The brush popped as a deep, guttural grunt sounded.
“Hog!” I yelled as my cousin Frank Moore and I shot up large cedars as an enraged boar charged through the brush, right at our position.
In that moment it looked the size of a Buick, but in reality it was probably in the 300-pound class and dark brown with big front shoulders and a tall head showing its Eurasian roots.
My Dad who had severe hearing loss was a bit behind us, never heard us or the hog, but did get a quick look at it when it finally decided to turn and go the other way. Had we come into contact with a killer in the cedar thickets of Real County? Dr. Jack Mayer has been studying wild hogs since the 1970s and his research may shed light on our would-be attacker.
The researcher with the Savannah River National Laboratory recently presented a paper on hog attacks from around the world, and the findings are fascinating.
The study documented 412 wild hog attacks worldwide impacting 665 people. During this time there were four fatal hog attacks in the United States, with the most recent in Texas in 1996.
Of the 21 states reporting hog attacks Texas led the pack with 24 percent with Florida at 12 percent and South Carolina 10. Interestingly when examining worldwide shark fatalities hogs beat them out as recently as 2013.
Obviously if hogs were bloodthirsty animals, bent on destroying humanity there would be many fatal attacks in Texas. That is just not the case, but what is interesting is the profile of hogs that have attacked humans.
In his study, hogs that attack are described as solitary (82 percent), large (87 percent) and male (81 percent) and most attacks occurred when there was no hunting involved.
This describes a lone, mature boar, likely territorial, which is powerful and much faster than a person can imagine. It is a different hog from the young boar that comes in with a bunch of other hogs to a deer feeder or the sow defending her young. She may be aggressive in defense, but Mayer’s findings show many of these fall hog attacks have the pig actually eating or attempting to eat the people.
There are numerous accounts of hunters (usually hunting hogs with dogs) getting hooked by a boar. While bowhunting for hogs in South Texas many years ago, I met a man with 83 stitches on his left leg due to a hog getting hold of him in a cactus thicket while running it with dogs a few years previous. I have since lost track of the man, but I will never forget seeing his scars.
An article written in 1998 by Robert Burns for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service talks of two verified attacks in Texas, including the aforementioned 1996 fatality. “In one instance, a boar attacked a woman on a Fort Worth jogging trail. Two years ago, a Cherokee County deer hunter died from a feral hog attack.”
The Benton County Daily Record chronicled a wild boar that “attacked and flipped a utility vehicle on a job site in Waco—and severely injured a Gentry man.” The story relates that, “Greg Lemke, who designs chicken houses for Latco Inc. of Lincoln, was a passenger in a utility vehicle when the wild boar struck the rear of the vehicle, causing it to flip with Lemke inside.”
“The accident left Lemke paralyzed from the breast bone down.”
The Pineville Town Talk tells the story of a Pineville, La. man who had a pig enter the house he was visiting. “Boston Kyles, 20, of 497 Pelican Drive told deputies he was visiting his sister’s house at the time of the incident. He said he had gone there to clean fish and was sitting in the house’s front room when the pig entered through the front door. Kyles told deputies he stomped the floor to try to shoo the pig out of the room, but the pig charged him.”
“I had heard of pigs attacking people in the woods,” Maj. Herman Walters said, “but this was the first time I had heard of a pig going into a house and attacking someone.”
In 2004, the Associated Press reported, “A Florida Gulf Coast University student is suing the college for failing to control wild boars on campus. Donna Rodriguez said in a lawsuit filed yesterday that a wild boar chased her on campus in October 2004, causing her to fall and suffer serious injuries. The suit claims the school knew the boars were a hazard, and its failure to control them resulted in ‘an unreasonably dangerous condition.’”
In that same year, an Edgefield, South Carolina man experienced one of the scariest hog attacks I could find occurring in the United States. The Edgefield Advertiser reported, “A man was hospitalized recently after being attacked by a wild hog at his home on Gaston Road. The hog, which eyewitnesses estimated to weigh upwards of 700 pounds, materialized in Fab Burt’s backyard while he was working in his garden.”
“It came out of nowhere and attacked me,” he said. “It had me pinned on the ground and was mauling me.” Fortunately, Burt’s seven-month-old German shepherd, named Bobo, was on hand to help him fend off the hog.
Recognizing that grunt back in 1996 might have saved our lives. On the distant property we were on, a trip to any type of medical treatment center would have taken at least an hour. With the kind of damage that big hog could have done that might have been too late.
Killer hogs are out there. They are few and far between and should not cause us to be paranoid, but perhaps a tad bit of fear will keep us on our toes enough to be aware of little signs when we are in the domain of big, wild hogs.
—story by Chester Moore