Shoot a Feral Hog, Save a Sea Turtle!

courtesy savannahnow.com

How would you like to be paid to hunt? Full time. You get to live on your own “preserve” with one job: hunt wild animals that are damaging other endangered animals. All you have to do is kill as many feral hogs as you possibly can.

“I never would’ve imagined that this would be my job,” (Codey) Elrod says, trundling through Ossabaw (Island, Georgia)’s swampy midsection in a scruffy Chevy truck with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle riding shotgun. “But I sure do enjoy doing it.”

He is, officially, a “hog control technician” for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources — the only full-time, government-paid wild boar hunter in the South. The uniqueness of his job owes to the rapaciousness of the hogs. They’re a nasty, eat-everything, invasive species that are alien to Ossabaw and run roughshod over flora and fauna.

The primary fauna Elrod’s trying to protect are loggerhead sea turtles. The hogs love the turtles’ unprotected eggs that are laid in nests along the beach. Elrod’s apparently pretty good at his job.

“There he is,” Elrod whispers followed by three quick shots. A 50-pound sow, full of milk, squeals one last time.

Five minutes later, he fires again. And again. And again. And again. And again, the muffled shots nonetheless ricocheting around the tree-lined marsh. In all, eight shots fired. Five hogs dead.

But the smelly buggers are prolific. Which makes for good hunting..

Elrod hustles, particularly during turtle nesting season when he speedwalk-hunts the island every day. He kills, on average, 1,117 hogs a year. (Another 400 or so pigs are taken annually by other DNR officials or during managed hunts.) In 2016, he killed 1,561 hogs – an Ossabaw record for the 12-year-old program.

In the five years before Georgia hired a marksman (Elrod was the third sniper), 31 percent of loggerhead turtle nests were partially destroyed by hogs and other predators. In the last five years, only one of every 10 nests has been partially destroyed.

“Predation has been low and hatching success relatively high since Codey’s been around,” says Mark Dodd, a senior DNR wildlife biologist. “Having a skilled predator control person around is very important on our remote islands.”

He’s not restricted to using his silenced AR.

Elrod uses every hunting tool in his bag to kill pigs: dried corn bait; thermal-imaging scopes; dogs Bobo (pit bull) and Rudy (black mouth cur); and traps. Trapping garners the highest yield, but takes a lot of time. He won’t hunt the dogs in hot weather; cool-down ponds also attract alligators.

Mostly, though, Elrod shoots hogs one at a time with non-lead bullets that won’t harm bald eagles and other scavengers. High tides, he says, push hogs onto higher ground making them easier to spot. Wind swooshes everything around, masking his movements. Rain silences his footsteps.

You can help Elrod out on the island if you want.

Georgia runs two hog-only hunts on Ossabaw each year. They’re quite popular. A lottery system winnows down hunters. It typically takes three tries before a hunter is chosen. Forty-five hunters killed 27 hogs during the four-day hunt in February.

 

 

comments

  1. avatar Karl says:

    That’s impossible! ARs are weapons of war not for hunting!!!1!! Guns can’t save sea turtles only love can!!

    1. avatar anonymoose says:

      Love? Don’t you mean turtle fences?

    2. avatar W says:

      Forget good guys with guns.
      Pass a law banning feral pigs, pat each other on back, make some speeches, dine with lobbyists.

    3. avatar AdamTA1 says:

      And suppressors are only used by assassins.

    4. avatar Neil Parker says:

      You’re absolutely correct. How can he possibly be successful using a weapon system such as the AR platform in a non-theater-of-war environment to do his job successfully?

      There must be a catch somewhere.

      1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

        The war on pigs, let’s say.

        Folks complain about armed EPA, but that’s basically what he is – if not in name.

        Now if they’d only declare open season on climate deniers…

  2. avatar ARJAY says:

    Shoot a h o g g and save our 2nd Amendment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Just kidding.

    1. avatar Sorry kids, My constitutional rights are non-negotiable! says:

      What’s the difference between a feral hog and a camera hogg? Nothing, both are absolutely worthless and a total waste of matter.

      1. avatar bobo says:

        but one is THE makings of great BBQ!

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          Ewwwwww!…….Oh.

      2. avatar Rick says:

        No Feral Hogs are edible.

        1. avatar Rick says:

          I would never wish harm to Mr. Hogg, though he may want to have me publicly abused for suggesting the above. I hope he lives to learn how stupid he has been.

  3. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

    Hunting is murder! The .gov should build barrier walls around and under the nesting sites. Completely encircle them in concrete. Then they should pay the hogs to not eat the eggs.

    Bullshit aside….invasive species are a real threat to the natural wild life of an area. Feral cats. Feral hogs. Same, same. Killing them is the way to avert a holocaust in the critters that actually belong in an area.

    1. avatar Rattlerjake says:

      Leftists, Muslimes, and illegal Mexican’ts are also invasive species!

  4. avatar Geoff PR says:

    Some guys have all the luck…

    *mutter*

  5. avatar Gordon in MO says:

    OH NO! Not warm, fuzzy kitties ! They are so cute.

  6. avatar Wes says:

    The perfect job doesn’t exi-

  7. avatar RCC says:

    There was a similar program on Curtis Island off Queensland coast. Pigs eating the turtle eggs. We took 2500 pigs off the island in two years. Mostly by cage trap and about 500 by shooting. You had to pass shooting and safety course to apply.

    Lots of stories but one interesting one where pig was shot twice by buckshot and it had so much dried mud on it that no pellets went through. 30-06 worked fine.

  8. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Odd that they have a paid, full time hunter, yet have controlled, draw a tag only hunts?
    What am I missing? Oh wait. It’s the .gov.

    1. avatar anonymoose says:

      A lot of states don’t consider wild pigs a game animal, and thus you can hunt them without any licenses or tags. I’m surprised Georgia isn’t that way.

    2. avatar Scoutino says:

      Control is the word. One paid hunter is easier to control than all those hunters, who would gladly come to help with the hog problem for free.

  9. avatar Jon in CO says:

    I would love to shoot stuff and get paid with a nice cushy .gov medical plan. I’ll have to see what the city/state has here. Maybe they have nice program that lets me shoot pests for a living.

    1. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

      Enlist.

      1. avatar Geoff PR says:

        *snicker*…

  10. avatar Antoua says:

    No, you can’t be supporting double-faced facetious government who hires a hunter that uses an “assault rifle” and at the same time does everything to ban this type of firearm…

    1. avatar drunkEODguy says:

      unless I’m mistaken I’m pretty sure GA isn’t pushing and anti-gun agenda. ATL maybe, but that cesspit is hopeless anyway. Like most other super metro areas.

  11. avatar Sandeana Becker says:

    The more of these ugly pigs & hogs that hunters can get rid of, the more beautiful nature will be.

  12. avatar Aaron says:

    can ya make bacon from a sea turtle? no? then why do we care if they go extinct?

    1. avatar IdahoBoy says:

      Soup.

  13. avatar Bierce Ambrose says:

    Why would anyone need a semi-auto, big mag, suppressor … oh.

    1. avatar Scoutino says:

      But, but, but this is different! He is a government employee! The assault weapon magically changes into patrol rifle or hunting rifle by a touch of super highly trained .gov agent.

  14. avatar Bierce Ambrose says:

    Precinct Cop to Serpico: “Why do you need so many shots in your pistol?”

    Serpico: “How many of you are there?”

    1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

      This forum could teally use a [like] button…

  15. avatar Chris W says:

    My uncle did sea turtle research years ago on Ossabaw and Wassaw Islands. He would deffinitely support this program even though he did not like guns. If anyone in that area remembers Savannah Science Museum and Jerry Williamson.

  16. avatar SamZedd says:

    Oh, I’m so in.
    Enlist me!!!
    Me!!
    Me!!
    Me!!

    Infact I’m willing to pay (ahem….bribe) my way in for this hunt.

  17. avatar whoopie says:

    Couldn’t they just post “Hog Free Zone” signs all over the island where the turtles nest?

  18. avatar Neil Parker says:

    Can we widely speculate about his salary?

  19. avatar Ronn says:

    I hope Florida presents a sensible plan to eradicate the Burmese Python which is decimating the wild life in and about the Everglades. Perhaps a bounty given to the Native Americans living on those lands for Pythons eliminated. There is also a market potential for shoes, belts and bags. Does this sound feasible, could be a win-win.

  20. avatar PeterK says:

    This is one of the most awesome things I’ve ever read. Great read, guys.

  21. avatar Craig in IA says:

    I think you can hunt big snakes at night out of a boat in the Everglades as well. From what FL friends tell me, you don’t even see possums and raccoons anymore around there.

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