Feral pigs are tough animals. So much so that they have gotten the reputation for being bullet-proof. It is common to hear stories from hunters making claims of bullets bouncing off pigs or failing to penetrate their “armor”
The Myth of the Shield
Mature male pigs have a thick layer of subcutaneous tissue, commonly referred to as the shield or shoulder plate, which serves as a protective barrier for boars fighting for breeding opportunities.
The shield begins in the shoulder region and covers an area extending from the base of the neck back to the front portion of the hips. Older boars can have a shield as thick as 2 inches.
Although the shield of a mature boar can be tough and very thick, even a .22 rimfire will consistently penetrate through a 2 inch thick shield.
The two most common mistakes hunters make when shooting pigs are:
1. Aiming behind the shoulder. A pig’s vitals are lower and farther forward than a deer, therefore a shot behind the shoulder will typically miss the heart and lungs and result in a run-off.
2. Not waiting for a broadside shot. Shooting a pig head-on or while it is quartering can significantly decrease your chances of getting an instant kill.
As shown at 03:28 in the video, even with several shooters aiming directly at the boar’s head from close range, it required several follow-up shots to finish him off. The shallow angle of a pig’s skull can cause a bullet to deflect rather than penetrate. Also, when pigs are feeding they are almost constantly moving, especially their heads. This further increases the chances of a misplaced shot when the margin for error is already small.
The best thing you can do to decrease your chances of a run-off is to wait for a broad-side shot. A broadside shot to the neck or behind the ear will almost always result in a dead pig.