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Hog Heaven

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Hog Heaven

Written by: Len Harris

Crawford County Wisconsin has been dubbed the Wild Hog Capitol of Wisconsin. One need not go any further than Bob *Hogman* Messlings home to talk hunting wild hogs and maybe if you are really lucky...Go hog hunting with Bob. Bob's partner in Hog Heaven is John Feyen.


From left to right, John Feyen, Luke, Buck, Hogman, Blackie

Bob's dogs first started out as Coon Dogs and have been trained by Bob to hunt Hogs now exclusively. Bob's dogs have very different personalities.

The Head Dog *Buck* is fearless. He is English Red Tick Coon hound. Buck is 4 years old. Buck leads all hunts and is the aggressor. Buck is the first on the hog and always takes the head. Buck has a huge scar on his stomach from a 500 pound plus Boar that got away. The injury required 77 sutures and staples to close. Buck was ready to go again the next day.

Luke is a Black/White/Tan Treeing Walker Purebred.Luke is 5 years old. Luke always follows Buck and when the 2 corner a Hog, Luke boxes in the Hog and takes the rear. Luke is much more laid back and manageable.

Blackie is a Brindle Mountain Cur and usually stay near Bob during a hunt. Blackie is the clean-up dog. He usually aids the other 2 when the hog is too big.

ALL dogs are fitted with location collars. Bob uses the Wildlife Material brand. The tracking collars and antenna costed 670 dollars and are good out to 14 miles.

The dogs are let out on a active trail. Bob scouts the area prior and finds the active trails and gets permission from landowners. The dogs usually run silent until they actually see a Hog. The dogs (Buck & Luke) corner the hog. If the hog is a larger hog the dogs barking becomes louder and and more frequent. Blackie usually joins the fray when he hears the action. If the hog is smaller the dogs quit barking and all you hear is the pig squealing. Buck takes the front Luke the back. It is very important to get to your dogs quickly so they are not injured. Bob has a couple 4 wheelers to expedite getting to dogs.

Bob uses a 7MM as his weapon of choice for hogs. He has used a 243 in the past and believes the caliber is too small. Bob says he does NOT take a typical front shoulder shot on hogs. The shoulder blades and hips are almost armor plated and hard to get a good kill shot. Bob tries to place his shot directly in front of the hide leg centered. The hog usually dies with 15 seconds of shot. Bob biggest Boar (male) he ever shot absorbed a shot from a 243 in the front shoulder and didn't even flinch. Bob uses ONLY iron sights due to the close proximity of the shot and scope doesn't show whole picture.

The best times of the year to hunt wild hogs in Hog Heaven is at the end of deer hunting and before turkey hunting starts. Bob believes the Russian hog lines were brought in by a now closed game farm from the area that had escapees. Most of the wild hogs in the area have a certain percentage of Russian and domestic hog in them.


Hogman and Dave Benzing with a 130 lbs hog. Benzing shot the hogs from 125 yards running. Iron sights

Couple other photos.



Below information supplied by Mike Cross (Conservation Warden Crawford County)

Thanks Mike.


Feral hogs in Wisconsin are an unwanted species for several reasons. Disease, crop damage, property damage, erosion, and competition for food top the concerns. Presently feral hogs are classified as an unprotected species. Anyone interested in hunting them must possess a small game hunting license. There is no registration, tagging, season, or hunting hour restrictions.

The DNR and USDA-Wildlife Services confirm that feral hogs cause "considerable" crop damage, primarily to corn during it's early development stage and "milk" stage. In addition to the crop damage concern is the disease risk. Feral hogs are know to carry pseudo rabies and Swine Brucellosis. Being a wild animal the risk of attack to humans exists, however there has been no attack reports received in our area. Like any other wild animal, especially a feral hog, it's a possibility. But, not a cause to stay indoors. The feral hogs are extremely wild and flee when human scent or presence in detected.

Origin at the present time is unknown. They are either domestic hogs gone feral or they were illegally stocked. For the most part, the feral hogs appearance is like a Russian Boar, even though color varies from black, to brown, to multicolor.

During the 2008 winter trapping efforts, USDA-Wildlife Services was responsible for the removal (trapping/shooting) of 20 feral hogs and the DNR killed one other. Private property owners/hunters killed another 4. 25 total killed this winter that we are aware of. The DNR, State Dept. of Ag and USDA encourage citizens to report sightings.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • delcecchi
      I don't confront people on the water about what they do.  Expressing an opinion in general is fine.  Getting up in people's face is different, as I hope you agree.
    • IceHawk
      That's awesome Don. Very creative and looks like fun. 
    • Wanderer
    • delcecchi
      Gotta be careful to keep the holier than thou attitude under control whatever you decide to do. After all not much difference between bass, northern (looking at you harpooners), walleye, even gills.
    • Cliff Wagenbach
      I have eaten quite a few small mouth bass from Vermilion and a few large mouth bass from other lakes. The smaller small mouth are not bad table fare! The larger fish taste like mud to me! All large mouth taste like mud to me!!😛 If you were to suggest to these fishermen that eating the smaller fish will make a much tastier meal, not to mention a much safer meal because of the contaminant level in larger fish, that may make a difference in what they decide to keep.????  But as you said, they can legally keep them of all sizes. The DNR approach of a size limit would be best! Cliff  
    • Harry Goodliffe
      a sign that ASKS people to selective harvest, releasing the bigger fish to keep those better fish genes in the population if you keep fish eat smaller fish...the old bill dance quote "limit your kill not kill your limit.... catch what you can use and release the rest to fight another day"
    • Cliff Wagenbach
      Nice walleye Reid! How big? Cliff
    • Wanderer
      I respect your conservation minded approach but trying to TELL people not to keep those fish will just get you more of the same response you already got.  I also agree <15 inch bass are better keepers.  I keep a few myself each year and rarely keep anything over 16, preferring 12’s for the table. I’ve been a bass tournament angler in the past and have also promoted staunch C&R, much like the modern muskie culture, but have grown wiser with age.  I still target bass quite a bit just because they’re fun! On a 300 acre lake I agree a small group of anglers can and will have an impact with constant return visits to harvest large fish but the only two things you can do about it is, 1) As mentioned, lobby the DNR for protected slots, and 2) When people are happy to show you their catch, congratulate them and mention you like bass too but find the smaller sized fish much better table fare.  And maybe that you also fell releasing the mature fish keeps reproduction up to sustain a quality fishery.  And be nice about it.  Once you turn people off they’ll stop hearing you. That’s about all I have for ya.  Good luck.
    • Reid Saarela
      Bite was OK for us this weekend. Marked tons of fish but they only seemed to bite in small feeding windows due to abundance of mayfly larva down there. When they decided bite, they were inhaling our leeches though.  Rocks next to mud was best for us. Highlight of the weekend was walleye pictured below. 
    • Mike89
      I like the idea!!!👍