AS THE BOOM of the .54 caliber muzzleloader echoed through the Cumberland Mountains, a huge plume of smoke blew back at me.
Through the mist I could see dogs scurrying and hear a pig squealing, so I ducked behind a tree. Genius here never considered the smoke factor in hunting an animal that can and often does charge its attackers.
Thankfully, the hog was dead a few seconds later, and I had just bagged my first boar in Tennessee. It was a mean looking creature with reddish-blonde hair and 2.5 inches of tusk protruding from the jaw line.
Since then I have taken hogs all over the place with bows, crossbows, a knife, handguns, rifles and even out of a helicopter. Also, I have written a strong-selling book on hogs called Hog Wild and hundreds of articles on the topic.
But there was something special about the hunt above that occurred way back in 1995. As a young wildlife journalist, I was already starting to see the emerging hog problem. Hunting them was literally an act of conservation as they do great damage to wildlife habitat, particularly that of native ground-nesting birds such as wild turkey and quail.
While warming up to a fire in a secluded cabin, I had the idea of a hog scoring system. Several organizations recognize and measure hogs, but I wanted simplicity.
The idea was to only measure from the jawline and count only what the hog actually uses as a weapon. Several groups require removing the tusk and measuring since 2/3 of the tusk is in the jaw, but that’s too much for my vision. I wanted hunters to be able to quickly measure, photograph and send measurements of the bottom two tusks and be done with it.
I figured if hunters could be recognized for taking hogs and have a little fun competition then maybe more would want to hunt hogs. Also, it is not just about boars. Sows have tusks albeit smaller ones and there would be a category for them too. Shooting sows is crucial in hog population reduction.
I even had a name for the program. It was to be called B.O.A.R.S. which stands for Boars of America Record System. Cool, huh?
The only problem was the idea I had at 22 years old was not feasible then but with the advent of quality cell phone cameras and social media it is not only feasible but it is now a reality.
The B.O.A.R.S. hog scoring system is alive. and its goal is to recognize hog hunters, promote the taking of hogs and contribute to overall conservation. A portion of the proceeds from each entry will benefit the National Wild Turkey Federation’s habitat initiative as turkeys are one of the species hogs directly damage the most.
There will be two major categories: wild and open.
The wild category has a branch for boars and sows, and they must be taken outside of high fences with rifle, shotgun, bow, crossbow, air gun, handgun or muzzleloader.
The open category recognizes boars and sows in separate branches that are trapped, caught or taken behind high fences.
A Polynesian boar category strictly honors hogs taken in the Hawaiian Islands. There will be both boar and sow categories.
Each quarter, the top 10 hogs will be recognized in a feature in Texas Fish and Game as well as fishgame.com and in our e-newsletter. There will be annual awards beginning in February 2020 for various end of the year categories including Hog Of The Year and Hunter Of The Year.
There is no minimum size so all hogs are recognized and each hunter receives a quality certificate. Each hog taken is a trophy and the biggest will stand out on their own, so I don’t believe in minimums.
To introduce the program, entries are only $29.95 and that includes a copy of my book Hog Wild.
This is the beginning of a lifelong hog project that will seek to aim more hunter interest at hogs and put far more pressure on these highly adaptable habitat-damaging animals. We don’t need to put poison in the field that will hurt many other animals, including native javelinas. Instead, we could harvest that meat to feed our families and hungry people in the community.
The time is now to take out hogs and enjoy the sport of hog hunting like never before. Now there is a simple and fun way to get recognized for hog hunting accomplishments and contribute to wildlife conservation at the same time.
Go to boarsofamerica.com for entry forms and more information. Check it out and go hog wild!
See you on the hunt…
Email Chester Moore at [email protected]