Johnny Heskett’s eyes are always scanning for tracks. One hand on the wheel of his all-terrain vehicle, the other hand holding a cigarette, and eyes constantly checking the ground for hog tracks. Occasionally he stops and gets out.
“See, these tracks are more spread out, means it’s a big one,” Heskett, owner of Heskett Hog Hunting in McAlester, says as he bends down. “Last weekend one of our dogs got torn up pretty bad by a big hog. They can be pretty nasty.”
Feral hogs can be found in all 77 Oklahoma counties, according to the state Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
Feral hogs are domestic swine that mated with wild boars many years ago, and the population of wild hogs has risen since. The earliest records of feral hogs in Oklahoma are from the south-central and southeastern portions of the state. They have spread over the last 40 years.
It’s difficult to estimate how many feral hogs inhabit the state because they reproduce so quickly, said Russell Stevens of the Noble Foundation.
“They can have up to two litters per year, with four to 10 young being born in each litter,” he said.
A 2007 statewide survey by the Noble Foundation estimated there were as many as 500,000 feral hogs in Oklahoma.