The first was more a surprise than a hunt. I had already known that feral pigs roamed the Virginia wilderness...released in the late depression years, so the banks couldnít foreclose on them. Farmer thinking... ĎI may lose the farm but the pigs go free...í Well they went free all right, they proliferated also with little in the way of predators. Except for the feral dogs, and dogs soon learn it is not an easy and non dangerous occupation, having pork for lunch. At that time in Virginia feral animals belonged to the land they were on...not regulated by the state.
1968 while in the wilderness I was scouting for property to buy...I saw thru the brush about 200 lbs of boar. He hadnít heard or scented me obviously...My 7 Ĺ inch Ruger 44 mag spoke eloquently with WW 240 grain soft nose ammo...surely it would knock him right off his feet, I thought. What a surprise when I realized he was heading my way very quickly and wasnít looking very friendly...second shot at 20 yards turned him, but dang it!!! He righted himself and came on faster it seemed, third shot at 8 feet in the head did the business.
I went over and sat on a stump....after calming down, I thought about it, not since Africa 9 years before (I was there for several years) did a hunting experience make such an impression! Now 33 years and many pigs later itís still one heck of an adventure to go hunting for them. I remember sitting there looking at his ugly face...coining the phrase..natureís little tank..not to be confused with natureís big tanks the rhino and hippopotamus.
No matter if they are feral...wild razorbacks..or Russians, known to some as ruu-ssions (pronunciation of southern fabrication)...or a mixture of all three.
It makes little difference. They are the poor manís adventure hunt. Little tanks that can open a hunting dog from stem to stern in an eye flash. The first time I saw one using that vibrating head motion...with short strokes using his outer teeth like an envelope opener...the vibrations or back and forth movement, was so fast his head looked like a blur as it passed across a dogís body in a split second. After sending that hogís spirit to where ever they go...we sadly had to put the dog out of his misery also. His wounds almost from stem to stern, were so severe from that one pass that connected.
Iíve hunted them from Virginia to Florida....including North and South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, then in Arizona (Az. had a small population in mid-seventies), and in Texas. I have not had a chance yet to go North and Northwest. I stay out of California as much as possible...not that itís not a nice state it is...and plenty of game...but some of those folks and I donít agree on too much.
The second feral hog I shot was a female, and it was just as much a surprise as the first. We were living on our wilderness land by then, and had just planted a big spring garden. The early plants went in like the tomatoes. I planted several different varieties...Iím one of those folks that likes to make his own tomato sauce from scratch...so we planted plenty of plum type tomato plants, among other kinds, also corn and such. When the planting was done I sat my hot and sweaty body into a nice cool tub. Our water came from an underground spring, gads it was nice.
Now I have to explain...we were in true wilderness...the nearest big road to us was still gravel covered. My driveway an old lumber road, snaked thru nine hundred feet of Oak and Giant Pine trees. We had to drop 180 tons of granite crush, to make a real drive way out of it (yes for those math types... that is 360 thousand pounds of crush). We owned acreage inside 1000 acres of uncut oak forest....
You couldnít see the house from the small gravel road we used to get in and out of the wilderness, much less see any person...the house started out as two halves of a special built modular we designed...but finished up as 65 feet by 28 feet...with a 44 foot long, by eight foot wide, porch running around the back and one side. Itís very british to say...íwe had privacyí...except for the animals of the region. They came to visit often. Just as the big hog did that first day of our garden, to sample our newly planter tomato plants.
My wife an old city girl...beautiful by the way...comes running all flustered into the bathroom....talking about something big and ugly eating our garden. I stepped out on the back porch...which is above the garden an area treed, but mostly an open acre behind the house...dressed in soap suds and a 41 Magnum Ruger. I could see it in the plants but couldnít make it out...so I shot it where I thought a head would be. It went down, but missed the head...it went down where I got a clear view, it squealed so well it motivated me to shot it again. I then went in and called my closest neighbor. Telling him I thought I may have killed one of his pigs and that I would pay market value.
Wasnít one of his....it was a feral mix of a lot of gene poll stuff...even had some white spots from some distant china white in itís past I guess. The neighbor came over with his large front loader and we hauled it out of the garden and way back in the trees and field cleaned it. On his cattle scale it hit near 400 lbs....cleaned. And it was a female! Biggest pig I ever harvested..or seen outside of a farm pen. Picture of it in my first book...the mounted head anyway. The tusks were 5 1/4 one side and 5 inches on the other. Prodigious animal. This one really started me hunting them.
I have hunted them with leveraction rifles of all kinds and calibers from 357 magnum to 45-70. I have shot them on sudden opportunities with rifles in 32-20 and 22 magnum..at close range with head shots on the unsuspecting animals. Also I have used a 250-300 Savage levergun....and all manner of handguns with every caliber except 22LR. I know farm animals of some size are put down with 22 RF LRs. I just donít do it. Even the mighty 22 mag RF is too small and lacks power on these small tanks. But a set head shot at close range will do it. Handguns from hot loaded 38s on thru to heavy loaded 454s...autoloaders in 45 acp and 9mm, double action revolvers and single action...short barrels and long.
Even a few T/C Contenders....these animals will tell you quickly how well your bullet works, or donít as the case may be. I put a clip full of 38 Supers in one once because of the wrong bullet was being used....yes they are pigs...yes they are a pest to some land owners...but they still deserve proper harvesting. And yes I am in the minority about calibers...most pig/hog/boar hunters insist that small cannons are needed. I use the smaller calibers like the 357 and 41 magnums...but then again I load them to real mag velocities with pressures in the 40,000 cup range with the right bullets. I like cast hard bullets with their noses drawn soft and heavy for the caliber. Penetration is the name of the game with these mini-tanks.
Their meat is fairly lean...but that is lean for a pig...there is still fat in most of them. No bacon as we know it from farm critters. Thatís usually gristle, called cartilaginous plate covering shoulders and ribs...and it is tough. But a good wild pig can be very tasty. Itís the other white meat they say, probably not meaning the wild ones...but it is. Some of the wrong bullets not to use are full patch round auto slugs...light weight for the caliber jacketed HPs, like the 357 magnum 125 grainers. Had one of those stop in the gristle and against the shoulder bone. Yet friends and I have had 180 grain 358 LBT slugs completely penetrate them when loaded right. Kelly Brost of Cast Bullet Perfection, took one 200 lb boar with a N-Frame S&W 4 inch 357 magnum...the load was his 180 grain LBT over 13.5 grains of 2400. Thru the shoulders it still exited that pig with a quarter size exit wound...but the damage inside all the way thru was extensive. And piggy hit the dirt quickly.
I hit one, a small sow I wanted for meat one cold winter day. Hit her with a full load 44 mag...but a little to far back. She spun and came after me. Another 44 broke the shoulder and went out the off side stomach...She went down. They are aggressive...they donít like any company except themselves and others in their little herds...they donít even like each other very much. They have excellent sense of smell and better hearing. Many tell me their eye sight is poor, it may not be great but I have never found it to be poor. I have had too many run from me, when scent and sound didnít reach them....plenty from fifty yards or more.
Not like the Javelina they do have bad eye sight...but good ears and nose also. Some folks tell me the javelina is just as aggressive as the wild pig. Donít believe it heís a wimp, his only defense really to run fast.
All this talk about being charged by Javelina is really the little peccary not knowing where the hunter is because of bad eye sight, and running towards the hunter instead of away from him...to get away. These little guys are not pigs either...they are their own unusual breed of animal. A good javelina runs 30 to 40 lbs. A good wild pig runs 200 to 300 lbs.
Many times I have heard pigs and Javelina, sharping their teeth by rubbing them together...in Africa I saw Hippos do the same thing....hippos are not like the cartoons of them with flat teeth. Where the javelinaís teeth run upwards to two inches...and the wild pig five or more...the hippo can go way over a foot in length...a hippo can bite a man in half. And the often do... they are terribly aggressive. Even tipping over small boats to get at the humans.
Wild pigs will leave nasty scars behind if you get to close to them. I have seen a number of hunting dogs in the south that got to close and had very nasty scars to show for it. Those dogs sometimes have more courage than brains. But they sure can run pigs. I saw one old hunter and seller of pig meat, with one leg nearly devoid of meat and muscle up close to his knee. Nothing but a mass of scar tissue....he was exceptionally fortunate that his tendons didnít get cut. He stepped in to save a dog and the pig knocked him over and he stuck his leg to the pigís head to stop him from getting to the important stuff.. A friend shot the porker but in the half minute that took, the pig did real damage.
I have watched domestic pigs hunt snakes. We barbwired 3 acres in, in the front of our wilderness home. It was oak trees from thumb size up to 30 years old and 40+ plus feet high. All kinds of brush and crap growing, so you couldnít walk in it. My neighbor let three pigs loose in the wired in area for me. Those pigs ate everything from thumb size tress and brush and tilled the ground (noses were not ringed). I came out of the house one early morning just after the pigs were let loose, and the older sow had a diamond- back rattler held down with her front hoof, and was eating it tail first. The snake was madly striking her shoulder and side areas.
At my call, my friend said not to worry over it. The body fat stops the poison and the pig doesnít even notice. The first thing those porkers did was hunt the snakes...ate every last one of them in that area. Ate every rat and mouse they could catch...and believe me they can catch them...pigs are very fast. They will eat a great variety of stuff....plants, nuts, small trees, dead animals..anything they can get. They are opportunists. My neighbor had a black bear climb into one of his pig pens one time, to grab one of his shoats for lunch.
Well momma pig and the 8 or so shouts that were 50+ pounds by that time went after the bear. It was lucky to get back out of the pen with all itís moving parts. It certainly lost a good deal of meat and hide. My friend said that momma pig was so hot you could light matches on her forehead. He had a shotgun, but was laughing so hard he knew he wouldnít come close to hitting the bear.
Pigs... thought of as unclean to eat for centuries, and it was... because of what it was fed, and how badly the meat was cooked, it carried many very deadly things to man... not the least of which was tape worm... But today, garbage is no longer fed to porkers.. Or shouldnít be. And we now know how to prepare his meat... Try the adventure of hunting wild boar, itís a treat in itself... but then there is always many pounds of that other white meat.....