Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hog hunt

I'm still coming up with nothing to post, so I'm going to recycle some pictures from a pretty good hunting trip I went on last year. My brother, two of our cousins, and a family friend all had a pretty good time in Coleman county. We got fifteen overall, including one stretch where we got seven in about forty minutes, and probably would have got more except the dogs were worn out at that point.

It's really saying something when the guy holding the mule is the least redneck person in a picture.

Paul has a pack of curs and a few hound crosses. We were using three bay dogs on the ground with one catch dog on a lead. The idea is to work them in teams to find and bay the hogs. In theory, curs try and pick up a scent off the wind and then follow it to the source, and hounds will follow a colder trail. They're all a little bit different though, and there may be more difference between two curs than there is between a given catahoula and a specific Plott hound. Some will range out and hunt a little farther than others. Some stay close. Once they find a hog, some are willing to get a little rougher in order to detain it. It's important to get a good combination of traits in the team you're using. You don't want a dog with a lot of range on a small parcel of land. It's also nice to have dogs fast and gritty enough to get a hog stopped fast before it ends up two counties over.

This is Paul and his hunting mule, Lyle. He doesn't bother with a knife, he has a bayonet. The man comes prepared.

Once the bay dogs have a hog found, they start making noise. That allows you to locate them. The hog will either look for a place to make a stand, or try and leave the country. The curs give chase, trying to corner it and get it stopped. If they get it stopped, the noise increases and the hog may squeal. That means it is time for the catch dog.

This is Ada. She is from Norway and enjoys Kevlar and long walks in the brush. Seriously.

The catch dog is basically a platform for transporting huge jaws muscles and large quantities of determination. On this trip we had an Argentine Dogo named Ada. Pit Bulls are popular, as are bull dogs and various crosses. But the Dogo is the Cadillac of catch dogs. There are running catch dogs, but most people keep them on a lead so they don't run themselves out. Once you walk it in close to the bay, you turn it loose. A good catch dog will then plow through brush, small trees, and anything else to get to the pig and grab a hold of it. Most grab an ear. Once they have a bite, they set up and pull. The bay dogs take this opportunity to grab the pig too. Once a hog has dogs pulling on its ears, neck, and shoulders, their fighting and running options are limited. While this is going on, everybody is hurrying to get to the bay. Dogs get tired the longer a bay goes on, and a tired dog is more likely to get hurt. The front of a hog is the dangerous end after all. The first man in grabs the back legs of the pig and flips it on its back, crossing the legs. The next guy in inserts his knife into the pig.

It's a little hard to see from this angle, but me and Ada are having a spirited tug of war with a big sow, and my cousin Kelly is taking his sweet time deciding where to put his knife.

I was the first guy on the scene on all but the very last hog. Depending on who you talk to, either my male relatives are less than zealous, or I have questionable judgement.

Yeah, I'm the one with questionable judgement.

Good catch dogs are persistent. They won't quit too soon. Or even too late.

Depending on the size of the hog and the character of the bay dogs, a catch dog may not always be required.


  1. I consider that a sporting method of hunting I aim to try when my health improves a bit. I'd be a better hog wrestler at my old 225 than the current 165 :-( In the interim, do you think it would be sporting to go do hog control at my friend Jack's farm that's seriously over-run with them to where they are about to shoot them and leave them lay and use my recently completed Bren rebuild?

    Sub-MOA and 30 round magazine .303 semi-auto vs hogs coming in on a feeder???

    Seems fair to me until I get back in shape/

  2. I say anything that results in fewer hogs is sporting.

  3. Using an oxy-acetylene torch to light match- light charcoal? Probably effective but I'd say overkill.

    The hog hunting looks like fun but dicey for somebody like me who's on anti-coagulant therapy.

  4. Nobody had any matches or a lighter. The torch was actually the best solution on hand.

    It's really pretty much a young man's game in that kind of terrain. In open country you can use a four wheeler, which would be so, so nice.