When Texas legislators allowed hunters to pay to shoot feral hogs from helicopters, they made national headlines with the “pork chopper” law.
Now, a year after the law took effect and the hoopla has died down, shooting hogs from the air isn’t wildly popular and the animals are finding ways to avoid the gunners, meaning helicopter hunting is not particularly effective for feral hog control, a state official said.
“Number one, the cost is kind of limiting,” said Steve Lightfoot, a spokesman for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, explaining that interest has “leveled out.”
A helicopter shooting trip can cost from $300 to $1,000 per hour, sometimes with a minimum number of hours required.
“It’s kind of expensive, so it’s not really a common thing to do,” said Jim Barnhill, a broker in the El Campo area who arranges helicopter feral hog hunts. “You’ve got to have a pretty thick pocketbook.”
Avid hunters who do participate come from throughout Texas and even far-away places like Sweden, Barnhill said.
Though he considers the program successful, hunters are most interested during cooler weather, Barnhill said. There’s a lack of hunters in the heat of summer when farmers need hogs killed during their growing season to limit damage to crops.
VIDEO: Texas Fish & Game’s Chester Moore and Dustin Ellermann hunting hogs from a helicopter.