Hog Wild— More Lessons Learned!
By Ron Jolly
In the summer 2012 issue of Gamekeepers I wrote a story entitled “HogWild.” In it I shared what my wife Tes and I have learned since feral hogs first began invading our east-central Alabama farm. From the first encounter with feral hogs in 2004 we have been under siege by these invasive creatures.
The first thing you have to realize is that hogs are not like the native wildlife we all cherish. Hogs are devastating to the land and once they invade your land there are two choices. Ignore them and let them completely ruin your management practices for deer and turkey or fight. If you choose to fight for your land you must do your best to totally eliminate all hogs on your property.
We chose to fight for the native wildlife and our property. Since 2004 we have learned that hogs do not live on our property, but in the swamp on adjoining properties, traveling to our farm to feed when wildlife crops are maturing. Most times they come under cover of darkness. Each visit further damages the crops and land.
The Moral Dilemma
When we first began dealing with feral hogs it was on a small basis. One or two boars would begin raiding our corn fields. At the first sign of damage we began trying to shoot the raiders. Sometimes we succeeded, sometimes we failed. In the beginning crop damage was light and the challenge of getting a killing shot on a wild animal was exciting. The excitement gradually waned as we dealt with forty or more hogs.
In the summer of 2011 we lost over half of 12 acres of corn to hogs. More than 30 hogs were shot in the fields. Most were killed at night with a shotgun and buckshot using red-lensed Kill Lights. What do you do with 30 hogs shot during the night in July and August?
At first we butchered hogs for the freezer, not a fun job in the middle of a hot and humid summer night. We tried giving them away but not many people want a call to come get a pig at 2:00 in the morning. Finally it all became too much. Hogs that couldn’t be butchered or given away were removed from the fields and buried. Mother Nature took over and wasted nothing but still a moral dilemma left us feeling wasteful.
Killing any animal for the sake of just killing goes against our core values and the belief all game killed should be utilized. Unfortunately, on occasion it became impossible during the summer of 2011.