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New HogBlog HQ – North Carolina Edition

July 23, 2015

New HogBlog HQWell, I’ve put off posting about this since there’s been a lot of on-and-off, but it looks like it’s all over but the paper signing… Kat and I will soon be closing on about 35 acres of Duplin County farm and woodland.

There’s currently a small, refurbished,1935 vintage cottage at the front of the property, which will work for a temporary residence.  The longer term plan is to build something a little bigger (and newer) back in the woods, away from the road.

There’s a lot of work to be done.

The field is currently in soy beans, and I can’t do anything with it until that is harvested.  Once it’s done, we’ll convert it to pasture for the horses.  In the meantime, the deer and turkeys are loving the crop.  They’re also living it up on the mast (oaks and hickory), as well as the wild, scuppernong (Muscadine) grapes.  I’ve only explored a small portion of the woods, but it’s pretty good looking habitat.

There are wild hogs in Duplin County, but most of them are in the eastern corner of the county. My brother has been hunting a public land tract that’s also got pigs, but we can only hunt there during deer season.  So that’s still an outstanding quest.

So there it is… an update, of sorts, in lieu of over a week without posting anything.  Hope that was worth it.  

 

CA Hunters Gearing Up

July 7, 2015

Early Blacktail seasonUnless things have changed since I moved away, the 4th of July fireworks are still popping and whistling around CA.  Summer is getting into full swing for most folks, and (depending on where you are) the temps are bouncing around the upper 80s and low 90s, burning off the morning haze to create those bright, sunny days that represent California to most people.

In other words, it hardly seems like hunting season.

But it is.  Saturday morning brings the first hours of the 2015 deer season for the hearty, A-zone bowhunters.  While most US deer hunters are only dreaming of the first morning back in the field, folks all through the central part of CA are tuning up and gearing up for the opener.

I’m only vaguely jealous, although if I were still living there, there’s no question that I’d be honing my accuracy and double-checking my pack in preparation to hit the field.  Some people think we’re nuts to hunt that early season, when it’s not unusual to broil under 100+ degree temps, but most of those people have never experienced a hunt in that country.  It’s beautiful out there, and while the heat can be a challenge (but the mornings and evenings can be downright chilly), there’s something special about taking to the field in mid-summer.

So, to all of my CA friends heading out this weekend, good luck!  Hunt hard, have fun, and be safe!

Hog Problems – Think About This Before You Start Shooting

July 6, 2015

Over the years since I started paying close attention to feral hogs, I’ve seen folks refer to “hog problems” as anything from a few transient animals to sounders upon sounders that have moved in and started wholesale devastation of a piece of ground.  Likewise, I’ve seen “hog control” responses ranging from sniping individual animals with a .22 caliber rifle to aerial slaughter.

As you might expect, the success of these efforts varies as widely as the methods.  What isn’t as variable, though, is the reality that shooting at hogs is seldom the most efficient or effective method of managing a “problem”.  Consistent pressure can certainly move the animals away from an area… sometimes even permanently… but this generally means that they’ll become someone else’s problem.

If you talk to a lot of the folks who shoot hogs in a self-described effort to “control” the population, you’ll find that many of them are really just sport hunting.  They often shoot selectively, stop when they have killed a couple of animals, and even avoid killing “wet” sows (still nursing) and piglets.  There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but if the real end game is control or eradication, sport hunting tactics and ethics aren’t going to get the job done.

What will work, particularly in cases where there is a real problem, is trapping.  I’ve written about this a time or two in the past, but I was reading an article this weekend that really brought it home again.  It’s a good piece, if you’re interested in the topic.

Here’s a snippet that sort of summarizes the piece:

For instance, Fairhead (Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Wild Hog Project Coordinator) said a property owner shouldn’t immediately rush in to shoot hogs when they’re first discovered. Instead, he said game cameras should be installed to locate the location of an entire sounder and patterns of travel routes as part of a methodical plan.

Conditioning hogs to enter a trap is recommended, he said. A trap with a remote monitored gate is critical for success and requires patience and persistence.

“Trap first, shoot second,” Fairhead said. That will also help reduce the number of trap-shy hogs on the landscape.

The idea of using a carefully planned and executed approach to pattern, condition, and then capture entire sounders is not new, of course.  However, as the article points out, the approach takes time and patience, as well as a bit of skill.  Fortunately, the skills and techniques are not difficult to learn.

The professionals over at JagerPro offer good information on their website, and they also speak at various conferences.  Led by Rod Pinkston, the organization is made up of US Army veterans, and they leverage military training, discipline, and tactics to present a methodical and effective hog control strategy.  They offer training as well, both at their site in Georgia, and at locations around the country.  For anyone who is seriously interested in learning to manage feral hogs, this is a good way to go.

I’m not suggesting that there’s no place for sport hunting, by the way.  While I don’t think sport hunters can kill enough hogs to seriously manage population densities, I do think that pressure from hunters can (sometimes) keep the populations from concentrating in a single area.  Of course, I also feel like total eradication is neither realistic nor necessary.  Overpopulation of any species, native or non-native, is a danger to the environment, but I just have a hard time believing that feral hogs represent a real environmental catastrophe (except in particularly sensitive habitats, of course).

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