Many moons ago, Nick flew down from Virginia to go hunting for the first time. I’d never actually met Nick in person until then, but I learned three important facts during our first foray into the woods. First, Nick can operate without sleep longer than any other person I know. He’s an absolute machine. And just like my iPhone when it runs low, he sends a little message out, excuses himself, and promptly shuts it down . . .
That usually happens at around thirty four hours without sleep. Second, Nick is a stone cold killer. Years of smallbore shooting and three-gunning have honed his skills to the point that he’s on autopilot when it’s time to shoot. I’ve seen him step out of the truck and crack a round off before I have the time to pull my ear pro down. The pigs pictured above went down within a few seconds of each other, on the run, taking one each to the brain.
Last, he’s the luckiest hunter I know. Before he came to town, I’d never actually seen a pig on our ranch. Over the years, I’ve learned that no matter what blind I put him in, he’s always going to see the biggest deer, or the exotics that I can never find. Or in the case of his first morning, a herd of pigs.
That morning we went out, he grunted “Swine!” at me, swung his rifle up, and shot the first one in the head on the run before I really got it through my head what we were looking at. Talk about OODA loops, right? Once I got up to speed, I saw where the group — one sow and eight juveniles — was running, and pointed him in the direction of where they’d exit the small draw they’d run down.
He picked off the second, racked the bolt, and put his sights on the biggest juvenile left, and then clicked the safety back on. He turned to me and said, “I don’t know what’s beyond that ridge they ran up.”
Like I said, Nick is stone cold and lucky. I love telling that story because it shows what happens when experience and practice marry up with real world shooting situations. Simultaneously, it’s a sad story.
Those eight juveniles ran off to go procreate prolifically. Sows generally have five to six piglets per litter, and have a litter every eight months. Their lifespan is four to eight years. By my math, in the 40 months since that hunting trip, each of the female juveniles that Nick didn’t kill represents twenty five to thirty first generation pigs.
So assuming an even distribution of sexes in the sounder, one hundred to one hundred twenty pigs ran off. And that’s just to date. Based on a lengthy lifespan, each sow will produce ten litters in her lifetime. The failure of that missed shot must haunt him at night.
The videos above were sent to me by my parents from one of the cameras they keep around the property. They also report a lot more random spottings over the last year. As good as Nick is at shooting them, he’s no match for their seemingly unlimited capacity for breeding. As the guys at JagerPro preach, the only way to effectively reduce the number of pigs is to trap the entire sounder and eradicate them. This is a time-consuming process and prone to some trial and error. Wild pigs are a worthy adversary and their intelligence makes them a constantly evolving threat.
I’ll shoot every pig I see on sight, but I’ll do it between runs to Tractor Supply for more Cattle Panel, T-posts, baling wire, and corn to bait the traps. I’m planning to use a bucket trigger similar to the one described here starting in the next few weeks. On that note, as much as it burns up my burnt orange soul to say it, Texas A&M is doing a fantastic job of researching the wild hog epidemic in Texas to help give ranchers, farmers, and hunters the tools they need to eradicate wild pigs. Many thanks to them for their work. But still, Hook ‘Em.