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Old 10-29-2006, 10:04 PM
cmac2012's Avatar
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Wahld Hog update

ASPERMONT, Tex. — On a moonless October night, with the Milky Way staining the West Texas sky, a burly man in overalls turned off the engine of his mud-caked white Toyota truck. Yelps from coyotes and an owl’s hoot occasionally broke the silence. Then, from an open field, Bob Richardson heard the noise he had been awaiting.

Four of his short-haired scent hounds, which had been released earlier, began to bark from the darkness. Mr. Richardson jumped out of the truck and freed a black pit bull from a cage on the truck’s flatbed. He chased after his pit bull into the darkness toward the barking hounds.

He tripped in a wet ditch but kept running through the milo stalks. When he got to the baying dogs, the light on his miner’s hat revealed that the pit bull, trained for just this purpose, had clamped onto the face of a feral hog.
As he had done thousands of times before, Mr. Richardson, 58, pounced on the snorting beast and tied its feet together, immobilizing it. Within minutes, he had loaded the animal barehanded into a cage.

Mr. Richardson used to run through this brush land northwest of Abilene without any shoes, hence his nickname: Barefoot Bob. But when he worked for the fire department in Abilene, his bosses demanded he don footwear. Now, he wears sneakers, which he buys in bulk at Wal-Mart.

A lot of people in rural Texas catch wild hogs, which can grow to several hundred pounds, and Mr. Richardson traps them like most others. But there is sometimes a twist to Mr. Richardson’s hunts — he spends a few nights a week cruising the dirt roads of Stonewall County, a place with more hogs than people, to run down the wild animals using only his dogs and his bare hands.

“It’s for fun,” he said.

It has also become lucrative as Europeans and an increasing number of Americans clamor for wild boar. Mr. Richardson said he made $28,000 last year selling live feral hogs.

“I think it’s a great health-conscious niche market,” said Dick Koehler, one of Mr. Richardson’s customers and the vice president of Frontier Meats, based in Fort Worth. “It has real potential for growth.”

Mr. Koehler said that about 60 percent of the processed hog meat from his plant ended up on the tables of fancy restaurants in Europe, but that its popularity was growing in the United States. Each year, his company ships more and more hog meat to American restaurants and specialty supermarkets to feed the demands for organic food, Mr. Koehler said.

Even if the taste for wild boar gains a much wider following, there is little chance of overhunting the hogs any time soon.

The animals were introduced to North America as a food source in 1539 by the Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto, said Billy Higginbotham, a wildlife specialist with the Texas A&M Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Overton.

During the 1800s and 1900s, escaped domestic pigs became feral, sprouted tusks and grew coarse black hair. They crossbred with Russian boars, brought to North America for food and sport. The resulting hybrid wild boar has spread across the country, increasing in number to an estimated four million in 39 states, Mr. Higginbotham said.

The population of feral hogs has ballooned for a combination of reasons, Mr. Higginbotham said. For one, he said, they are intelligent animals. Also, they will eat just about anything and are highly adaptable to changing food sources.

Wild pigs are prolific breeders. A sow can be ready for her first litter of four to six offspring within six months, and a mature sow can birth two litters a year, Mr. Higginbotham said.

In Texas, hunters bait deer with 300 million pounds of corn annually, he said, and the hogs eat a large percentage of the bait. Hunters sometimes capture feral hogs and release them into areas of the state where they had not lived before.

Wild hogs can bring new problems. In Texas alone, the aggressive, omnivorous and razor-toothed animals cause nearly $52 million in damage a year to farmland, livestock and pastures, according to the Texas Cooperative Extension.

Jerry Eddins, the owner of the 10,000-acre J. Duke Ranch where Mr. Richardson hunts, is a serious quail hunter. Every year, he spreads grain to feed the birds, but hogs eat the bird food, along with whatever quail eggs they come across.

“They eat anything. They really don’t have a natural predator,” Mr. Eddins said. “So, Barefoot Bob Richardson is the natural predator.”

Photo and slide show at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/29/us/29hog.html?th&emc=th

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Old 10-29-2006, 10:39 PM
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that is the most constructive use of a pit bull i have heard of.

interesting story.

tom w
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Old 10-29-2006, 10:53 PM
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There are legends out there in west Texas about wild hogs the size of Volkswagens. Somehow, there don't seem to be any pictures though.


There are some feral pigs on Christmas Island in the Pacific. I used to know a local character named "Big Eddie" who claimed to catch them using big salt water fishooks with coconut meat for bait.
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:53 AM
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Sorta makes you think there's a place for pit bulls in the world.

There's plenty of them feral pigs ouch heah, if I lived a little more rurally and in their vicinity, I'd sure make the effort to bag a few and then go to proper lenghts to make certain the meat was safe.

Might be pretty tasty.

I found this Adobe doc that has some interesting information about feral pigs, including a map of their range:

http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/animal_health/content/printable_version/feral%20pigs.pdf

It's a bit tricky to read -- you have to blow it up and then use the scroll bars a lot.
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Last edited by cmac2012; 10-30-2006 at 02:08 AM.
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Old 10-30-2006, 02:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Palangi View Post
There are legends out there in west Texas about wild hogs the size of Volkswagens. Somehow, there don't seem to be any pictures though.


There are some feral pigs on Christmas Island in the Pacific. I used to know a local character named "Big Eddie" who claimed to catch them using big salt water fishooks with coconut meat for bait.
According to the map on that link, they're on all the Hawaiian islands. Wonder what kind of line he used?
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Old 10-30-2006, 08:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Palangi View Post
There are legends out there in west Texas about wild hogs the size of Volkswagens. Somehow, there don't seem to be any pictures though.
They just look as big as a truck when you flush one in the middle of a briar thicket. Hogs are all over up by the farm and they're muy pestiferous. The biggest one I've seen so far at BHF was probably less than 250lbs but that ugly S*B made my hair stand on end. I sure as hell wouldn't put a dog on one, not even a pit bull; you might get it thrown right back at you.

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Originally Posted by cmac2012 View Post
I'd sure make the effort to bag a few and then go to proper lenghts to make certain the meat was safe.

Might be pretty tasty.
It is...most of the time. The wild pig meat I've eaten was terrific but, I've also heard that a sow in heat and the old boars aren't any good but have no empirical evidence.
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Last edited by R Leo; 10-30-2006 at 08:57 AM.
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Old 10-30-2006, 08:43 AM
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a comment on the tusks.

all boars no matter the breed will grow them if left untrimmed, i believe. domestics are routinely clipped but if they go feral they will grow to impressive lengths!

tom w
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Old 10-30-2006, 04:19 PM
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I remember plenty of times reading about "razor sharp" tusks on wild boars. I don't imagine they're quite that sharp, just seem that way what with 250 of hornery critter wielding them.

Remember "Ol' Yeller?" Didn't he tangle with wild boars and regret it?

In the slide show over on the link I posted is a pic of the fellow tossing one into a pickup with a grip on one fore leg and one rear leg, still alive and agitated.
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Old 10-30-2006, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmac2012 View Post
I remember plenty of times reading about "razor sharp" tusks on wild boars. I don't imagine they're quite that sharp, just seem that way what with 250 of hornery critter wielding them.
Maybe not 'razor sharp' but plenty sharp nontheless. My farm neighbor has three HUGE black Labs that are in charge of ranch security. Max, the biggest came in one morning with a gash in his side that looked like someone had taken a box cutter to him. The vet said it was made by a boar tusk.
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Old 10-30-2006, 04:42 PM
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Quote:
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I sure as hell wouldn't put a dog on one, not even a pit bull; you might get it thrown right back at you.
Down here there are guide services that have cur dogs and pit bulls corner the hogs and hold them down. The paying hunter gets to go over to the hog and castrate it during the melee and then they let it go.

I know another fellow in Northern Florida that guides folks who kill them with spears and knives.
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Old 10-30-2006, 04:49 PM
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Down here there are guide services that have cur dogs and pit bulls corner the hogs and hold them down. The paying hunter gets to go over to the hog and castrate it during the melee and then they let it go.

I know another fellow in Northern Florida that guides folks who kill them with spears and knives.
I'd be skeert that hawg would stick me with my own spear.
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Old 10-30-2006, 04:58 PM
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I'd be skeert that hawg would stick me with my own spear.
Those guys are pretty crazy--I saw a video of one of their hunts and the hunter was bare-footed and painted in camo and wearing a loin cloth. They baited a hog to come under the tree he was sitting in and he dropped down on the first one, and it tore his ass up because he missed with the knife and he tried to tackle it and knife it again. They bandaged him up and put him back in the tree and he killed the next one with a knife through the spine.

The ones where I live a pretty skiddish and the only one I have ever seen act agressive was a russian boar I killed in NC that charged, but I found he was wounded after I shot him. 450 lbs. dressed--good eatin, but they are truly the vilest smelling animals I have ever been around.
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Old 10-30-2006, 09:39 PM
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that kindof reminds me of those folks who put chain mail on and let a shark bite their arm.

they are asking for it.

tom w
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Old 10-31-2006, 12:09 AM
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There are people in this world that are written about and there are people that no one ever knew existed. Those that were obscure and withdrawn may have had fullfiling lives, but they generally don't comprise what we know of as history.
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Old 10-31-2006, 01:38 AM
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JD got tired of waxing his car so now he's waxing philosophical.

No but hey, there are some people running around who don't fit the normal mold. One of my old buddies I just re-connected with up in the outback of Washington state walked around the country, literally, barefoot with his wife after they first met for a year and a half, this back around 1970. His feet are huge and the skin of his soles is like rhinocerous hide, or what I imagine it would be like anyway.

One story I heard was that most of the local cowboys and ranchers had a mostly dim view of all the dang back to the land hippies that descended on the area around Tonasket, WA, this in the late 70s.

Then they had a fairly nasty forest fire that threatened many of them and some of the newly minted hippie mountain men came to fight the fire along with the good old boys. There was my man Buffalo crashing through the brush barefooted, more than keeping up with the guys with boots on. Word was that relations thawed considerably after that.

Some of those mountain hippies are way tough. One time, heading into the October barter (harvest) faire, a car ahead of me, a sub-compact, had misgauged a cattle guard and had one rear wheel down in the ditch. Another car had stopped in front of us. Me and a buddy got out to help the first guy get it back on the road but the guy beat us to it, lifting the car by his lonesome, up about 8 inches and over onto the cattle guard. It wasn't a big car but that was still some feat. I gave him the "whoa, dude" look and he just blushed.

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