Hog Hunting in South Texas
by Steve Moody
I read lots of stories about all the great hog hunters, and know a few who claim to be, but I feel differently about who is great than a lot of people.The way I look at it, you can force a dog to sit or rollover, but when a dog decides to chase hogs, he does it all on his own. Sure, you show him pigs and put him with other dogs that chase pigs, but you can't lead him by the collar and force him to bark at a pig.
Some friends and I started a pack of dogs about two years ago. We've been through roughly 50 dogs looking for something to start hogs. We have finally gotten down to four dogs, and one more is going soon. At least 40 of these dogs have been given away for pets, and six sold to other hunters. Those six dogs had peculiar traits we didn't care for in a hog dog. One thought she could catch any hog in the world... she was killed four hunts after we sold her. One Redbone\Cur cross had so much nose he could run a six hour old track, but he didn't bark a trail so it was a booger to find him and he went to a guy with a tracking collar. One Catahoula male we had decided wanted to fight in the dog box. His life was spared when a guy that only hunts one bay dog decided to buy him. One Plott was a heck of a dog and real closed-mouthed on a track, but he got cut because we had another hound my wife really liked. Rufus the Plott now hunts about four nights a week with another hunter here in Texas. One half Pit/half Running Walker was too aggressive on hogs and was sold after we turned her into a wounded deer tracking dog. A Blackmouth cross we had did real well for us for about two months, then suddenly he didn't want to hunt, so he went to another hunter on trial for 30 days, he bought him, and then the dog quit hunting for him about day 50. He didn't ask for his money back, he sold him to another guy, same thing happened again, I think Rex has had about six owners now.
But, on to what's left, We don't have a real #1 dog, but everything left does its job. First is Paco, he's 3/4 Blackmouth Cur and 1/4 Plott. He hunts real hard and finds lots of hogs, but has one drawback. After a hunt he wants to be left alone by everything, dogs and people. He'll growl at you if you try and load him to go hunting when his feet are sore. Paco weighs about 60 pounds in running condition and is a brown brindle dog.
Rip is a NALC registered male dog, he is by far the best dog we have for watching the truck. Nobody comes near him when he's in the box or on the chain, but once he's hunting, anyone can catch him. He started out life as a catch dog! At three months he was scared of hogs, a 100lb boar got after him in the pen one day, and he decided to fight back. From the time he was 6 months until 1.5 years he had to wear a cut vest, because he would catch any hog he saw. I watched him roll a 200lb boar, he hit him so hard. About two months ago he stopped catching, he never got cut or anything, I guess he just quit being mad at the hogs. He's now starting hogs on his own and started a 250lb boar by himself about a week ago. Rip weighs about 65lbs in hunting shape. He has double glass eyes and is a blue Leopard.
Jeff is really the clown of the pack, at 4 months he was in a stock tank for over an hour baying a 300lb boar, and he started his first hog at 6 months old. He bayed his first shoat in a pen when he was 7weeks old, and has done nothing but get better since. He's 13 months old now, and about 2 months ago he decided to chase a few Armadillos. It's pretty embarrassing when you tell a guy you're hunting with your dogs don't trash, and five minutes later you hear a dog barking down an Armadillo hole. Jeff is half Black/Tan and half Pointer. He'll run a pretty cold trail, but never barks unless he sees Mr. Piggy. His nose comes in handy when it gets really hot and dry here in Texas. Jeff was pretty sick when I got him and never grew very well, he weighs about 45lbs.
Yule is a dog I was given. Another hog hunter who is supposed to be one of the best hunted him and told his owner,"...that stupid dog ran off with his nose to the ground and never came back." Yule had never been hunted before that night, but had seen hogs in a pen. He came back to his owner's house three weeks later via a forty mile walk, and then came to my house. The first night I took him hunting he started barking in the box. When I opened the gate to discuss this offense, he ran over me, went about 300 yards in the brush, and bayed up a hog. All he was saying was,"let me out." Yule is half Blue Lacy/half Catahoula, he weighs about 50 lbs. in hunting shape and never barks until the hog is bayed. He's a bite first, then bark, kind of dog.
To hunt with these bay dogs we have Dogo Argentinos for catch dogs. We have three male pups; Turk, Flash, Beauwulf (wolf), and their mother Star. These dogs are 9 months old now, and made their first catch on the 250lb boar mentioned above. They act as if they have no fear, and we have been assured by other breeders that if you could find a dog to bark at elephants, Dogos would try to catch them. There is not much to say about these dogs, except they weigh almost 80 lbs now, and will weigh around 110 running weight when grown. One of these pups will be for sale when they get big enough to handle a hog on their own. Our most recent additions are a Catahoula pup about three months old and two Pitbull puppies.
Several weeks ago we planned on hunting a milo field a farmer told us hogs were destroying. It's about 120 acres and surrounded by lots of deep creeks and heavy brush. We have caught hogs here many times, but it had never had milo before.
The first night we hunted this field was a disaster. We turned out and began to hunt into the wind, Yule was out in front and nobody really acted like they could smell any hogs.Yule ventured out a couple hundred yards and was coming back to tell us there were not any hogs when a rattlesnake started buzzing right among us. Yule, oblivious to the danger, came trotting right past him. BAM! Five and a half feet of Diamondback right in the rear ham. The fang marks were 2.5" apart at the time of the bite. We killed the snake and headed for the truck, but not before we killed another snake 300 feet from the last one. We loaded up dogs and headed for the house, nothing like a 1 hour drive for a 5 minute hunt that ends in a dog getting snake-bit. Final results - 0 hogs, 2 snakes, and one start dog out for two weeks.
Hunt #2 was better, we started the same as above, except this time the dogs ran out right away. We had dogs bayed solid in the milo, and went to find about 40 hogs in one group. The catch dogs (bear in mind this is their second hunt) looked around and couldn't believe it. They would go one way and then turn after another hog. Catch dogs were running in circles. Turk, the brave soul he is, ran in and tried to catch about a 100 lb. sow. He forgot to check his tail, and got rooted by a 250 lb. sow. It takes a heck of a shot to send an 80 lb dog flying, but flying he went. Right smack dab into the rest of the hogs, all bunched together. We heard a few yelps and some growling, then everything took off, and nobody could get a shot because nobody knew what was a hog and what was a dog. Turk came flying by in pursuit of a hog and I caught him to check him out. No cuts in him, but his cut vest was pretty marked up. Final results - 40 uncaught hogs, 0 rattlesnakes (this made the hunt worthwhile), and no more dogs injured.
Hunt #3 - This is where all the hassles become worth it. Rip, our always consistent help dog, decides it's time to do his part. He runs through the fields, finds no hogs and is waiting at a gate. As we enter the brush he runs out about 50 yds and barks a couple times. He's intent on something, and we discuss who gets to find out what he's trashing on. The other dogs can't smell where he is at and nobody goes to him. Myself and a man named Calvin go to administer disciplinary action. When we start that way all the other dogs go over and begin to bark. Calvin looks around a bush and sees dog heads, he slowly creeps around to see what they're trashing on, only to find 250lbs of boar hog with three inch cutters. Calvin does his best imitation of a gunslinger and racks a round in the chamber (he forgot about the catch dogs), the hog breaks, and Rip grabs him by the parts that make him a boar. Calvin fires twice with #3 buckshot, he puts two pellets in the end of the hog's nose and the rest in a prickly pear cactus. This persuades Mr. Piggy to jerk loose at all costs and make for Mexico, but he had one problem, he didn't know about Mama Dogo and her litter of killer pups.
Above-mentioned boar ran about 150 yards and was tackled by Mama Dogo and brood. Star lept on this hog as he was going away, wrapped him up, and his nose plowed a root about a foot long. At this, my fellow partner's wife dispatched the boar with a knife to the heart. But, that's not the best part, some other hunters heard the baying and showed up just in time to help drag.
Then comes Hunt #4, the 14th of August 1997, and not your typical good hog hunting weather. The wind seemed to be blowing 100 mph, the ground was dry as it could be, and even though it was night the hogs layed up until 3:00 a.m. or so. It was 9:00 p.m. but we were going to go hunting anyway.
We loaded up Paco, Jeff, Rip, and Yule for bay dogs, they are a real circus act. Paco is a 3/4 cur 1/4 Plott, he came to us awhile back when another hunter called it quits, and he is a real go getter. Jeff is a 1/2 black and tan 1/2 birddog, or so we were told, he doesn't show much birddog, but he doesn't bark a trail and is more solid than any other 15 month old pup I know. RIP is a NALC registered leopard and started life as a catch dog, wore a vest and all, but he retired from catching at a little over a year. Yule is 1/2 Lacy 1/2 Catahoula and has the worst baying voice you'll ever hear, but you will hear him.
Also loaded up for their fourth hunt were our four Dogos: Star, Flash, Wulf, and Turk. They are a motly crew, all being nine month old pups with the exception of Star who is their mother and two years old. This was her fourth hunt too. As far as background on the pups, we had them catching 150lb boars at six months. They caught their first shoat at two months.
This particular night started like most, we were late arriving and still had to vest and collar dogs. The four bay dogs are old pros, and it's easy. The pups had been on three hunts not including this one, and caught three hogs, a 150 lb sow, a 200 lb boar, and 220 lb sow. They think when the tailgate drops it's time to catch a pig. After several minutes of wrestling with 90lb dogs we had them vested and roaring to catch a pig.
Calvin, the lead hog scouter and official permission getter, had us set up for a hunt in the nastiest thorn patch in this part of South Texas. We had been seeing a track for about six months that looked to go around 450 lbs. He was running with a smaller hog we figured weighed 250 or so. We split into two groups, Calvin and Carl moving to the South fenceline to try and keep the hog from crossing into land we couldn't hunt, and if that failed, to catch the dogs as they crossed through the five foot field fence with one hole.
Myself, my brother mark, Luke and his wife Kim, and Will all went to the North side to hunt the dogs into the fierce wind. As the tailgate dropped, all the bay dogs exited and took off at a dead run back over the road we had just driven. 100yds, 200yds, 300yds, 400yds, hard left, wait ten seconds, and BAM! they're baying like crazy. We move that way with the catch dogs, but ol Mr. Tusker has been dealt this hand before. He fakes North long enough for us to get into a mess of Cactus then starts a running battle across the place, headed for the South fence. 200 yards into the run Yule and Rip quit barking and soon the Hog is stopped. Nothing like a little grabbing of manly parts to get his attention.
We pick our way through the cactus and get within 150 yards, only to hear the hog breaking and the battle continue. Jeff is trying like mad to make him go deaf with the use of those hound dog lungs, and Paco trying to make him crazy with his coyote yapping.
Mr. Hog stops again, and this time we elect to give him a dose of Dogo. As soon as the leads come free, he breaks. Will tries to stop the Dogos, but Flash and Wulf run him over as Star and Turk break around him. We are now running like crazy trying to keep up, when about thirty seconds later the chase slows to a crawl. The Dogos have quit yipping and we know they have caught, but Mr. Tusker has other ideas. He's 200 yards from the fence and he decides on a plan. He turns towards a tank with dogs in tow (I feel it's only fair to the Dogos to repeat this is only their fourth catch, and how many Pits would run down a hog?). Hog hits the water and begins to lose a dog everytime he goes under. Calvin has moved to a blocking position and is shooting into the trees trying to turn the hog back North. The ploy works, and the hog turns toward the North shore.
As he gets out of the water, one Dogo is still attached, and the other three descend on him like a wave of white death. He is rolled backwards into the tank. Will catches a hind leg and soon the hog is under control. Not the monster we hoped, but a good hog. Tie ropes come out and soon he is ready to leave. Alive and well, he is placed in the horse trailer.
The next morning we haul the hog to Southern Wild Game, he weighs 286 lbs. and brings $177. With a few hogs like that, the dogs pay for themselves. Since the first of the month we have sold two hogs and together they brought in $292. It costs us about a $100 per month to feed the dogs. Now, that gives a fella a reason to own a few dogs.
We got to hunt on 14,000 acres last night where they've only killed six rattlesnakes in 18 years. It's bad for a hog hunter's ego when every time you go out you return with more snakes than hogs. I am fairly sure that every snake you nearly step on knocks one year and one inch off your life, and I'm getting real short now.
Click HERE to see Steve Moody's crew, dogs, & hogs.
Back to Ezine Front Page