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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 10/3/2005 7:28:33 AM EDT
It's Always Fair Game for Wild Pigs
Peter DaSilva for The New York Times
IN SIGHT Michelle Straub draws a bead on a wild pig in Northern California.

By PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN
Published: September 30, 2005
HOPLAND, Calif.

MICHELLE STRAUB knows what it is like to feel deeply and profoundly nervous. Just hearing the grunts of wild pigs behind shrubs, the rustle of grasses signaling they were near, made her knees shake and her French-manicured nails quiver on the trigger. Only she knows the true terror of the heart that comes from holding a 7-millimeter rifle while bushwacking down steep trails made by potentially ferocious marauding wild pigs and having your husband turn to you to say, "I think I hear something."

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Forum: Travel in the News


Peter DaSilva for The New York Times
WATCH OUT Wild pigs have become traffic hazards as well as environmental pests in California. This sign is on Highway 1 in Carmel.
Her quarry in these golden Mendocino hills was Sus scrofa, a squat, muscular wild boar with coarse dark hair, hairy ears, a thick armor-like hide and skewers for tusks, which is now overrunning the countryside to become the latest plague of California.

Along with states like Texas, Florida and Hawaii, California has become a prime habitat for pigs, so much so that the state Department of Fish and Game has begun offering advanced wild boar hunting clinics to encourage people like Mrs. Straub, a 29-year-old executive secretary from Santa Rosa, to hunt pigs.

The pigs are a nonnative hybrid species that can run up to 25 miles an hour and whose meat is prized by cooks - Mrs. Straub and her husband, Randy, among them. They flourish in all but two counties of the state, and their moonlit sashaying in search of grubs and acorns along Highway 1 near Carmel has become so treacherous to motorists that the state Department of Transportation put up "Pig Xing" signs last year.

This is California in the cross hairs: a maddening pig Interstate where zigzaggy pig trails lead into dense, burr-ridden canyons, and trampled grasses indicate where pigs have been and gone.

"You think of little domestic pigs at the county fair as pink and cute with a curly tail," Mrs. Straub said. She hired Tim Lockwood, a hunting guide from Santa Rosa, to help her unleash her inner Annie Oakley at 5 a.m. one recent Sunday on a 1,252-acre private ranch. "These pigs are not cute."

In a sense, Mrs. Straub and her pork-loving brethren are ground troops in an escalating war between man and beast. Although culinary politics here lean more toward organic broccoli than firearms, wild pigs are regarded as fair game by state fish and game officials, who have declared a 365-day open season on pigs, with no bag limit. Wild pigs, prolific breeders, can double their population every four months, causing environmental havoc. The fish and game department puts the population at 100,000 to 250,000 statewide.

With this year's long rainy season in many areas expected to yield a bumper crop of acorns - the French Laundry for pigs - the situation looks dire. Already, a large herd from Mount Diablo State Park, just east of Oakland, has gravitated to the prized 15th hole at the nearby Blackhawk Country Club for water.

"It looks like someone took a large roto-tiller to it," said Larry Marx, the general manager, who has installed antipig fences and was particularly peeved by the pigs' choice of the 15th, a well-known long par five.

Last spring, Paul Slemmons, a 51 year-old import-export shipper from Los Gatos, near San Jose, bought a "How to Build a Wild Hog Trap" CD-rom on the Internet after a pig ravaged his mothers' sweet peas. He built a trap, baited it with molasses, corn and oats and with help from an off-duty policeman held a barbecue for 50 friends.

Mr. Slemmons, though, still has mixed feelings about it. "I can kill a bug or an ant," he said. "But killing an animal is another thing."

The feral California pigs are descended from swine brought by Spanish and Russian explorers in the 1700's and wild European boar imported in the 1920's. Other types of wild pigs, including a peccary known as javelina, are found across a swath of the South, and wild pigs' range has expanded as far north as Oregon.

"Hunters are part of the problem because they sometimes intentionally disperse pigs," said Reginald H. Barrett, a professor of wildlife management at the University of California, Berkeley. "But they are also part of the solution because legal sport hunting literally is the only thing keeping pigs under control."

Wild pigs are considered a game animal in California, but their meat may not legally be sold or served in restaurants because the animals haven't been slaughtered in government-inspected facilities. They are the game animal most likely to charge you - a fact not lost on Mrs. Straub. A special license is required to hunt them.

Many environmentalists in California regard them as little more than hairy four-footed weeds. Indeed, the Nature Conservancy, is trying to eradicate up to 5,000 pigs on Santa Cruz Island, 19 miles off the coast of Ventura, to protect 10 endangered species.

At an advanced wild boar hunting clinic held recently at a gun club in Sonoma, some 50 hunters - all men - sat rapt as Doug Updike, a senior wildlife biologist for the state who was wielding a red pointer, spoke of "pig opportunities," including "a slight musk that's undeniably pig." Wild pigs, he noted, possess a keen sense of smell, requiring a hunter to stay downwind, but their eyesight is poor. "They're intelligent animals," he told them. "Compared to a wild turkey, they're Einsteins."

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Peter DaSilva for The New York Times
HER FIRST Michelle Straub, who has been hunting since she was a child, killed her first pig this summer. Much of it went into the freezer.


Forum: Travel in the News
Angelo Garro, a Sicilian-born wrought-iron artist and forager who is revered by San Francisco foodies as a cook and bon vivant, waits to hunt in fall, when the pigs binge on acorns. He describes the meat, which he roasts on a spit with wild fennel, rosemary, red peppercorn and olive oil, as sweet and slightly gamey. "You don't do it to kill," he said. "You do it to have an experience in the outdoors. Then you share what you've got with family and friends, an incredible sensuous meal like you sometimes see in Italian movies."

Mrs. Straub, a mother of two boys, got her license at age 8 to hunt pheasant and duck with her father. She'd hunted deer before, but never pigs. "I wouldn't wake up and say, 'Oh, I think I'll go hunting today,' " she said. "But I do it for me. It's a sense of accomplishment. It's nice to be out here and to be able to hunt with the best of them."

Hunting together, Mr. Straub added, makes their relationship stronger. "Marriage is a two-way street," he noted, walking behind his rifle-toting wife. "This gives me a lot more patience at the factory outlet."

Around 7 a.m., following Mr. Lockwood, Mrs. Straub stood poised on a steep ridge overlooking a canyon, the dun-colored hills furrowed like batter. From afar, she could see muddy wallows - spas for pigs. Mrs. Straub's adrenaline kicked in when she glimpsed "the bump of a pig back and one arm pit."

But her sense of optimism was plummeting as the sun rose. Just as she was about to quit, her husband spotted a group of pigs about 80 yards away rooting beneath a madrone tree. Mrs. Straub took the safety off her rifle, spotted a pig in her cross hairs, took a deep breath and - somewhat to her astonishment - bagged her first pig, which weighed 100 to 120 pounds.

She would leave the gory details to her husband and Mr. Lockwood. The Straubs brought home their booty in their white pickup, freezing much of it but sharing some with family. Days later, Mrs. Straub was back in her cubicle at work, still zonked from scurrying up and down pig trails, relishing the freedom she'd felt, so different from typing budget reports. Her sense of triumph persisted and her pork politics remained clear. "I don't believe in killing animals for recreation," she said. "But if you use them as game, that's what the cycle of life is all about."

Link Posted: 10/3/2005 7:34:42 AM EDT

"Compared to a wild turkey, they're Einsteins."




That's a good one.
Link Posted: 10/3/2005 7:40:05 AM EDT
I was surprised that it wasnt' totally liberal biased about how rich white people were going to slaughter poor defenseless barnyard piggies.
Link Posted: 10/3/2005 7:47:28 AM EDT
There was a news report that denied a anti-hunting group was denied a court injunction to stop hunting of the feral pigs in Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles. The anti-hunting group wanted the state govt to relocate the pigs to another location. The Calif. State F&G said that was not a feasible idea. The pigs are causing tremendous ecological damage and threaten several endangered species that is living on the island.
Link Posted: 10/3/2005 7:51:35 AM EDT
I knew a guy who lived on Blackhawk. They had pigs out the yinyang. But he was about as liberal as they come. Loved to go on and on about how England had it right when it comes to gun laws.
Link Posted: 10/3/2005 3:54:23 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Burley:
I knew a guy who lived on Blackhawk. They had pigs out the yinyang. But he was about as liberal as they come. Loved to go on and on about how England had it right when it comes to gun laws.



Wait till the pigs come through his garden.

From what I've heard the pigs are becoming the hunters best friends in some areas. The anti-hunting no hunting no guns nowhere no time crowd are coming up against the incensed taxpayers who have just had thousands of dollars of landscaping and gardens etc destroyed in one evening and then the City Councilman tells them, "Oh we don't want to hurt them." Pigs go on the most wanted list, and the Councilman gets on there also.
Link Posted: 10/3/2005 3:59:32 PM EDT
Angelo Garro, a Sicilian-born wrought-iron artist and forager who is revered by San Francisco foodies as a cook and bon vivant, waits to hunt in fall, when the pigs binge on acorns. He describes the meat, which he roasts on a spit with wild fennel, rosemary, red peppercorn and olive oil, as sweet and slightly gamey. "You don't do it to kill," he said. "You do it to have an experience in the outdoors. Then you share what you've got with family and friends, an incredible sensuous meal like you sometimes see in Italian movies."

I'ld love to be there at the party when he tells the foo-foos raving over dinner that he killed the main course himself. Sounds like a pretty good recipe though doesn't it? rice pilaf, Napa Valley wines, watch the sunset over the Farallons???
Link Posted: 10/3/2005 4:13:39 PM EDT
A hunting lease we have here in North Florida is infested with those critters. I have had to literally shoot a couple in order to drive down the road because bumping them with the truck just made them move a little farther down the road they were tearing the hell out of. They are almost domesticated to a point. The company that owns the land would rather not have them. It has gotten to the point were we shoot a few at a time and drag them down to a pit for the other varmints to eat (good coyote hunting in that section ) I will clean the small young ones we shoot but it is not worth the trouble to clean a grown one and it is almost impossible to give one away around here. I remember seeing huge piles of dead hogs years ago in some of the state areas and national forest around here. The state would come in and kill hundreds if not thousands of them and it hasn't put much of a dent in the population.

I haven't had much love for them anyway since I almost totaled a 1994 Nissan Pickup on a full grown sow in 1998. Felt like I hit a brickwall running 65 mph.
Link Posted: 10/3/2005 4:37:24 PM EDT
Posted this one a while back but I'll post my favorite hog pic. Texas has a bit of a problem with 'em... This was in South Texas and I wasn't part of the hunt. Just found the pic on the net.

Link Posted: 10/3/2005 4:53:57 PM EDT
is that a piglet dangling from his mouth? That's... That's pretty fricking weird.

Yes, we too have hogs up the wazoo. But we shoot 'em every chance we get.
Link Posted: 10/3/2005 4:57:35 PM EDT

Originally Posted By M38A1:
Posted this one a while back but I'll post my favorite hog pic. Texas has a bit of a problem with 'em... This was in South Texas and I wasn't part of the hunt. Just found the pic on the net.

www.m38a1.com/g503/chingos-hogs.jpg



That appears to be quite a waste of meat.
Link Posted: 10/3/2005 4:57:42 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Swindle1984:
is that a piglet dangling from his mouth? That's... That's pretty fricking weird.

Yes, we too have hogs up the wazoo. But we shoot 'em every chance we get.



Those are the best ones to eat right there, maybe he couldn't wait I've got a new scope on the .22 magnum for that very reason and plan on taking an AR a few times as well.
Link Posted: 10/3/2005 6:15:43 PM EDT

Originally Posted By HIPPO:

Originally Posted By M38A1:
Posted this one a while back but I'll post my favorite hog pic. Texas has a bit of a problem with 'em... This was in South Texas and I wasn't part of the hunt. Just found the pic on the net.

www.m38a1.com/g503/chingos-hogs.jpg



That appears to be quite a waste of meat.



That pile of dead pigs could literally destroy to the same degree as a disc cultivator 5 acres in one evening of rooting. They cause incredible damage to crops, entire fields and fences. Trying to reduce the numbers is no different than people declaring jihad on fire ants, mosquitos or other common pests. I will however agree that killing for the sake of killing is wrong. Yet this is pest elimination and nothing more.
~m38a1
Link Posted: 10/3/2005 6:18:51 PM EDT

Originally Posted By M38A1:

Originally Posted By HIPPO:

Originally Posted By M38A1:
Posted this one a while back but I'll post my favorite hog pic. Texas has a bit of a problem with 'em... This was in South Texas and I wasn't part of the hunt. Just found the pic on the net.

www.m38a1.com/g503/chingos-hogs.jpg



That appears to be quite a waste of meat.



That pile of dead pigs could literally destroy to the same degree as a disc cultivator 5 acres in one evening of rooting. They cause incredible damage to crops, entire fields and fences. Trying to reduce the numbers is no different than people declaring jihad on fire ants, mosquitos or other common pests. I will however agree that killing for the sake of killing is wrong. Yet this is pest elimination and nothing more.
~m38a1



Roger that. However, they are right tasty pests - especially slathered in BBQ sauce.
Link Posted: 10/3/2005 6:21:12 PM EDT
SOMEBODY at teh NYT is getting fired for that article.

It was actually reasonable - which is totally unacceptable to the TImes.



Link Posted: 10/3/2005 6:47:15 PM EDT

Originally Posted By HIPPO:

Originally Posted By M38A1:
Posted this one a while back but I'll post my favorite hog pic. Texas has a bit of a problem with 'em... This was in South Texas and I wasn't part of the hunt. Just found the pic on the net.

www.m38a1.com/g503/chingos-hogs.jpg



That appears to be quite a waste of meat.



There's a lot more where those came from... you don't have to eat them all!
Link Posted: 10/3/2005 7:29:27 PM EDT

Originally Posted By garandman:
SOMEBODY at teh NYT is getting fired for that article.

It was actually reasonable - which is totally unacceptable to the TImes.

Yes, I'm having a hard time getting my mind around this idea...

A pro-hunting article... In the NYT... About California hunters... Killing a pest species???

I think I'm gonna blow a frontal lobe!
Link Posted: 10/3/2005 7:32:22 PM EDT
I didn't read it, but did it mention in the article that the AR15 is the best pig hunting platform out there?
Link Posted: 10/3/2005 7:46:06 PM EDT
Is that a piglet in the guy's mouth?


Looks like they had a helluva good time!
Link Posted: 10/4/2005 6:31:40 AM EDT

Originally Posted By THellURider:
I didn't read it, but did it mention in the article that the AR15 is the best pig hunting platform out there?



Nah, if it had we'd have seen the plague of locusts and four horsemen already.

I think I'm gonna take my WASR-10 pig-hunting next time.
Link Posted: 10/4/2005 6:36:40 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/4/2005 6:37:03 AM EDT by Spade]

Originally Posted By M38A1:
Yet this is pest elimination and nothing more.
~m38a1




Do food banks take pigs like some take deer?
Link Posted: 10/4/2005 7:37:49 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Spade:

Originally Posted By M38A1:
Yet this is pest elimination and nothing more.
~m38a1




Do food banks take pigs like some take deer?



Sure.

As long as it's skinned, gutted, quartered, washed, and wrapped.

If I go through all that, It's going in my freezer. The last four we killed were given to the coyotes.
Link Posted: 10/4/2005 7:49:28 AM EDT

Originally Posted By fook:

Originally Posted By Spade:

Originally Posted By M38A1:
Yet this is pest elimination and nothing more.
~m38a1




Do food banks take pigs like some take deer?



Sure.

As long as it's skinned, gutted, quartered, washed, and wrapped.

If I go through all that, It's going in my freezer. The last four we killed were given to the coyotes.



They really wouldn't be to happy with 150lbs of stinking feces covered hog dumped on their doorstep. That shit is caked on the ones around here from head to ass like cement.
Link Posted: 10/4/2005 7:53:47 AM EDT

Originally Posted By M38A1: Posted this one a while back but I'll post my favorite hog pic. Texas has a bit of a problem with 'em... This was in South Texas and I wasn't part of the hunt. Just found the pic on the net. www.m38a1.com/g503/chingos-hogs.jpg
Load 'em on a B-52 and drop 'em on mecca!
Link Posted: 10/4/2005 7:56:06 AM EDT
I've got some in my freezer right now.

However, I did not shoot it. A friend did. He has invited me to go with him.

In FL, when on private property, the hogs are considered livestock. They can be hunted year round with no license and with an AR15.

I gotta get out there soon!
Link Posted: 10/4/2005 7:56:32 AM EDT

Originally Posted By KlubMarcus:

Originally Posted By M38A1: Posted this one a while back but I'll post my favorite hog pic. Texas has a bit of a problem with 'em... This was in South Texas and I wasn't part of the hunt. Just found the pic on the net. www.m38a1.com/g503/chingos-hogs.jpg
Load 'em on a B-52 and drop 'em on mecca!



Freeze them first for more penetration
Link Posted: 10/4/2005 8:00:16 AM EDT

Originally Posted By LANCEMAN:
Freeze them first for more penetration

Good idea! We can probably rig 'em with a JDAM tailkit.
Link Posted: 10/4/2005 9:46:34 AM EDT
I would hate for any part of that pork to go to waste. Can we coat some ammo with the blood?
Link Posted: 10/4/2005 10:05:18 AM EDT
Mmmm pork(homer voice)
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