rúnar: There are many different ways of hunting wild boar. Most wild boars are shot either on a driven hunt with dogs which make the boar mobile, near feeding places, where it’s all about being quiet, patient, and spreading little or no scent, or on perch in the fields, where you are protecting the crops for the farmer. That is my absolute favorite way of hunting them. But every hunt is different, and they all have their positive and less positive sides to them. Today, I hunt in a mixture of these three types. It all depends on the flora, season, and weather.
Riccardo: In Italy, there are two typical ways of hunting: driven hunt and hunt from the stand. Driven hunts start at the beginning of November and end on the 31st of January. From the stand, you can hunt all year long except during driven hunt time. So, I mostly practice hunting from the stand. Then there is also pest control, but in Italy, this activity is not classified as hunting.
Jón Rúnar: That is a big question. First of all, when you are hunting, safe shots are the most important factor, and knowing your equipment to make those safe shots is the key. Being able to make safe shots during darkness demands good quality equipment. All the Pulsar products are exactly that. For shooting, I tend to say, more expensive means more versatile. For feeder/snack place hunting from a high seat, I really like either the Pulsar Digex C50 or Pulsar Forward F455S. Both devices function very well and especially well when you are off the ground in a high shooting position. I use the Forward when I hunt mixed roe and wild boar. The roe during the morning, day, or evening, and wild boar during the night.
For crop protection, the Thermion and Talion lines really show their worth. Because the vegetation is higher, it can be harder to identify sex when you are on a similar level as the animal. If you are on “high” ground, like a hill, then identifying wild boar is easier. The thermal riflescopes are really good and get better with every new version.
But that was only the shooting instruments. The question was, what is the best device for wild boar hunting and why. The instrument that has taught me the most is the thermal spotter. It has taught me to become a better hunter by teaching me how animals behave. The thermal spotter teaches you how to perch in darkness, where are the thresholds of the wild boar. How fast and how loud you can be. Where do the wild boars come from, what their hierarchy is, and so on.
Regulation, law, and rules for each country or area change as the demand changes. There is no question if thermal or night vision tools are effective tools for regulating and evaluating the number of animals. Many animals are very active during the night. As humans, we don’t have good eyesight or senses that match animal eyesight or senses, but with this technology, we gain access to seeing at night and even further than animals.
There are many emotions regarding the subject of using this technology and many learning curves that you need to go through as a human to be able to be comfortable at night. First, you need to learn the units and how to get the most out of them, then you need to learn how to become not afraid of the dark and the unknown. There are many sounds and different inputs than during the daytime. During a longer stay in the dark, you learn about the different behaviors, sounds, different time shifts various animals have. The mating sounds of a fox are nothing close to a sonnet or something that is pretty, and the roebucks bark loudly to demand their turf. I would advise people to give time to learn. Learn how to see with your ears and give time to learn each unit.
Riccardo: Pulsar literally changed the results of hunting. If I remember what happened in the past, I can say that when night came, you had to go home. And the results of your hunting were always poor and quite far from the plan you had.
Now, we can hunt wild boars more easily, and we need this because the situation is becoming quite impossible: the wild boar population increased by 200% from one year to another, and now we have some 2.3 million wild boars in Italy.
During the night, you need powerful units to be able to clearly see the animals from a long distance, which gives you the chance to shoot with precision and totally safe. This is why I love Thermion XP. I used it from the beginning, appreciating all the improvements this unit had, starting from the first model to the current Thermion 2 LRF XP50 PRO.
Then, when you have a scope mounted on a rifle, you are not able to observe all the areas around you, so I also use a spotter. The best is Helion 2 XP50 PRO, the most powerful spotter on the market. But also the new Axion rules, especially the XG35 version, because you have a powerful device that easily stays in the pocket of your pants.
Of course, the choice of the devices depends on your location. In Italy, the laws are different from region to region. I am lucky because I live in a region where night vision devices are allowed for wild boar hunting. Generally speaking, I don’t love hunters who use thermal devices during the day for glassing and spotting animals from very far away. It’s too easy.
Jón Rúnar: I like small, effective things. I think it is important to have a good headlamp. Both for finding a way and for field dressing in darkness. A good knife is essential. Good clothing for each situation, either heat and moisture-relieving if the hunt is with a lot of motion or heat-keeping if it’s sedentary hunting. Good access to water and energy is essential to all hunts and outdoor activities. A good shooting stick for better shot placement is vital for me. Thermacell if there are many mosquitos.
It all depends on the area, the post you get, and the situation. In general, we can say that I choose my gear depending on the type of hunt and environment. Then it is important to have a plan and tools for retrieving the dead animal. That can either be a rope or a sled, some type of retrieval equipment.
Riccardo: Hunting is often practiced in a very tough environment. I fully understand people who don’t have a good budget for high-end gear, and this is why Pulsar offers a wide selection of devices. But I always suggest the best gear possible: to be more precise in shooting, for safety, and also for the pleasure of watching or filming animals in the best way possible. Today, a high-end device allows you to not have any limits in hunting. You can spot animals 2 kilometers away, and if you are a skilled hunter, you’ll also be able to understand what animal you are watching. Playing with contrast and brightness (Pulsar is the unique brand that allows you to select 20 levels), you can spot an animal in an overgrown field, removing all false targets made from rocks or trees that absorb heat during a summer day; the better the device, the easier it will be to do that.
Riccardo: In my opinion, the best period is summer: nights are shorter, and it’s easier to hunt wild boars. If you have some feeding points, it’s also easier to attract boar because they don’t have many types of food available, like in winter (at that time, woods are full of acorns or chestnuts). Feeding points are also very helpful for farmers because they distract boars from corn crops avoiding the devastations that are quite frequent. Then the temperature is good, and you don’t have to suffer cold temperatures which, during winter, can easily go many degrees below zero.
Jón Rúnar: Wild boars are nocturnal animals. That means that they are most active during the night. They typically travel many kilometers each night. They have good eyesight, fabulous snouts, and good hearing. To be able to interact with them, you need to find them or find their path. They are creatures of habit. In some areas, the food resources change depending on the season, meaning that sometimes the boar travels further to find food.
There is no general best time. Though I find one to two hours after sunset usually marks the earliest time. Then it depends on the area and season. But wild boars, like many animals, are very adaptable. During COVID-19 pandemic, many hunters were not able to hunt wild boar in their areas. Then, new behavior emerged, and we saw boars at feeding stations during the day. The best time of year is hard to answer. All seasons have their qualities. I really love crop protection during July and August. That’s very exciting. You get close, and the purpose of the hunt is not only to get good meat but also to protect a harvest. Waiting in a high seat during winter is hard on your patience, but if you learn to love that and meditate, then that kind of season and hunt becomes very soothing. The spring has all the birds pairing up and singing, gathering nests, and the one-year-old wild boars are a good size for harvesting. The summer is warm, and you don’t need that much equipment to stay comfortable. Well, I would say the high summer is the only time of the year I think is less good to hunt because it’s hard to keep the meat fresh. All other seasons I love.
Jón Rúnar: Wild boars are creatures of habit. They are smart, strong, and can be dangerous. They have a few weaknesses. They like to snack on sweets, like corn, and can’t stay away from tar. Therefore, we, as hunters, can create places that they would visit often. Wild boars sleep during the day and live in small groups, often with around 20 individuals, with the mother (sow) as the head of the group. She sometimes gets assistance from nursing females, which help her take care of the youngest ones. The males stay with the group until they get to a mature age, then they leave the group and create a small group of young males. When they get to a more mature age, they become more solitary and stay alone more, mainly visiting the group to mate with the mother and control the area. Wild boar males fight for access to the mother and are vicious in it. 100+ kilograms of pure muscle and teeth as sharp as knives.
Knowing their way of living as a hunter, you have a better chance of harvesting the correct animals. If you shoot the leading sow, the younger females will create their own groups, and more wild boars will come to the area. With thermals, you can see that the females have less thick skin; they radiate more than the males. The leading female also often has her nipples with milk in them, and they are visible. The nursing sows sometimes also have milk, but not in all the nipples. Knowing and respecting your prey always gives you an advantage. Taking part and interacting with nature with knowledge makes you a more efficient hunter, though some are just born efficiently lucky.
Riccardo: As Jón Rúnar said, boar is a clever animal, but, more than other ungulates, it’s very sensitive to food. This is because it has a monogastric stomach like us; other ungulates have a polygastric stomach: red or fallow deer stay hours lying on the grass like cows only to digest. Boar is forced to move a lot during the night, traveling tens of kilometers, because, during the day, it stays in a highly covered area. Food is its Achilles heel. Knowing that, you can prepare some feeding points for the wild boars. But you have to know the woods, you must be skilled in playing with tracks, and you have to know their habits. You have to intercept them in the woods during their nighttime movements. If you place a feeding point in the wrong area, you’ll have no chance to see wild boars.
Jón Rúnar: Yes, I do bait, both with corn and tar. Wild boars don’t feed only on corn. It’s a little like a dessert or a starter before or after dinner. But they really like tar. This helps you understand how many animals there are in your area. Tar is something that is more important than corn. Wild boars love to rub their bodies up against a tree with tar on it.
Riccardo: Yes, of course. I produce some attractants for boars and other ungulates or predators. I mix my attractants with corn, carob, and cornflakes for horses. Actually, my PowerScent has 9 types of scents: apple, truffle, sardine, vanilla, anise, blackberry, blueberry, chocolate, and smoked salmon. I spent 15 years in the fishing industry, where there was big development of scents for carp fishing, so I asked a company to develop some scents for mammals, and the results were incredible. I spent more than one year field-testing it all around Italy to be sure about its efficiency. Boar is omnivore like us, but I got the best results with truffle, sardine, and smoked salmon.
Riccardo Tamburini: The Axion rules, especially the XG35 version, because you have a powerful device that easily stays in the pocket of your pants.
Riccardo: My experience drives me, but it’s quite easy to find some tracks in the woods. Wild boar is an animal that leaves a lot of signs, although, sometimes, red deer signs can be confused with the wild boar ones. For example, if you find a waterhole in the woods, you can be sure that wild boar will sooner or later pass there. Boars and all other big animals run in the woods, always following the same trails, so it will be very easy to see them every season. This could be the first step, then remember that wild animals are timid, and they avoid humans; the more the place is discrete, calm, and wild, the more chance you will have to see animals. Even during the day.
Jón Rúnar: You look for tracks and signs of boar. Wild boars like to stay in thick flora and often walk in a line, making deep tracks. The tactics for wild boar hunting are always the direction of the wind. To be able to get my human scent covered, I like to “bathe” in smoke if possible. Then it’s also season-related. Often, they come to the fields for feeding. If it’s a fruity year, they stay more in the forest. It’s all about identifying their route and the ability to access food and cover. Then, when you have found a part of their pattern, you find a good place to either stalk them or wait for them.
Jón Rúnar: If I find one that is alone and I am not sure if it’s male or female, I give it some time to see if there are any small ones around that indicate it’s the sow. If there are no younger ones around, then I look at the shape. If it’s a male, I go in to find the best shooting position, either by going closer or using my surroundings to be more stable, and I take the shot.
There are two very different norms in where and how to dispatch a wild boar. There are many that argue that a bullet about 5 cm behind the ear is the most effective one. The other is a normal shot in the heart-lung region. Depending on the situation and size of the boar, either one can be chosen. The first option demands a shorter distance and a good stable shooting position; the other demands seeing more of the animal body and can be taken from a longer distance since the area of effective dispatch is bigger. When the boar is calm, shooting at the body would probably not make the animal run very far. If the boar was full of adrenaline after a fight or something similar, it could run very far, even with a good heart bullet. Before you go out, you often have an idea of what kind of wild boar you want to harvest – if it is a one-year-old, a small one from the spring, or an older one. Therefore, choosing the right one is often done beforehand. There can be situations when you decide not to release the bullet even though the season and animal are right, but it could be that the animal is too big to retrieve with the accessible equipment and the manpower at hand.
Riccardo: We have to follow a very precise plan. So, if I have to get a mature female, for example, I’ll have to shoot a mature female. My personal ethic prevents me from shooting the first female I see: I don’t shoot at a pregnant or nursing female. Thankfully, today technology is making giant steps and, using a thermal device, I can spot an animal during the night clearly and understand the age, the sex, and the status, simply by watching the nipple length in a female or its behavior or the teeth if I am looking for a good male.
Another big mistake is to shoot the herd matriarch because she represents the historical memory of the herd. She always has to be preserved. This is why I prepare a place where I can easily observe animals, cutting small plants or trees to have a clear line of fire. Generally speaking, around 50-70 meters from the feeding point. At that distance, it’s quite impossible to fail. Animals must not suffer: it’s a golden rule of the good hunter. And I think that trying to place the shot in the head is a big mistake. The head of the wild boar seems bigger than it is. It is also moving a lot, so it is a very difficult spot to place a bullet. You have a very small area available, and the risk of wounding the animal is very high. It’s always better to shoot behind the shoulder, lower than other ungulates, because the heart position is lower in wild boar. A heart shot does not always allow you to see the animal drop on its shadow, but you’ll recover him within 50-100 meters from the shooting point.
Riccardo Tamburini: I always suggest the best gear possible: to be more precise in shooting, for safety, and also for the pleasure of watching or filming animals in the best way possible.
Riccardo: I think you should have knowledge, persistence, and patience. If you have them, you have all that you’ll ever need.
Jón Rúnar: Learn to use the thermal and night vision equipment at home to make only safe, secure shots. Stay out from dusk till dawn and learn all the sounds of night-active animals in the area. Stay in good wind. Eat late dinner – the less hungry you are, the more comfortable you are, and you can stay quieter, avoiding movements that could reveal you.
Jón Rúnar: Never go and search for a potentially wounded wild boar alone or without telling someone that knows the area where you are and what you are doing. Always have access to a trained dog to find a wounded wild boar. Never be troubled about not releasing an unsecured bullet.
Riccardo: The best suggestion I can make is to spend more time in the wild with binos, a camera, or a thermal device because, during the night, animals behave completely differently than during the day. Spending hours spotting animals provides you with the right knowledge to get the best results possible during hunting.
Before purchasing any night or thermal vision device, please make sure you adhere to the local legislation and only use it when it is allowed. Our ambassadors come from various countries and travel a lot, which allows them to test different devices. We do not encourage or support the illegal use of our devices in any events. If you wish to learn more about export and sales restriction policy, please visit the following link: Export and Sales Restriction Policy.