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 hog hunting, 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.