Pig Man and Ted’s Aerial Gunning Adventures – A Mild Reprise

August 10, 2012

OK, this one isn’t going to be as easy to write as the last time I wrote about this… just a couple of days ago.

A couple of days ago, I was filled with self-righteous fury… or something akin… and I let myself perpetrate one of my own pet peeves.  I jumped to conclusions.  Yeah, that’s right.  Me.  Mr. “let’s wait and hear the whole story,” Hog Blog dude, went mildly postal with some preconceived notions about this upcoming episode of The Pig Man.  Sure, I prefaced it with the disclaimer that I hadn’t actually seen the episode in question, but what does a disclaimer really mean?  If you don’t know what you’re really talking about, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it.  Right?

Enough with the self-flagellation.  I’m human.  Mistakes are part of the package.

In a nutshell, let me review what I said.

My concerns centered around two things… The first is the polarizing nature of aerial hog hunting, writ large with two bigger than life personalities, Brian “Pig Man” Quaca and Ted “Motor City Big Mouth” Nugent.  The second concern had to do with the press release mention that fully automatic weapons would be used.  The potential for negative PR spilled from my computer screen as I let my imagination go wild, picturing the scene of Nugent (the antithesis of restraint) roaring with glee as he sprayed lead across the Texas landscape while Quaca, always eager to goof around, joined the fray with abandon.  OK, maybe that’s a little exaggeration… but to be honest, it’s not much of one.  I honestly expected the worst.

On a purely serious note, my concerns aren’t all that far off base.  Aerial gunning is a hot issue for a lot of reasons.  As I said in the initial post, a lot of people, including hunters, really don’t understand the line between sport hunting, and depredation.  They don’t get that the same ethical rules don’t apply… can’t apply… when it comes to the need to drastically reduce the population of an invasive species.  Add to that a second flashpoint… fully automatic weapons.  ARs are winning a grudging acceptance in much of the sporting world, although the non-hunting/non-shooting public still holds a strongly negative image of them.  Televising this sort of thing is opening a can of worms.  What’s worse is the potential for anti-hunting organizations to leverage these uneducated misperceptions to push their propaganda.

And Ted Nugent… well, he is a walking PR disaster all by himself.  I don’t hate the man, because I don’t know him, but I hate what he has done to civil discussion of guns and hunting.  The mere intimation of his presence in a conversation about firearms or hunting derails logic.  I won’t go on, except to say I had real fears that he would say or do something so stupid as to demolish any credibility Brian Quaca has been able to build up.  It would only take one of his infamous rants to overshadow everything that the Pig Man has worked to build… and that would be a shame.

So that’s sort of what I said in my first post, and I stood by that in the comments and replies afterward (although I started to inwardly question the vehemence of my initial post).

And I still hadn’t seen the episode in question.

Now I have.

Thanks to the Pig Man business office, I was given the opportunity to view the full episode in advance.  I watched it tonight, and then I went outside and sat on the porch to think it through.  Then I came back in and watched it again.  I obviously owe Brian and his crew something of an apology, because they handled the whole episode extremely well… or at least as well as could be hoped.  I’m not going to sit here and try to summarize the whole episode.  Ya’ll can watch it yourselves when it hits the air on August 26.

But what I will say is that the worst of my fears were largely unfounded.  First and foremost, as he usually does, Brian Quaca spends the time explaining the rationale behind aerial hog gunning and makes clear that it isn’t about sport hunting…it’s eradication.  Throughout the episode, they make clear that these hogs are a pestilence financially and ecologically.  Personally, there are a few other questions I’d like to have heard him address about safety and shooting from the helicopter, but maybe that’s a little much.  I know most people just tune in to see him shoot hogs.

Nugent’s presence is kept to a dull roar.  He comes on pretty strong during the introduction, including some pretty boastful (and questionable) claims about his role in the passage of the “Pork Chopper” bill (HB 716),  but he never quite gets to full roar.  Whether I should or not, I’m going to credit the producers and editors with managing that.

What about the full automatic weapons?  Yes, there is a full-auto.  Yes, there is spray and pray.  And that was mildly unfortunate, because a lot of the semi-auto shooting was actually pretty good (or at least a lot of the shooting that made the editor’s cut).  But the machine-gunning is kept to a bare minimum and it didn’t look very effective.  I think I actually heard it more than I saw it.  I didn’t really feel like it played a big enough part to make any difference in the overall program.  It was certainly not a focal point.

So all that said… were all of my concerns silenced?  No.  This episode is still pretty loaded with potential negative PR.

Are they having fun killing things?  Yes, and they make no bones about it.  There’s laughter and banter (fans of Pig Man know what to expect), but overall they never get outrageously irreverent.  Some people are still going to have an issue with that, but I don’t.

The footage of the kills is still pretty harsh, and I expect the episode is definitely going to draw some negative feedback on this.  There is some particularly graphic action with swimming hogs that is almost certain to set off some outcry.  There’s also going to be the question of humane kills.  Many shots were obviously less than perfect, and people will wonder how many hogs were left to die slowly instead of being finished off with additional shots.  However, I think Holly Heyser may have been right in her comments that, because people dislike (and even fear) feral hogs, the backlash may not be as bad as it would if they were shooting something more controversial, like wolves.

So yeah, the Pig Man producers and probably the Sportsman Channel will get some letters.  I’m sure Quaca and Nugent will both be featured in some anti-hunting website and blog, with all the requisite rhetoric and stereotypes.  But compared to some of the other aerial shooting videos that are out on YouTube, this was probably one of the least controversial aerial hog hunts I’ve seen yet.  This epispode probably didn’t improve the public image of hunting, but they certainly didn’t make it any worse.

So, Pig Man.  Mea culpa.


9 Responses to “Pig Man and Ted’s Aerial Gunning Adventures – A Mild Reprise”

  1. Chad Ferguson on August 10th, 2012 15:20

    I am a big fan of Brian. He takes a lot of crap from people but no more than I would expect from someone who has reached his level of popularity. He is without a doubt the most popular outdoor personality in Texas these days.

    Ted Nugent is Ted Nugent. Love him or hate him he’s a strong proponent of outdoor sports and second amendment rights. I don;t always agree with everything he says and he is certainly an extreme personality but he is always at the forefront of protecting our second amendment rights, even if some of the things that come out of his mouth are offensive to some. He has my respect simply for the fact that he is willing to stand up where most will not and he is a man doing what he loves.

    I read your original article and didn’t agree with your comments.

    Brian and his team are incredibly media savvy. You can tell by watching what they do they understand TV, they understand social media and the web and they understand what Brian does best, being out there shaking hands and kissing babies and being the “likeable guy ” that he is. There is a reason every appearance he makes he has lines of people waiting to meet him and get his autograph.

    These guys are smart enough and media savvy enough to know that they need to set the premise up on what they are doing and why.

    People that are against hunting are going to use this as fodder but it’s not like Pigman and Ted are introducing some super secret hunting society or something. It is all over Youtube and everywhere you turn on the web.

    Sure it’s fuel for the fire for the anti-hunting folks but these are the very same people that are looking for anything they can grab hold of. If they don’t grab on to this it will be something else, they are going to find something.

    All this being said, these are also the very same people that do not understand aerial hog hunting and the huge problem we are faced with here in Texas.

    I know you understand but people that don’t live here don;t understand the magnitude of the issue and the fact that we have yet to see what the true problem is as we have a problem that cannot be controlled. As the population continues to explode it will only get worse.

    I live in North Texas within the Fort Worth city limits and have been here my whole life. I hunt 20 minutes from downtown Fort Worth on land that has an out of control hog population.

    I had seen very few hogs outside of East Texas up until about 5 years ago and now I see them almost every single day and see them in places that are surprising. Two weeks ago I saw a 300+ lb boar leading a group through a field that was 1/4 of a mile from Wal-Mart and behind a large subdivision. I have friends trapping huge numbers of hogs in the big middle of city parks.

    I’m glad you changed your stance. You can condemn Pig and Ted all you want for providing fuel for the anti-hunting folks. My take is they are exposing what a big freaking problem we have in Texas and what we are doing about it!

    At the end of the day spraying a bunch of hogs from a fully automatic weapon off the deck of a chopper is no more fuel to the fire for the anti hunting folks that him shooting a single deer, hog or anything else for that matter.

  2. Phillip on August 11th, 2012 17:31

    Thanks for popping in, Chad.

    I believe I’ve offered all the mea culpas I’ve got on this, to Brian and his production company. I jumped to conclusions and that’s that… turns out that I should have had more faith in these guys, and I’m extremely happy that my preconceptions were dispelled. Done.

    Besides that, I’m largely in agreement with much of what you say in regards to the Pigman team, and their ability to turn out a quality program. I also like that he’s working to provide some education about the pig problem in Texas along with the entertainment. It’s why this is one of the few hunting programs I actually watch on purpose.

    As to your final comment, that’s your opinion and I don’t necessarily share it. Doesn’t make it wrong. I just disagree.

    While I don’t think this particular episode provided significant fuel to the antis, the potential was, and remains, very real. By and large, I think the hunting mass media is aware of this and they are usually careful. But they’re far from perfect. There are still a lot of relative amateurs out there shooting and producing hunting videos, and they don’t always make the best decisions. This is a fairly new industry, and it’s been rising pretty fast. It doesn’t hurt for us, the viewers, to remind them from time to time that while there are things that may seem perfectly OK to us as hunters, there are people watching who do not understand. If the program they see on screen does not provide context, they will try to interpret what they saw as best they can. That’s the gap the antis exploit when they use our own actions against us.

  3. Michelle on August 15th, 2012 13:54

    Phillip – glad you were able to watch the show. It is a mine field of emotions and you said it that both of those guys are larger than life. But the fact remains the same – feral hogs are a huge problem in Texas and this bill passed last fall is hopefully one way to get populations down. Although with the way these animals reproduce, I don’t even know if that will even slow down the population growth.

  4. Phillip on August 16th, 2012 18:26

    Good to hear from you, Michelle. It is sensitive ground, but I do agree that the saving grace here is how thoroughly hogs have been demonized across the country. If this were a more popular species, like whitetail deer, I expect the outcry would have a very different flavor despite the fact that whitetail are responsible for much more crop predation, as well as auto accidents, landscape damage, and so on. There’s another whole discussion here, and I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to put it in words to start that conversation.

  5. ronng on August 16th, 2012 22:32

    Frankly anyone who comes into Tejas and bad mouth’s Pigman or Uncle Ted
    and the Texas way of life can go straight to he11–I can make the claim that most of my people agree mostly with Ted 99.99% of the time-you see,we are close to being more free here than most states,,FULL AUTO ? -i OWNED ONE FOR YEARS,,Hogs?,,I kill every one I see,,even running into them in my pick-up,,Pick up a NRA mag the next time Ted runs for the board and see how many votes he gets-his show also won some awards recently-,,what any commie libs and people from Kalifornia have to say here in this state matters none,,you must have moved to Austin–thats the A hole of the state–EGA productions

  6. Phillip on August 16th, 2012 22:49

    Ron, that would qualify for one of the funniest posts this year, except for the fact that it’s so sad that people still think this is the proper way to express themselves. “Commie libs”? Really? Are you thirteen years old? Does your momma know you’re using the computer this late at night? Oh, and it’s OK to spell out hell. No need to get all clever by replacing the “ll” with “11”. The rest of us here are grown-ups.

    I’m not here to knock Texas or Brian Quaca. But I don’t care where I live, Ted Nugent is still a narcissistic big mouth from Michigan (not from Texas), and I’ll bad mouth him to my heart’s content. Your comments here are a direct example of the mentality he fosters and the reason he’s anathema to constructive discussion of gun rights and hunting.

    If that’s the most pertinent or constructive commentary you have to offer, I’ll happily show you to the egress.

  7. Michelle on August 17th, 2012 07:34

    I really want to compare it to the wolf issue we are experiencing “up north.” Emotions on both sides of the fence. Except…we can all agree feral pigs are super ugly. 🙂 With the wolves, people are so emotionally attached to them b/c they look like our dogs.
    I look forward to the comments we’ll receive after the show airs – will people be upset by the feral hogs killed? Or the fact they used a helicopter? Or just by the personalities on the show?

    Good luck starting this conversation and let me know if you need anything from us.

  8. Phillip on August 17th, 2012 11:07

    Heya, Michelle. The wolf issue is definitely another hot button. I’ll be interested to see what happens following Randy Newberg’s wolf hunt episodes. I expect you’ll see a lot more feedback on that than you will from the Pigman episode. Or at least I’d hope you do. I know it’s a pain to be on the receiving end (because you get some pretty whacky feedback sometimes), but I do think folks need to speak up directly to the source if they want change.

    Personally, I’m not well enough informed about the wolf issue to hold a solid stance. Of course I’ve got some opinions, but I haven’t researched it personally. For me, the bottom line is if the science supports it, management tools such as sport hunting are viable, no matter how beautiful or “majestic” folks may think the wolves are. Wildlife management should never be a question for the ballot box or public opinion, regardless of the species involved.

  9. Mongo on August 27th, 2012 22:04

    Watched the episode in question, my first one for “Pigman” and did not find it a poster child for the anti hunters. Looked real fun to me in fact and look at the number of hogs they took, pretty much showed the problem just with the numbers killed in one day on to farms.