Friday, July 20, 2012

Feral Hogs: Scourge of the Forest

(Alternative Title:  Shoot 'em All)
There are a number of reasons I hunt yet generally despise feral hogs.  On the positive side, they are quite tasty if of the right size and well prepared.  Unfortunately, the "negative" side of the equation is long and ugly.

Hog damage to a field
Being omnivores, they eat just about anything.  Most of the time, they simply tear up the ground eating roots and grubs in addition to causing millions of dollars in crop damage each year.  They very actively compete with other native species for hard and soft masts crops (acorns, fruits, ...)  Feral hogs have wiped out turkey and quail populations in many places since these birds nest on the ground.  Stomach content surveys show an individual hog might eat dozens of frogs, toads and snakes in just a few days.  Talk about an impact on a wetlands ecosystem.

Unfortunately, there is increasing evidence of them actively predating on other small mammals too.  I've heard stories of people witnessing hogs chasing a rabbit and then digging it out of a burrow and eating it.  You could imagine a pack of hogs prowling a field where lambs or other small creatures are beginning to drop.  Coyotes might be the least of the concerns.

Recently, I received the following picture from a friend.  It shows a feral hog carrying a very dead whitetail fawn in its mouth.

I did a bit of research and found the following series of photos.  There were several game-cam photos of a doe giving birth right in front of the camera.  Very cool. The fawn is clearly seen at 3:23AM.  ~ 45 minutes later, he would be dead.

A couple of the neighborhood thugs show up...

And nature's cleaning crew cleans up what is left.

Source for above photos:

Apparently, the rancher found a small patch of fawn skin and part of the skull.

I showed the first photo to my wife and voiced my general disgust / hatred for these animals.  She asked if I thought it was ironic that I personally have no issues with killing a deer myself but get angry with a feral hog doing the same thing.

No.... as a matter of fact, I don't see any irony in this at all.  I learn of or see a deer that was killed by coyotes (a native species), it makes me think of the circle of life and start humming the theme song from The Lion King.  I see evidence of a hog doing the same thing and it makes me mad.   They are not native and do a great deal to upset the balance of things.

Now... if the hogs start only killing deer of a certain age, at a certain time of the year and after buying a hunting license and taking a hunter education course, we can talk…

A Man in the Woods

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

71-Year Old Guy, 2 : Gutless Thugs, 0

I love this video.  While the old-guy would probably do better with a two-handed grip, he did succeed in stopping the situation.  

There are several life lessons here for thugs:

1.  People carry guns.
2.  In general, people who carry guns know how to use them.
2.  Like in rock-paper-scissors, pistol beats baseball bat every time.
3.  Your thug running buddy (i.e. homie) WILL, in fact, run you over while trying to get out of the door at the same time you are while an old guy with a half-empty clip is coming your way.

A Man in the Woods

Friday, July 6, 2012

Man Impales Himself on Buffalo Horn

Once upon a time, when I was around 9 or 10 years old, my family was visiting a state or federal park near Meers, Oklahoma.  (How I can remember that and not the names of my kids at times is beyond me.  I also remember the hamburgers were really, really good and about the size of a dinner plate.  4 people had to split one.... but I digress).

This park was known for having the largest, free roaming buffalo herd (at the time).  As luck would have it, the buffalo were conveniently found in the middle of a prairie dog "town" which was next to a large parking area.  There were dozens of people milling around the parking lot looking at the buffalo with a few venturing out into the flea ba... errr... I mean prairie dog field (which was 100s of acres in size).

I was desperately trying to get a good look at a prairie dog and contract bubonic plague when all of a sudden, there was a huge commotion.  There were people yelling, people running, dust flying, and people, well... one person, flying.

The flying lady came down hard  and the nearby photographer helped her limp to the parking lot.  She had been gored through the thigh.  (Perhaps I now realize why I remember all the details!)

Apparently, she and the photographer had ventured into the buffalo-containing field to take some photos of the beasts.  I can't image the thought process or conversation which took place but I assume it was something like the following:

Bob (with his camera):  Let's get you standing in front of the herd with the hills in the background...  
Susie:  Hey, hold on.  There's a baby buffalo over there.  Isn't it cute?  Follow me.
Bob:  Sure thing.  How could this go wrong?  This is gonna make a great Christmas card photo.
Susie:  Man, these things smell. 
(Susie reaches out and literally puts her hand on the buffalo calf.  THIS part actually happened!!!)
Bob:  That is great.  Smile.  Wait a second... darn lens cover... just a little closer...OK, ready..1...2...
Mama Buffalo (weighing in at a lean 1,400lbs in full stride):  AUUURRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!
(bone-jarring thud; fade to black)
Yes, this lady not only approached but touched a buffalo calf... a wild buffalo calf with its wild, protective, buffalo mother within goring distance.  The stupidity of this act still shocks me today and made a big impression on me as a small child.

I was reminded of this entire episode when a friend sent me a link to a story entitled "Tourist gored, flung by bison in Yellowstone National Park", the text of which is found below:

Officials in Yellowstone National Park say a Massachusetts man was gored by a bull bison that threw him 10 feet in the air and then pinned him to the ground. 
The man, who is in his mid-50s, suffered a broken collarbone, shoulder blade, several ribs and a groin injury in Saturday's encounter near the Norris campground. He was airlifted to an Idaho Falls, Idaho hospital and is expected to recover. His name was not released.
Park officials say the man was not taunting the animal, but let the bull approach within a few feet of where he was sitting.
Park rules require visitors to stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards away from all other animals. If an animal approaches, it is the visitor's responsibility to move a safe distance away.
This make me wonder if the animals know the "Park Rules" too?  (FYI, a bear or wolf could be on top of you with a few seconds starting flat-footed at 100 yards.  You'd barely have time to scream.)

One word comes to mind to describe people who do not appreciate wild animals for what they are.... wild:    completeandtotalmoron.

A Man in the Woods