Kenneth Kieser: Hunted by Texas hogs while hunting them

  • Feral hogs are a nuisance throughout the country, especially in Texas.Feral hogs are a nuisance throughout the country, especially in Texas. Permission to hunt is easily gained. Luke Clayton’s book can give you the ins and outs of hog hunting. | Courtesy of Luke Short
     
    Posted Dec. 12, 2015 at 12:44 AM

    Mesquite patches in Texas allow few escape routes for humans. Many of these patches are laced with roads used by oil drilling crews. Dirt, gravel and grass paths give humans the only means of travel through this rough country.We were hunting feral hogs, tough porkers that push through mesquite patches like a bulldozer through soft dirt.I left Lawrence Taylor, of Alma, Arkansas, minutes before to climb up his tree stand. He gave me instructions on where to find my ladder stand that overlooked a feeder where whitetail bucks or trophy-sized hogs frequented.The plan was for me to follow a path wide enough for a pickup, and then turn left by a big cottonwood tree. I soon felt very alone while walking down the path, especially when the sounds of many grunting pigs filtered through the thick cover. I had no idea how far away my ladder stand was with just one shot in the black powder rifle; clearly one shot would not be enough. I could hear them coming and knew it was time to go. Hogs easily outrun almost any human.The grunting sounds were getting closer yet no hogs were in sight. They were winding and following me though the mesquite maze. I could only see movement and large shadows. You would be surprised how fast a 6-foot-5, 250-pound man can move when a pack of wild hogs are coming.I felt my canteen slip off the belt clip, but decided not to stop. A big sow broke out of the brush and charged straight at me. Her head was bouncing so I placed the scope crosshairs between her eyes and tried to time her bounces. The .50-caliber conical bullet hit the mark and she fell, five yards from my feet – too close.There was no time to reload, only time to find a suitable climbing platform. I tried to figure out how to climb a sticky mesquite, a bad choice since my heavy body could not get very high in these smaller trees. Then I saw it, the ladder stand straight ahead, about 20 yards. I touched the first rung just as another hog came into view and then another and another.I climbed up to the chair and quickly reloaded my rifle. The hogs milled around under my stand for a few minutes before deciding I was a hopeless case. The herd of boars, pigs and sows moved over by their feeder to look for corn, acting more like pigs in a feed lot instead of the wild creatures that had tried to run me down.I took careful aim and squeezed the trigger, dropping a young sow that would make good sausage. Locals warn to never eat a giant hog. They are only good for pictures. The young ones are still edible, mostly in sausage. Hogs 150 pounds and under are considered edible and quite delicious. Boars over 300 pounds are not as tasty and hunted as trophies. Big boars over 500 pounds are the most sought after and hardest to hunt.Page 2 of 3 – The hogs eventually ate their fill of corn and walked away. Later I discovered that some of the hogs had stopped to feed on the big sow I had dropped during the chase. Sharp tusks ripped the pig skin open with apparent ease. I could only imagine what they could do to a human. I was more than happy not to find out. They ripped my lost canteen apart too.My incident was unusual. Normally feral hogs don’t attack or chase a man, unless they are hungry. Little kids and smaller animals or poultry could be in danger from a pack. Maybe the pack that chased me was only being playful, but I sure was not going to find out. Chances are the nearest hog would have taken a bite and triggered the rest. Wild hogs are dangerous and unpredictable.Taylor and I have pursued these hogs several times in the Brazos River regions, a historic river that meanders across Texas and that was originally discovered by the Spanish in 1541. I first viewed this waterway in December 2005 when drought conditions showed red mud with streaks of water that was shallow and clear. Torn up muddy banks showed where the hogs ventured for a cool drink.Waterways may have been a possible ambush spot for hogs, but feeders that distributed corn once in the evening and morning were a better bet. Feeders only turned on for about 10 seconds twice per day, but enough to give hogs a specific place to go in this tangled maze. Feeders are legal in Texas for the purpose of attracting wildlife for hunting, a practice only legal for feeding wildlife in most states.

  • HOG HUNTING IN TEXAS: Texas would love to get rid of their feral hog population, creating excellent hunting possibilities. Golf courses, row crops, yards and even beaches have been the victims of rooting hogs. A county in Texas held a bounty for hogs several years ago. They quickly ran out of money designated to be paid out on bounties. The hog population in that area is still going strong.Texas has 1.2 million public hunting acres and is still 95 percent privately owned. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has map booklets listed on their website that discuss where hogs might be found on public ground. Private grounds that take up most of the state are sometimes even better possibilities.“Some landowners sell permits to hunt hogs on their land,” said Kelly Edmiston, wildlife information specialist for Texas Parks and Wildlife. “Landowners generally supplement their income by organizing hog hunts after deer season ends in January. You can find these hunts by checking the classified sections of newspapers, magazines or websites. Other landowners will let you hunt free to shoot hogs that hurt their crops or other property. This opens up an excellent hunt for anyone interested.
  •  LEARN ABOUT HOG HUNTING:Luke Clayton has written one of the best book on hog hunting. “Kill To Grill,” goes into the tricks of hunting hogs anywhere in the country with chapters on tactics, equipment and any other information you will need to get started. To order a copy of Clayton’s Book, you can mail a check or money order for $21 to Luke’s Books, Suite 218, 609 N. Hwy 175, Seagoville, Texas 75159.Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examine