Todd Huey may look eccentric wearing a night vision helmet, dressed in camo, roaming through the woods at 4 a.m. But he’s exactly what Texas farmers need. The law enforcement officer is skilled in the art of exterminating hogs. An art you say? Yes, indeed . . .

Blasting 200 pounds of bacon on legs may sound easy. For most of us it is — if we’re shooting “a” hog. Texas farmers don’t have a problem with “a” hog. The Lone Star State is home to 2.6 million enormously destructive, disease-ridden feral hogs — despite killing some 750k of the critters per year.

Todd’s job is to kill as many hogs as possible, as quickly as possible. The challenge: hogs hang out in groups. It’s not uncommon to come up on a sounder of swine with thirty individuals just hanging around, trampling crops.

To successfully manage the vast number of hogs invading a particular piece of land, a hunter must be skilled at landing the first shot and several thereafter. ‘Cause once you release that first bullet, the sound scares off the others and they start to run. (Shooting suppressed helps but doesn’t completely eliminate the issue.)

Once on the move, hogs scatter. Even in an open field their erratic running patterns make it difficult to land subsequent shots. Imagine trying to shoot a series of fast-moving targets one to three feet tall at a distance of 80 to 150 yards. Sounds so fun right? It totally was.

Being a newbie to night vision, I didn’t know what to expect. More than anything I was afraid to accidentally break the equipment. Huey warned me not to f*** up several times. Leaving the night vision on and pointing it at a light source — once — would damage the gear.

Huey set me up with his LWRCI CSASS .308 paired with a Pulsar Night Vision thermal scope. All I can say is, WOAH what a gun! Yeah, I know: I’m no Jon Wayne Taylor when it comes to gun reviews. Suffice it to say, I found this rifle to be precise AF.

Wearing the night vision helmet made me feel like that scene in Back to the Future where Michael J. Fox is disguised as an alien. Since everything is appears green, it was like being on another planet, or inside of a video game. Saying that, I couldn’t see any detail. Once the hog was in my sights, I was essentially aiming at a hog-shaped black mass. Huey’s advice: aim for the ear, eliminating the need to shoot at the same hog twice.

If only the dang piggies would’ve stood still! I bet I could have killed a hundred of them. Yes, well, over the course of two nights, I only managed to kill four. And one mangy coyote. Huey, on the other hand, claims he can take out 42 hogs in an hour. Watching the man work, I believe him.

In the first go round, after the first shot, things got crazy.

I’m used to aiming at/shooting one animal at a time. As an ethical hunter, this behavior’s been engraved in my brain. After I took my first shot, I kept looking through the glass to make sure my target was down. While I was looking to see if my first shot was a hit, all the other piggies were running away. I know I’ll go faster with my AR next time. I will be ready for multiple engagements.

Hunting hogs with night vision is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on, and great training for SHTF situations (including the now unfashionable zombie apocalypse). And while Texas’ War on Hogs shows no signs of ending, the nasty little creatures are providing fun, training and dog food (courtesy Wild Boar Meat Company). Given the damage they continue to cause, it’s a small blessing. But a good one.

20 Responses to Liberte Austin: Night Vision Boar Hunting in Texas

  1. If Texas is serious about the hog population, suggest they push the landowners to drop the price of hunting them. Very hard to justify the price, especially for an out of state hunter.

    • Hunting hogs is likely more profitable than farming. At least by the prices I’ve seen. Couple those prices with travel and it is a rather significant investment in time and treasure.

      • I bet it’s profitable!!!

        plant BS crop…then have hogs ruin it! Call the USA gov to pay for said crop! Then ask hunters to pay to kill hogs—rinse repeat next year!

        • Yeah, I wish it was so easy to be profitable. But, no .. it just don’t work that way – not at all.

    • As a Texas landowner let me give my point of view: individual hunters don’t make a big enough impact on hog populations to outweigh potential risks to my livestock and equipment, and litigation concerns if they injure themselves or others. Hog control, much less eradication,will require much more than allowing or not allowing hunting access, fora fee or for free.

      • So what’s the answer then? I’m genuinely curious. The hogs are overrunning the state but landowners (justifiably) don’t want to open up property to just anybody. Perhaps there’s no solution and hogs will continue to win the war… and then the hogs will be in congress, and we’ll be the ones in pens covered in mud.

        • I employ a professional trapper, works in the short run but neighboring property owners need to be taking measures as well. Reducing some of the regulatory hurdles over the sale of harvested meat and on slaughter facilities would be a start. Statewide poisoning has been suggested but comes with a whole set of issues and may cause more long-term problems than it solves. Wish I had a better answer (probably make me rich if I did).

      • Sounds like a true need for a ‘hog’ club to me?

        One that has set fees for members or visitors and caries insurance to cover falling in a hole or bessie the heffer getting blasted!

        Might be a money maker there???

  2. Diseased Hogs? What kinds and are they easy to differentiate while hunting? What do you do with inedible swine?

    I would think that eradication and the means would still make it fun, but not being able to butcher the animal for food might make it a lot less worth it.

  3. “Leaving the night vision on and pointing it at a light source — once — would damage the gear.”

    The caps *only* come off in the *dark*. Indoor room light, even subdued, can fry them.

    And people have been known to sell their fried NV gear on eBay, so buyer beware…

  4. Dog Food??? As a pork lover, I find that prospect disturbing. Isn’t there any way one can safely consume the critters that you shoot? Like smoking them for 24 hours or something… honestly, while I live my dogs, the idea of giving up hundreds of pounds of all-natural pork just seems like a waste.

  5. TTAG crew and Texas readers, what is the best way for an out of state Hunter to come down and shoot some bacon? Are there any outfitters that you recommend? Any particular areas? How about what is easiest, and what is the cheapest?

  6. I live in Ohio … in a suburb … we don’t even have squirrels or bunnies. So serious question that I know nothing about: are the hogs left for other critters to consume? Or is every hog butchered and used by humans or dogs? Are there laws/rules about what must be done with the hogs once they are killed?

  7. Here’s an off the cuff solution I respectfully submit. Texas creates a special hog hunting/erradication license. You have to apply and pay for it to offset administrative cost. That “licensing group” would then map out and schedule sessions to minimize the hogs. First weekend would be zone 1 & 3. Second 2&4. Repeat following month. Quarterly you would have a needs specific zone designated. You would have entries for these hunts with a limit cap based on the acreage of the properties being “treated”. So essentially you would treating the hogs problem as a terminator would a bug problem. The property owners would petition to be included and legal liabilities would have to contain “compromises” on both the hunters, the owners, and those administratively involved. I know, it’s easier said than done. Wadd y’all think.

  8. We have a lot of feral hogs around here in central Oklahoma but you couldn’t find one to hunt no matter how much you wanted to, and trust me, I’d love to kill hogs for some landowner. The common response is there is too much liability but the state has a program to protect landowners as long as they don’t charge more than $5 or $10 for someone to hunt so that’s not a legitimate reason. I don’t know about Texas but here in Oklahoma commercial “hog hunting” companies lease up the land from farmers/ranchers and then charge folks ridiculous amounts to “hunt” a hog. It does NOTHING to control the population because they have to maintain enough of a population to keep “hunters” successful which means buying the hogs trapped by trappers and then releasing them again. If anything they are increasing the population (or at the very least maintaining it) to keep business good. Nobody wants to pay that kind of money for a hunt to come home with an empty cooler so they just keep replacing the ones killed and increasing populations in leased areas with low numbers.

    I’ve wanted to hunt hogs for 20 years but I’m not paying some commercial outfit to do it and landowners won’t let anyone hunt even when the liability issue has been addressed by the state to encourage them to do so. I get that landowners are leary of letting strangers on their land with a gun to hunt but it used to be common practice with very little problems. Offer up the opportunity and ensure you’re dealing with a qualified hunter who is responsible and trustworthy instead of just denying everyone on the basis that something bad might happen. When I was young it was very common for landowners to let people hunt. We would offer meat or offer to help them in some way also as a thank you and it always worked out well. I was raised on gun safety and to respect the property of anyone that let me hunt there as if it were my own land. A landowner having problems with their hunters was so rare it was shocking to hear about and anyone who did something wrong was blackballed across the entire area. I’m not really sure how or when things changed but there’s no trust anymore. Landowners these days won’t even talk to you or get to know you to see if you could help them out with their hog problem, it’s just an automatic “sorry, no hunting, I’m not interested in discussing it, no hunting.” Sad.

    It’s a no win situation and will get much, much worse until commercial hog hunting is banned and a better system put in place. For example, in Oklahoma the state arranged a website that allows hog hunters and landowners to sign up so both folks could contact each other, ask questions, get to know each other, and if the landowner was satisfied that the hunter was a trustworthy and ethical hunter he would allow them on the property . The website has been there for 2 years for sure, maybe longer, and despite several hunters signing up not one single landowner has signed up. I’m not blaming landowners, I know it probably comes like that, they have a lot on the line and it’s not fair to systematically assign responsibility. I’m just saying that maybe we need to stop thinking like folks of 2017 and start thinking like folks of pre-1990 when we trusted each other until give a reason not to instead of the other way around.

    • I tried to edit the above post because it came off accusatory and that’s not what I meant but my time limit for editing ran out and it wouldn’t let me so here’s the version I should have posted.

      We have a lot of feral hogs around here in central Oklahoma but you couldn’t find one to hunt no matter how much you wanted to, and trust me, I’d love to kill hogs for some landowner. The common response is there is too much liability and that’s a legitimate reason in most cases. However, to encourage landowners to allow hunters on their land the state (Oklahoma) has a program to protect those landowners as long as they don’t charge more than $5 or $10 for someone to hunt so that issue isn’t nearly the issue it used to be. I don’t know about Texas but here in Oklahoma commercial “hog hunting” companies lease up the land from farmers/ranchers and then charge folks ridiculous amounts to “hunt” a hog. It does NOTHING to control the population because they have to maintain enough of a population to keep “hunters” successful which means buying the hogs trapped by trappers and then releasing them again. If anything they are increasing the population (or at the very least maintaining it) to keep business good. Nobody wants to pay that kind of money for a hunt to come home with an empty cooler so they just keep replacing the ones killed and increasing populations in leased areas with low numbers.

      I’ve wanted to hunt hogs for 20 years but I’m not paying some commercial outfit to do it and landowners won’t let anyone hunt even when the liability issue has been addressed by the state to encourage them to do so. I get that landowners are leary of letting strangers on their land with a gun to hunt but it used to be common practice with very little problems. Offer up the opportunity and ensure you’re dealing with a qualified hunter who is responsible and trustworthy instead of just denying everyone on the basis that something bad might happen. When I was young it was very common for landowners to let people hunt. We would offer meat, cookies or offer to help them in some way also as a thank you and it always worked out well. I was raised on gun safety and to respect the property of anyone that let me hunt there as if it were my own land. A landowner having problems with their hunters was so rare it was shocking to hear about and anyone who did something wrong was blackballed across the entire area. I’m not really sure how or when things changed but there’s no trust anymore. Landowners these days won’t even talk to you or get to know you to see if you could help them out with their hog problem, it’s just an automatic “sorry, no hunting, I’m not interested in discussing it, no hunting.” Sad.

      It’s a no win situation and will get much, much worse until commercial hog hunting is banned (or at least heavily regulated) and a better system put in place. For example, in Oklahoma the state arranged a website that allows hog hunters and landowners to sign up so both folks could contact each other, ask questions, get to know each other, and if the landowner was satisfied that the hunter was a trustworthy and ethical hunter he would allow them on the property . The website has been there for a few years now and despite several hunters signing up not one single landowner has signed up. This caused even hunters to stop signing up. I’m not blaming landowners, I know it probably comes off like that, they have a lot on the line and it’s not fair to systematically assign responsibility. I’m just saying that maybe we need to stop thinking like folks of 2017 and start thinking like folks of pre-1990 when we trusted each other until give a reason not to instead of the other way around.

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