John's Journal...

Feral Hogs – Here They Come

Why the Big Hogs?

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: In recent years, hunters reportedly have taken monster-sized hogs in the woods and the swamps all across the South. When Dr. Randy Britt, a veterinarian from Birmingham, Alabama, and a longtime, avid hunter, went hog hunting he expected to harvest a big hog. But in his wildest dreams, he never believed he’d take a hog as big as the huge one he shot.

“I talked to Ken Reid of Guide’s Choice Hunting Adventures in McCalla, Ala., about this big hog,” Britt says. “Reid’s a member of Safari Club International (SCI), organizes a lot of hunts and films the hunts for many of the SCI Club hunters. Reid explained to me that he’d found a big hog near Marion, Ala., and if I wanted to go, he’d line up the hunt.” This particular piece of property had about eight or 10 lakes where various people had seen a big hog working between the swamp and the lakes. Each afternoon, the hog would come near a lake and run the banks, searching for dead fish. Then he’d return to the swamp at dark. Click to enlarge

On the morning of the August (you can hunt hogs year-round across most of the U.S.) hunt, Reid and Britt picked up the trail of the hog at the pond and followed it back to the swamp. Britt recalls, “After we’d been on the trail for about 45 minutes, my nephew, Cody, asked, ‘Is that a log out there in the pond?’ pointing to some flooded timber back in the swamp. I looked, smiled and answered, ‘That log has an ear.’”
The hog apparently had dug out a place to lay in the mud and water and cool off. Britt, Reid and Cody slipped around the pond to get into position to take the hog. Because of the hog’s poor eyesight, he never saw the hunters as they approached. When the hunters reached a point 25 yards from the hog, the big boar camClick to enlargee up out of the mud, probably after smelling them, since hogs have very-sensitive noses. He began to grunt while easing out of the mud and moving into a group of trees. “Every time I’d get lined-up to take a shot, the hog would move behind another tree,” Britt explains. Finally, when the hog broke into a clear spot, Britt fired and hit the hog behind the thick platelet of gristle that covered the wild hog’s shoulder. The big boar squealed and wheeled as Britt jacked another shell into the chamber and fired again. As the three hunters stalked toward the big boar, the hog moved one more time. Britt fired again to ensure he’d downed the big boar. Reid went to the farmer’s house and got a tractor and a boom to help bring the hog out of the woods.

Britt took the biggest hog with a weight of 1,172 pounds and tusks 5- to 6-inches long from the tip to the jaw that anyone ever had heard of in the State of Alabama. When I asked Keith Guyse, assistant chief of the Wildlife Section of Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) wClick to enlargehy we’d begun to see these sizes of hogs in Alabama, he explained that, “Many domestic hogs have escaped and bred with feral hogs, and that’s why they grow so big quickly. The typical Alabama feral hog, however, isn’t a huge hog, because it gets a lot of exercise dodging bullets, hunters, traps and irate farmers.”

The average hog across the South will weigh from 50 to 250 pounds, has high intelligence, a very-keen nose, with the ability to smell humans from up to 7-miles away but poor eyesight,  moves primarily at night and has earned its PhD in hunter-dodging. When hunters start hunting hogs, hogs begin searching for new places to live. If the landowner or a hunting club attempts to eradicate hogs off a property, they often can have success in getting rid of the hogs but not in eliminating them. Due to the hogs’ nomadic traits, they don’t mind moving from a site in response to intense hunting and trapping pressure to a region with little or no hunting pressure. You’re removing them from your land but often simply causing them to move onto your neighbors’ lands.


Check back each day this week for more about "Feral Hogs - Here They Come"

Day 1: How Bad Is the Problem?
Day 2: How to Control the Wild Hog and Protect Your Land
Day 3: Wild Hogs Are Coming to a Town Near You
Day 4: Hard Work for Wild Hogs
Day 5: Why the Big Hogs?



Entry 426, Day 5