breaking news

Package believed to be bound for Austin explodes at FedEx facility in Schertz

Troublesome wild hogs leave us searching for solutions

I still remember, and vividly, the first wild hog I ever saw.

I was in high school and was squirrel hunting in Panola County, where I grew up. The weather was cold as it is now, and there was a nice sunny afternoon that just called out for some time in the woods.

I had spent a little time sneaking into a spot where I had seen a couple of squirrels, and knowing their tendency to hide from any perceived danger and then forget why they hid, I took a seat against a hickory tree and brushed the leaves away so I wouldn’t make much noise if I had to stand up suddenly.

A couple of minutes later, there came a rustling in the leaves 20 yards in front of me, and I looked up to see an adult gray fox trot into the open. He was big and fluffy and had a fine winter coat that flashed and shimmered in the afternoon sun.

I didn’t want to keep my squirrels hiding any longer than I had to, so I just watched him tiptoe on through my clearing and out of sight over a small rise. About that same time, I heard something coming along the same trail he’d followed. It was large and noisy and could have been a deer, I thought, so I hid like the cat squirrels. And waited.

Except it wasn’t a deer. It was a hog, a giant, black boar hog, sides encrusted with mud and a tail that was swishing back and forth as he hoovered acorns out of the leaf litter. He stopped right in front of me, about 20 yards away, just standing there being a hog.

I was carrying an old .410 shotgun loaded with No. 6 shot. And being a good East Texas-bred kid, I quickly ran through the things that might go wrong if I shot him and just as quickly scratched them off my list.

Squirrels be damned. I’m shooting this hog!

I raised the full choke, single shot .410 and placed the bead right behind his shoulder (I know now that an adult wild hog has an armor plate over his shoulders that can be more than an inch thick and can deflect a modern arrow and broadhead), and I touched it off.

At the shot, the pig kind of jumped into the air and ran back down the trail he’d come in on, leaving me shaky and frustrated. It’s doubtful that a single pellet from that little gun penetrated through the skin and into the layer of fat that was certainly beneath it.

He couldn’t have felt anything except maybe the few pellets bouncing off his tough old hide, and I know he wasn’t hurt because he never squealed and he left that part of the woods running full blast back toward the Sabine River.

It’s the kind of thing a young hunter never forgets but files away to be pulled out at some point down the line, when he needs it. I once was helping a hunter skin out a big hog he’d shot and just at the base of that hog’s jawbone was a full load of 12 gauge goose shot and part of the plastic empty hull that had lodged there when someone else shot the pig at some unknown point in the past.

That pig wasn’t even chewing funny so I’m certain my old boar died a normal death somewhere down the line. Maybe he got shot by another hunter, this one with a rifle, and that ended his reign as the biggest and baddest boar in the bottom.

This is all in response to a couple of news stories this week in the American-Statesman. One concerned attempts to come up with some kind of poison or birth control for wild hogs. The stuff in question is sodium nitrite, and it’s supposed to kill a pig within 90 minutes by shutting down his respiratory system.

It’s not known how much impact there could be on other animals, but at least there’s some testing going on in Texas right now. And unlike Kaput, the supposed perfect control system that was pulled from the market earlier this year, the sodium nitrite only really acts on wild hogs.

The other story is from down below Uvalde, where a wild hog ran into traffic and caused a wreck that took several lives and left others injured. This on top of the fact that hogs already are causing more than $50 million in damage every year to property and crops and water sources all over the state.

And finally, I killed my first hog of the year just two weeks ago. This from a deer stand in Kerr County when he came out of a cedar break and tried running some deer off a feeder I was watching.

The best thing about that hog was that he was big and old and needed to die; but also he was chousing deer. The acorns were finally beginning to dry up, and that’s why we saw several hogs that weekend when we hadn’t seen more than one or two all season long.

I guess what I’m hoping is that we can find a way to control feral hogs in Texas without endangering deer and turkeys and other animals, not to mention any hunters who might want to cook a ham for themselves and their families.

It’s a long-standing problem but maybe we can do that. Meanwhile, any hogs I see while I’m squirrel hunting might want to turn around and run. Or not. Depends on whether I’m using a .410 or not.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Memo to May: In Premier League, Russian roots run deep
Memo to May: In Premier League, Russian roots run deep

The Russian flag has been there so long now that it hardly attracts any notice, just another familiar piece of background scenery in the global, cosmopolitan Premier League. It hangs from the upper deck of the Matthew Harding Stand at Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club. In its central blue band, spelled out in white block capitals,...
For UMBC, the NCAA magic is fleeting, but the memories will be lasting
For UMBC, the NCAA magic is fleeting, but the memories will be lasting

It ended the way these stories tend to in March, with the wonderment wilting too soon after it sprouts. The thrill of Maryland Baltimore County - a basketball team that forced an edit of the list of greatest upsets ever - was fleeting. The most delightful things rarely last long enough. The first men's No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 in an NCAA tournament...
Broncos got their guy, who's next?
Broncos got their guy, who's next?

The Broncos, Boss John Elway said, "got our guy." Nevertheless, the Broncos need more guys to become relevant again. Casey Austin Keenum is the "new starting quarterback" of the Broncos, Elway announced on Friday in a cramped room at The Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse. C.K. will become the Broncos' 47th starting quarterback in the franchise's...
Masters Preview? McIlroy wins at Bay Hill, and Tiger makes a run
Masters Preview? McIlroy wins at Bay Hill, and Tiger makes a run

Australian golfer Adam Scott was asked last week if Tiger Woods could win the Masters. “This Masters?” Scott said, emphasizing the first word. “That would match the entire story of his career.” Augusta National is Woods’ next stop, and after he posted his 10th consecutive round of par or better — and spent the final...
New Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has way of proving doubters wrong
New Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has way of proving doubters wrong

Mark Dantonio wanted his team to vote again. The Michigan State football coach hadn't decided on his starting quarterback, and yet one of the candidates, Kirk Cousins, was voted team captain for the 2009 season. A sophomore hadn't been voted captain at Michigan State since 1949. "I thought that was unusual," Dantonio said. So he reconfigured...
More Stories