Most residents of the great State of Texas should at least be aware that we have a problem with feral hogs. Pigs first came into this country in the 1500’s but man, in his infinite wisdom, brought into this country Russian Boars, a much larger and fiercer hog, from the 1930’s through the 1950’s so he could hunt them.
I bring up feral hogs because they are unpredictable if you come face to face with them in the wilds. The problem is a big one and if a person encounters a sounder they may turn and run at the first smell or sight of man or they may just decide to run over to you and see what you taste like. Let me give you a little background about these animals and do not ever forget the old story about the guy who went to the outhouse and the hogs got him.
Feral hogs in Texas are descents from Russian boars, European wild hogs, and escaped domestic swine that have established feral populations. Russian boars have several distinguishing characteristics that set them apart from domestic hogs. Among these are brown to blackish brown color, with grizzled guard hairs, a mane of hair that sticks up sort of like a wire brush running from the neck to the rump, a straight heavily tufted tail, and ears covered with hair. Characteristics of feral hogs can vary, depending upon the breed of the ancestral stock. Russian boars and feral hogs interbreed readily, with traits of wild hogs apparently being dominant because many feral hogs look very similar to the Russian boars. There are estimated to be 1.5 million in Texas and they range in size up to four feet tall at the shoulder and weigh over 400 pounds.
Feral hogs have really become a nuisance in our great state and range just about anywhere you want to look for them. There are large populations in various places on the Rio Grande and Coastal Plains, as well as the wooded country of eastern Texas and on west.
When it comes to diet feral hogs are not too picky although the biologists claim they have favorites. I have not seen much that they will not eat and animal matter on the menu of feral hogs includes earthworms, marsh fly larvae, leopard frogs, snakes, and rodents. The snakes they eat include cottonmouth water moccasins and rattle snakes and the venom does not seem to bother them.
They have negative influences on wildlife and plants as well as domestic crops and livestock. Extensive destruction is a common result of their rooting habits. They can tear up a nice yard or hay field rapidly and ask any hunter who sets out a feeder that throws corn to attract deer about how the hogs will run the deer off and eat all of the corn and will also tip over the feeder if it is not securely anchored.
They are such a nuisance that Caldwell County and Guadalupe County have recently announced that they will pay hunters $5 for each feral hog taken during the summer. Caldwell County’s time period is from now until August 7, and Guadalupe County’s bounty program will also pay $5, and runs through September 30, 2019.
Participants must complete a W-9 form and a participation form. These can be obtained from the Central Texas Feral Hog Task Force website. The property owner’s name and contact information where the hogs were killed are required on the form.
I was speaking with Clayton Wolf, TPWD big game director, and he told me told me the story of a man that had just purchased some land and inquired into put a few feral hogs on it to hunt and he stipulated he only wanted a few. Clayton told the man that you either have hogs or you do not. If you have any hogs you have too many as feral hogs breed year round. Litters range from one to seven, averaging two per sow and an average of one to three suckling hogs usually accompanies brood sows.
Now let me tell you a couple things you do not want to do. One is you do not want to get between a sow and her piglets because she may think you are danger to them and you will have two choices: shoot her or climb a tree because a mad sow is a very dangerous animal. The other problem that can come from an encounter with feral hogs is if a boar decides he does not like you or where you happen to be standing. There can be no understanding why but if they take it in their heads that they want a piece of you, you are faced with the same with the same two choices, shoot it or climb a tree.
If you ever run on feral hogs and they either disappear from view or you have to shoot one do not forget about the rest of the herd and watch your back because some others may decide to attack rather than run, you just never can tell which they will do.