Waging War on Feral Hogs

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Feral hogs cause an estimated $52 million in damage each year in Texas alone, rooting up crops and transmitting diseases to domestic pigs, so they’re fair game through most of the south — and now operations like Tactical Hog Control and Jager Pro are kicking it up a notch:

Most high-tech hunting guides started offering nocturnal hunts only in recent years as various thermal- and night-vision gear became available for public purchase. Mr. Pinkston’s Jager Pro began offering such hunts in 2006.

Messrs. Osborne and Dreher have shot hogs on their East Texas ranches for two decades. Not until 2009 did they start enticing would-be Rambos. Their Tactical Hog Control offers hunters a six-hour hunt, beginning at dusk, for $500.

On that moonless, muggy evening in June, the guides hopped into their open-top Land Rover with clients Messrs. Coiner and Hahnel to comb Mr. Osborne’s 2,000-acre ranch for hogs. Tactical Hog Control has agreements for access to hunt hogs on more than 100,000 acres owned by other ranchers.

As darkness fell, Mr. Osborne left the headlights off and used his night-vision goggles to navigate. Through the goggles, the landscape appeared to be bathed in green light. As the vehicle bounced through a bumpy field, Mr. Osborne pointed to the ground, where rooting hogs had created ruts several inches deep. “Dad always used to say they make the pasture so rough that a bird couldn’t fly over it,” he said.

I’m not sure why night-hunting out-of-control pests using fun technology — how can you not get a kick out of night-vision? — qualifies the customers as would-be Rambos.

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