Going Hog Wild In The Piney Woods

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A friend of mine who lives in Austin recently spent a weekend in Deep East Texas with his younger brother. A goodly amount of one day, according to his email account, was devoted to hunting wild turkey.  Or at least that was the plan. It turns out turkey were not in the mood to be hunted that day, but a herd of wild hogs crossed his path. Long story short, my friend was shocked by the appearance of so many hogs that he reacted like a rational hunter trying to pick off a 10-point buck at 200 yards — the distance he says the hogs were from him. In other words, he aimed carefully at one decent-sized pig in the middle of the pack.

My friend was carrying a semiautomatic weapon. He may live in the city but he has a country boy’s appreciation for fine weaponry. However, in this moment his caution cost him the opportunity to decrease the hog population here Behind the Pine Curtain. It is possible, he wrote, that he wounded the one hog he fired upon. But he and his brother never found the carcass, and the hogs, naturally, scattered soon as the first shot was fired. He is a bit bummed at his lack of success. My take is that he fired as a responsible hunter should — going for a kill shot on a single animal.

Trouble is, we are talking about wild hogs, which are a pox upon the land and deserve no mercy. Kill them all and let God sort ‘em out, as Cistercian monk Arnaud Amalric is reported to have said during the Crusades. I have seen lovely pastureland turned into a moonscape in a matter of weeks by feral hogs. Once I tried to drive a medium-sized tractor across a field where hogs had been rutting and nearly flipped over, so badly had the ground been uprooted. Many round bales of hay had been harvested from that piece of land the year before.

There does not seem to be a solution in sight for reducing the feral hog population. They reproduce at ridiculous rates, are canny and smart, and quickly sense danger. I once spent several early mornings in a deer stand determined to shoot some feral hogs tearing up a pasture I had leased. It was as if they had figured out I was there. They just changed their habits and started showing up either before or after I left.

The only success I have had, if you can call it that, in battling this porcine opponent was when I set out a trap baited with corn, in early summer. I went back each day and sure enough I had caught a hog. Unfortunately, the hog was dead in the back of the trap. There are few things that will make one rethink this whole gentleman farmer gig than trying to wrestle a 300-pound dead hog out of a trap by wrapping a chain around its legs and pulling it out with a tractor. Every time I dream of retiring to the country, which is often, that image comes to mind.

A few years back, we were out at my brother-in-law’s farm riding around on four-wheelers when a pack of wild hogs raced by in late afternoon. He took out after them at full speed, a handgun drawn and firing away like Wyatt Earp drawing down at the OK Corral. (Or something like that. My brother-in-law was pulling the trigger fast as he could, let’s just say.) But the hogs were too far away and escaped unscathed. Nevertheless, I was impressed with his quick reaction and actually thought he was going to plug some of those rascals.

My brother-in-law came back and said something to the effect of, “You have got to try to kill those sorry critters every chance you get, whatever it takes.”

I am likely cleaning up the language here, but you get the drift.

Folks now are offering helicopter excursions to shoot wild hogs from the air. I am not a bloodthirsty person and a poor excuse of a hunter, but I would jump at the chance to plink Porky Pigs from 500 feet up. Maybe my buddy and I can split the cost, and this time around he’ll know to keep that trigger finger happy, happy , happy.

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