Here is the Alabama kid with his 1,051lb pig. Click here for the story
Americans enjoy hunting both of their hog varieties. There are the wild boar, known as the ridgeback, and the wild pigs, domesticated breeds, gone feral. The wild boar grow to around 300lb and have a reputation for being aggressive. The feral pigs are much, much bigger.
We are going out for some feral hogs. My guide John has some property on Bayou Portage in the swamps of Louisiana that he says have been rife with them lately and we want to see if we can find a few of those.
We need to walk through the swamp to a high seat next to a wallow. First, I’m given my cowboy-style rifle. It’s a lever-action Marlin 30-30, one of the guns that won the West.
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“Pretty standard American lever action, loads in here, lever here so, just cowboy style, to load it lever out, lever in it’s loaded,” says my guide John.
John’s rifle is less cowboy, more militia. It’s a modern version of the SKS, a forerunner to Mikhail Kalashnikov’s AK47: ideal for pigs, especially decadent American capitalist running-dog scum pigs.
With a slightly sicky feeling that keilers are hiding behind every tree, we head off. John says that the pigs are not scared by the torch beam – they can even be attracted by it – though their senses of smell and hearing are excellent.
“You’ll find a lot of times tracks along side these sluice where they have come into wallow, or water and often times if you check the clarity of the water you can tell how lately they have been in,” says John. “If it is very, very cloudy they have been in wallowing cooling down from the hot sun recently. This water looks fairly clear.”
“So that’s why we are whispering?” I ask.
“Well I’m imagining they haven’t been through here for a bit,” he replies, “so we’ll check another couple of wallows and try and spot some tracks off them.”
John issues Charlie with his gun, a lever-action Marlin 30-30
A few hundred yards in and if we get the unmistakable whiff of pig pee. John has been putting some old burger buns down and we can see they have been to this boggy Burger King. Suddenly, there’s a lot of noise and something is coming towards us, fast.
Both of us chamber around and raise our rifles. I feel a wave of immense relief tinged with disappointment when an armadillo breaks cover. I really thought we would be in touch with a pig there but quite relieved we’re not.
America has big pigs. Really big pigs. And not all of them are called Bubba. There was one shot recently with a handgun by an 11-year-old lad in Alabama. A US record, it weighed more than 1,000lb. I am six feet four inches and can be easily impressed by a 5lb armadillo. Imagine how the kid felt.
Zombie presenter: Charlie looks ghoulish in the infra-red camera
John and I stalk through the swamp, which has a gumbo-like consistency. Gumbo is a local stew that tastes exactly like it sounds. Soon we reach an old duck hide, or ‘blind’ in American.
“So we’ve got a good 150 yards of visibility to take a shot on them,” says John, “and as soon as we see them break those bushes we’ll hold off, give them a little time to get as close in front of us as we can, just stay trained on them the whole time, keep our scopes on them and as soon as they get close enough and we’re comfortable taking that shot we’ll put lights on them and fire away and see what we’ve got.”
We sit and wait, and we wait, then John reckons its time to go and see the boar face to face
After the little scare earlier on, the approaching armadillo, John thinks it’s a good idea that we go after them on foot. Brilliant.
Hog scared: Charlie is worried about being rushed by an armadillo
Another wild pig hamburger joint, but this one looks undisturbed. John reckons we will have to put tonight down as unlucky.
So we got to the end point, feeling a bit defeated by duck, bit beaten by boar, they haven’t touched the bait, but you cannot beat the excitement of stalking up on something that could easily be stalking up on you. It’s not a lion or a tiger, it’s a pig, but it’s a great big thing in a very dark wood and it’s absolutely brilliant.