The subject of hunting wild hogs and the waste of fresh pork from harvested hogs is a topic that I’m very passionate about and also one that often stirs the emotions of folks, both hunters and non hunters. I spent my younger years on a small farm where hogs we raised were considered a valuable commodity; they were meat for the winter as well as an added source of dollars.
With the ever increasing numbers of wild hogs in Texas today, it’s obvious that every one killed won’t wind up on the dinner table as pork chops or roast. In a perfect world, every morsel of meat from harvested wild hogs would indeed go to feed the hungry but the challenges of getting harvested hogs butchered, processed and packaged and distributed to those that could use the meat is a logistical nightmare. Granted, there are organizations that do a great job distributing wild pork to needy families but much of the meat from wild hogs goes to waste.
When wild hogs began to populate across the state in large numbers back in the late seventies and eighties, many hunters like myself that were raised knowing the value of hogs (pork) were elated by the fact that we could now go out and hunt our pork. Granted the meat from the hogs we harvested often isn’t as fat as the domestic hogs we were used to but we learned how to cook it so that it rivaled the flavor of domestic pork. I have come to enjoy fresh wild pork as much as venison and make sausage and cured, smoked ham from the more tender cuts. Like Bubba Gump with his shrimp, I know many, many ways to transform wild pork into tasty meals!
Once I came to the conclusion that wild hog numbers had to be controlled and that not every one harvested could be transformed into chops and roasts for the dinner table, I began to look at the ‘hog problem’ in a different light. Trapping is a very efficient method of controlling hog numbers, especially with today’s state of the art traps that can be controlled remotely with a cell phone app. Modern day trappers using these highly efficient trapping systems account for thousands of wild hogs that are sold to processing facilities and turned in ‘wild boar’ meat for human consumption or, used as pet food when not killed at an approved processing facility.
Many trapped hogs are sold to hunting ranches with hog proof fences where hunters pay a fee to hunt them. From a personal perspective, I am a huge fan of this method of putting all that wild pork to use. The wild hog again becomes a valuable animal and ultimately is consumed on the dinner table. It’s a win-win proposition. The ranch owner makes dollars by outfitting the hunters with lodging, meals, guiding and often processing the harvested animals.
I recently read on social media a post between a hunting outfitter that offered hunts for trapped, stocked hogs on a small track of hog proof fenced property and a fellow voicing his opinion and dislike for the outfitters operation. Many hog hunters today use thermal scopes at night mounted on AR style rifles and hunts thousands of acres, shooting at every hog that appears in the thermal scope the name of ‘hog control’. This style of hunting has become very popular and does eliminate hogs. It’s perfectly legal once the shooter gets permission from the landowner. Is it nearly as challenging as hunting hogs with a bow? Certainly not but it’s another effective tool in the toolbox used to control wild hogs. From time to time I also use a digital scope to hunt hogs at night, shooting them one at a time rather than the run and gun techniques used by many night hunters. Either way, night hunting is a very efficient method of putting pork in the cooler and perfectly legal.
The individual referenced was severely bashing the owner of this very successful hog hunting operation (the name of which I’ll not mention), calling it hunting in a ‘cage’. Although I’ve never actually hunted this ranch, I have been there and know for a fact that hunters that wish have hundreds of acres of free range woods to hunt or the small tract with stocked wild hogs.
This operation, located relatively close to a large Texas city, has hosted many first time hunters, both adults and children that come and enjoyed their very first hunt and usually come away with a cooler full of fresh pork and great memories of spending time in the outdoors. Their desire to hunt was sparked by a successful day afield. Many of the outfitters clients could not afford an expensive hunting lease or an AR topped with an expensive scope but they could muster the funds for a one day hog hunt.
I’ll pose this question and you can formulate your own opinion. Would it be better for hogs to be shot and left in the woods and fields to rot or to be trapped and sold to a hunting outfitter to generate dollars as well as provide an affordable animal for a hunter that might not otherwise have the opportunity? I guess the barb here is the fact that this particular operation is a small tract of fenced land where the hunters are almost sure to get an opportunity to harvest a hog. The outfitter I am referencing is booked throughout the year with hunters from all over the country and overseas.
On ranches like this, hogs once again become a valuable commodity and everyone from the trapper to the outfitter providing the hunts to the hunters themselves benefit.
In all fairness, this type hunting is not for everyone but is it really any different than shooting hogs from helicopters or running them with dogs, other than the cost of the hunt? All methods are deemed legal in our state and all help to remove excess hogs. I hunt hogs, one at a time with compound bow, big bore air rifle, bolt action centerfire topped with a digital scope for day or night hunting and sometime with muzzleloader. I have absolutely no problem with ‘how’ wild hogs are legally harvested but I do have a problem with someone becoming the self appointed judge of what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to taking wild hogs off the landscape.
When it comes to wild hogs, we need to harvest as many as we can which at the present rate is not serving to keep their numbers in check. I just like to see them put to use both as a cash crop and meat for the table! I also hate to see hard working people bashed when they are providing a service that helps reduce hog numbers in a perfectly legitimate method.
Contact outdoors writer Luke Clayton via his website www.catfishradio.org.