Today’s blog post comes from Jana Waller, host of Skull Bound TV. You can tune in for hunts with Jana on Wednesdays at 8:30 PM ET, Tuesdays at 1:00 AM ET and 12:00 PM ET.
We’re not talking about the cute, little Wilbur the pig from ‘Charlotte’s Web’. We’re talking about massive, stinky, destructive wild hogs that are invading many of our country’s states. The release of these non-indigenous swine is arguably one of the worst environmental disasters to occur in this great nation of ours.
According to the Smithsonian, “Wild hogs are among the most destructive invasive species in the United States today. Two million to six million of the animals are wreaking havoc in at least 39 states and four Canadian provinces; half are in Texas, where they do some $400 million in damages annually.”
Because these chow hounds are omnivores, they will devour almost everything in their path creating a wake of destruction. I had a first-hand look at the devastation in 2012 when I co-hosted an Animal Planet special called ‘Invasion Of The Mutant Pigs’. While the title of the show is humorous, the reality of their impact isn’t. From contaminating community water systems and threatening native wildlife to damaging forest and recreation lands not to mention causing millions of dollars in vehicle damage annually. The hog epidemic is downright scary.
Cameraman Jimmy and I decided to meet up with our good friend and hog-hunting extraordinaire Travis Priefert in his hometown of Mount Pleasant, Texas. Travis and his family own and operate Priefert Manufacturing, America’s #1 name in farm, ranch and rodeo equipment. Travis and his three brothers live and breathe the ranching and hunting lifestyle and know all to well the effects wild hogs are having on their livelihood. Any change to rid the landscape of a hog…or four… can only help. It was our intention to have some good laughs with great friends and hopefully shoot some hogs for the smoker.
There are many different ways to hunt these elusive bulldozers. I’ve hunted them in the dark using night vision goggles and scopes. I’ve spot-and-stalked the thick jungles of Florida. But Travis’s method was appealing too… pick a field the hogs like to frequent, read the wind, find a tree to lean against and wait. Relaxing yet productive.
Nothing is ever a ‘gimme’ in hunting. Not even hog hunting. The first evening we sat out we could see the big, black bodies of a dozen hogs in the thicket but they never came out into the open field. Whether the wind was swirling or they could sense it could possibly be their last supper, it just wasn’t our night.
The second evening we went back to the same spot and this time luck was in our corner… well, sort of. A group of ten or more wild pigs fed their way into the open field. Looking through my Vortex scope, I picked out the biggest one and pulled the trigger on my AR-15. ‘Click’. Nothing happened. I turned to Cameraman Jimmy, former marine sharp shooter, and whispered, “Gun malfunction!” He took a quick look and concluded there was problem with the firing pin.
Travis quickly handed me his open sights bush gun. “Here take this!” he whispered. “Just put it on him.” Steading the AR on my knee, I again placed the cross hairs on the biggest boar of the bunch approximately 150 yards away and fired.
“I heard the report!” Travis exclaimed as the rest of the hogs scattered into the thicket. “Me too! And I felt good with the shot.” I said, shaking with excitement. We gathered up our gear and made our way across the field to search the thick woods for the hairy beast.
Only able to see ten yards in the heavy undergrowth of the forest, we spit up for the search. A minute later I heard Travis let out a whistle indicating he found the big boar. I was elated to recover him and excited that we’d have a hog for the smoker! Bringing home the bacon as they say.
The following day we celebrated the hunt with the Priefert family and friends. Travis added his special concoction to the quartered hams consisting of oranges, spices, brown sugar and apple cider. He threw the trays in the smoker, added more cedar and closed the lid for eight hours of smoking. Don’t let the hairy, stinky beasts fool you, these hogs are delicious eating!
Cameraman Jimmy got in on the hog action on our last day. We set up in the same area as my hunt and right before dark a group of the feral invaders made an appearance. With the camera rolling I gave Jimmy the go ahead to drop the ‘ham’mer. He sent the Nosler .223 64 grain bonded bullet down range and dropped the biggest hog in his tracks from 200 yards away!
Standing over the big, hairy boar I couldn’t help but comment, “These pigs are definitely NOT your cute, little pink Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web!” After loading the hog into the back of Travis’s pickup, we high-fived in celebration of removing one more from the sounder of swine but in fact knowing there’s no easy solution to this epidemic of aporkalyptic proportions. Invasive species are just that… invaders that destroy the habitat and wildlife around them and hunting and trapping seem to be the only reasonable semi-solution to the problem. And we’re sure going to have fun trying.