Feral Hogs Are Destructive and Delicious…And A Dream Come True

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By Russ Lumpkin via Sporting Classics Daily

The tracks of whitetails, turkeys, and feral pigs crisscrossed and piled on each other, captured in the temporary cement of red clay that had not received rain in weeks. Mike and I had hunted turkeys that morning but entered the swamp road toting slug guns and looking for swine. A small pine stood to the left of the road, and a portion of the tree’s bark had been eroded away. The invasive beasts used it as a scratching post . . .

The road had been built through a cypress–tupelo swamp adjacent to the Savannah River. Mike had hunted pigs in that lowland for years and had adopted a still-hunter’s approach, which made good sense to me. We walked at an inchworm’s pace, looking, glassing, and listening, certain we’d see hogs—evidence of their work gouged the ditches of the road, the road itself, and any ground higher than the swamp soup.

The colors of spring remained hidden in the buds, which enabled us to see deep into the flood-plain forest where the buttressed trunks of ancient trees held firm in the soft ground but bore hues similar to muddy pig. After 20 minutes we’d seen nothing but abundant sign of their invasive presence.

Ten minutes later Mike stopped and squinted. He heard something I didn’t and entered the swamp to our right. I followed. We tiptoed over damp ground about 50 yards and stopped. Then I could hear it—a sounder of hogs issuing a chorus of satisfied, low-level snorts.

We walked farther and whispered a plan of attack. Like the buffalo hunters of old, we aimed to take the biggest females first, figuring the subordinates would remain within shooting range as long as the big mamas died in their tracks. We could see four or five head, picked sows, and began an ambush that lasted all of seven seconds.

The shots set off an eruption of pigs and flying mud and screaming confusion that offered only glimpses of hide among the giant cypress, and when the smoke settled, four hogs lay dead, several ran free, and two carrying wounds ran bellowing toward the river. We debated dragging the pork to the road.

“Let’s just leave them all here,” I said.

“They’re good eating,” Mike countered.

“But they don’t belong here. Eating them makes me feel like I’m embracing their presence . . . like it’s a good thing.”

“Getting rid of all these pigs won’t be easy, pal. Take the good where you can.”

Eight years later that pine tree to the left of the swamp road succumbed; the hogs wore it in two. That little tree and its eroded rings serve as microcosms of a feral pig’s relationship to the land—destruction on many levels.

The USDA estimates more than 5 million feral hogs are running wild in the US. According to researchers at Mississippi State University, the estimated price tag of feral-pig damage across the country totals more than $1.5 billion a year—the damage includes nesting cover for gallinaceous birds and actual nests, bedding and birthing cover for native ungulates, and food of any kind that everything else eats. Hogs even make prey of turkey poults and whitetail fawns.

But take the good where you can.

Hog hunting has created a niche for itself among manufacturers of sporting equipment. Loads and scopes and lights and attractants designed specifically for pigs flood the market each year, and many such products help stores in rural areas keep their doors open.

Also, in and of themselves, feral hogs have a few things in their favor. First, they’re fun to hunt. Second, they can be hunted every day of the year. Finally, as my friend Mike said, they’re good eating, especially when served among hunting brethren gathered together.

In short, feral pigs are bad for forests, swamps, fields, and native wildlife, but fun for hunters and valuable to anyone in need of meat. Further, it seems the bad news is also the good news: Their rate of proliferation and ever-expanding range means feral pigs are likely here to stay.

Seems we need to take pig hunting more seriously. We could learn a thing or two from the Europeans.

Hunters in the old countries celebrate the boar hunt with music, fire, and ceremony. They wear fine hunting clothes. They carry and shoot rifles crafted by old and respected manufacturers, and they tend to pile up the pigs.

I’m not suggesting we go all European royalty here, but hunting and killing feral hogs could support a more passionate following, something akin to the old-time deer-hunting clubs, where community members from various societal levels met at old shacks and ran dogs and spent mornings and afternoons hunting. Where young boys learned how grown men interact with each other, the land, dogs, and cooking accouterments. Try combining the social gatherings that accompany dove shoots with the fervor of deer, duck, and turkey hunters.

Instead of simply hunting wild hogs during lazy afternoons of turkey seasons or taking shots at them from deer stands, build parties around them. Organize hunts that run the day and night. Invite your friends.

For sportsmen, feral pigs are something of a dream come true. Killing them is good for everything else in the wild—so killing a lot of them is even better. They provide all-natural meat free of steroid injections, and feral hog is one of the wild meats that doesn’t have to be wrapped in bacon to be palatable. Best of all, they provide a hunting season that never ends.

 

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Russ Lumpkin is the editor of  Sporting Classics. Read his piece “For Places and Times That Never End.”

 

comments

  1. avatar Cameron b says:

    My first hunt was for hogs.

  2. avatar Matt in Pa says:

    Would like one day to hunt Em with the mighty 10 Mike Mike.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      Have someone behind you with the mighty .308.

  3. avatar anaxis says:

    Around where I live, it’s hard to find room in the freezer for any venison, what with all the wild pig meat that fills it on the regular. I’ve found that the SKS is mighty handy in taking them, and have once needed the bayonet when a particularly nasty one doesn’t want to stay down, and I don’t have time to reload.

  4. avatar Gunr says:

    As seen on U tube.
    I don’t usually talk to Vegans, but when I do, it’s with a mouth full of beacon!

    1. avatar Ing says:

      Some of my best friends are vegans. I eat a lot of bacon. 🙂

  5. avatar Justsomeguy says:

    I’m looking forward to having an opportunity to hunt hogs soon. It looks like a lot of fun to me. I have had some of the meat done up like chicken fried steak and it was pretty good.

    The sad thing is that there are people who really get into the hunting that are releasing more and larger species so that the population will increase in size and numbers. Unfortunately it is also increasing in destructiveness.

    Sounds like I need to find my rifle so I can do my part to reverse that.

  6. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Mmmmmm… Bacon!

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      You know, I don’t think one word is enough to justify the delicious taste!
      Should be “Beacon Beacon”

  7. avatar RatInDaHat says:

    I would love to get into this, but don’t even know where to get started. I know NM is having issues with the hogs right now.

    1. avatar B says:

      Any farmer or country friends? Ask em if you can hunt on their land and offer them half the meat or something. There are no tags or limits on hogs, kill them all if you can. Even if you kill 75% of a herd their population will recover in a year. There’s likely a farmer somewhere near you getting plagued by the vermin. Camp out near a prime lie, try to be upwind, try to take out the females.

      1. avatar RatInDaHat says:

        Good insights there. Guess i need to make some friends.

  8. avatar notalima says:

    peccary / javelina sausage. Mmmmm.

    Fall can’t get here fast enough.

  9. avatar PeterC says:

    I shot a couple of feral hogs some years ago, using a Taurus .44 Magnum revolver and Garrett 310-gr. Hammerhead ammo. It was the best pork I’ve had in years. Unlike today’s supermarket pork (“The Other White Meat”), bred to be lean, this meat was surrounded with wonderful white fat. I hope I get the opportunity to fill my freezer with wild pork again.

  10. avatar Dan l says:

    Java Lina and wild pigs are different. Java Lina are more closely related to racoons, there is a season and bag limit in texas, and I won’t eat one unless I’m starving. Wild pigs are just farm pigs that got loose, there’s lots to talk about Russian boar being released for hunting purposes, but I’d bet it’s over 90% farm pig….they taste great, if u bleed them for a few days then use a smoker it comes out tasting alot like roast beef because the wild pig has a much less fat content then a farm pig.
    It was a neat article but pigs are super smart, I can’t see how party style hunting would work and contrary to what people say they run , rarely stand and fight.

    We shot the first pig on the family place in Lampasas last week, and it won’t be the last

    1. avatar Irish1776 says:

      I’m not sure where you live, but around here the hogs are definitely not the same breeds that you see raised for meat. They more commonly resemble wild Russian Boar. There IS a difference between a feral pig and a wild boar. We tend to see some very interesting variety here because of the descendants of numerous domesticated agricultural breeds have cross-bred and back-bred with truly wild Russian Boars.

  11. avatar neiowa says:

    If you’re going all Eurp I’m pretty sure the traditional method was a long pigsticker/spear. That’ll give you some excitement.

    Are they ACTUALLY good tasting? Compared to confinement fed hog? Largely taste is relative to their foodstock. Does this vary in Tx vs Ok vs ______ and do any actually taste such that worth dragging to the butcher? Texans are rabidly convinced that their crappy grass fed steers taste good so this may be relative to regional brainwashing. The range fed is horrible stuff. Might as well be eating 20yr old buck, roadkill armadillo or the neighbor’s old hound dog. Anyone that has taste real beef or hog knows that corn fed confinement beef/pig is the melt in your mouth stuff. Now that the feds have dropped the “cholesterol is bad BS” we can shoot/bury the grassfed stuff and eat MEAT.

    Much interested in a hog hut and so are my kids. In fact I bet I could put a bus load of Iowas ntogether in a week to go somewhere South. If there was a good organized destination. Fortunately we don’t have the things up here. Yet anyhow.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      Yes, what they eat does make a difference. Way up here in far northern California, it is mostly dry grassland with scrub oak and manzanita. The hogs eat mostly acorns and grass since there isn’t much else available. A friend of mine says his hands shot a big boar and that it was pretty awful. But I have had smoked boar from Marin County, which is much wetter, and it was quite good.

    2. avatar Big E says:

      Mark N is correct. Just like deer, the diet is the determining factor. I’ve gotten a sow from sugar cane fields in South Florida that was INCREDIBLE. Huge sow from So Georgia that ate a lot of Peanuts was pretty good too. One from southern Missouri not as much.

      1. avatar Irish1776 says:

        Sugar-cane fed hogs? Maybe their diabetes gave the meat some extra zing. /humor/

    3. avatar Paelorian says:

      It’s what you’re used to. When people are surveyed about what water should taste like, they point to the water they’ve been drinking their whole lives as the best stuff. Back in the day, all beef was grass fed. It was still good. It’s different, but I actually prefer ranged, grass-fed beef.. Sure, a confined grain-fed animal is going to have fattier meat. In some people’s opinion, that means it’s superior. Not to me. I enjoy some meats that are much leaner, like moose, elk, venison, bison, and ostrich. It comes down to personal preference. Some people only like dark meat chicken, others (whose idea of a salad is probably iceberg lettuce) only like white meat. I like both, what matters is the dish. The most important point is that the chef knows what they’re doing. Different meats need to be prepared differently. If one is an incompetent cook, then the fattier meat might turn out better since it’s more forgiving in the cooking and lean meat is easier to screw up. But if the chef knows how to handle good moose meat, you can eat something as good as the best steaks. Although I enjoy Peter Luger as much as the next man, I’ve had meals of game that I’d rather eat again. I don’t have access to it, but I’d go out of my way to bag an axis deer (chital) just for the meat that is pretty much universally considered delicious.

  12. avatar Milsurp Collector says:

    First hunt I ever went on was for hogs at a buddy’s Texas ranch last year. We’d drive there around 9pm, set the bait, let it sit for an hour while we picked up ammo at the Wal-Mart down the road, and commenced pest control. I rocked a Norinco SKS, he carried some Savage made bolt gun in .30-06. Good times. Good times indeed.

    1. avatar anaxis says:

      I personally feel that the SKS is one of the best hog-guns around; cheap, accurate, durable, lightweight (for examples that’ve been quality-sporterized), and the rounds carry enough weight to punch through heavy brush & bone. Around here in the thick kudzu & brambles of Alabama, often it’s difficult to spot vital areas on the pigs when you can only see a small part of them through the overgrowth.

      While living out west where the ranges/visibility opened up, I also took my M1 Garand & CETME on hunts for wild pigs; but 7.62×39 is incredibly cost-effective compared to the aught-six & NATO rounds, plus the lighter weight of the SKS & recoil makes taking multiple hogs a bit easier.

      On occasion I’ve headed out with a guy who hunts them with a standard AR, and once had to pick pieces of copper jacket out of my pork-steak from a round that completely broke up for some reason. There were also a few animals he hit that didn’t drop immediately, or ran off after a round deflected off a branch. But the last time I talked to him, he had also bought an SKS for the sole purpose of hunting wild pig. 😉

      1. avatar Justin says:

        I have shown friends and coworkers a picture of my WASR AK with a drum and a red dot sight and calling it my pig gun.

      2. avatar OBlamo binLyen says:

        How do you think a 147 grain 300 BLK would work on a hog? I’ve been trying to get a friend of mine to take me, living in the city in Kommieforniastan it’s hard to find places or know someone with experience to train with.

      3. avatar Paul says:

        I want an AK for hog. But it needs to have a place to mount an optic easily and securely. I’d like a 4x given the ranges I’d be shooting (about 100-150 yards).

  13. avatar Tater says:

    Deer I hunting with dogs is some of the best fun I’ve ever had. It really is a growing experience exactly how it was described. That’s how I killed my first deer.

  14. avatar jwm says:

    Hog hunting in CA is a bit different. They do mondo damage here which the state recognises. But in order to take one you have to have a 22 dollar tag. For each and every pig. You have to process the tags.

    And the ranchers that own the land being overrun by the pigs and lose crops and profits to them will gladly let you hunt the pigs. For 600 dollars each.

    At this point I’m so fed up with the stupdity and greed of the state of CA and it’s ranchers and farmers that I’m thinking of sneaking into Texas, rounding a bunch of their porkers up and releasing them into CA. 3-4 trips a year ought to increase the damage to record proportions.

    And oh yes, the state of CA won’t allow you to hunt at night for pigs.

    Phucking marvelous.

    1. avatar rlc2 says:

      Yup. Even if you CAN get thru the locked gates on USFS and BLM lands, you cant drive the public roads on the portions on private land without written permission, or you are poaching, and can lose your rifle and truck. Good luck getting written permission from the wealthy elite who buy up land and post no trespassing signs on it.

      Cant use IR or night vision sights on rifles, and cant even have hand-helds with you during hunting season, and since pig hunting season is all year round, you can have that gear confiscated.

      The biologists who run the USFS dont want hunters walking on the flowers in the reveg areas, that the wild pigs happily tiller into invasive grass wastelands, digging up the delicate tasty native stuff. Last three years USFS has banned shooting of any type on the land south of I-8 claiming wildfire hazard. The only people using that land are the heavily armed coyotes doing the human and drug smuggling into the US.

      Morons.

    2. avatar Paul says:

      Honestly, it’s a pain to hog hunt around here in the TX panhandle too. No tags needed which is great, but farmers aren’t particularly willing to let you just go hunt. You’ll probably need a lease to get hunting and around here those are damn expensive 🙁 It makes me sad. Feral pig ribs and ground breakfast sausage is YUMMY.

  15. avatar Farmer Tyler says:

    Thankfully we have a very minimal issue with hogs. Whitetails are another story. Before we really got to dealing with them we was losing $15-25k a year on deer damage. 4 years of killing up to 500 deer in a growing season has really helped tremendously. In our county there are only a couple farmers reporting hog damage and they are dealt with swiftly to prevent them spreading. Hog “wallow” in the fields and make it rough on equipment.

    As mentioned above we try to watch the people with permits to transport live hogs. Many are suspicious of them due to the fear they move and release them to spread the hogs so they can hunt/remove them. Not uncommon for the trappers to find dead hogs in the traps from locals killing them to prevent the trappers from relocating them.

  16. avatar lowell says:

    “For sportsmen, feral pigs are something of a dream come true. Killing them is good for everything else in the wild—so killing a lot of them is even better. They provide all-natural meat free of steroid injections, and feral hog is one of the wild meats that doesn’t have to be wrapped in bacon to be palatable. Best of all, they provide a hunting season that never ends.”

    And can be done at night with night vision equipment, and semi-autos with 30 round mags. And the anti-gun/anti-hunting crowd has to really twist an contort to say anything at all about this because it’s legitimate invasive-pest control even by their standards.

  17. avatar Ralph says:

    The best part about shooting feral pigs is that even the bleeding heart anti-hunter claque does not think that they are cute and fuzzy.

    1. avatar Gunr says:

      You haven’t heard my wife talk about the “Cute little piggy wiggies”.

      1. avatar Paul says:

        cute little bacon wacon

    2. avatar B says:

      Hogs are freaking terrifying. Weigh the same as a person, low center of gravity, tusks and grinding teeth, very intelligent pack hunting omnivores that breed super fast. If they had thumbs and didn’t taste so good that we eat 115 million of them a year we’d probably be fighting them for domination of the planet.

      1. avatar anaxis says:

        I tend to think of them as furry warm-blooded cockroaches. I despise pigs, almost as much as bugs. The only reason I don’t, is because pork is tastier than bug and more satisfying to hunt.

  18. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    Pigs will eat anything including you, so be sure to use enough gun!

  19. avatar Grindstone says:

    Never hunted, looking to getting into it. Hogs will be my first target.

    1. avatar Chrispy says:

      I’m in the same boat, but I think I’m over 1000 miles from Hog country. Here it’s whitetail, and they’re worse now than they have been at any other point in my life.

      Being perfectly honest, I don’t think I can stomach the processing. At all.

    2. avatar Irish1776 says:

      Frankly, hunting something that can easily kill you is probably not the best choice for a first hunt. I was squirrel hunting as a kid and narrowly escaped being eviscerated by the most pissed-off animal I have ever witnessed in person. He kept me stuck in a tree for what seemed like hours to an 11 year old. He was heavy enough to break the stock of my .22 right at the grip/buttstock transition as my rifle lay at the base of the tree I shimmied up trying to evade him. Finally my grandpa came walking the treeline looking for me and put two slugs in it.

      Yes they can kill you. Yes, they will eat you.

      1. avatar Grindstone says:

        1) I’m not 11. 2) I won’t be armed with a .22. I have plenty of friends that hog hunt, never had any problems.

  20. avatar Irish1776 says:

    ***ATTENTION***
    Any first time hog hunters need to read about the VERY REAL RISK of contracting Brucellosis when handling and field dressing hogs. Wear rubber gloves and be very careful to keep your hands away from your face and mouth while dressing them out. Be extremely careful not to penetrate any part of its stomach, bladder and intestines when cutting them open. We have found that it is best to start gutting and prepping them immediately if you plan on eating them. Lastly, you’ll also be surprised at how fast every flea and tic on the carcass tries to make you their new home.

    1. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

      Thanks. I was actually wondering about the tick thing the other day.

    2. avatar I_Like_Pie says:

      And the poison ivy…they seem to love to roll around in poison ivy.

  21. avatar Rimfire says:

    I thought this article was about Hillary, then read the print.

  22. avatar Marcus (Aurelius) Payne says:

    I don’t understand why there are still tag requirements for them even on public land. If they are that much of a problem, can’t they be exempted from tagging like I understand squirrels are?

  23. avatar Paul says:

    If you turn down an easy, already bagged source of ribs you deserve what you get. Not a ton of meat on wild pig ribs but damn man, with a whiskey based glaze and a turn in the smoker they are SO tasty

  24. avatar FedUp says:

    “Let’s just leave them all here,” I said.

    “Free food for the ones you didn’t shoot,” I say.

  25. avatar Jack Beauregard says:

    Feral hogs are just like terrorists from the Middle East. They leave nothing but death and destruction in their wake, and have little value for much else. The real difference though is the hogs don’t rape goats.

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