You’ve heard the old saying, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Well, there are certain situations in the management of wildlife world when a slightly edited version of that phrase fits perfectly. Here in the United States, especially the southeastern U.S., and even more particularly right here in Mississippi, the situation we face with wild hogs calls for a slightly edited version of the old saying, and it goes like this: “If you can’t beat ‘em, shoot ‘em!”
For years, wild hogs weren’t a problem. In certain areas of the state, especially the lower Delta, their numbers were increasing at an alarming rate, but there were enough passionate hog hunters to pretty much manage the problem. Folks like Mike Braswell and Wick Eatherly, armed with fine horses, tenacious hounds, and plenty of friends who wanted to join them on post deer season hog hunts, went a long way in holding down the hog population.
What most folks don’t realize, though, is that hogs have from 8-10 pigs per litter two times a year. For every hog shot by avid hog hunters, nearly 20 are taking its place. It doesn’t take an accountant or math major to figure out the problem of an exponentially increasing hog population. That is exactly what has happened here in Mississippi and all throughout the southeastern states, from Texas to Georgia.
Houston, we have a problem, a very serious problem!
Wildlife departments and game biologists, in cooperation with hunters, have tried just about everything imaginable to try to get a handle on the hog problem. Hunting hogs, day and night throughout the year, is helping, but the numbers keep increasing. In Texas, the problem is so cataclysmic that shooting hogs from helicopters is being employed in an attempt to control the hog population. The numbers are still increasing.
No one likes to see any species of animal being shot in wholesale lots, but in this case, it is absolutely necessary that every hog, boar, sow and piglet, when spotted, should be shot. When it comes to the hog epidemic, it’s time for, “If you can’t beat ‘em, shoot ‘em!”
While some will no doubt cry foul over this management approach, my only concern is with the meat. I hate to see the meat from harvested animals go to waste. In my experience, the meat from medium to small wild hogs is delicious. The larger hogs make good sausage, but the use of extreme techniques to manage the wild hog problem should include plans for the meat once the animals have been taken.
Whether it’s wild, feral hogs here in Mississippi, or warthogs in South Africa, the hog problem is the same. On my son-in-law’s game ranch in South Africa, warthogs are a perennial problem. Nearly every hunter who pursues plains game also wants to take a huge warthog boar, one with really long tusks. Every year we have to cull quite a few sows in order to, in some small way, control the ever increasing population of warthogs. We have found that a rifle with a suppressor works extremely well in eliminating whole family groups, and in every case, we have people lined up for the meat of every hog we shoot.
For a population short on protein in their diet, the warthogs are a blessing. Just like here in Mississippi, the only effective management tool for hogs is, “If you can’t beat ‘em, shoot ‘em!”
Believing that the only way to effective manage the wild hog problem here and in Africa, is to shoot ‘em might be a long shot for some of you. It would be for me too if the animals were simply shot and the meat wasted, but this must never be the case. Shooting enough of them to control the population may be, in actuality, a long shot, but whatever we do, let’s don’t be afraid to go with the long shots. Live life to its fullest every moment and be ready!
Rev. Richard Wiman is the pastor of First
Presbyterian Church in Belzoni, an avid hunter
and an accomplished, much-published writer.