Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

April 11, 2014

Outdoors: Kevin Reese — Hunting hogs helps habitat, farmers, ranchers

Corsicana — The trail before me snaked through an intimidating, ridiculously tall thicket. I quickened my pace, anxious to get to my stand while my Hawglite Sabre cast its intense red LED lighting through the edge of tall blood -weeds to form eerie shadows. As luck would have it, to add to an already uneasy walk in, those towering blood-weeds swayed overhead forming an intimidating archway ripe for things that go bump in the night.

The snap of a twig underfoot ushered in the booming bark that shattered the silence and stood every hair on the back of my neck on-end. A guttural growl followed, only ceasing to refill lungs and sniff the air then continue the unsettling groan again. I knew the sound.

Just out of view, the steam from his breath billowed from the thicket; he was awfully close!  He barked again and the world erupted. A sounder of perhaps 30 or 40 hogs blew out of the weeds to cut across my path, some in front of me and some behind; I was in the thick of it. Call me what you want I was scared out of my wits!

In an instant, they were gone and silence was restored. My heart pounded and my blood surged through the veins in my neck to beat the drums within the recesses of my temples. The good news was that there were plenty of hogs to hunt. The bad news, that there are plenty of hogs to hunt! It’s an odd dynamic for a guy addicted to hog hunting; however, truth be known, I know the better end would be to annihilate feral hogs from one end of our country to the other and keep farmers and ranchers in their homes, on their ground and reaping the blessings of bountiful harvests. They are undoubtedly the very fabric of our country and our way of life.

 Our hog prob-ulation…

While we hold as many as 3 million feral hogs, roughly 50-percent of the nation’s population, the hog prob-ulation continues to grow… and expand. Hogs have been recorded in at least 39 states and four Canadian provinces. Here in our home state alone, we suffer over $400 million annually in damages exclusively from feral hogs, frequently leaving the hopes and dreams of those farmers and ranchers in ruin.

How did we get here from there… better yet, how did they get here from there? Feral hogs were brought to the United States by Spanish explorers, most notably, Hernando De Soto, who brought a reported 13 sows to what is now Florida, in 1539. De Soto traveled thousands of miles throughout the southeast before he died in Arkansas, in 1542. At the time of his death, he owned approximately 700 swine. To further drive home the potential for feral hog reproduction, just 14 months before he died, De Soto was reported to be a lowly 100 hogs!

Consider this: Feral hogs can breed as often as twice per year, birthing litter averages of 6 – 8 with a 1:1 boar to sow ratio. Sitting down and doing some simple math does much to furl the brow of anyone interested in preserving habitat and conserving indigenous wildlife, of which, wild hogs are not; in fact, they present quite the competition or outright defeat of various native animals.

As a side note, I’ve heard many suggest feral hogs breed three times per year but the idea is little more than myth. With a gestational period of approximately 115 days and nursing for 90 days, the reproductive cycle, barring a lost litter is approximately seven months since sows do not normally reenter an estrous cycle until weaning is complete.

Doing some good…

While my walk out of the woods after deer and turkey seasons is always long and somber, it doesn’t take me long to jump back into the swing of things with respect to feral hogs. I’ve hunted them for years now and it never gets old. For me, it’s like deer hunting, except our feral hog season is January 1 – December 31, from 12:01 a.m. until midnight, with no bag limit!

When most people drift into another night’s slumber, many of us are just getting into our stands and blinds on a quest to stock some of the world’s best table fare in our freezers while improving habitat, albeit on some minute level, even if fleeting, for our indigenous wildlife and the good folks at ground zero.

Perhaps if more of us were out there an increasing number of ranchers and farmers could maintain their foothold on the American dream.

My Night Hunting Lighting Gear:

The Hawglite Sabre LED lighting system for archery hunting is available online at www.Hawglite.com.

The Hawglite Marauder LED lighting system for archery hunting is available online at www.Hawglite.com or at Rednek Booda Outdoors, in Kerens.

For RIFLE hunting, I use the Hawglite Helios H250. The Helios H250 comes with white, red and green drop-in LED lighting. Hunters can effectively kill at 250 yards at night with the Helios H250 and a riflescope. The Helios H250 is available at Rednek Booda Outdoors, in Kerens, and at www.Hawglite.com.

Rednek Booda Outdoors is located at 107 S. Colket Street, Kerens, Texas. 903-229-7750.

 

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