Hog Head Shot Review


Zen Archery
January 23, 2013, 09:54 AM
Quick review on one tough hog.
I know bullets are weird once hitting its target but this pig didn't want to die.
I was using a 7.62x39 SP @ roughly 50 yards.
Click Here For Video (http://youtu.be/8RWj7vgNhpQ)

If you don't want to watch video here is a quick pic. info.
In the picture below taxidermist stated hog was shot in the head but bullet skimmed and failed to penetrate the skull. Dang hard-headed hog!

On a nearly 300# hog this is the killing radius you have to nail them in the cranium taking a side shot. This use to be my primary shot placement.

If you are going to take a forward headshot this is your killing radius. But note one person attempted this shot and the bullet skimmed off and hog survived. I used to favor this shot.

Don't get me wrong I still favor head shots but with bigger pigs just know what you are up against. I still aim for the head 7/10. The 3 times that I don't is when I am:
a). trying to get a double
b). shooting a big pigs over 200#
c). or when they are running.

Good luck. Stack the bacon!

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BP Hunter
January 23, 2013, 12:49 PM
I never shoot them in the head. I have been very successful with shots right behind the ear with 0 yards tracking. They fall on the spot, let out a loud squeal, then die. I have always hunted hogs at night and do not enjoy tracking in the dark.

Yes, that seems to have been a thick skulled pig.

Double Naught Spy
January 23, 2013, 04:41 PM
You have to be smart about your shots. If you shoot any surface not perpendicular to the trajectory, then the trajectory may be deflected. It isn't that the pig's head is particular hard, because it isn't. If you shoot a peripheral glancing shot like the top shot above, the shot will glance.

If anything, most of a pig's brain case is poorly covered by bone. The bone is quite thin (see http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=449721&page=29&highlight=feral+hog+control+east+texas and the next page). There are, in many places, 2 thin layers spaced by a large medullary cavity. The amount of bone is actually less than you have on many areas of the hog, but the outer layer can take a lot of damage, supported by the soft tissue underneath, and then another thin layer. Nobody considers drywall particularly hard and two layers of drywall (and if with insullation inbetween) can stop bullets, especially glancing shots, but not because of hardness, but structure.

If you hit another bone before hitting the brain case, as Zen did when he hit the zygomatic arch, the bullet may deflect just like can happen if you hit a rib, humerus, or scapula. A bullet can miss the heart and lungs because it hit a rib, scapula, or humerus. The side of the skull where Zen's hog's brain case was damaged (depression) should be comprised of a very thin layer of bone.

The damage to the top is interesting. It appears to be a L-R or R-L shot from a location forward of the hog. No telling where the shooter was aiming at the time.

I have seen behind the ear shots that were "high and outside" that did nothing more than than pass through neck tissue.

As Zen does note, hitting the brain is a fairly small area to hit and if you are high and outside, you are more likely to miss all together. Placement, trajectory, and penetration need to all work together.

January 23, 2013, 05:13 PM
I would not find that to be usual obviously a pig getting hit in the head with a 7.62X39mm at around 50 yds will more than likely go down... however yes shooting them in the head is not always the answer. Bullet trajectory (Unlucky shot) can cause even bigger more powerful rounds to "Bounce" off. I will always try for a lung /heart shot at all possible... rifle...pistol don't matter. Tennis ball sized brain and full of rage... yeah, why chance it!

January 26, 2013, 07:52 PM
There are times when a “head shot” is appropriate, but I would encourage folks to take a neck shot if available. It is a much bigger target and you’ll get the same result (CNS hit).

The pictures below illustrate that the ‘brain pan’ of a feral hog is a relatively small target.

Here is the bisected skull of an average sized Boar.


In this pic, I have colored in the area occupied by the brain, brain stem and the point at which the skull connects to the vertebrae of the neck. Clearly…. not a large area.


Any movement of the head before (or at) the time of the shot…is likely to result in some amount of shot misplacement.

As much as I dislike hogs….I do not want to do them the disservice of a crippling head wound.

I am not sure where the idea of the ‘headshot’ originated. Perhaps trapped hogs…(dispatched at close range under semi controlled conditions).

In that circumstance, a less powerful cartridge (typically .22 rimfire) can be used with satisfactory results.

In the field, I am certain there are times when a person is hunting something else (say varmints) and the opportunity to take a hog presents itself.

IF you are shooting a cartridge considered marginal for larger game, then either ‘pass’ the shot or be darn sure of your abilities if you intend to press it into service.

However, if Hog Hunting...my recommendations are two:

1. Use enough gun.
2. Aim for the neck or middle of the shoulder.

41 Mag
January 27, 2013, 06:42 AM

Great pic's and as usual VERY informative.

In looking at the side view with your calipers, there appears to be a somewhat cracked area of bone there. Was this a result of one of your shots?

I haven't read every post in the section yet, just popped in on this one so might have missed something previous.

I replied to a post on my use of the Remington Golden Sabre in another thread. In there I described a hunt using my 10mm, where I had shot a BIG boar almost in the exact location of the indention in your pic. What had been a fairly regular dispatching shot using the Gold Dot, quickly became a madder boar hog with an even more distasteful disposition. Then after the second shot to within an inch or so of the first, he soaked it up as well. While I am sure the dogs had him all jacked up on adrenaline in both cases, in many past hunts this same shot was used with VERY lethal effects. Only thing different was the bullets.

When he headed in the direction of the other hunters, he got one right through the top from a 30-30 which ended all pursuit of the matter. When I got to him I simply had to know what the deal was with my two shots. As mentioned, both shots had impacted right together not two inches apart. Upon hitting the skull however they simply fragmented verses penetrating. The hide and tissue underneath was blown loose from the skull and the immediate area was littered with lead and jacket. What bone was damaged looked more like it had been hit with a wood rasp more than anything and did not even shot an indention or similar cracking to the area like our pic.

Could have been I was driving the GS a bit faster than they were designed to go, as the velocity was in the high 1300fps range, and the hog was only 20 or so feet at both shots. That said the GD never presented that issue and was one of the reasons I liked to carry that pistol. The others being it was lighter than my revolvers and holds more bullets. Could have been this was simply one of those hard headed boars. Which ever the case I dumped the idea of using the GS for much of anything but target practice after that.

While carrying that pistol on quite a few hunts involving the dogs, and also stalking through the thick stuff I had never imagined that given that shot, on a still standing hog, I would ever be disappointed or have that issue. In fact using the PMC Starfire ammo in it, I shot through the onside shoulder and out behind the offside on one sow of about 150# and ended up getting another one about the same size some 20yds behind her through the lungs, and had full penetration on it as well. That was close to a 30yd shot to the first.

Anyway somewhat like you, I have been working on getting my strategy down for a full on assault on them at my place there outside Palestine. They for sure have the advantage of being there every day and me only on weekends. They will slip up however, and I will be ready when they do.

January 27, 2013, 10:55 PM
I've shot 'em dead in the head with .22LR from a mini revolver before....in the trap. They all seem to die. HUNTING, I usually shoot the shoulder with a decent caliber. A 154SP in 7.62x39 is pretty decent IMHO. I don't like the 123 grainers so much. JMHO from experience.

January 29, 2013, 05:56 PM
I second neck shots... a few inches behind the ear... dead hog.


Well, bullets trajectories are parabolic, so that is going to affect shot placement some and on a sloped surface, like the hogs head facing you, I guess I could see it ricocheting. Bouncing off is a bit of a misnomer. Suppose, the bullet was making it's arch, still on the upward trend, the hog is facing you with his nose up and the bullets hits the forehead and slides up and off.

MCgunner, when are you going to invite me over to go hog wrestling?

January 29, 2013, 06:12 PM
All the hogs I've killed were closer than 30 yards. Aiming for the ear on side shots and the nose up on head on hogs have worked very well.

January 30, 2013, 01:23 PM
http://i1199.photobucket.com/albums/aa471/jhnrckr/critters/hogshot.jpgmy buddy popped one where the jaw hinges off skull with a 5.56 at 35 yards. It woke up 20 minutes later and tried to run off.

I popped this 187 lb boar between the eyes with some cheap Federal blue box .270 and it lodged in the shoulder. bullet barely expanded and the jacket separated but the hog didnt even twitch, just folded and dropped.

shot was 67 yards on the ground


7.62X39 is a marginal hunting round and bullet quality is far from optimal. I would use it in a pinch but I choose .308 or better when I go out.

January 30, 2013, 02:52 PM
A 154SP in 7.62x39 is pretty decent IMHO. I don't like the 123 grainers so much. JMHO from experience.


7.62X39 is a marginal hunting round and bullet quality is far from optimal

Also agreed, I usually take my 7.62X54Rmm out with 203 gr. SP's.
There is not a great number of "Quality" hunting rounds for the 7.62X39mm's or 7.62X54Rmm for that matter but they do get the job done. I am not yet a fan of the .223 Rem. for hogs... I know people have successful hunts with them but still would not be my 1st choice.

February 7, 2013, 02:50 AM
I've taken some decent sized boar with simple shoulder hits with the cheap "made for rifle" 240 grain JSP .44 Magnums and 1 ounce 12 gauge slugs. They often just fold up on the spot. .30-30 seems to work the same too from those I've witnessed.

Head shots always seem too iffy to me (other than bunnies); lots of angles to cause deflections, and even if it looks square on, the instant between discharge and hit, an animal can move a smidgen.

February 7, 2013, 02:25 PM
.30-30 seems to work the same too from those I've witnessed.

The good ol' flat or round nose thuddy thuddy is an over-achiever. It kills far quicker than the numbers would ever suggest it could. This is probably why it's still so bloomin' popular even today as a woods caliber, that and the handy little lever guns it's always been associated with, though MY .30-30 is a pistol. :D A hog is no match for a .30-30 170 grain flat point inside 150 yards. Also, Nosler makes a 160 partition, I believe, just for it.

February 8, 2013, 12:01 AM
I will agree with MC here.

My 30-30 seems to like taking down hogs. I use 170 Gn handloads and pop 'em right behind the ear and down some. most will do the dirt dance for 30 seconds or so and then be still.

my 30-06 works well to and can cover WAY more distance than the 'ole 30-30.
Once I shot straight straight through both shoulder joints of a 250lb ish hog. from 150 yards or so. Sure made a mess but he didn't move from that spot.

I usually don't bother with the head shot, the neck is a much softer/bigger target that nets you the same result.


February 8, 2013, 01:07 AM
I've never shot a hog or had the opportunity, but for some reason I'd LOVE to use my M1 Garand on some.

February 10, 2013, 05:09 PM
I have found right under the eye and slightly towards the neck has worked well with my .223 with the cheap monarch 55gr sp bullets.

February 13, 2013, 03:00 AM
The good ol' flat or round nose thuddy thuddy is an over-achiever.

Seems like 170 grains of JSP over 2000 FPS will achieve many things.:p

Seriously though, the one time I've hunted where someone else was using something other than a .223/.243/.308 bolt or bolt milsurp (the usual), the .30-30 (lever) was one worthy of note. He was taking similar shots as me (within 100 meters), and the pigs were falling over all the same; I had no more details than that (would have been interesting to see the penetration differences between that an a .44 Mag rifle; the 240 grain JSP often didn't penetrate completely through on shoulder hits); I'd like to get one, but the next piece is a .44 Mag lever to go with the Handi.

The .223/.243 shooters were often going for head shots -- which worked too.

The larger calibers, .308 and milsurps (.303, x54R and 8mm Mauser) seemed to do the same thing as the .30-30 and .44 Mag (though the range would be extended if longer range shots were needed).

Nothing worked as well as the 1 ounce 12 gauge Foster though.:evil: Hammer of...Foster. One thing I noted though, that I'd get complete penetrations when the distance was greater than say 50 meters (both shoulders); closer and they tended to expand into a lead doughnut and never made it all the way through. Enough to get to the vitals, of course. I guess the slower velocity at distance just kept them together, especially from a short barreled single.

My father used to swear by the old behind the ear thingy with a .22 Magnum (his only rifle; his "work" rifle too for harvesting 'roo. .223 is the minimum for that nowadays. He'd pop the odd pig for sausage and whatnot -- not much need to buy meat way outback).

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