Hog Wild by Rob Robinson
Well here we are caught in the dog days of summer in Florida. High temperatures are in the mid 90’s and with the humidity the heat index pushes 110. Not too conducive for outdoor activities. It is this time of year that we get our outdoor fix after the sun goes down.
The Florida nights are the perfect time to go out in the swap and pick a fight with a feral hog. Hogs are a nuisance animal here with the thousands of dollars in damages they cause each year. These are domestic hogs brought to Florida by Spanish settlers and then released into the wild when they left Florida. They destroy crops by the acre and are considered to be the property of the land owner.
My favorite way to hunt hogs is with a group of four or five buddies and a knife. The buddies I am speaking of are dogs, both Cur dogs and American Pit Bulls. I love hunting with dogs, there is nothing quite like it. They never complain, they never quit and they think anywhere and anytime you want to go is perfect. It is amazing to watch them work, each dog in sync with the other. Some are good at trailing some are catch dogs and there is always the one that hangs around to keep you company.
We generally don’t get started much before ten and hunt till the sun comes up. Standard gear includes hip boots, a headlight and a flash light, long sleeves and spraying yourself down with bug repellent till it drips off of you. When you cut the dogs loose they just disappear silently into the night. We follow along stopping to listen for an occasional bark until the silence is broken with the deafening squeals of a hog with a couple of Pit Bulls jumping on its head. At this point we go running toward the commotion usually tripping and falling a few times and getting smacked in the face with tree limbs and covered by some of the largest spider webs I have ever seen.
Once on scene it is best to determine the size of the hog before going in for the kill because the dogs are fearless and have been known to bite of more than they can handle. We can handle a hog into the 125 pound range but over that you are asking to get you and your dogs butt kicked. When we have the situation sized up it is a two man job the first guy grabs the hog by its hind legs and gets into a tug of war match with the dogs that have the head tied up with one on each ear and one on the throat of the hog. After we reach this point the sticker comes in and stabs the hog in the heart and the woods go quiet all you hear are panting dogs and panting hunters. This is a very up close way to hunt and the adrenalin rush is quite intense. I haven’t seen much to compare with it. You are right there working with your dogs to take down an animal that neither of you could do alone. Wow I am ready to go now.
This type of hunting is a bit on the dangerous side. Both hunter and dog are at risk and there are more perils than just the hogs we chase. Snakes are a big concern as well as the terrain. Things such as sink holes and cypress knees have claimed many a hunter before. Keep in mind it is dark, real dark, and the hunter isn’t the only one who can’t see.
Although the animals are more accustom to the environment distances often get closer than are comfortable. An opossum or armadillo will scare the bee-gees-us out of you when it runs between you legs. All in all I recommend this for a test of your wild side.
Looking forward we were lucky enough to draw a gator permit this year. This will be my first experience hunting an animal that can eat me, yikes! I am sure it will be an adventure to say the least. Also dove season is near. This is a great southern family tradition that is sure to make for a great story. Be safe, be respectful and have fun.