Season always open for feral hog hunting

Glenda Price

Here’s a wonderful deal for you hunters who didn’t get drawn this year or who didn’t manage to bag a deer, or elk, or antelope.

How about a feral hog? They are classified as “nuisance animals,” so there’s no actual season. You can come shoot any time. Just have a license and permission from the landowner on private land.

These feral hogs are descendants of pigs that escaped or were turned loose many years ago. They are said to be easy to hunt, and their meat to be tasty. A war is going on with these feral hogs all across our country, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA says they “are running rampant, destroying crops, killing wildlife and spreading disease everywhere they go.” They’ve been seen all the way from Texas to California, to Michigan and in New York.

“It’s estimated there are at least four million of them nationwide, but it’s impossible to count them all so there may be much more” said Carol Bannerman, a spokesman for USDA Wildlife Services. Of those four million it’s believed about two million are in West Texas and New Mexico’s counties that border Texas.

Their population is exploding because their breeding cycle and fertility are “insane,” according to wildlife specialists. Six to nine months after birth, a female hog can birth up to 13 babies Also, they have no natural predators, so there’s nothing to stop them.

A rancher told me a fenceline those hogs take out looks like somebody hooked onto it with a Caterpillar and demolished it. Some officials place the damage at more than $8 million each year, not including impact to the natural environment and native species or water.

Plus, humans are at risk for swine brucellosis, an extremely painful affliction spread by contact with the hogs’ bodily fluids.

These animals give omnivore a whole new connotation. They apparently eat anything that doesn’t eat them first — even each other. When they have moved in on a farmer’s crop — corn, beans, whatever — what they don’t eat they trample and ruin. Also, they dig wallows to lie in.

Feral hogs are not to be confused with javelinas. They are different species, and don’t like each other.

Some enterprising folks have begun promoting these “nuisance animals” as hunting prey. They are being hunted with dogs by some while others wait by feeding stands. Still others build traps.

Experts say you should wear plastic gloves, dispose of your clothing, all those precautions when you field dress feral hogs. Also, they must be cooked (as any pork product) well done. Those who have tasted the meat say it’s flavorful.

Meanwhile, if you’d like some target practice, plenty of ranchers and farmers would welcome you. Be forewarned, feral hogs are nocturnal, so you’ll need to prepare for night hunting.

Most of the experts have given up. Do the math. A female can give birth to as many as 13 babies twice a year, and those babies reach puberty at six to eight months of age.

See you at the hog wallow. Bring your hog cooking recipes.