Texas Hog Hunting FAQs
If Texas Helicopter Hog Hunting is something you’ve never done before, you probably have a lot of questions … That’s what we expect. HeliBacon can provide you with anything you need to succeed on the wildest adventure of your life!
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About Helicopter Hog Hunting
Helicopter Hog Hunting is legal year-round during civil twilight hours. However, for safety reasons, we do not fly hunts during rifle deer season. We don’t want to be flying and shooting when there are people downrange in the deer stands. In our part of Texas, rifle deer season runs from the beginning of November through approximately the middle of January. Therefore, HeliBacon schedules hunts from mid-January through the end of October. We typically fly four days a week, Wednesday through Saturday. From November through mid-January, we can still operate our Aerial Machine Gun Range, deliver Machine Gun Range Experiences, and own the night with awesome Night Vision Hog Hunts.
The winter months, from mid-January through the third week of March, are cooler in temperature and the leaves are mostly off the trees, so we can schedule up to 4 hours of flying per day. However, the drawback of winter is the rain and fog, which results in a larger percentage of hunts being rescheduled compared to other seasons. Later in the year, from April through October, we only schedule 2 flight hours per day, starting at dawn, while the temperatures are still cool. We fly the tree lines, crop fields, river valleys, and other watering spots. We are still successful in hunting outside of the winter months, although we limit the number of flight hours to the cooler parts of the day. The feral hogs are active, eating, and breeding all year long. Therefore, the convenience of travel, schedule availability with clients for corporate entertainment, or proximity to a birthday or anniversary tend to be equally important factors in the overall decision about when to visit Texas for some Helicopter Hog Hunting fun.
HeliBacon’s aircraft is a Bell 212, a modern twin-engine variant of the venerable Huey. The Bell 212 is a medium category, transport-certified aircraft. As such, there is no individual seat weight limit. However, each passenger is secured to the aircraft with an FAA-certified harness. The harness is rated for a passenger (with equipment) of up to 450 pounds. One of our heaviest shoulder-fired machine guns is the FN 249 SAW. With a 200-round hard case full of ammo, the machine gun setup itself can weigh 25 pounds. Since the firearms system is attached to the shooter with a sling, the harness must support its weight as well. Therefore, we limit passengers to a maximum weight of 425 pounds. Each passenger is weighed prior to flying. When being weighed, each passenger must wear closed-toed shoes and pants or shorts. We use a Salter Brecknell PS500-22 industrial floor scale with a digital readout. It is extremely accurate. The scale must report 425.0 lbs. or under on the morning of the hunt, or we cannot take you flying. If a passenger is over 425 lbs., they do not qualify for a refund. Additionally, the harness is rated for a height of up to 78 inches and a waist size of up to 46 inches.
HeliBacon requires participants to be 18 years or older. For liability and safety reasons, minors are only permitted to fly as non-shooting observers. In all situations, minors are required to fly with a parent or guardian.
Not anymore. In 2019, the state of Texas changed the law to allow those without a hunting license, as well as non-residents, to hunt feral hogs in the state while on private property with landowner authorization. Additionally, no hunting license is required to hunt depredating coyotes on private property with landowner authorization. See the non-game species section of the Texas Parks and Wildlife website for more information. HeliBacon holds a valid and current Aerial Wildlife Management Permit, and as of 2020, we are able to document hunters on the Aerial Wildlife Management Portal using a State ID, such as a driver’s license.
No. A significant portion of our clients are international and are in the United States on tourism visas. English proficiency is required for all Helicopter Hog Hunting participants, as communication with the pilot, crew chief, and ground crew is necessary.
- Not have a felony conviction or other restriction that prohibits you from possessing a firearm
- Sign a liability release form with HeliBacon and the landowners
- Must not exceed aircraft harness weight limitation of 425 pounds
- Be proficient in English
- HeliBacon requires participants to be 18 years and up – for liability and safety reasons, minors are only permitted to fly as a non-shooting observer
Texas state law allows for the targeting of feral hogs and coyotes by a paying hunter from the aircraft. All other species are prohibited.
No. Although it is enjoyable to fly low level in a helicopter and shoot full-auto machine guns from the aircraft, it is not sport hunting. The justification for the entire activity is to reduce the amount of over-populated feral hogs and coyotes. These species cause tremendous economic damage. Therefore, helicopter hunting activities are limited to these two species. We frequently see amazing trophy bucks from the helicopter, but we are unable to shoot them, as any sport hunting from an aircraft is a violation of federal law.
The Bell 212 can accommodate up to 6 passengers at a time, 3 on each side. When we find sounders of feral hogs, we invariably end up with hogs on both sides of the aircraft. When 6 gunners with machine guns are cleared to fire, it’s a thing of beauty indeed. We fly with a crew chief in the back who is able to assist each gunner. There is room for a single non-shooting observer to accompany the gunners. If the non-shooting observer seat is vacant, we sometimes fly with a crew chief in training. Up front, of course, is a pilot and sometimes a co-pilot as well. With 2 pilots, 6 gunners, a crew chief, and an observer, there can be up to 10 people on board. The 212 is a large helicopter.
6-12 hunters can participate per day. We fly with 6 shooters onboard the helicopter each flight hour and fly for one hour at a time. At the end of each flight hour, we land to refuel, place fresh magazines, rotate shooters, and take off for another hour. During the winter months through the middle of March, we schedule up to 4 flight hours per day and can accommodate up to 12 shooters. From April through October, we limit the flight time to 2 hours per day and we fly with up to 6 gunners total. Larger parties can be divided over two days. Itineraries usually feature Night Vision Hog Hunting, Ground Machine Gun Shooting, Shotgun Sporting Clays, and other activities that keep the action going during the trip.
Yes. We combine groups together to fill 6 seats and we accept individual hunters. The available dates for individual hunters are targeted around single-seat openings. It’s quite common for a spouse who may want to fly but might not be interested in shooting to occupy the observer seat and fly along with a single seat gunner.
There is no bag limit. We are only limited by our available flight time and being able to find hogs. It’s common in a hunt to see coyotes, solitary boars, and at least one sounder, which is a group of 3-4 sows and 8-16 piglets. We are hunting for wild animals, so nothing is fenced in, penned up, or restrained.
Feral hogs are a non-native, invasive species, and cause damage to the environment through spreading disease; damage to the ecology by wiping out ground-nesting bird populations and competition for food from other native species; and damage to the economy with untold billions of dollars in crop destruction each year. Helicopter Hog Hunting is one method to cull their numbers. When we regularly fly land, we can keep their numbers down by a noticeable percentage. We aren’t trying to recover the meat for food, but we do want to eat the crops. HeliBacon strives to perform humane kills that minimize animal suffering. We have a strict policy to overfly our kills to ensure that the animals are dispatched, rather than merely wounded.
HeliBacon’s core values are Safety and Professionalism. Our company’s purpose is to create unique and unforgettable lifetime memories. HeliBacon delivers amazing father/son adventures, celebrates birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and other special occasions, and simply helps customers check off a completely awesome bucket list experience. HeliBacon was founded in 2012 and features a perfect safety record in aviation. Our unique arsenal and inclusive packages provide outstanding total experiences. We achieve excellence in every area that we control. Our many returning clients, and overwhelmingly positive reviews on Google, Better Business Bureau, TripAdvisor, and Yelp, speak to our high standards and success. It would be our highest honor to have the opportunity to prove ourselves to you, in person, on your Helicopter Hog Hunting adventure. Watch an awesome 3-minute video titled, “Our Mission.”
Absolutely. We are fully insured for commercial Helicopter Hog Hunting.
HeliBacon is proud to fly a Bell 212 HP, a transport category twin engine utility aircraft. In addition to twin PT-6 turbine engines, the Bell 212 features a huge array of fully redundant systems. One of the original roles of 212 helicopters was offshore transport to drilling rigs and platforms. Bell designed the 212 with the highest degree of safety in mind. Over 60 countries have adopted 212 variants for national defense forces. In the 1980s US Marines HMX-1 Presidential Unit at Quantico, Virginia flew Bell 212 VH-1N models to transport President Ronald Reagan. Today 212 helicopters are used in high altitude, mountainous terrain for firefighting and other remote utility work. HeliBacon’s 212 is an HP (high performance) model, capable of flight on a single-engine. When flying low over the treetops, twin engines maximize safety. HeliBacon’s 212 is the largest and most robust aircraft operated by any helicopter hog hunting company.
We own our Bell 212. It should come as no surprise that we take the best care of our aircraft because we personally own it. Everything about our helicopter is in immaculate shape, from the quality of the maintenance standards down to the noise-canceling headsets. Our helicopter isn’t just leased from a nearby flight school —it’s the pride and joy of our operation. The care and attention to detail showcase this fact.
HeliBacon maintains the Bell 212 in top condition with Helicopter Services Inc. HSI is an FAA-certified, Part 145 service facility. HeliBacon takes great pride in our quality of maintenance. Mike Crossland is the CEO of HSI and can provide reference checks on HeliBacon’s maintenance track record. We gladly publish information about our aircraft, where it is maintained, and the point of contact for reference. We take quality aircraft maintenance seriously, and you should too!
Chase Roberts, co-owner and co-founder of HeliBacon, has over a decade of flight experience and thousands of hours logged rotorcraft time. Over 95% of his time has been spent conducting low-level operations – specifically, helicopter hog hunting. In HeliBacon’s Google reviews, many clients specifically mention how impressed they were with Chase’s flying abilities, as well as how safe and confident they felt with Chase in command of the aircraft.
HeliBacon has access to over 300,000 acres of prime farm and ranch land. We are situated in the heart of College Station, TX, and fly in Brazos and the surrounding counties. Our land is watered by the Brazos and Navasota rivers. The lush farmland provides ample food and water sources for the feral hogs.
No, actually. The feral hogs are such a nuisance that the landowners give HeliBacon free access to the land in exchange for HeliBacon bringing customers to cull the hog population. From the landowner’s point of view, it’s a form of free pest control. See this video about one organic rice farmer’s perspective on HeliBacon’s efforts to control feral hog damage.
About Firearms and Ammunition
Helicopter Hog Hunts include a semi-auto AR-15 with optional access to a menu of machine guns. Full-auto choices include submachine guns, carbines, battle rifles and even a belt-fed option, the FightLite MCR. HeliBacon hunts include unlimited ammunition, so you don’t have to worry about round count during engagements. The calibers used during Helicopter Hog Hunts are 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, 5.56, and 7.62×51. All rifles and machine guns are equipped with either EOTech holographic optics or AimPoint red dot optics. Night Vision Hog Hunts feature SBR, suppressed, semi-auto AR-15s chambered in 7.62×39 and equipped with the highest quality, current generation thermal rifle scopes. HeliBacon’s extensive arsenal features machine guns of every shape and size, including the M134 Minigun, which can be enjoyed during Machine Gun Range Experiences.
HeliBacon Helicopter Hog Hunts and Night Vision Hog Hunts include HeliBacon provided firearms and unlimited ammunition. For safety and functionality reasons, HeliBacon prohibits the use of client-owned firearms during all activities.
No, not really. And we’ve tried it for sure. A shotgun is long and heavy, with lower ammunition capacity than a rifle, and takes considerably longer to reload. 3″ magnum buckshot is devastatingly effective up close. But, frequently, the presence of trees on ranch land requires the helicopter to maintain 50 feet of altitude, and buckshot becomes considerably less effective and accurate at this moderate distance. 3″ magnum slugs are still effective at this distance, although less accurate than a rifle. However, they still carry weight and capacity disadvantages, combined with punishing recoil. There are pros and cons to every firearm and ammunition choice. The semi-auto AR-15s or the menu of machine guns HeliBacon clients may use on a Helicopter Hog Hunt, with unlimited ammunition, offer maximum enjoyment and effectiveness for this operation.
We offer access to a large menu of machine guns on the helicopter, including belt fed options like the FN M249 SAW. You can shoot even more of the firearms in the Arsenal during a Machine Gun Range Experience. The M134 Minigun is a popular and unforgettable upgrade. See the shameless M134 promotional video.
Several of the machine guns in the Arsenal are suppressed, including the extremely quiet MP5SD, the integrally suppressed Maxim-9 machine pistol, full-size Uzi, SCAR 17 Heavy, SCAR 16 CQC, and MP5K-PDW, among others. The main benefit of using suppressors is noise reduction. This benefit is irrelevant to a helicopter gunner wearing a headset with integrated noise cancellation technology. From a helicopter hunting perspective, noise reduction is actually a detriment because the report of machine gun fire encourages the feral hogs to move. The secondary benefit of suppressors is their ability to slightly smooth the recoil impulse. This benefit is offset by the weight and length disadvantages, as well as the extreme heat during sustained full-auto fire. Additionally, the blast chambers significantly increase fouling of the action, which negatively impacts feed reliability, especially at high cyclic rates. We certainly have many suppressors, and enjoy their use in specific applications. All of our firearms used for Night Vision Hog Hunting operations are suppressed, and we communicate in a quiet whisper without any hearing protection. From the helicopter, however, we specifically choose not to use suppressors, with the notable exception of the HK UMP 40 and LWRC SMG 45. These two systems are submachine guns, and we add a suppressor to these platforms for the express purpose of increasing the overall length of the system, thus enhancing muzzle discipline safety. Ironically, the reason for our use of suppressors on these two platforms has absolutely nothing at all to do with sound reduction.
About the Trip
HeliBacon is in the Bryan / College Station area, which is halfway between Houston and Austin. We are a 90-minute drive from Houston Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and Austin Bergstrom International Airport (AUS). Some commercial flight services are available direct to College Station’s Easterwood Airport (CLL). HeliBacon’s safety courses take place at Coulter Field Airport at 6120 East State Hwy 21 Bryan, TX 77808.
The Works Package covers approximately 48 hours in Texas. Clients commonly fly into Houston’s Intercontinental Airport, drive to the lodging facilities in College Station, and enjoy a nice home-cooked dinner. The next morning, we’ll have you up before dawn for an hour-long safety course at Coulter Field Airport, and then take off at sunrise for an early morning helicopter hog hunt, making use of the first hours of daylight while temperatures are cool and the hunting is the best. In the afternoons, we do shooting activities at the ranch, including the Shotgun Sporting Clays competition and the optional Machine Gun Range Experience. After a second home-cooked dinner at the ranch, our Night Vision Hog Hunting guide will meet your party around sundown for some equipment familiarization and a safety brief. Then the group heads out into the night, hunting sometimes until 2:00 AM. Sleep in the next morning, enjoy a hot, fresh breakfast and coffee at the ranch, then head back to IAH for your flight home.
HeliBacon is in College Station, home to Texas A&M University. Because of the campus, there is an enormous amount of lodging and restaurant accommodations available nearby. You can purchase lodging and meals through HeliBacon (bundled in The Works package) or stay at any local hotels, bed and breakfasts, and Airbnb/VRBO options (rent a mansion for the weekend). When it comes to accommodations, you have a lot of choices. See our Lodging page for recommendations.
When the crews in the outfitter industry provide excellent service and deliver successful hunts, 10% of the total hunt price is a customary gratuity. Pilots, crew chiefs, ground crew, night vision hunting guides, and lodging and cooking staff are working hard behind the scenes to ensure your experience is top-notch and the service is outstanding. If you would like to tip the various staff personnel directly, HeliBacon is happy to provide a cost breakdown of individual services. More commonly, gratuities are given to the pilot, who is responsible for dividing the funds among all of the service staff. Tips may also be charged to a credit card as desired.
Most clients add a Night Vision Hog Hunt or a Machine Gun Range Experience to the Helicopter Hog Hunt. Old-town Bryan has quaint shopping and Messina Hof Winery is nearby. Blue Bell offers tours of their ice cream factory in Brenham M-F, and the State Capitol is in Austin, located in the Texas Hill Country. If you are flying in and out of Austin, we recommend all of the amazing restaurants with live music. Try some Texas BBQ, Tex-Mex Fajitas, and enjoy a show while you’re in town!
Wear clothing applicable to the season (e.g. t-shirt or polo in summer, jackets in winter). We fly without doors on the helicopter, so it gets quite breezy and cold during winter flights. In the cooler months, we recommend a warm jacket and shooting gloves if you have them. Under-layers help quite a bit in the winter and are highly recommended. An outer layer that can shield the wind is also a good idea. In the summer, bring sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen, as we will potentially be out in the Texas sun for several hours. Sunglasses or other eye protection is recommended while shooting from the helicopter year-round. We provide eye protection, but most clients prefer to bring their own for the best fit and comfort. Please, no open-toed shoes or sandals.
Yes. Safety is our number one priority. The HeliBacon team has an extensive background in teaching aerial hunting safety. HeliBacon provides the mandatory safety course, which is approximately one hour in length and is completed the morning before the hunt. The safety course is comprehensive, and there is plenty of time for questions and demonstrations to ensure all participants are comfortable with the upcoming hunting activities. We will go over all of the key safety topics and procedures that will be performed during the hunt. Night Vision Hog Hunts and Machine Gun Range Experiences each feature their own mandatory safety instructions prior to those activities as well. Learn more about HeliBacon’s focus on safety.
Our practice is to review the weather forecast a few days before the event date and contact you in the event of forecasted poor weather. Events that are canceled due to weather are rescheduled to the nearest available date that is convenient for all parties. The official terms and conditions state that “all sales are final. Flights that cannot be conducted due to inclement weather or aircraft maintenance will be rescheduled to the nearest available date. No refunds will be given.”
It is an open schedule, and first come, first serve. We will do our best to accommodate your event date. A 50% down payment is required to officially reserve a spot on the calendar. January through March is the most popular season, and dates in this window book up sometimes a year in advance. We fly hunts Wednesday through Saturday, and Saturdays tend to book up quite far in advance as well.
HeliBacon does not recover the feral hogs during a helicopter hunt. We want to maximize the use of time for flying and shooting. Within 12-48 hours, vultures and other scavengers will have completely removed the carcasses.
Parties of 6-12 people can helicopter hunt on a single day. We regularly accommodate groups of 6 with The Works Package, full of day and night hunting, with shooting activities in between. The Aerial Machine Gun Range Event and the Team Builder Pro Package are flying and shooting activities that can accommodate up to 30 people in a single day. These are not hunting packages, however, and are designed for large team-building events.
About Night Vision Hog Hunting
The guide will meet you around sundown for equipment familiarization and a safety brief. The hunt begins shortly after sunset and can go until 2:00 AM.
No. We drive out to the various fields in trucks and use thermal imaging technologies to scan the fields. We can drive up to about the last 150 yards or so. Then, we stalk the last bit on foot, staying downwind. We can usually get to within 25-40 yards (sometimes closer) and set up for shooting. We have access to blinds as desired, but most clients prefer to drive and stalk.
We most commonly use Trijicon Reap-IR and N-Vision HALO thermal scopes mounted on suppressed AR-15s chambered in 7.62×39. We also use PVS-14s with Gen 3 Pinnacle IR tubes and IR laser designators. These can be helmet-mounted, but for comfort and convenience of vehicular ingress and egress, the PVS-14s are typically worn on a lanyard around the neck. We are always updating and upgrading gear.
A night hunt consists of 1 or 2 guides and up to 6 hunters. For safety reasons, we only allow 3 people to be shooting at a time, with the guide standing in the middle. The guide helps with equipment operation in the dark and also ensures maximum safety. We rotate shooters between engagements. Night hunt engagements are common, as feral hogs are naturally nocturnal. Groups larger than 6 people can be divided over multiple consecutive nights, alternating with helicopter hog hunting in the mornings.
Long sleeve shirts and long pants to protect against brush are recommended. Rubber mud boots are appropriate, as some of the best hunting locations are near the rivers and other watering spots which can get quite muddy. You will not need hearing protection, since all of the night guns are suppressed. Clear eye protection is recommended and can be provided by HeliBacon, but for comfort and best fit, most clients prefer to bring their own. Please avoid clothing that is heavily scented from laundry detergent or cigarette smoke. Feral hogs have a great sense of smell.
For liability and safety reasons, HeliBacon requires shooting participants to be 18 years and older. Minors are permitted to attend Night Vision Hog Hunts as non-shooting observers. In all cases, a parent or guardian must be present.