December has been coined the most wonderful time of the year, and with good reason. Time with family and friends, good food, and most importantly, the celebration of Jesus’s birth, which makes the next four weeks the best month of the year. Yes, you would simply have to be an old Scrooge not to enjoy Christmas time.
For deer hunters, though, things will become a little tougher this month, as deer have been pressured heavily this fall and become more and more nocturnal with each passing day. Lucky for Georgia hunters, there may be an even better option this December, and it’s all on public land.
Some of Georgia’s hundreds of thousands of acres of public land boasts high hog populations, and these WMAs make for some exciting wintertime hunting.
After interviewing WRD wildlife biologists, we have selected what we believe are 14 of the best in the state, two from each of our seven Game Management regions. These areas all offer great hunting opportunities, and one if not several are likely just a short drive away.
Region 1: Game Management Region Supervisor Chuck Waters in northwest Georgia reports Cohutta WMA is the top pick in his region.
“Cohutta is going to be your best bet. At 96,503 acres, there are a lot of areas that hold hogs. You just have to be willing to put in the time and footwork to locate them,” said Chuck.
Acorns drive everything in the mountains. Check higher elevations for late acorns, but also key on any water sources. It’s also worth a stop by the check station to see if any WRD technicians are around. They may have some fresh information.
Cohutta will be open for a buck-only hunt Nov. 29-Dec. 3, giving you a chance to harvest hogs and also a nice buck. If you can’t make that, the area will also be open from Dec. 4-Feb. 28 for small-game hunting, which means hunters can go after hogs with small-game weapons. Unless otherwise stated, muzzleloaders and archery equipment can also be used to hunt hogs during small-game dates on WMAs.
Pine Log WMA is another great area to try in northwest Georgia. Located just outside of Cartersville, this WMA is a real sleeper when it comes to hog hunting opportunities.
“Pine Log is a great area, but you will need to get off the beaten path, as hogs are really sensitive to hunting pressure, especially this late in the season,” Chuck said.
Try looking for sign in hard-to-reach places, and hunt hard when you locate areas with fresh pig activity. There is a buck-only hunt Dec. 6-9, and small-game hunt dates are Dec. 10-Feb.28.
Region 2: There are a couple of WMAs that really stand out in the northeast Georgia mountains.
WRD Biologist Scott Frazier said, “Warwoman and Swallow Creek would be my top picks.”
Warwoman is located about 4 miles from Clayton and is approximately 15,800 acres in size. The terrain can be rather steep, and Scott recommended bringing plenty of water and comfortable boots. Dates on Warwoman are buck-only Nov. 30-Dec. 3, and the area is open for small game from Dec. 4-Feb. 28.
On Warwoman, Chantilly, Hale Ridge and Old Tuckaluge roads always seem to hold hogs. Food plots are planted with clover and chicory, and hogs tend to hang around them.
Swallow Creek is 19,000 acres and is also great for those willing to get off the beaten path.
“Just like on Warwoman, your success will depend greatly on how much effort you’re willing to put in. For those who do, we’ve been seeing a lot of hogs killed in the 150-lb. range, and several up to 300 pounds,” said Scott.
Look in the areas on Miller Branch and Corbin Creek roads. Hogs will be feeding on acorns first and then transitioning to food plots.
Swallow Creek will be open for buck-only hunting Dec. 14-17 and Dec. 27-Jan. 1. The area will be open for small-game hunting several weeks in December. Turn to page 63 in the hunting regs for those dates.
Region 3: In east-central Georgia, Tuckahoe and Di-Lane WMAs are two areas to try this month. WRD Biologist I.B. Parnell recommended giving Tuckahoe a try first, as this area always boasts a good population of hogs.
“The hog-to-acreage ratio here is not as dense as a lot of other state lands, but you can always find some hogs,” said I.B.
The hogs on this area frequently move around based on available food sources. For that reason, I.B recommends riding the WMA’s many interior roads until you locate fresh hog sign. Once you do, then it’s just a matter of stalking the hogs in the woods. This area will be open for small-game hunting Nov. 26-Feb. 28.
Di-Lane is a small area at 8,100 acres, but plenty of bacon is to be found there. Most deer hunts on this area are quota, but hogs can be targeted during select small-game dates in December. Refer to page 52 of the regulations for an extensive list of dates. One important note is that UGA is currently conducting a quail study on the property, so be sure to avoid any areas that are marked closed. Turn to page 14 of this issue of GON for more information on that quail project.
Region 4: Game Management Region Supervisor Kevin Kramer recommends Oaky Woods and Ocmulgee WMAs for a chance at harvesting a hog, or maybe several.
“On both of these areas, you will find hogs relating to the Ocmulgee River and the associated swamps. Occasionally, you will locate them other places, but it would be hard to go wrong by hunting along the river,” said Kevin.
Kevin did point out that Oaky Woods has a fairly good population of black bears, so be sure you’re aiming at a hog before pulling the trigger.
Oaky Woods will be open for small-game hunting Dec. 3-28, and Ocmulgee will be open for buck-only Dec. 15-17, followed by small game Nov. 19-Dec. 14 and Dec. 18-Feb. 28.
Region 5: Some WMAs in southwest Georgia have strong populations of feral pigs.
“Chickasawhatchee is your best bet to harvest a hog in our region right now,” says WRD Biologist Drew Zellner. “Focus efforts in swampy areas, and try to still-hunt over fresh wallows and other sign. Hogs will return frequently to these hot spots. Chickasawhatchee has small-game hunts available the majority of December. Refer to page 50 of the regulations book for the complete list of dates.
The powerlines running through the middle of the WMA is a great place to start a search for hogs. Bring wading boots, and be prepared to do some walking, but eventually you should find them.
Flint River WMA comes in a close second in this region, with a fine population of wild hogs. Like other properties adjacent to rivers, your strategy here is to quietly stalk along river bottoms and in creekbeds.
“Sound carries well along the river bottoms, so pay careful attention to any sounds of hog activity. A lot of times you will hear the hogs long before you see them,” said Drew.
Flint River WMA is open the entire month of December and through Feb. 28 for small-game hunting.
Region 6: Game Management Region Supervisor Chris Baumann was quick to recommend Big Hammock WMA as his top choice for hogs in south-central Georgia.
“Hogs do well here year-round, due to plenty of food sources throughout the area. Most of the time, the hogs will be feeding along the Altamaha River bottom,” said Chris.
Big Hammock is open for buck-only hunting Dec. 6-9, and small-game hunt dates are Dec. 10-Feb. 28.
If the area receives large amounts of rain, the area is subject to close due to river level.
Beaverdam is also worth a try this December. At only 5,500 acres, hogs are relatively easy to locate.
“Numbers here have been good, and hunters searching in December shouldn’t have a whole lot of trouble finding hogs,” Chris said.
Use your vehicle to do the hard work. Ride the WMA roads until you locate fresh sign, and then get out on foot and stalk them. Beaverdam is open for buck-only hunting Dec. 20-23 and small-game hunting Nov. 26-Dec.19 and Dec. 24-Feb. 28.
Chris did mention that during deer hunts, stalking is not a safe tactic for hog hunting. Position a climbing stand over fresh hog sign to give yourself the best chance of being successful when stalking isn’t practical.
Region 7: Along the coast, Altamaha WMA has to be one of the very best in the state.
“Altamaha is great for late-season hog hunting,” said Game Management Region Supervisor David Mixon. “There are a lot of hard-to-reach areas that are perfect for hunting hogs that have been heavily pressured thus far. Most hunters don’t realize it, but hogs are often more sensitive to hunting pressure than deer.”
Altamaha is open for both big game and small-game hunting the entire month of December.
Townsend WMA is also a great choice this month for locating some sausage. David says that hogs on the area frequently cross the area’s many roads, making it pretty easy to locate areas with a high concentration of pigs. The WMA has some scattered hunting dates, so turn to page 63-64 for a complete list of dates.
This list of WMAs is just a portion of what’s available in terms of good to excellent WMA hog hunting land in the Peach State. With a little scouting, and perhaps a sore set of legs, loading the freezer down this winter is quite possible. Who knows, you might even have time to have one of those hams smoked for Christmas dinner.