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ROGER WILTZ: Before a hog hunt, check it out

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opinion Mitchell, 57301
The Daily Republic
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Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

A warning may be appropriate for today's column.

I'm thinking of something like this: The content of the following may not be suitable for children, or don't try this at home. Let's put it this way. If your monthly PETA magazine arrived today, don't read this column.

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Today's adventure may be the way some Texans hunt pigs, but it wasn't for Jerry, and it certainly wouldn't be for me.

Jerry, a frequent hunting and fishing partner of mine, headed down to Texas last October to visit a friend who was seriously ill. He took along his rifle, some hunting attire, and some gear in case an opportunity to hunt presented itself. When he found himself in the vicinity of the famous YO Ranch (www.yoranch.com), he stopped in to see what he might be able to hunt.

The YO covers hundreds of thousands of acres, most of it teeming with both indigenous and introduced game. Like 99 percent of Texas hunting, one pays to hunt. YO hunts usually include guides, lodging, and meals, and I enjoyed looking over their website. If you look for it on a map, the YO is near Kerrville, northwest of San Antonio and north of Laredo.

As Jerry had never hunted javelina, also known as collared peccary, he thought he might see if they were in season. Javelinas are small pig-like animals indigenous to the American Southwest. The YO folks told Jerry that javelina weren't abundant in the area, but that he might get a shot from a blind.

He also learned that feral hogs, or domestic hogs gone wild, were numerous, and, if hunted at night with dogs, would provide more than enough excitement.

Jerry decided to try for a javelina, and then asked about his chances of getting a shot at a trophy nilgai bull. Nilgai are large antelope, once indigenous to India, that now run wild in the Texas hill country and coastal areas. He would have a chance for a good nilgai. In the end, Jerry took a trophy nilgai bull as well as two fine javelinas.

But today's adventure is not about nilgai or javelina. It's about an outrageous pig hunt.

Since there was time for a hog hunt, Jerry decided to go for it. He loaded his rifle and binoculars into the YO vehicle. Their hunt began in the early evening with Jerry, the guide, and a leashed pit bull riding around in a Land Cruiser until their three hound dogs, running alongside, struck a fresh trail. Jerry told the guide that he was uncomfortable hunting hogs with his rifle as he feared accidentally hitting a dog. The guide didn't seem to worry about it.

The hounds had GPS signal devices on their collars, and the guys were able to watch dog whereabouts on a GPS screen. When the dogs eventually struck a hot trail, they were off and running. Jerry and the guide, now with flashlights in their mouths, bailed out of the vehicle with the pit bull. They followed on foot through the dark, thorn and rattlesnake infested bush.

"Leave the rifle," yelled the guide.

Had there been time, I might have asked, "Exactly how are we going to kill these pigs?"

The first chase didn't last very long. The dogs soon held a small porker at bay, and the guide deftly grabbed it by a hind leg and stabbed it to death with his other hand. Soon they were back to the vehicle with the hog. Time for another chase.

Immediately the hounds found a hot trail. This time the hog didn't come so easily. It repeatedly eluded the dogs, and the chase became a long, often hazardous pursuit with holes, rocks, tumbles, and scratched limbs.

"We're on to a big one," yelled the guide. Eventually the hounds held the hog at bay for a final showdown. Blood-curdling howls and squeals filled the air as Jerry, guide and pit bull bowled as best they could through the dense cover.

Dogs flew through the air as the enraged porker tossed his head back and forth, ivory incisors glistening in the rays of the flashlights. In the end, one of the dogs would require thirty stitches.

Now, the incensed pit bull was clamped on an ear like a Vise-Grip pliers. The guide tossed Jerry a gleaming stiletto as he fought to gain a hind quarter.

"Kill him!" he screamed as dogs, pig and guide now rolled around on the scarred turf.

Jerry threw a headlock on the bristling tusker as he stabbed and stabbed again. Sweat ran from his every pore. Blood gushed into his eyes. And then the hog was still, the dogs quit baying and silence prevailed. Jerry's arm was clutched around 250 pounds of tough pork chops and lean bacon.

For Jerry, a shower, fresh clothes and an Old-fashioned in front of the YO lodge's fireplace never felt so good. It amazes me how a domestic hog once turned loose can quickly evolve into a lean, furry, tough as nails fighting machine with fearsome razor tusks.

I assume our penned domestics are butchered before their tusks and hair grow longer. Hog raisers would know.

*See you next week.

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