By Katie Kieffer
Hog heaven is a state of complete happiness that comes to American hunters when they succeed in taking out one of 5 million invasive feral hogs.
Invasive critters ranging from wild boars to constrictor snakes are taking over America. The Obama administration has responded with executive orders banning the interstate transport or international import of invasive species of constrictor snakes like Burmese pythons which are eliminating species of deer, bobcats, raccoons, rabbits, foxes and opossums native to the Florida Everglades.
Nice try. Neither scientists nor U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials have proffered a solution—save a surprise mini Ice Age in South Florida—for stopping invasive snakes from slithering up to New York within mere decades. Moreover new laws have done little to relieve Texas farmers holding land pocked with hog holes.
We need a better solution. Step aside, bureaucrats. Here come the hunters.
I recently interviewed one of America’s most experienced hog hunters, Brian McCombie. If you’re a hunter with an interest in taking on our invasive hog population, then get ready to take notes…
What is your hunting background and how did you get into what you do today?
I started hunting when I was 13 and living in Michigan. Small game, squirrels and rabbits. I went to college to become various other things (engineer, geologist, etc.) but ended up majoring in English and then going to grad school for creative writing. As I started writing for the magazines in the 1980s, a friend of mine in the outdoor writing industry asked me to submit some pieces to a magazine he was editing. That’s where my outdoor writing career started, though at the time, I just thought of the outdoor magazines as another place to publish some work. Never thought it would become my career!
For boar hunting, what do you have to do to obtain an out-of-state license?
Depends on the state. To hunt hogs on public lands, most states will require you to have a general non-resident hunting license or a hunting license for the particular game season (deer hunting, turkey, etc).
Generally, most states don’t have a hog hunting “season” or bag limits as hogs are not legally defined as game animals (unlike, deer or elk). They are considered non-native or invasive species. But every state is a little different—check your game agency regulations first!
Do you hunt them over bait or do you drive them? Or, are there different ways that you lure them in?
I’ve hunted them over bait and set up near watering holes, done spot-and-stalk hunts, and lots of night hunting with lights and night vision gear.
What caliber rifle do you prefer to use?
My all-around favorite hog caliber is probably the .308 Win. Lots of knock-down power and great range.
How do you process them? Do most boar hunters keep the meat, or give it away to charity?
You can take them to a meat processor that does game animals. Or butcher them yourself. Most people I know keep them for the meat.
What hunting camp in Texas would you recommend to receive the best bang for your dollar for both bow and gun?
One of my top hog hunting spots is the Spike Box Ranch near Benjamin, Texas. West Texas hog hunting at its best—lots of hogs, lots of land (about 100,000 acres) and that West Texas rugged landscape. Guides and accommodations are first rate, too!
Is it possible to do a Do-It-Yourself Hunt for wild boar?
Sure. Hogs are present on many, many public lands, especially in Southeastern States, Florida and Texas. Research and scouting is a must, as it is for any DIY hunt. You can’t just show up and expect to start bagging hogs. They are smart and wary, and you need to know their potential food and watering sources, plus their travel corridors and bedding areas, to have a decent chance at taking a hog or hogs.
Why should Americans be concerned about invasive species like wild boars and the role of hunters in keeping them in check?
Invasive species cost Americans billions of dollars every year in agriculture and property damage, and can spread a number of diseases that can impact both humans and livestock. Hunters can and do help control these species.
Are wild boars dangerous to humans, or merely a nuisance?
They can be dangerous, but you have to get close to them for that to happen—I’d hate to suddenly surprise a 300-pound boar at 10 yards! That said, like most wild animals, hogs generally try to stay the heck away from people.
What can the government do (or do less of) to make it easier to protect native species from wild boars?
There’s a very wrong-headed movement in some states to actually try to STOP hog hunting. Oklahoma saw the latest such attempt, but fortunately sportsmen helped stop that move. The argument is that hunting actually encourages larger hog populations and gets in the way of government hog reduction work. I don’t buy it for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that government feral hog reduction efforts are minimal at best. Take away hunting and hog populations will boom even more than they have the last ten years.
How can people find out more about your hunts?
You could visit some websites, including the NRA’s American Hunter, ScoutLook.com, and SHWAT.com, all of which regularly publish hog and other hunting stories of mine, as well as hunting gear reviews.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about wild hog hunting and the vital role that American hunters play in keeping this invasive species in check. If you’re a hunter, I encourage you to try your hand at this pursuit. See you in Hog Heaven!