I saw an ad for Monday Night Football the other night.  While driving past a school football field on Friday, I saw younsters in football pads and helmets, a sure sign that Pop Warner is kicking things into gear.  The BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) trains are advertising to get folks to take the train to Cal (Berkeley) football games this year.

What does any of this have to do with hog hunting (besides that footballs are, or were, made of pig skin)? 

Well, nothing directly… but for most of my life, the early rumblings of football season were always one of the signs that hunting season was right around the corner.  The winds haven’t started bringing the early tinges of a fall chill, and the leaves haven’t even begun to think about changing, but as we round August and the shoulder pads and cleats come out, hunting season is just around the corner.

Anyway, now that I’m here in CA I’m hunting year-round, but there’s still the feeling I get as fall comes closer…  and I bet I share that feeling with a lot of folks all over the country.  The anticipation is building, and thoughts turn to sighting in the rifles, tuning up the bows, and getting stands placed.  Folks should have been warming up all year, but this is the time of year when it builds to a fever pitch. 

So what’s going on around the country? 

First, let’s have a quick look at Virginia, where it’s time to make sure you’ve got those special hunt applications turned in.  The Roanoke (VA) Times has a great, informative article describing the hunts, the odds of drawing, and the deadlines.   Of particular interest to HogBlog readers in the Old Dominion might be the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park deer and hog hunt. 

According to the article, this is really the only place in VA where hunters can hunt feral hogs, and from the description of the place, it sounds like prime hog hunting!  There are only a couple of hunts, on Oct. 4, Oct. 6-8, and Oct. 23-25.  Deadline for applications is August 29, which isn’t all that far away.

And this story out of Missouri, from KRCG, isn’t that different than we’re seeing in many other states that have been seeing an outbreak of feral hogs.  In this case, the Governor has ordered State officials to implement the recommendations of the Feral Hog Task Force (I didn’t make that up), and start making a dent in the population, in hopes of turning the tide before it becomes a flood.  The public (yes, that’s you, hunters) is asked to assist as much as possible. 

Task force members encourage experienced hunters to shoot feral hogs on site and then report it. If you don’t shoot, state officials urge you to let them know where you saw it. They say this information can help document the feral hog population accurately. You can find links to those notification web sites below.

The task force’s report to Governor Blunt suggests tough penalties for someone who illegally releases feral hogs into the wild. It’s currently a misdemeanor offense. They also stress a public education campaign and more funding to get rid of the animals.

I reported a little while back on the Texas Department of Agriculture’s million-dollar grant to implement an eradication program in the Lone Star State.  That plan hasn’t gone over well with everybody, particularly some trappers who’ve been able to make a little extra spending money on the feral hog population.  As you can read in this article from the Clay County Leader, some folks feel like the emphasis on simply killing the hogs en masse is wasteful and ineffective.  Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Funded with a $1 million grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture, the program is designed to control wild hogs across Clay, Archer and Young Counties by herding and killing pigs from a helicopter. Once the pigs are shot, a ground crew will move in and kill any pigs still living, as well as test for diseases.

Val McClain, who spoke for a group of about 10 area hog trappers and buyers attending the meeting, said the plan would work against trappers, taking money out of their pockets and out of the community. She and husband Danny McClain have operated a state certified feral pig buying station just west of Henrietta for nine years.

The McClains paid out an estimated $80,000 over the past year, most of which went to between 15 and 20 “regulars” — all local trappers. The McClains then sell the feral hogs to Frontier Meats, a Fort Worth packing company. About 99 percent of the meat is sold overseas.

Supporters of the plan suggest that the program is not focused on eradication, but simply on controlling the growth of the population.  Others also suggest that the shooting program will help trappers by eliminating the “trap-smart” hogs that can’t be caught in traps. 

Meanwhile, as the hunting seasons roll up on us, several other states are taking applications or planning special hunts that will include feral hogs.  These states include South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.  If you live in these areas, be sure to check out the State’s government websites for details on hunt opportunities and requirements. 

Good luck!