Jenny, Bob’s mom, asked that question after seeing the picture of Bob with the hog tree. That’s the only way I can describe it. Bob’s house is in a nice neighborhood in Portland. It is a pleasant, solidly middle class area of the city. To have hogs hanging from the mesquite tree in his front yard was not a common sight. Sort of a replay of Silence of the Lambs using pig actors. The elderly woman who walks her miniature poodle a couple of times a day pointedly crossed the street and hurried past Bob’s house with a tightened grip on her little white dog.
I’m not sure if it would have gone over better if they had been hanging from the hackberry tree in my front yard, but I live in a solidly working class area and my neighbors most likely would have been in the yard with BBQ grills and smoking charcoal waiting for a share of the bounty.
The answer to Jenny’s question is that the State of Texas frowns on catching and releasing feral hogs. Even young feral hogs.
There are 2.6 million ferals in 225 out of 254 counties in Texas and the 2010 estimate of property damage caused by them comes to $90 million.
The main damage caused to livestock and wildlife by feral hogs is indirect destruction of habitat and agriculture commodities. Rooting for food damages crops. The hogs also destabilize wetland areas, springs, creeks and tanks by excessive rooting and wallowing. While not active predators, wild hogs may prey on fawns, young lambs, and kid goats. If the opportunity arises, they may also destroy and consume eggs of ground nesting birds such as turkeys and quail. Hogs also carry diseases which are not a threat to humans but which can infect livestock.
As a result, TPWD requires a hunting license to kill ferals but there isn’t a limit or a season. Recently passed legislation permits aerial hunting of hogs which just seems mean, but I’m trying not to think “poor creatures.” The feral hog has managed to survive, adapt, and increase their numbers despite attempts at population control so we probably won’t make a big impact on the (poor creatures) hog community.
Bob’s friend, the one who lets him hunt on his property, requests that Bob set hog traps since the hog population is burgeoning and the farmer who leases his property suffers crop damage due to the hogs. A few weeks ago when Bob was setting up feeders, he put corn in a couple of the traps. At the end of the day, 2 sows were in one of the traps.
Last week-end, Bob set the traps again. Saturday evening, there were two young pigs in one of the traps. I asked Bob to let them go and he agreed if he couldn’t find someone to take them. I know the someone he was going to get planned to fatten the (poor creatures) hoglets and butcher them at a later date, but I was doing that Pontius Pilate thing. Sunday morning, he hadn’t found anyone who wanted the little hogs and he let them go. Then, Bob and his son checked trap #2 and there were 9 hogs in it of varied ages and sizes.
The good news is that feral hogs make good eating. According the TAMU.edu, meat from feral hogs is much leaner than penraised pork. I made posole using the pork loin from one of the sows that Bob caught a few weeks ago. I tried to imitate the recipe my cuñado, Gerald, uses. He was camp cook when Bob, Bobby, Mike, and he went hunting last year. Bob still raves about the posole he cooked.
My Imitation of Gerald’s Recipe for Posole
Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Chop a large yellow onion and 4-5 cloves of garlic with a couple of serrano peppers and soften in the skillet. Empty into large crockpot. Add 2 lbs pork (I used the wild kind), chopped into chunks, to the skillet and brown. Dump that into the crockpot and cover with 1-1/2 quarts of chicken broth. Turn crockpot to low and go to work (or on high and leave alone for 2-3 hours).
After the requisite crockpot cooking time, finely chop 4 poblano peppers and 10 tomatillos; stir fry to soften. Add 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 2 teaspoons of adobe chili powder, 1 tablespoon of comino and as much salt as you like. Dump mixture into crockpot and stir to mix. Open and drain 2-15 oz cans of hominy. Add to crockpot and let heat together for 30-45 minutes. Add finely chopped cilantro to the crockpot just before serving.
Serve with chopped radishes, avocado, finely chopped cabbage, chopped red onion, sour cream, grated cheese…the possibilities are endless. We warmed corn tortillas to go with the soup.
(We were too busy eating to take pictures, but it looked good and tasted great.)