March 26, 2013

The Dirt on Wild Hogs (and a Few Texas Rams)

Man has been hunting as a source of sustenance since our earliest existence, making it one of the oldest activities on the face of the planet.
As noted about Our Family "We eat wild game and rarely buy store bought meat.  Just as warning, as there may occasionally be hunting & fishing photos."  
This is one of those occasions. 

Part of our travel to Texas a few weeks ago involved bringing along three hard-sided archery cases and a quiver full of arrows. 
The goal was hog hunting, something Mitch has wanted to return to Texas to do for a long time, and Mason & Eric were eager to join him.

Here are some things I've gathered about wild hogs:
Early Spanish explorers were probably the first to introduce hogs in Texas over 300 years ago.
The feral hog has managed to survive, adapt, and increase their numbers despite attempts at population control.
Wild hogs are among the most destructive invasive species in the United States today. Two million to six million of the animals are wreaking havoc in at least 39 states and four Canadian provinces; half are in Texas, where they do some $400 million in damages annually.
They tear up recreational areas, destroy crops, occasionally even terrorize tourists in state and national parks, and squeeze out other wildlife.
Hogs erode the soil and muddy streams and other water sources, possibly causing fish kills. They disrupt native vegetation and make it easier for invasive plants to take hold. The hogs claim any food set out for livestock, and occasionally eat the livestock as well, especially lambs, kids and calves. They also eat such wildlife as deer and quail and feast on the eggs of endangered sea turtles.
And those are just the problems wild hogs cause in rural areas.
In suburban and even urban parts of Texas, they’re making themselves at home in parks, on golf courses and on athletic fields. They treat lawns and gardens like a salad bar and tangle with household pets.
Their razor sharp tusks combined with their lightning speed can cause serious injury.
They are prolific.  Even populations reduced by 70 percent return to full strength within two or three years.  Their numbers are labeled as "infestations," they are multiplying, and spreading.  Quickly.
They are surprisingly intelligent mammals and evade the best efforts to trap or kill them.
They have no natural predators.
Meat from feral hogs is extremely tasty and much leaner than pen-raised pork.
Our goal was to get some wild pork to feed our family. 

*Some of this info was gathered from an interesting & informative article you can read here:  

As the article explains, these wild hogs are smart, mainly nocturnal animals, that have extremely keen snouts and are very tough to hunt.  

The first night hunting, Mason did harvest a young hog.  It was small, but we're told those are the best eating..  Mitch cooked the meat over a wood fire and it was falling off the bone in little time.  Very tender, and enough to feed everyone for a few meals.     
Eric could hear hogs as dark fell, but never saw them.  I was nervous for him because he was hunting from the ground.   
Mitch never had a chance at, nor saw a hog either. 
As mentioned in our Texas trip overview, we saw a huge variety of animals, but no hogs.

What they did have success at hunting, were rams.
Mason arrowed this one perfectly the first morning.
Eric got a nice ram, too, just after sunset his third evening of hunting.  
There wasn't time to make it all the way back to where I was so I could take a photo before dark (the hunters were spread out over miles at times) so we have this image taken via cell phone.  Glowing eyes, but a good smile. 
 
Last, but not least, Mitch got his ram our final afternoon in Texas.  They had been giving him some trouble.  He had stalked them through scrub & stone on his belly to get within bow range for a few discouraging days.  Worth the wait, though.  While I dislike the word, I believe Mitch's ram is considered a "trophy."   
About a 36" spread, an  interesting creature.

It sounds like there is help needed in controlling the wild hog population,
so maybe we'll go back someday when the moon is full and conditions are right.
And it should be noted that while I do have a bow, I do not hunt (I don't eat much meat.)
All this hunting gave me a good amount of solitary time to read, take pictures, & listen to the birds.  (Some of those photos can be seen here.)

6 comments:

  1. Well, you now have enough meat for a LONG time. I wondered where the phrase "it's a hog's life" came from and now I know! :-)

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  2. Amanda,
    I am personally not a hunter and didn't grow up with it. My Husband is a hunter and I love hearing him tell stories. It is an activity that some are very passionate about, as you well know. I enjoy seeing a beautiful mount.

    My Brother-in-Law hunted Wild Hogs in California. I have heard Wild Hogs are very distructive, growing in population and on the move north.

    Ranch Wife Robyn

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    1. Yes, I've heard they're growing north and that there are projected dates as to when they'll be in Minnesota!
      I think the article I referenced says something to the affect of,
      "There are two kinds of people.. those that have hogs, and those that WILL have hogs"

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  3. I had no idea that there were that many wild hogs in the country and that they were so destructive, nor that they were good to eat.
    Love the horns on those rams!

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  4. Hi there - please come and visit and get rid of some of our feral sheep, goats, pigs, horses, camels (I'm not kidding!), foxes, rabbits and dogs! We have a real problem here!

    I'm always surprised how many conservation minded people here get all protective about these animals - they are a plague!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  5. It sounds as if the hunting trip was successful for everyone, including you since you were able to get some reading done. If you don't want to travel quite as far as Texas, we have problems with feral hogs in one neighborhood of our town, and they are also a problem in the Smokies.

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