If wild swine numbers are going to be controlled, you must have hunters involved and help perform the tasks.

Story and photography by Bob Zaiglin

While negotiating the top-drive over the red, sandy loam soil on one of the many food plots on the Dimmit County ranch I managed, my wife Jan and our young daughters Beth and Nan accompanied me, scanning the fields littered with tall, lignified stalks of oats and white-flowered Texas prickly poppy for shed antlers.  It was a ritual and one of the highlights of the spring, as dad was not too busy, and we could enjoy the closest thing to an adult Easter egg hunt as a family — finding those majestic-calcified appendages cast from bucks.

Once a shed was spotted, there was a mad dash to see who would get to it first.  And if it was a substantially large antler, or more importantly a pair, it was an exhilarating event, and some of my fondest memories as a young biologist.

The only concern we had was to avoid what the girls referred to as mine fields or craters created by hogs grubbing for roots, tubers, and grubs.  Some holes were three to four feet deep, and just as wide.   If I drove off into one of them, we had a long walk home.  The girls considered them as cool hideouts and would often jump into them and hide, creating a little angst with mom before their laughter relinquished their location.

With their iron-clad noses, hogs are living excavators, and one always had to be aware of the virtual craters they established, particularly on the senderos throughout the ranch.  They appeared to escalate even though we trapped what I considered a substantial number of the invaders.

In other words, the more hogs we trapped, the more grubbing holes we had to avoid.  Hogs were a problem as long as I can remember, but I always felt if you wanted to control them, you had to have hunters help perform the task.

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