POSTED: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 11:20pm
UPDATED: Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 10:51am
Tyler, Texas — Texas has a big problem and it might make you squeal. Smith County Game Warden, Chris Swift said, "Feral hogs, well they've been worse every year, more of them getting hit on the side of the roads." Here in East Texas it's not just a potential hazard for drivers. Brian Benson, from True Grit: Wild Hog Solutions, said, "Yah know they're tearing up their yards, tearing up all the land, some of them in some cases are destroying some animals." He said you can't even begin to describe the damage they can do, and landowners know firsthand.
East Texas hunter, Carter Morby, said the hogs tore up so much of his land that he hasn't seen it look like that in a long time. Some places are going to drastic measures, like one church located off Hwy 69 North in Tyler. They set a trap out back to do anything possible to get rid of this nocturnal nuisance.
Game Warden, Swift, says the state is doing what they can to eliminate this threat. He says, "We're very lacks on our laws and we want the hunters to be able to shoot as many as they can." The amount of damage leads you to believe you could catch them at any time of the day, however, these animals don't roam when you can see them.
Another hunter out in Jacksonville, James Foster, of "Tarrant Ranch," said, "A hog is so much smarter than a white tail deer, its not even in the same ball game." While these nocturnal animals don't have the best eye sight, their other senses pick up the slack. Foster said, "You got to be a lot closer, be a lot quieter and like we talked about no smell its got to be completely, you just cant do it because they'll pick you up."
During the Fall months feral hogs usually stay in the bottom-grounds, deep in the woods, and in the wallows, since the acorns serve as their main food source, but unfortunately that's not always the case. Benson referred to the trap set in the church parking lot and how that is right in the middle of town.
For most hunters, catching wild hogs is strategic. Benson said, "There's different ways that we do it, i run the traps, my son, his buddies, run dogs, and in some cases we go out sit wait on them at night, do whatever it takes to get the hogs out of the way." Hunters tell us feral hogs are in the same family as bears, so hunting them always poses some sort of danger. Swift said that they can be aggressive if they are cornered. Foster said, "I had them to come up and put me up a tree, as long as you can get your feet up higher than her head, that's about it they'll make one pass out of yah and then they'll be gone."
So, what does it take to actually get the bacon. Morby said, "The smaller pigs you can use anything from .223 on up, for the bigger pigs, I mean I've known people who have put in five rounds of .30-06, seven-mm into pigs and then still had to walk and shoot them with pistols." We asked East Texas hunter, Dillon Driscoll, what he uses to hunt hogs and he said, "This is a Weatherby .30-06 with a Zeiss scope on it."
For the past thirty years one East Texan invited people from around the globe to hunt on "Tarrant Ranch" in Jacksonville. We asked why people travel to East Texas from as far as Vietnam and Belgium and Foster's answer was simple. "Hogs, a Texas boar, that's what they want." He chooses a more traditional approach to take out a feral hog, he only uses bow and arrow.
But, for some it's what you do with the pig, after the hunt, that matters the most. Benson said, " I couldn't get used to the idea of people just shooting hogs and dragging them off cause i mean it's edible." Benson says he feeds five families with the hogs they get. In some cases he dresses his own hogs, but for the most part, he brings them to the family business, "Country Meat Market."
Timothy Benson, from "Country Meat Market." said, "We're an old fashioned meat market, we've been processing wild game since 1954." He says, during the off season, they process two or three a week and when it gets cold out, one or two a day. "What they do is people will bring me a hog, what we do is we'll process it for them, we'll cut it into pork chops, sausage, pork steaks, whatever," said Benson. Brian Benson tells KETK Pal's Food Bank in Henderson accepts wild hog meat, especially during the holidays. He says, "It's all edible meat and to me its just a terrible waste, because there's too many people running around here hungry."
Foster took part in an event called "Feeding for the Hungry." He said, "That weekend we butchered with over 23,000 pounds. of hog meat ready to be eaten."
So, what about the taste? Foster said it's very good and he would rather eat that than deer, because he thinks it has a better taste. Chris Swift agrees that it tastes very good, but he recommends you eat it when it's cooler outside. Brian Benson says, "I'm still working on some recipes, but so far its been pretty good."