Trapping Feral Hogs: Good Riddance
Take it from a life-long outdoorsman who has repeatedly seen hog havoc on his land
Pop kept an old steel five-gallon bucket on his porch for me when it was cold.
He would shovel in ashes followed by hot coals from his fireplace to make sure I avoided frostbite. That bucket really made a difference on those mornings when temperatures were below freezing. He took care of me when it came to hunting.
He spent the majority of his life in the woods. A logger like his father before him, the woods were his home away from home. I learned many life lessons at a young age from Pop. I miss him, and I miss those days of long ago.
In his day, folks turned their hogs out to fend for themselves. Then every fall the community would round up the hogs. That’s crazy, right? The community helped each other survive. In the Saline River bottoms, a hog would get fat when the acorns started falling. The feral hogs still get fat off the acorns, but neighbors helping each other is not as common as it once was. That's a damn shame.
Pop never mentioned any feuding over hogs in the bottoms. Everyone had a certain earmark to know who owned which hog. It worked out. Communities were built on sharing what they had available. Times were hard. Starvation was a reality for poor people. It still is today. Sadly, those in need of food rarely get that need met in today’s world like back when neighbors helped neighbors. Profits control everything.
Hunting Season Means Tradition
As an avid outdoorsman, this is my favorite time of year.
The crisp, cold Arkansas morning air brings thousands of Arkansas friends and families together to take to the outdoors. Like the wayward settlers, folks from all over the state, pack up and leave out, dreaming of campfires, big buck deer and fellowship with friends.
Arkansas hunting traditions run deep just like in my family with Pop. I hope that never changes. If not for hunting, this country would likely remain unsettled territory.
Sure, it’s different now than in the 1800’s, but the reality is wild game is a primary source of protein – that means food – for many Arkansans.
Let’s get into this situation at hand – one of South Arkansas’ greatest threats. No, it's not Bigfoot. He’s obviously gotten lazy on the job. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this story.
Maybe it’s not his fault, but I’m going to blame him anyway because someone has to be at fault in today’s world, right? Few people take any responsibility anymore. Even Bigfoot.
If Bigfoot was doing his job we wouldn't have this major problem – feral hogs.
There’s no better way to get me wound up than to see a sounder of feral hogs eating the feed I put out for the deer. Unless we start talking about beaver, that is no doubt a more exciting topic, but for now, I’m focused on hogs.
For clarification, a large group of hogs are referred to as a “sounder” around here.
Most Arkansas hunters feed deer in the areas they hunt – corn, rice bran, all kinds of fancy manmade concoctions to attract deer. Kind of like a hummingbird feeder. You put food out, they will come.
Nearly everyone nowadays utilizes game cameras to aid in scouting for their next “Trophy Buck” or to watch next year's wall hanger grow into a legendary, almost mythical deer, that no one can harvest. Of course, that’s hoping the neighbors let that young deer walk into next year. Chances are the neighbors think he is freezer ready right now.
Each hunter see trophy deer differently. A nice 8-point buck will make decent table fare — at best. Bucks and boars tend to be rank in the frying pan. You know, it's a crap shoot. Some are disgusting. Some look better on a wall than they taste on a plate.
Have you ever noticed a distinct odor when you fry a package of pork chops? That’s boar taint, and I’m not going to eat something that stinks up the whole damn house.
If hunters follow the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's hunting rules, I don’t let what they harvest bother me. If they want to eat a gamey critter, who am I to deter them?
While hunters provide a meal for deer with their feed, they also give an easy one to feral hogs. So many folks think it’s cool to hunt both deer and hogs. Not me. Trapping is better.
Feral hogs ruin deer habitat. Wild hogs eat everything from grub worms, white oak acorns, and everything else. They love the feed hunters put out for deer, and hogs are wild, free range garbage disposals.
Arkansas’ feral hog population has exploded in the past decade. There’s always been a few hogs in some areas but that’s changing. Folks catching and transporting hogs to other areas carry the most blame.
The first feral hog I noticed on our property was a single boar hog in 2014. Let me just say he didn’t stay long after I located him. Use your imagination about what happened to him.
The debate has gone on for years about how to deal with feral hogs.
I'm not going to get into the debate except to say hunters need a plan to handle a feral hog invasion.
One way? Be a good neighbor. I'm not blaming the neighboring hunting club for chasing feral hogs with dogs but that hasn't helped my hog problem. That just moves hogs around and eventually they return.
In the spirit of good old free American tradition, I’m going to solve the hog problem the most efficient way I can. I trap them and that gives me the opportunity to offer fresh pork to those in need.
Have you seen the price of pork chops lately? It’s much easier to locate someone through friends or social media who needs meat if the hogs are in a trap. It allows you to form a plan before you “dispatch” them.
Let me make something clear. I don’t trap these things for sport. They are an invasive species – not native to our state or my property. They are trespassers that I do not tolerate.
The damage to cropland is catastrophic. Feral hogs do not observe property lines. They are known to destroy lawns, tear the hell out of gardens and eat crops. They hit my dad’s purple hull pea patch a couple years ago and completely wiped out 100 bushels in one night – a $4,000 loss. I do my part to control them when they show up.
I utilize game cameras that upload photos to my cell phone in real time. I know what’s hanging around looking for a free meal.
When a hog shows up on my cameras I waste no time addressing the situation. This week was no different. They moved in, and I started mixing up a batch of feed corn in apple juice for bait. Watch:
I’m not going to run them off to bother someone else. I’ll end this problem on my own. After all I’m an American. We are free to solve our own problems. I’m serving the hogs my own personal eviction notice.
Hogs aren’t going away
Let me give you a basic idea of how seeing a few hogs turns into a never-ending battle of population control. Hogs are the land version of the beaver. For city folks, think of Norway rats – invasive and not really easy to deal with. Animals get trap shy in a hurry. Do your homework before you start fooling with them.
Look at it like this, let’s say three hogs show up and two are female hogs “sows" and one is an old long-haired stinking “boar.” That’s the male by the way.
Gestation on a sow is three months, three weeks and three days. A normal litter of pigs can be anywhere between 8 and 16 pigs per litter. A guilt – that’s a female pig that’s not yet had its first litter of pigs – can be bred when she is less than six months old.
When the guilts in the litter of pigs reaches the age of breeding, the original sow is fixing to have another litter. You can see a pattern here, now I’m sure. Those two sows, if left alone, can increase the population dramatically in a single year. Three hogs just produced upwards of 100 if everything goes just right – and it usually does.
Feral hogs compete with everything in the woods. If another animal eats it, a hog will too.
Damage For Miles
The Southern United States is seeing the consequences of feral hogs on the environment.
According to 2022 USDA statistics, feral hog damages exceeded $2.5 billion to crops, livestock, forestry and pastures. Trust me, they will destroy your yard if they wander into it.
Take some advice: If you see a feral hog, do something. Contact the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission or call the local sheriff. They will likely be able to connect you with someone who can help eliminate the problem.
Just my thoughts here: If every hunting club in Arkansas purchased a few traps – and used them – we could really make an impact on these invasive trespassers and no doubt help get the population under control.
It’s important to mention the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission rules and state laws when it comes to trapping hogs. Read up on the state requirements here: www.agfc.com/feralhogs
I’m sure some who read this and see these photos will cringe. Dealing with feral hogs is no joke. They can chase you and charge at you. They kill other animals like birds and fawns. They carry diseases. They are nasty.
They have become a serious problem on my property and there’s only two choices. Leave them alone in hopes that my neighbors will eradicate them, or do my part and remove as many as possible when they are here.
If you have read to this point, you already know my answer.
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