Written by Brooklee Grant, Member of Pulsar’s Expert Program
If you aren’t from Texas, you probably don’t understand what we’ve got going on down here in terms of our feral hog situation… I should really say feral hog dilemma. As a hunter and someone who has been involved with agriculture my whole life, from my perspective, feral hogs are a blessing and a curse. Our state is so saturated with wild pigs right now, and the population is steadily growing. They provide an exciting, challenging, and extremely affordable hunting opportunity that you won’t soon forget; but their destructive nature poses a threat to numerous things that we hold dear in the Lone Star State. Increasing the number of hogs harvested could make a huge difference for us by reducing both economic and ecological damage, as well as being a trophy for hunters!
Check out my top reasons why Texas is the hog hunting destination of your dreams:
In case you haven’t already heard, everything’s bigger in Texas, including the feral hog population. According to the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Service, the number of feral hogs reported in Texas range from 1 to 4 million! Even at a modest estimate of how many we have running around, we’re still coming in at about 2 to 2.5 million hogs. It is estimated that 50 percent of our entire nation’s wild hog population is located here in Texas. Seventy-nine percent of our state is sufficient habitat for hogs to thrive. They are found in high concentrations from the Pineywoods of East Texas to the scrub brush and small trees in Central and South Texas; they prefer bottomlands when available.
After speaking to a Wildlife Research Biologist at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area, I learned that hogs have been found in every county in Texas except El Paso County, but even there, there have been unconfirmed reports of hogs. As shown by the AgriLIFE Extension Service, this free-ranging, non-native, invasive species exhibits the highest reproductive capability of any hoofed animal, which makes population reduction difficult. According to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) they are capable of breeding at 6 months of age, but 8 to 10 months is normal; gestation is around 115 days with an average litter size of 4 to 6, but under good conditions they may have 10 or 12 at a time and are capable of producing 2 litters per year. Additional research found that with an average harvest of 28 percent of the population, the feral hog population was expected to double every 5 years, and without harvest, the population was expected to triple!
Population reduction measures must escalate dramatically since the estimated harvest rate is only 29 percent; however at least 66 percent of the population will need to be removed annually on a long-term basis, for example, five years or more, for the population to remain stable. Hunting here is a win-win situation, you get the thrill of the hunt, and we get a higher harvest rate!
Hogs Causing Havoc
Another reason to come hunt feral hogs here is because of their destructive nature and the amount of damage they do to our economy and ecosystems each year. It is estimated that they cost Texans $1.5 billion dollars annually between the cost of damage to Texas agricultural enterprises and equipment used for control measures. With their relentless growth, they are also causing an increasing amount of destruction in suburban and urban areas, whether it be landscape damage or vehicle collisions. Their feeding habits are most of what makes them so troublesome because they compete for food directly with livestock as well as game and non-game animals. They have a tremendously harmful effect on the environment by destroying habitat, destabilizing wetland areas, and even destroying the eggs of ground-nesting birds such as turkey and quail. Although they aren’t considered active predators, they are very opportunistic feeders and have been known to prey on fawns and other small animals. Furthermore, they have the capability to transmit diseases to livestock as well as to wildlife.
Go Ahead, Take as Many as You Want
Because they are so destructive, and the population has gotten out of control, hunting regulations have become more lenient, and the cost of hunting them is super affordable. In most cases, all a hunter needs to be able to hunt them legally is a valid Texas hunting license, permission to hunt in an area, and a weapon of some sort. Depending on where you’re located, you might only need transportation, lodging, a Texas hunting license, and a firearm, and you are good to go! Compared to the cost of hunting other big game animals in the U.S., or all of North America for that matter, I have no doubt that you’ll never find a big game hunt where you can have this much fun, at such a low price point.
You can pretty much kill them by any means you want other than by using poison. So if you like using a rifle, bow, muzzleloader, handgun, knife, hunting dogs, or in some areas even by shooting them from a helicopter, knock yourself out!
Did I mention that you can hunt them year round, day or night, and there’s NO BAG LIMIT. Yes, you read that right, no bag limit, so unless you hunt through a guide that limits your harvest to a certain number, you can kill as many as you want, and please do!
There are numerous places to hunt them between private and public land. It’s not uncommon for a hunter to simply just ask someone for permission to hunt hogs on their private land, and they are just excited someone wants to get rid of the hogs. Be sure to do your research prior to your hunt so that you follow the laws and regulations set forth by TPWD. Hogs are intelligent, proving to sometimes be a challenging hunt, and you can always count on the hunt being exciting!
Feral hogs are more plentiful in Texas than anywhere else in North America, hunts are extremely affordable; the pigs are good to eat and leaner than pen-raised pork, and they give you the opportunity to hone in on your hunting skills during the off-season. You’ll also be helping Texans eliminate part of the feral hog population, just as a cherry on top. You know you need a new trophy mount for your man cave. Come enjoy some friendly Texas hospitality; take in the wide variety of beautiful landscapes that the Lone Star State has to offer, and go on a hunt you’ll remember for a lifetime. We need you to join us in the battle against feral hogs!