John's Journal...


What About Hogs

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: The Chickasawhay River swamp in Greene County, Mississippi, may have one of the oldest populations of feral pigs in the nation. The area has no record of a time when this river-bottom swamp hasn't homed hogs. Fences and property lines never have bound the free spirits of these feral hogs like the wild boars of old. They roam at will, foraging for food, hiding out in the big cane thickets and briar patches along the edges of the river bank and wreaking havoc on croplands by night. Hunters with packs of hounds and live traps and sportsmen with rifles and bows never have eliminated these free-roaming pigs. They have become as much a part of the land as the earth itself.

About 40-million years ago, the pig-like mammals became two families, the Old World pigs, which lived in Eurasia and Africa, and the New World pigs, the pecarries, which did and still do live from the southwestern U.S. to southern South America. Tales abound of the danger of both families of pigs. In India alone in one year's time, wild boars killed 50 people. Ancient mythology Click to enlargecommemorated boar hunting. Homer wrote the world's first account of a boar hunt centuries before the birth of Christ. Hercules and King Arthur both hunted boars. Throughout the Renaissance, hunting wild pigs remained a popular sport of royalty.

Civilizations of many lands have considered the wild boar with its slashing tusks a trophy for hunters to take. The old hunting guides of India considered the wild boar rugged enough to, "drink at a river between two tigers." Records exist in India of boars destroying tigers in fair fights. In the U.S. when the early settlers first came to America, they brought domestic swine from Europe with them and released the animals into the American wilderness to either root hog or die. The earliest wild hogs were believed to have been brought into the South in 1539 along the Gulf Coast by the explorer, Ferdinand DeSoto. Later man named George Moore also aided the huge populations of hogs in the southeastern U.S. by establishing a game preserve on approximately 1600 acres of timbered land surrounding Hooper's Bald, a mountain peak in the Snowbird Mountain Range of western North Carolina. The Whiting Manufacturing Company gave Moore the property for his advice and financial expertise. Moore had dreamed of having a large tract of land under fence where he could release all types of wild and Click to enlargeexotic animals and invite potential clients for his financial dealings to hunt. In 1912 the first shipment of animals to arrive consisted of four buffaloes and 14 European wild boars. However, the boar reproduced and went in and out of the enclosures on the game ranch at will as Moore lost interest in the area after about 10 years.

Now everything I had felt on the day of my hog hunt made sense. Apparently, my family came from an ancient lineage of Welshmen who hunted hogs with swift bows and sharp broadheads for centuries. The Phillips' family immortalized this form of food gathering on their coat of arms for all to see and for future generations to understand the importance to the family's of taking wild swine with swift shafts. I believe when I drew my bow on that young black boar, I relived the hunt of another Phillips in a time and place when his family's survival depended on successful boar hunting with a bow and arrow. When I released the arrow to take the hog, my spirit rode the shaft with my kinsman's whose very existence depended on his taking a wild boar. Bowhunting wild hogs now is more than a sport to me. It provides a link for me with my ancestors and a re-association with a family tradition and way of hunting so important to my family that my Welsh forefathers preserved it forever on our coat of arms. I was born to hunt hogs with a bow. When hunters finally hunted the boar, according to an eyewitness account, "some of the hunters were forced to take refuge in trees to escape the charging beasts. Overly excited by the baying of the dogs and the shouts of the hunters, the European boar simply tore their way through the fences and escaped into the nearby mountains -- after killing or maiming at least a dozen dogs."

Click to enlargeBecause domestic and wild razorback hogs already ran loose in much of this section of the country, crossbreeding occurred freely with the wild boar. Today these European wild boars as well as wild pigs that have crossbred with these boars are well-established in this region, which is now a part of the Nantahala National Forest, the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest in eastern Tennessee. You also can find European wild boar living in the wilderness in New Hampshire, the offspring of hogs imported from the Black Forest of Germany by Austin Corbin in the early 1890s and released on his game park in Sullivan County, New Hampshire. Other European wild boar live in California in the Los Padres National Forest in the vicinity of Carmel and the Santa Lucia Mountains of Monterey and San Luis Obispo County of California. These California wild boar are the descendants of European wild boar that George Moore transplanted from North Carolina to his California ranch in 1924. Eventually wild boar hunting became so popular that many hunting preserves throughout the nation began to stock them. Today sportsmen also enjoy hunting feral pigs in many regions of the country.


Check back each day this week for more about HOG HUNTING FOREVER

Day 1: My Mississippi Hog Hunt
Day 2: My Connection with the Wild Boar
Day 3: My Hog Discovery
Day 4: What About Hogs
Day 5: More About Hogs



Entry 299, Day 4