OK, technically and legally speaking this isn’t hunting — its “herd depredation.” Hogs are a terrible nuisance in the Gulf coast area, and helicopter crews are the most effective way to eliminate the problem. One such company is HeliBacon, founded immediately after the practice was legalized a few years ago by a group of firearms enthusiasts who thought it would be an awesome thing to do and wanted to offer the best experience. It’s expensive ($850/hour), but they offer some of the most hog-infested fields and best toys out there to their clients. Unlimited ammo is included in the price of admission, and upgrades are available — such as machine guns (custom lowers with PWS piston-driven uppers). Coming soon: grenade launchers. Yes, grenade launchers. Because not only do they have a helicopter, but they’re an SOT and have an explosives license as well — one of the owners is former British military and the other runs an unexploded ordnance removal company. Told ya they wanted “awesome.”

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102 Responses to Video: Machine Gun Helicopter Hog Hunting

      • And just think, they’re probably making that twice. I’d imagine they’re getting paid by the land owners for the service, then charging the shooters for the service.

        It’d effectively be the same that a lot of dude ranches employ, where tourists pay the ranch owner for the cowboy experience. The rancher gets his labor to pay HIM.

        And in both cases it’s a business model I love. Cuz. ‘Mericuh.

        • That would depend on how long the excursion lasts. A Robinson R-44 costs ~ $500k, total per hour operating costs (including fuel, hull and liability insurance, maintenance, other fixed costs) are about $225/hour. You have to pay an FAA Rated Commercial Pilot to fly it ~ $50-$75/hour. Add in the cost of ammo, tax stamps, maintenance on the firearms, professional liability insurance, overhead and G&A costs…and well; $850/hour is a pretty good deal. I’d be surprised if they net 5%.

        • I’m not saying it’s a bad price per se – just pointing out the article says 750 and the website says 850.

        • I didn’t necessarily mean they were making a bundle off of it, just that their likely making money twice off the same job. It’s not a bad gig from that standpoint, even though from your numbers it looks like the margins suck…

        • I imagine, like most things aviation/firearms related, it is a labor of love 🙂

          Not sure how much the landowner would pay…

        • I sorta doubt the ranchers are paying them for it. The only thing they’re probably offering is their permission. That’s how it is with the non-helicopter night vision hunts up in Georgia, I believe. It’s just a quid pro quo. You allow us access to your fields, we’ll help with your hog problem.

        • Most companies “double dip” — charging the landowner for the service and the shooter for the experience. These guys don’t do that, putting all the cost on the shooter. More expensive, but they get access to more area (higher chance of seeing many hogs) and whenever they want as opposed to waiting for the landowner to OK the expedition.

  1. Wow. Those porkers are fast buggers.

    A bit OT, but I recently a TV show that claimed among the many evils Europeans brought to the New World post-Columbus, Native Americans considered the pig among the worst. Apparently they had no defense against them.

    • The same fate repeatedly befalls several subsistence-farming tribes in the eastern region of the Congo. The tribes use slash-and-burn to clear some land for farming. Then the Giant Forest Hog comes in the dark and destroys all their crops, causing the tribes to remain impoverished…and hungry. For anyone in that area that owns a gun and bullets (or a homemade muzzleloader) forest elephants provide a better return per bullet.

      Only cheap guns and artificial light or good night scopes have made wild hog populations at all controllable. I doubt chopper-carried machine-gun hunts are an economically sustainable mode of hog control. I expect to see terrified reports of heli-hunting with select-fire weapons to appear on Huffington Post in 3,2,1……

  2. I can smell a lot of hog barbeques in the near future. 😉

    Sure, it’s gamey (sometimes very gamey), but boar meat from a healthy animal is gooood eatin’.

    • The Jews and Muslims do not know what they are missing. If someone would just open ‘West Bank BBQ Bar and Grill’ it would solve alot of problems. You cannot throw a rock or fire off an AK when you have BBQ sauce all over your fingers. Memphis Style BBQ in the Sinai could lead to peace. Tasty, tasty peace.

      • While Jewish and Muslim religions prohibit eating, and in some cases coming into contact with “unclean” animals, of which pigs are one of the most commonly cited, I’m not sure there is any prohibition against killing the buggers.

      • Take all that swine blood, put it into modified C-130’s & crop spray all suspected terrorist’s, their equipment, their Mosques, & homes. Make as many lethal hog blood spraying C-130’s as we can.
        Make everything they can experience pig blood tainted.

        Then take all the meat being used & keep giving our fighting troops BBQ dinners that make their tounges slap their forheads.

    • That’s the trick, is getting a healthy animal. These are very unhealthy animals, highly susceptible to infections. Butcher shops typically won’t accept them because it’s too much extra work and risk to avoid infection yourself and contamination of their shop.

      You can butcher them yourself, but now you’re taking on the risk and work. Whatever you do, just make sure you know what you’re doing and take the appropriate precautions. About the worst that could happen are flu-like symptoms, but depending on one’s overall health, flu-like symptoms could be serious. The same countermeasures as with other meat should suffice, but the consequences of taking shortcuts could be worse.

  3. Imagine, getting on a helicopter ….. at an airport ….. with machine guns ……. and flying over inhabited urban areas.

    Screw TSA. What country was this filmed in?

  4. Hey Nick, what is that brass deflector attachment behind the EOTech? I could use one of those around our private range. Seems less cumbersome that those brass catcher nets.

  5. PETA is going to come after you so hard now!

    Ok, so screw PETA, but serious question: are the carcasses collected for any use or are they just left out there in the woods?

  6. As fun as it would be to launch a grenade into the middle of a running crowd of pest hogs, I’d probably break up the fun by insisting that the helicopter land after every engagement so that we could fill the hold with pigs. And then we’d probably have to end early once we were full. I’m just bothered to see the meat of those tender young porkers go to waste. Not that there’s anything wrong with it in this depredation context, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t taking food out of anyone’s mouth.

    • My understanding is that they are pretty awful for eating, and chock-full of parasites to boot. That’s not personal experience though, so I would be interested in hearing it from someone with firsthand experience.

        • So would it be reasonable to fund a meat donation scheme for younger pigs similar to what we have for deer in CT?

        • I think they do something like that when they’re shooting from the ground, although there may be a lot of organizations that would take deer that might not take pig. If it’s feasible, sure. In this case, shooting from a helicopter, it’s simply not feasible due to reasons of both payload and ground clearance to land.

      • I hunted feral hogs in CA several years ago. They are pork like it used to be, tender and juicy, with plenty of white fat. They are what today’s supermarket “other white meat” is not.

  7. TTAG annual event. We pay the fees to hire 5 choppers. Formate over the gulf and come in low and fast while playing “Flight of the Valkyries” on loud speakers.

  8. I realize that they are a non-native species, and that they are a nuisance to put it mildly, but I still have an issue with a “yee-haw” attitude to killing these animals. Especially from a helicopter platform, then adding in machine guns, what’s the likelihood that you AREN’T just going to wing numerous animals and have them suffer lengthy, drawn-out deaths? Just doesn’t seem terribly ethical to me, particularly when there are so many hunters that will forego filling their deer tags for the season rather than take an iffy shot. Don’t get me wrong, helicopter transport makes a lot of sense to get from A to B, but are there really not enough regular shooters down there to take care of this problem without shooting from a helicopter?

    • Wild pigs != deer. They are rats. Rats and mice are routinely poisoned, trapped, crushed, etc., none of which are particularly fast or human deaths, and nobody really cares. These are no different.

      As far as the regular shooters question, it depends on the venue. In Georgia, where they’re rooting up peanut fields, “regular shooters” are the definitely the way to go. In Texas, when you’re dealing with huge, wild, noncultivated acreage and moderately heavy brush cover, very few people are going to want to make the trek that far out.

      • I don’t think the fact that nobody cares is really a decent justification. People don’t care about a lot of things that they probably should. Like the fact that we euthanize millions of pet animals a year because people are irresponsible owners. Or that the richest country in the world still has people going into emergency rooms with trench foot because they can’t afford shoes.

        Back on topic, I suppose the methodology can be defended, even if I’m not terribly thrilled about it. Then again I don’t have to be. But I still would have serious concerns about someone whose idea of entertainment is to go hose down living creatures with a machine gun. Isn’t that exactly the kind of behavior kids get sent to the psychiatrist for?

        • Maybe you’d feel differently about it if one of your prized quarter horses broke a leg and had to be put down because of a feral hog. Or maybe if one of your dogs was gutted by one.We had a dog that I was very fond of killed by one of these pests on my parent’s ranch a few years ago. No mercy from me, those things are a menace. Normally I find pigs to be cute, cuddly and intelligent animals. These feral hogs are not cute, cuddly animals. Kill them with flame throwers for all I care. I hate them.

          On another note, I’m a big supporter of the No Kill movement for animal shelters. My family rescues and fosters shelter dogs whenever we can.

        • It has much less to do with “living creatures” than it does with moving targets. See, that’s the part where we differ. You talk about the joy of shooting living creatures as if this was about reveling in the bloodsport. But it’s not. Doing this is about the fun of shooting out of a helicopter. Now, that would be cool by itself on static targets. And some sort of pop-up or automated moving target would be even better. This is the ultimate evolution of that line of thought, because they move (or don’t) randomly. Yes, by literal definition they are living things. But in reality, they are vermin to be exterminated, which relegates them to the status of just “things,” and I have no more feeling about a pig falling down than I do a steel target.

      • I agree with Matt. Although macabre to an extent, this is eradication and not hunting. This isn’t about fair chase. Its a matter of eliminating an overpopulated species that can destroy property, damage crops, and spread disease.

        I’ve eradicated pigeons from barns for the same reason. I was armed with a lever action BB gun passed down from my grandfather, so it wasn’t nearly as much fun as this.

        Seriously, who wouldn’t want to shoot full auto or burst from a helicopter?

        • This is exactly what I would point out to people who saw me grinning from ear to ear when I’d make a long shot on a ground squirrel in a hay field. This isn’t about sport. This is about battle for economic survival.

          People who would get really pissy about seeing me vaporize squirrel flesh with a .17HMR would get the other solution demonstrated to them. I’d take the acreage closest to the road and I’d treat that area with Fumatoxin tablets. I could flag the burrows during the day and in one 90-minute period before sundown, get almost all the squirrels dead in their holes.

          As I pointed out to these squeamish people: When I used poison gas, they have almost zero chance, and the death is neither fast or easy. If I’m shooting them, they have at least some chance to survive, and their death was instant.

          When farmers get tired of getting overrun with animals, they cease shooting and they start using poison. Since there is no porcine poison that has a valid EPA label, and in this administration there likely will be none, I’d wager that frustrated farmers start doing things like leaving old hubcaps full of antifreeze out in the brush…

        • @Dysp

          Given the option, I’d much rather the firearm solution. That includes doing it myself. The long-term costs associated with a bullet are essentially non-existent. For most of these chemicals we haven’t the foggiest idea what their longer term implications are, and that should scare anyone more than ballistic pest eradication.

    • In most cases, it is no different than shooting a coyote/fox that is breaking into a chicken coop or a predator attacking a herd of livestock. IF these people are farmers and depend on that income, this is their well being getting eaten by the pigs. I wish I could find someone to let me hunt regularly on their land for population control, man oh man 🙂 This sort of paid hunt thing has become VERY commonplace in the past 5-10 years, choppers are just the next step in the evolution I suppose.

      Humans have a long way to go to respecting the life of other beings, as you pointed out.

    • It is difficult to parse the ethics of heli-hunting. My research in the subject enables me to assert with some confidence that heli-hunting is only considered ethical by US legal authorities on a foreign adventure-travel basis, and only for hunting humans. This requires a declaration of a season and limits, so the season is usually declared open, and the limit as no-limit. A briefer format simply states “there is a global war on X.” Therefore the declaration of a Global War on Feral Hogs should probably issue from Washington, if this activity is to be considered ethical, perhaps even eligible for a refundable tax credit or direct subsidy.

      • There are a few different kinds of hunting. Trophy hunting, eradication hunting, and harvesting (includes subsistence hunting).

        If the goal is eradication of an invasive destructive species it is not immoral or unethical to destroy these animals in whatever efficient way you see fit provided it complies with the law.

        The state and people have a joint interest in seeing as many of these ecosystem-destroying nuisances wiped out as possible.

      • Michael, I was trying for ‘sardonic,’ as a reaction to the Connecticut view. If we consider political-purpose eradication of humans by chopper-borne machine gun within the pale, then taking out destructive disease-bearing wild pigs select-fire is clearly fine. Expensive, sure. But fine.

        I note that every year a few humans are eaten by hogs of the farmed variety. Apparently it is most often elderly farmers feeding their hogs, but slipping or feinting into the pen.

    • @Kyle

      I was also contemplating the ethics of exploding pigs partially and/or completely with a grenade(s). A machine gun however, I see as no different than any other firearm; a crap shot is a crap shot and has the same consequences no matter the rate of fire. Having your body mangled by shrapnel is another matter entirely.

      Perhaps it’s because we are both from CT… oh god does that mean some of the stereotypes are true?!??!?!!?

    • Hearing the responses, I suppose I can see the argument for it. In response to Jared, having played Grim Reaper to many a porcupine that perforated my dog, I can certainly understand that perspective. In a sense it boils down to a “family first” kind of view, in that you take care of your own before worrying too much about the pigs. From another perspective, the damage has been done with respect to overpopulation of feral pigs and their accompanying havoc. Ideally it never would have been a problem, but it is now, and you have to be realistic about how you can solve it with the resources you have available.

      • Word. I’m realistic about solving the problem on our property, with the resources available to us; we shoot them. A helicopter would be nice though…maybe an old TH-55 🙂

  9. Looking at all that dry brush I don’t see them ever getting approval for grenades. Might end up with too much collateral damage.

  10. Hogs have become a destructive force down south. They breed at astounding rates. Their gestational period is 3.8 months. After a litter, the young can breed in as little as 6 months. That means one hog can have a litter of 8 – 12 piglets. in as little as 10 months each of those hogs will have 8-12 of their own .. in less than one year. That’s like 150 hogs a year… just from one hog. Amazing. They are consuming everything in sight down south.

    • I am compelled to protest that remark, Chris. In the film it was nothing but a cheap slur demonizing soldiers who served as chopper gunners/CE’s. I’ve heard it a hundred times in my subsequent life. I never ran into that kind of behavior in RVN.

  11. Hey Nick, what is that brass deflector attachment behind the EOTech? I could use one of those around our private range. Seems less cumbersome that those brass catcher nets.

  12. We are overrun by them at our deer lease, and have been trying to keep them in check with little positive results. We’ve been trapping them, but they wise up to the traps very fast, and shooting them at night in heavy brush is almost impossible. Heli-hunting looks like it works very well.

    • Animal intelligence in order – #1) Chimpanzee. #2) Elephants. #3) Dolphins. #4) Pigs

      They are hard to trap and harder to keep in the trap once trapped.

  13. Think I would rather do the Texas hunt. More wide open. Damn that shooting thru the trees stuff. Rock-n-roll? Hell yes mam. Just FYI…the wild hog I shot a few years back and tried to eat got thrown away. The dogs wouldn’t even eat it. Nasty.

  14. Of course, we could always ask the USAF to test drop laser guided JDAM’s in texas rather than out in Utah . . . .

  15. “If they run, they’re a hog! If they stand still they’re a well disciplined hog!” – a little Full Metal Jacket fun from a former Marine Corps grunt.

  16. “I done got me 87 confirmed kills. That’s no shit either!”

    “Do you ever shoot sows or piglets?”

    “Sometimes.”

    “How can you shoot piglets?”

    “Easy. You just don’t lead’em as much!”

    (more Full Metal Jacket fun)

  17. To the guy with the 5% margin comment……guys in Texas are buying Robinsons to keep up with the demand for the hunts….Im sure you can pay one off PDQ if your doing the flying. Most guys charge more than you are positing …$1200 per gunner slot one hour at a time on the 4 seater. $2400/hr gross 2-3 groups per day. Trailer the Robinson to the place to reduce flight times.
    It is a lucrative business if you can find the guys with the wallets.

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