The escalating feral hog problem in Louisiana is out of control. In northeast Louisiana, deer hunting is suffering from wild hogs in areas where sounders of 20-30 hogs can tear up an acre of woods or more overnight.
But one big feral hog, named Mr. T because of the prominent mane on his back resembling the haircut of Mr. T from the old “A Team” television show, will cause no more problems. A local hunter shot the nearly 300 pounder recently while deer hunting near Marion.
Matt Talbert, a City Councilman in Sterlington, was hunting on the Struttin’ Buck Hunting Club when the big hog made a rare daytime appearance – barely.
“I had been deer hunting all week and hadn’t shot anything,” Talbert said. “I have an app that tells me when it’s about to get too dark to shoot and it said 5:32. It was almost 5:30 and I was gathering up my stuff when a big doe walked out. I picked up my binoculars and looked at her, hoping a big buck would be behind her. I was looking when the top part of my lens just went black. I adjusted them and thought at first it was a bear, but it was a huge hog. I stuck my Winchester Model 70 out of the window and by now it was 5:32. I could still see it good and I shot. It dropped right where it stood.”
Hauling the big hog
After he broke the winch on his 800 Sportsman trying to lift the hog, he finally pulled it out of the woods with a chain. He had to get help to load it on the tailgate and it broke, too.
“A hog like that sure makes you think twice about sticking your head up in one of those thickets late in the afternoon, doesn’t it?” he asked.
Peyton McKinnie, one of the growing numbers of deer hunters who are fed up with the uncontrolled nuisance, had been trying to trap the big boar for over a year. He picked up the hog from Talbert and took him to the Dubach Deer Factory and had it caped out to be mounted. The famous hog will be on display at the BBQ Pit restaurant in Sterlington when the mount is complete.
With the advent of advanced hog catching systems like the Hogg Boss, pens with video and cell cameras and social media, some of the big hogs like Mr. T have become famous. In fact, the big ones with special features are getting named just like big trophy bucks are by deer hunters.
“Everybody knew we were looking for him and followed it regularly. Every time he was spotted, we heard about it. He had a range of over 10 miles. There was no denying it was him as big as he was and with that Mr. T haircut.”
There have been over 600 hogs trapped on three hunting clubs just in that area this year, McKinnie said. And Mr. T may not be the biggest one.
“He was all cut up on his shield and both his tusks were broken off,” so he had been fighting with another wild boar as big or bigger than he was. We suspect it was a hog we’ve named Quasimodo because he has a huge hump on his back and he is really bad.”
Mr. T almost bit the dust just about a year ago when McKinnie and his hog-trapping friends just started out setting traps for the hog sounders. They set up a drop gate, but didn’t have heavy enough wire on the bottom of the pen.
“The first night we dropped the gate, we had eight 200-pound hogs in there,” he said. “By the time we got to the pen, they had already torn it up and got out. Mr. T was the leader of that bunch. Since that time, he’s been totally trap shy. Just the other night, he was running with a sounder and they all went in the trap but him. He just laid down about 20 feet outside the trap and wouldn’t go in. Where Matt ended up shooting him the next day wasn’t far from that.”
A growing problem
McKinnie said the problem is just getting worse and worse and while they are making a dent in the population, they can’t get them all. Plus it is very expensive. Talbert agrees, saying if something isn’t done, it will ruin deer hunting.
“You’ve got people coming out of their own pocket for trap pens, cell equipment and service and hundreds of dollars worth of corn and Delta Magic and other attractants to get rid of these things,” he said. “I don’t understand why the leadership of our Wildlife and Fisheries can’t come up with some sort of incentive to help. I mean we have a bounty on nutria. Why not on feral hogs?”