Hogs on the Homestead

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Most people think that wild hogs are something that sprang on the scene in the 90’s and exploded in population, and this is simply not true.

The truth is my first encounter with wild hogs in the Sabine river bottom was in the late 70’s and my father and his hunting buddies tell of seeing and killing hogs as far back as can be remembered. Hogs running in the river and creek bottoms of Texas and Louisiana are not a recent development.

Let’s roll the clock back many decades to a time when the family farm in rural areaswas as common as a computer is today. People grew their own vegetables and raised their own livestock. Livestock which included hogs. Hogs were a valuable commodity in those days and people used them as a form of currency. Hogs were traded for dry goods and necessities that could not be grown or made easily. Hogs even were traded for payment of bank loans and any other debt because cash money was seldom seen. These farmers did not raise the majority of their hogs in pens. Only the hogs which were to be butchered soon were kept close and grain fed. The bulk of the hogs were allowed to roam freely in the bottoms and feed upon acorns and whatever else they could cet. This was quite advantageous for the farmers who did not have to buy feeds and build fences or pens to contain them.

The hogs were allowed to breed and feed as they pleased. Once a year all the farmers would hold a hog round up of sorts. They would catch all the hogs they could and they would ear mark the shoats and castrate them for eating hogs. They would then keep a few for feeding out and trading then turn the rest loose. These were in essence feral hogs even then. The difference being that the farmers regulated their numbers by castrating the majority of the boars and eating a great many of them.

As time went on more and more of the hogs went very feral and hid deeper and deeper in the swamps and thickets. On top of the ones who escaped the yearly hog calling, times progressed and the family farm went majorly to the wayside and was replaced by the local grocery store and supercenter. All the unclaimed hogs simply went feral. They turned into what became “The Pineywoods Rooter”. Which I have chased in form or another since the late 70’s and my grandfathers chased in the Piney Woods as far back as the Great Depression.

Im not including in this the Russian boar which was turned loose to hunt, that is a different tale all together. But Feral Hogs have been a huge part of East Texas for over a hundred years in one way or another. Whether you knew it or not.

Story by Jeff Stewart

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